OTTAWA, May 5, 2020 /CNW/ - The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today to mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands:
"The Liberation of the Netherlands was Canada's last major contribution to Allies' victory in Europe during the Second World War. As many as 175,000 Canadians took part in the campaign and more than 7,600 of them died.
"Canada and the Netherlands continue to share a special bond of friendship as a result of the role played by Canadians in the Liberation of the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945. Immediately following the Second World War, the Dutch royal family gifted tulips to Canada as a symbol of gratitude and international friendship.
"We look back with pride at the accomplishments of the brave Canadians who served in those times. We remember their commitment, appreciate the sacrifice and mourn the loss of so many killed and wounded.
"We recognize Sergeant (Ret'd) Norman Kirby, a Veteran of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment. He and his platoon helped liberate many Dutch towns leading up to the end of the Second World War in Europe. In Groningen, minutes after the city was freed, Kirby experienced one of his most heartwarming moments of the conflict as celebrating children surrounded him and his comrades.
"We honour Sergeant Charles Byce, whose mother was a Cree from Moose Factory, Ontario. He joined the Lake Superior Regiment (Motor) during the war and was awarded the Military Medal in the Netherlands. Byce also earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his gallant stand during the Rhineland Campaign.
"We remember Mona Parsons, a civilian woman from Wolfville, Nova Scotia. When the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Parsons and her Dutch husband joined a resistance unit and offered their home as a safe house. After being caught, she endured three-and-a-half years in harsh German prisons. In gratitude for helping downed Allied airmen evade enemy capture, she received two special citations after the war—one from the commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, and one from the Air Chief Marshall of the Royal Air Force.
"Thanks to the courage and great sacrifices of so many Canadian and other Allied service members and civilians, all enemy forces in the Netherlands surrendered on 5 May 1945. The whole country was finally liberated.
"This year, as we face one of the greatest challenges of our time, we can take inspiration from the history and spirit of our armed forces members who persevered through extraordinary circumstances. It gives us hope.
"Lest we forget."
Note: Initial plans for commemorative activities to mark this anniversary, including a delegation with Second World War Veterans to the Netherlands, were cancelled due to current circumstances. Please visit the links below to commemorate from home.
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468, [email protected]; John Embury, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, [email protected]; Media Relations, Department of National Defence, 613-904-3333, [email protected]; Floriane Bonneville, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of National Defence, 613-996-3100, [email protected]