The Dutch have a thing for Canada.
Canadian troops played a major role in liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation at the end of World War II for which the country is eternally grateful.
Famously, Princess Margriet, the third daughter of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard was born in Ottawa where the Canadian government temporarily declared the maternity ward extraterritorial so the princess could be born on Dutch soil.
Ever since 1945, the thousands of tulips that adorn our capital city in the spring are a symbol of the enduring gratitude of the Dutch royal family to Canada for sheltering the Queen and her daughters.
In the small village of Holten, Netherlands, the roughly 10,000 residents are caretakers of some 1,300 fallen Canadian soldiers. For nearly three decades following the war, the graves were tended by adoptive families and the children of the village still hold a candlelight vigil every year on Christmas Eve so the war dead do not have to spend it alone. In the 1970s the task of tending the cemetery was taken over by a committee.
Now, Gerry Van Holt, chair of the Welcome Again Veterans committee is leading a project dubbed “A Face for Every Name,” an attempt to add photos and biographical information to the graves of all the Canadians interred there.
One of the soldiers buried in the Holten Canadian War Cemetery is Yorkton’s George S. Wilson. Wilson was a private in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles who was killed in action about a month before the end of the war. His obituary appeared on the front page of the Yorkton Enterprise on April 19, 1945.
Mike Muntain, a researcher with the Princess of Wales Own Regiment in Kingston, Ontario, is assisting Van Holt in collecting photos and information and has reached out to local media across the country with the hope of finding relatives, friends and/or surviving comrades who served with the men who did not come home.
“The Dutch people are tireless in their efforts to honour our war dead, and take on this responsibility as a duty not a hobby,” Muntain said.
Anybody who has pictures and/or photographs of Pte. George Wilson can contact Yorkton This Week or Muntain directly at 613.888.7267 or mjmunt...@gmail.com.
“If the adage “a man lives as long as he is remembered” is true, the people of Holten, the Netherlands, make sure that for “their Canadians” Their Name Liveth For Evermore,” Muntain said.