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More than 60 Saskatchewan soldiers are buried at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery near the Village of Holten in the Netherlands. Fifteen of them are from the East Central area near Yorkton.

A Dutch committee of 10 members is doing a biography project of the soldiers buried in the Canadian War Cemetery near Holten in the Netherlands. They are looking for the relatives or friends of these soldiers for information to memorialize each of them in a biography. A March 21, 2019 article by CBC informed us that One member of this Dutch committee is Jan Braakman, an investigative journalist and the author of several books that specialize in regional stories with a historical context.

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The soldiers buried at Holten Cemetery were killed in local battles in the second World War 75 years ago, so their family members are getting old as well, and this may be the last chance to speak to some of them and get the soldiers stories recorded. Almost all of the 1,394 soldiers buried in the Holten cemetery are Canadians, and 61 of those are from Saskatchewan. Braakman tells us “These men have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, the least we can do is keep their memories alive”. He goes on to say: “If we keep realizing what war is and what the consequences of war are, people might realize that peace is precious. We can’t be careless with peace”. Braakman publishes short biographies in Dutch about allied military who lost their lives in the Netherlands during World War II. Members from our local genealogy group in Yorkton want to help him by connecting local family members and friends with his committee, and getting these stories to them.

The soldiers nearly all died during the last stages of the war in the Battles of the Scheldt and Kapelsche Veer in what is remembered as ‘the hunger winter’ of 1944-1945 in the Netherlands, and in the last weeks of the war in Northern Germany. My father was one of the Canadian soldiers there at that time. His army unit, the 29th armoured reconnaissance unit of the South Alberta Regiment, was one of several Canadian units liberating Dutch villages in those days. I discovered a connection with Mr. Braakman when he told me that his grandmother was killed on the day the village where she lived was liberated. When the Canadian liberators arrived, his grandmother and her children came out of their shelter. At that moment, a German soldier opened fire at the civilians and the Canadians. In the skirmish, his grandmother and two of the Canadian soldiers were killed. These two soldiers are among those buried at Holten cemetery.

The 15 soldiers buried at Holten War Cemetery from this area are:
•ALLEN, Pte. Kenneth G., Indian Head
•BATYSKI, Pte. John J., Ituna
•BELLS, Lt. Robert W., Quill Lake
•BISSCHOP, Rifleman Joseph C., Sheho
•CHUDYK, Rifleman Steve Chudyk, Oakshela
•DAVIES, Cpl. Leonard G., Bredenbury
•FLATT, Rifleman John M., Fenwood
•GRAHAM, Pte. John J., Leroy
•HUBER, Trooper Walter L., Serath
•KNUTSON, Pte. Palmer, Naicam
•MARKOSKI, Gunner L., Hyas
•OLSON, Gunner Carl G., Invermay
•PEIRSON, Crftsm Robert S., Invermay
•STEELE, Gunner George W., Whitewood
•WILSON, George S., Yorkton

If you or someone you know is related to any one of these, please contact Jan Braakman (1) or the Yorkton Genealogy Society (2) at the addresses below with any information you wish to share in a biography.

For a complete list of all of the 61 Saskatchewan soldiers, all of the 1,355 Canadian soldiers or all of the 1394 soldiers names buried at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery, go to www.cwgc.org.

Your participation in this or one of the many other works by the members of the Yorkton Genealogical Society is welcome, and you are invited to work with us on your own family’s history. Contact us or join our monthly meetings, held on the second Tuesday evening of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Family History Room of the Yorkton Public Library. Our next meeting is on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019.

(1) Yorkton Genealogy Society, maryangusyanke@hotmail.com; 306-896-7764
(2) Jan Braakman, jan@janbraakman.nl; Jan Braakman Journalistieke Producties, jan.braakman@gmail.com; phone +31 (0) 6 49694369 Provincieroute 110, 8016GM Swolle, Nederland
Sources:
(3) CBC News, March 21, 2019
(4) www.canadianbattlefieldtours.ca
(5) www. Janbraakman Journal
(6) www.veterans.gc.ca
(7) South Albertas: a Canadian regiment at war; Donald Edward Graves; 1998; Robin Brass Studio, 10 Blantyre Avenue, Toronto, Ontario

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