Painting of the Liberation of Holland in Amsterdam
75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and VE-Day
On May 5, 1945, the Netherlands was liberated from Nazi occupation. Canada played a vital role in the liberation effort. Over 7,600 Canadian soldiers paid the ultimate price for Freedom.
This year the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the postponement of nearly 80 of the over 140 commemorative events that Canada was supporting over the period of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and VE-Day. But it has not deterred the Dutch, who are already starting preparations to transform this year’s plans into “75+1 Years of Liberation”. The pandemic will equally not discourage Canadians as we too look forward to being there next year, side-by-side with our Dutch friends.
This year, a virtual ceremony was held in Ottawa on Friday, May 8 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the formal acceptance of Nazi Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945. Veterans Affairs Canada created a variety of digital commemorative initiatives and activities and encouraged people to share photos of tulips online, and come to a halt for two minutes of silence, to remember and reflect upon the significance and meaning of our Freedom.
76th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy
In France, most D-Day anniversary celebrations have been cancelled for the first time since 1945 due to the pandemic. Still, the French would not let this day slip by unnoticed, such is their attachment to some 160,000 soldiers from the U.S., Britain, Canada and others who spilled their blood to free foreign beaches and fight on to finally defeat the Nazis almost one year later.
This year, the ceremonies for the 76th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, on June 6, 1944, took place behind closed doors. In Vierville-Sur-Mer (Omaha Beach), one of the main landing theatres, a small ceremony inaugurated with a flypast by the French air force’s acrobatic team, the Patrouille de France, brought together the representatives of eight allied countries (Canada, U.S., U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Denmark and Norway) as well as Germany.
Other ceremonies were held at the Caen Memorial, Bayeux British cemetery, the American cemetery in Colleville-Sur-Mer, Arromanches and Ouistreham. Juno Beach’s ceremony was broadcast live from the beach where Canadian soldiers landed. In villages up and down the Normandy coast, residents decorated their homes with allied flags, and church bells rang at 6:44 pm local time.
Through this newsletter, we would like to pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought to defend the values that we hold dear: peace, democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
During the Second World War, 13 members of the Canadian Armed Forces were awarded the Victoria Cross – the Commonwealth's highest military decoration for bravery.
Company Sergeant Major John Robert Osborn, The Winnipeg Grenadiers.
Hong Kong, December 19, 1941.
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt, The South Saskatchewan Regiment.
Dieppe, France, August 19, 1942.
Honorary Captain John Foote, Canadian Chaplain Service.
Dieppe, France, August 19, 1942.
Captain Paul Triquet, Royal 22e Régiment.
Casa Berardi, Italy, December 14, 1943.
Major John Keefer Mahony, The Westminster Regiment (Motor).
Melfa River, Italy, May 24, 1944.
Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarksi, Royal Canadian Air Force.
France, June 12, 1944.
Flight-Lieutenant David Ernest Hornell, Royal Canadian Air Force.
Sea Patrol, North Sea, June 25, 1944.
Major David Vivian Currie, The South Alberta Regiment (29th Armoured Car Regiment).
Saint-Lambert-sur-Dives, France, August 18-20, 1944.
Private Ernest Alvia Smith, The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.
Savio River, Italy, October 21–22, 1944.
Sergeant Aubrey Cosens, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada.
Goch-Calcar, Germany, February 25–26, 1945.
Major Frederick Albert Tilston, The Essex Scottish Regiment.
Hochwald, Germany, March 1, 1945.
Corporal Frederick George Topham, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.
Diersfordt Wood, Germany, March 24, 1945.
Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve.
Onagawa Bay, Honshu, Japan, August 9, 1945.
Lest we forget – Opdat wij niet vergeten – N'oublions jamais.