Hard to believe....

That this is 70 years old. And don’t you guys forget it!!! 70 years ago today, Canada liberated the Netherlands. Post and war history within mods please forgive.

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(From Veterans Affairs Canada):

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembranc…

In the months following D-Day, the Allies needed a reliable way to keep supplies flowing to their forces on the European continent. To do this, they required a good seaport. The Belgian port of Antwerp was captured almost intact but it lay almost 80 kilometres from the sea and was accessible only by a long estuary whose shores were controlled by German forces. Much of this coastal area was Dutch and, in the fall of 1944, the First Canadian Army led the way in fierce combat under harsh conditions to clear the German occupiers from the shores of the Scheldt River and open the waterway to vital shipping. More than 6,000 Canadian soldiers were killed, wounded or captured in this gruelling but victorious campaign that became a key step in the liberation of northwest Europe and the end of the war.

After three months of holding the front line in the Netherlands, the Canadians joined the final push to liberate the country. In February 1945, the First Canadian Army joined the Allies in a fierce push through mud and flooded ground to drive the Germans eastward out of the Netherlands and back across the Rhine.

In early April, the First Canadian Army began to clear the Germans from the northeast of the country. Often aided by information provided by Dutch resistance fighters, Canadian troops rapidly moved across the Netherlands, recapturing canals and farmland as they drove for the North Sea. Canadians also began to advance in the western Netherlands, which contained the major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. British and Canadian forces cleared the city of Arnhem in just two days by fighting a house-by-house battle. Only days later, they cleared Apeldoorn.

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Canadian forces were prepared to continue their push in the west of the country, however, there were concerns this would prompt the now-desperate Germans to breach all the dykes and flood the low-lying country. To ease the pressure, and allow for a truce in late April, the Canadian advance in the western Netherlands came to a temporary halt. This allowed relief supplies to reach Dutch citizens who had almost reached the end of their endurance. To show their appreciation to the Canadians who air-dropped food during this time, many Dutch people painted, “Thank you, Canadians!” on their rooftops.

Through the hard work, courage and great sacrifices of Canadian and other Allied soldiers, the remaining German forces in the country surrendered on May 5, 1945, finally liberating all of the Netherlands. All German forces would surrender May 7, 1945. The next day was declared Victory in Europe (V-E) Day.

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The Dutch people cheered Canadian troops as one town after another was liberated. This was a memorable time for the people of the Netherlands. Recalled one Dutch civilian who was a teenager at the time of the Canadian liberation of The Hague: “As the (Canadian) tank came nearer...there was a big hush over all the people, and it was suddenly broken by a big scream, as if it was out of the earth. And the people climbed on the tank...and they were crying. And we were running with the tanks and the jeeps all the way into the city.”

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More than 7,600 Canadians died in the nine dreadful months it took to liberate the Netherlands. They are buried in cemeteries from Adegem in Belgium, to Rheinberg in Germany.

Adegem Canadian War Cemetery is in the northwest corner of Belgium, not far from the Dutch frontier. It contains the graves of 848 Canadians, most of whom lost their lives during the bitter struggle to clear the south bank of the Scheldt River.

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Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery is located in southwest Holland. It contains the graves of 968 Canadians, most of whom fell fighting to open the sea approaches to Antwerp and make that port available to Allied shipping.

Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery is situated close to the eastern Dutch city of Nijmegen. More than 2,300 Canadians are buried there. The Groesbeek Memorial at the entrance to the cemetery contains the names of another 103 Canadians who have no known graves.

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Holten Canadian War Cemetery is just north of the city of Holten in the northeast Netherlands. The 1,355 Canadians who are buried there nearly all died during the last stages of the war in the Netherlands and during the advance of the 2nd Canadian Corps into Germany.

The Reichswald Forest War Cemetery and the Rheinberg War Cemetery are both located in Germany just east of the Dutch border. In the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery there are 706 RCAF headstones and one for a Canadian soldier. The Rheinberg War Cemetery has 516 headstones for Canadian airmen.

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I am always most proud to be Canadian on May 5th. Our soldiers made us quite proud in the nine month campaign in the Netherlands. We will never forget them, nor will we ever forget the very special bond between Canada and the Netherlands.

In 1945 Dutch princess Julianna presented us with 100,000 tulip bulbs to commerate Canada’s sacrifice in the Netherlands. We have never forgotten. Nor shall we.

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Indeed Tulip Festival is coming up, May 8-18.

The Canadian Tulip Festival is a celebration founded on international friendship with the 1945 presentation of 100,000 tulip bulbs from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during World War II in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.

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