Holten Canadian War Cemetery

The Canadian War Cemetery Holten
Le Cemitière de Guerre Canadien Holten

Until autumn 1945 there could be found crosses scattered all over the country
in the eastern and northern parts of the Netherlands,
marking the places where soldiers had been killed in action and buried.
They had given their lives to liberate a country from 5 years German occupation.
One day it occurred to Lt. General G.G. Simonds,
commander of the 2nd. Canadian Corps that the Holterberg area,
would be a suitable place for a Canadian War Cemetery.

2nd Canadian Corps

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The cemetery was constructed  by Canadian soldiers who were waiting for their repatriation back to Canada. They flattened and terraced the site, these where the first steps that where taken to create the Canadian War Cemetery at Holten.
 

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The planned area of 14 acres afterwards turned out to be too large,
so in the front part  a beautiful heather-garden was constructed.

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The first fallen soldiers buried were all Canadian soldiers,
killed in the Holten area.
Their graves are in the first plot left of the entrance.

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Nearly 1,400 were to follow.
In this Canadian cemetery the great majority of the burials are of Canadians,
who died during the last stages of war in Holland.
And during the advance of the Canadian 2nd Corps into northern Germany,
and across the Ems in April and the first days of May 1945.
After the end of the fighting their remains were brought together in this cemetery.

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In total  1,394 burials of which one of the graves is
the grave of Winifred Lilian Brewster
Age 20 Canadian Women's Army Corps

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Buried here side by side with her husband, they both where killed,
on April 15th 1946 in a car crash on their honeymoon.

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The Cross of sacrifice and the stone of remembrance


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Anyone who visits the Canadian War Cemetery at Holten and takes a right turn at the entrance into Plot IV,
will be confronted at rows D and F with a dozen graves of Canadian servicemen who died in 1942 and 1943.
The regiments in which they served have familiar names such as The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry,
Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, The Essex Scottish and the Royal Regiment of Canada.
These soldiers all fell into German hands during the raid on Dieppe on the 19th August 1942,
and who then died in Germany of their wounds or from illness in captivity.
They were buried in this cemetery after the war.

Plot IV rowD

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An overview of the cemetery

The total of 1,394 burials is made up as shown below:

Country Known Unknown
Canada 1,347 8
United Kingdom 31 5
Australia 2 0
Belgium 1 0
Totals 1,381 13

Restoration in progress....old tombstones that have been replaced by new ones.


The grounds were given to the Canadian government and became a Canadian territory.
 

For some years now the local school children put candles on the graves every year on Christmas Eve.
This idea was began by Mrs. Van Dam, born in Finland and living in Holten.
This is a custom introduced from her native country.
More than 1,500 candle lights give the cemetery an impressive look.

Approximately 300 school children participate in this ceremony,
which begins at 16:30 hours on Christmas eve.
Both Canadian and Dutch traditions are mixed as bagpipes are played,
and a midwinterhoorn (a regional instrument with an eerie sound) is blown.
Throughout the evening thousands of people from the region,
visit the Canadian War Cemetery for a moment of silence,
in the yellow glow of the candlelight.

"Without words let the pictures speak for themselves"

December 24th 2003

 

 

 

 


May 4th 2004

Remembrance at the Canadian cemetery Holten

We don't know their faces, only read their names on the stones ...
Nevertheless, they are no strangers to us.
They belong to us. They were and are our comrades

To this day the people of The Netherlands show great respect toward Canadians,
and in particular to those Canadians who paid the supreme sacrifice,
and are laid to rest in the cemeteries throughout The Netherlands.
It is through projects like this the elders are able to pass on to the young people of the Netherlands,
the true meaning of the sacrifice made by these young men of war,
in their quest for peace and freedom which the people of The Netherlands enjoy today.


May 4th 2005

Some pictures of the ceremony at Holten Canadian War Cemetery on May 4h 2005

 

........................THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE !

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