This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and V-E Day. The Government of Canada was supposed to be sending an official delegation that included Second World War veteran and Calgary Highlander George A. Morasch to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the commemorative ceremonies planned this week have been postponed.
I wrote about George A. Morasch in a memoir about his friend Ed Carleton. They were both Highlanders and they were both wounded in France in the summer of 1944. Ed was eventually sent home to Canada while George was given a desk job in Holland for the remainder the war. (The memoir, Ed and Dorothy: Rocky Mountain Romance, launched in Banff in early March.)
The Calgary Highlanders kept fighting and were in the Battle of the Scheldt, the border area between northern Belgium and the southwestern Netherlands, in the fall of 1944. The Highlanders were an integral part of the battle, a series of military operations on what has been called the most difficult battlefield of the Second World War. The muddy and flooded terrain, the well-fortified German positions and the miserable cold made fighting some of the worst in the war. The Highlanders went on to be a part of the battle for Groningen, Netherlands and its liberation in 1945. The Battle of Groningen is known as one of the largest divisional level urban battles — street fighting — fought by the Canadian Army.
Today, Monday, May 4, is the National Day of Remembrance in the Netherlands. At 2 p.m. EST, Canadians are being asked to share the image on the right with #SilentToRemember, followed by two minutes of silence.
Veterans of the Second World War are few in number and becoming fewer. They are living history. For some people, it might seem like 1945 was a long time ago but for many those who lived through the war years, the memories are just under the surface. It’s important not to let COVID-19 take away the importance of remembering our past and those ordinary Canadian men and women who did extraordinary things 75 years ago.