60th Anniversary SAR Battlefield Tour - 2005

Saturday, April 30

Ceremonies in Bergen Op ZoomToday the Veterans were honoured and pleased to be able to take part in the Queen's Birthday ceremonies in Bergen Op Zoom. This historic enclosed square resounded to the sounds of music as the bands played. The old guard, wonderfully dressed in their black uniforms, trimmed in white, and carrying ancient weapons, paraded into the square. The author was fortunate to be taken to a window high above the square in the Hotel de Draake which happened to be in the room that Swatty Wotherspoon had used as a planning room while here in 1944.

Canadian War Cemetery in BergenFollowing the ceremonies in the square the band led the procession down the street to a reception in a building which houses the SAR bronze plaque. The room with the reception was wonderfully lined with old paintings and carved wooden ceiling. Here we were treated again, to the orange elixir that is so well enjoyed here in Holland.

The afternoon tour took us to the Bergen op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery for a service at the Cross of Sacrifice. This massive cemetery has 968 Canadian graves, mostly from the soldiers fighting the Battle of the Scheldt north of Antwerp. It's always a treat when visiting the war cemeteries to see how neat they are kept.

Reception given by MunicipalityFollowing the service there was a pleasant drive to Kapelsche Veer to visit the SAR bronze plaque, where the Divisional Commander's orders led to a wasteful loss of lives.

Following that we went to the hotel for a magnificent feast provided by Mayor D. DeCloe and councillors of the municipality of Bergen op Zoom. Many gifts were exchanged amidst much laughter and applause. Major McLeod calls it the 'biggest blowout of the trip'.

Sunday, May 1

Coffee on Canada StreetThe tour today started with a study of Operation Market Garden which was a pencil like thrust by the Allies. Much of this was a disaster.

At first the bus stopped in Cadalaan Straat -Canada Street - in Bergen Op Zoom, to partake of coffee, tea and biscuits supplied by the locals who are proud that the Canadians entered by way of their street and are always on hand to meet the Veterans.

The Veteran's tour took us to Endhoven (Sonbridges), Grave, and Nijmegen. There was a stop at the Liberation Museum before going to the Groesbeek Cemetery to lay a wreath.