Liberation of The Netherlands 1944-45 – “Faces to Graves” Project
by Joost Blom
The Dutch Liberation 2020 Canadian Society is a group of volunteers that has got together to assist and promote the commemoration in B.C. next year of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of The Netherlands by Allied forces, a large part of whom were Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen. As part of its aim to raise awareness of the Liberation, the Society hopes to spread the word about a very worthwhile project in The Netherlands called “Faces to Graves”. It is not specifically related to the 75th anniversary commemoration, but it holds the promise of strengthenng the already powerful bonds that the Liberation created between the people of The Netherlands and Canada.
The project, which goes back to 2014, was the initiative of three members of the Royal Canadian Legion, Dutch Branch 005 – Liberation of The Netherlands. The mission of this branch is to play an active role in ceremonies at Canadian and allied military cemeteries and at ceremonies where fallen soldiers from the Second World War are commemorated. The three members conceived and developed a project to create a virtual memorial to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are buried at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands. There are 2590 names on the headstones and 1029 names of missing soldiers on the Memorial Wall.
The aim is to create an online collection of personal documentation for as many as possible of the fallen who lie in this cemetery. Every one of them, it is hoped, will be recognized by a photo and a story of their life, so they will never be forgotten. To do this, the Faces to Graves Project needs to reach as many as possible of the relatives, in Canada and elsewhere, of the Canadian Forces members who are interred at Groesbeek. We hope that members of the Dutch community here in Vancouver can help to spread awareness of this project by bringing it to the attention of everyone who may be related to a member of the Canadian Forces who died in the battles of the Liberation 75 years ago and is buried in the War Cemetery. They are invited to contribute photos and other personal history to the virtual memorial, and so enhance what we, and later generations, know about their relative and the thousands of other Canadians who lie at Groesbeek.
The Faces to Graves Website, at www.facestograves.nl, tells te story of the project and gives the details of how to contribute to this far-reaching endeavour to assemble the thousands of individual stories behind those who gave their lives for the Liberation of The Netherlands.