Mook September 18: Antonio Barbaro Monument
By: Alice van Bekkum
Overwhelming is the first word; moving the second that I would like to use to describe the unveiling of the Antonio Barbaro Monument in Mook.
What an impressive Colour Party of our Branch in line with a trumpet player (Marine Band) and an experienced Piper!
Many of the Branch members who joined now were also present in Gorcum ten years ago for the service at the general cemetery to commemorate Harold Magnusson, Canadian Engineer who drowned in September 1944 during the evacuation of the trapped Allies close to the Old Church in Oosterbeek.
That was my first introduction to Branch 005 and the reason that I have always kept a very warm heart for them and finally I joined the RCL myself.
Lance Corporal Antonio Barbaro was a comrade of Sapper Harold Magnusson and did survive that operation of the evacuation that took place under very severe conditions. But eventually he drowned …
In February 1945 during maintenance work on a Bailey Bridge at Mook his boat was swept to the boom and made water quickly. There were only two life jackets in the boat for three men. Barbaro gave them to his comrades, but he was unable to cope with the strong current of the river Meuse and drowned.
My proposal to the mayor of the municipality of Mook and Middelaar to erect a (small) monument for Barbaro grew to a magnificent monument, also thanks to the efforts of RCL member Maarten Dekkers from Mook. Consisting of an original Bailey segment from the second world war and a large information panel, near the present railway bridge. On the same pillars the Bailey bridge rested in 1945.
Defence Attache Michael Hogan first unveiled the Bailey segment together with Mayor Willem Gradisen. After that the three relatives of Antonio along with the 92-year veteran Donald Somerville unveiled the information panel. Donald Somerville, 23rd Field Company RCE has known Antonio personally.
Among the guests was also a grandson of the now deceased 23rd RCE FC veteran Harald Barr. Harald wrote detailed reports of his activities in Europe. He was in Mook in the period that Antonio drowned.
In the middle of the information panel is a picture of Antonio Barbaro who was chosen as an icon for everything what happened to this village in wartime. Surrounded by the explanation about the Battle of Mook and the reason for the construction of the Bailey bridge. Which was at that time even the longest high level Bailey bridge in the world! And not to forget the story of Antonio that I was allowed to compose.
The route of the Nijmegen 4-day Marches passes the monument on one of those days. Then the flags will be fluttering and the beautiful banner with the image of Antonio that before the unveiling covered the segment, will be hanged out.
Who knows a future resting place for participating Canadian soldiers?
Would like to see more picture? See our album (click here).