May 2015 a personal report…

By Peter Bongers, member of RCL Branch 005

Some impressions of a week of Liberation festivities (May 4th – 9th), written by Peter Bongers for his friends in Canada.

Lochem-025

During this week we (our Sgt at Arms and me) were housed at the General Winkelman barracks in Harskamp. We were not alone: also Remco van Dijk, president of the 160 Barons branch and 4 of his sons, all members of the 11th Airforce cadets were present at the barracks. We adopted them in our Colour Party and did a great job.

Also we had the RCMP Pipes and Drums (41 men/women) at our disposal. The nucleus of this band comes from Ottawa, but there were members from all over Canada, also from the Halifax area, f.i. Snare drummer Kevin Macdonald and Piper Mike Long (who was Deputy Contingent Commander during the Vierdaagse for one year) will join Keith Jones to do the march this year as a civilian.

On May 4th we did the Liberation ceremony at the Holten cemetery. It was packed with VIP’s, including the Prime Minister of Canada and the Dutch Princess Margriet.

On May 5th we opened the parade in Wageningen. This had to be postponed for 30 minutes, because of thunderstorms, heavy rain and even hail. Fortunately the sun came through during the parade. Lots of people along the track and our guests got overwhelmed by applause.

On May 6th there was a military funeral of the remains of Private Albert Laubenstein at the cemetery of Bergen op Zoom. The family didn’t want a Colour Party, but we got a request from the Canadian Military Attaché Colonel Mike Hogan, to form a small delegation (6). After the speech of the padre, the clouds opened up and gave us a short burst of heavy rain and hail.

On May 7th we accompanied our guests on a WW1 battlefield tour in Belgium. We visited the cemetery of Tyne Cot and Ieper. First the wonderful museum, then dinner and prepping for the ceremony at the Menin-gate. Every day buglers of the local fire brigade play the last post at 20.00h. With the Colours in front, the band entered the tunnel shaped gate. Lots of spectators saw an impeccable performance. Afterwards we got compliments from the organisation: this was the best pipes and drum band they have had since many months.

When we got back to the centre square I bumped into Ray and Carol Romses. Does coincidence exists? You can imagine that Ray and the Airforce cadets (from his hometown) were glowing. Around 21.15h we got back on the bus to Harskamp. During the long ride the members of the band started to sing the WW1 song ‘On the road to Passchendaele’………goosebumps. We were back at the barracks at 01.30h.

On May 8th we could sleep in, because our activities started late in the afternoon. We went to Posterenk, a very small village near Apeldoorn. The local committee organized a Liberation ceremony for the first time. We started with a street parade, followed by speeches, a laying of a wreath (6 Canadians were killed during the liberation) and this was followed by music, a concert of the band and a real spontaneous street party. We all had a great time!

On May 9th the Liberation parade in Apeldoorn with the old veterans on historic military vehicles. Our Colour Party and the band got very positive feedback from the crowds along the road. After the parade we went to the Omnisport complex, where the old liberators were feasted with a concert. First the massed pipes and drums entered the arena, followed by the Colours. Of course we had to fit in the Colours of comrades from Canadian branches, so we ended up with around 20.

After the concert, we moved to Arnhem for a thank you and farewell dinner. For all the active members of our branch with or without spouses, the sponsors, members of the Canadian Embassy and our guests: members of the band and Remco with his sons.

What a way to end this once in a lifetime week…….

There are pictures on our website and if you want another impression, go to the website of the RCMP band. Just surf to RCMP Pipes and Drums Ottawa. Stories of the liberation week are also available on our website/events.

A few footnotes: I was impressed by the serious interest in what our branch does of the Dutch and Canadian military. In Wageningen the Dutch Chief of Defence Staff came over to our stand and had kind chats with us. In Bergen op Zoom, the former CDS Walter Natynczyk was positively surprized to see Legion members and came to meet us for a chat.

The real stars of the show were the old liberators. We will remember them…May 2015 a personal report…

By Peter Bongers, member of RCL Branch 005

Some impressions of a week of Liberation festivities (May 4th – 9th), written by Peter Bongers for his friends in Canada.

Lochem-025

During this week we (our Sgt at Arms and me) were housed at the General Winkelman barracks in Harskamp. We were not alone: also Remco van Dijk, president of the 160 Barons branch and 4 of his sons, all members of the 11th Airforce cadets were present at the barracks. We adopted them in our Colour Party and did a great job.

Also we had the RCMP Pipes and Drums (41 men/women) at our disposal. The nucleus of this band comes from Ottawa, but there were members from all over Canada, also from the Halifax area, f.i. Snare drummer Kevin Macdonald and Piper Mike Long (who was Deputy Contingent Commander during the Vierdaagse for one year) will join Keith Jones to do the march this year as a civilian.

On May 4th we did the Liberation ceremony at the Holten cemetery. It was packed with VIP’s, including the Prime Minister of Canada and the Dutch Princess Margriet.

On May 5th we opened the parade in Wageningen. This had to be postponed for 30 minutes, because of thunderstorms, heavy rain and even hail. Fortunately the sun came through during the parade. Lots of people along the track and our guests got overwhelmed by applause.

On May 6th there was a military funeral of the remains of Private Albert Laubenstein at the cemetery of Bergen op Zoom. The family didn’t want a Colour Party, but we got a request from the Canadian Military Attaché Colonel Mike Hogan, to form a small delegation (6). After the speech of the padre, the clouds opened up and gave us a short burst of heavy rain and hail.

On May 7th we accompanied our guests on a WW1 battlefield tour in Belgium. We visited the cemetery of Tyne Cot and Ieper. First the wonderful museum, then dinner and prepping for the ceremony at the Menin-gate. Every day buglers of the local fire brigade play the last post at 20.00h. With the Colours in front, the band entered the tunnel shaped gate. Lots of spectators saw an impeccable performance. Afterwards we got compliments from the organisation: this was the best pipes and drum band they have had since many months.

When we got back to the centre square I bumped into Ray and Carol Romses. Does coincidence exists? You can imagine that Ray and the Airforce cadets (from his hometown) were glowing. Around 21.15h we got back on the bus to Harskamp. During the long ride the members of the band started to sing the WW1 song ‘On the road to Passchendaele’………goosebumps. We were back at the barracks at 01.30h.

On May 8th we could sleep in, because our activities started late in the afternoon. We went to Posterenk, a very small village near Apeldoorn. The local committee organized a Liberation ceremony for the first time. We started with a street parade, followed by speeches, a laying of a wreath (6 Canadians were killed during the liberation) and this was followed by music, a concert of the band and a real spontaneous street party. We all had a great time!

On May 9th the Liberation parade in Apeldoorn with the old veterans on historic military vehicles. Our Colour Party and the band got very positive feedback from the crowds along the road. After the parade we went to the Omnisport complex, where the old liberators were feasted with a concert. First the massed pipes and drums entered the arena, followed by the Colours. Of course we had to fit in the Colours of comrades from Canadian branches, so we ended up with around 20.

After the concert, we moved to Arnhem for a thank you and farewell dinner. For all the active members of our branch with or without spouses, the sponsors, members of the Canadian Embassy and our guests: members of the band and Remco with his sons.

What a way to end this once in a lifetime week…….

There are pictures on our website and if you want another impression, go to the website of the RCMP band. Just surf to RCMP Pipes and Drums Ottawa. Stories of the liberation week are also available on our website/events.

A few footnotes: I was impressed by the serious interest in what our branch does of the Dutch and Canadian military. In Wageningen the Dutch Chief of Defence Staff came over to our stand and had kind chats with us. In Bergen op Zoom, the former CDS Walter Natynczyk was positively surprized to see Legion members and came to meet us for a chat.

The real stars of the show were the old liberators. We will remember them…