The regimental sergeant major (RSM) change of appointment wad made official by signing documents. These documents were signed in parallel to one and another by (from left) outgoing RSM Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Mercer, Colonel of the Regiment Major-General (retired) Matt Macdonald, Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Graham, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Commander Colonel Conrad Mialkowski and incoming RSM Chief Warrant Officer James (Jim) Hebert.
The Staghound was used in World War II and carries the same markings as those used in the Liberation of Leeuwarden.
Liberation of Leeuwarden Veteran Don White is brought to the parade by jeep.
Sergeant Andrew Fenton helps Liberation of Leeuwarden Veteran Don White out of the vehicle and to his seat.
Liberation of Leeuwarden Veteran Don White was invited to inspect the troops along with Colonel of the Regiment Major-General (retired) Matt Macdonald and Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Graham.
The Royal Canadian Dragoons march onto Worthington Parade Square to commemorate the 71st Anniversary of the Liberation of Leeuwarden.
As the Dutch anthem played, the Leeuwarden flag was raised.
It was a proud day for Chief Warrant Officer James (Jim) Hebert as he took over the duties of regiment sergeant major. The transfer of the pace stick, handed to him by Lt.-Col. Steve Graham, symbolically marked this change of appointment.
The Royal Canadian Dragoons parade across Worthington Square.
Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Graham prepares to lead the Royal Canadian Dragoons in a march.
Dragoons commemorate Liberation of Leeuwarden
By: Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2016
It may have occurred 71 years ago, but the Liberation of Leeuwarden is still fresh in Veteran Trooper Don White’s mind. He was invited as an honoured guest to speak about his experiences in the Second World War at The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) Celebration of the 71st Anniversary of the Liberation of Leeuwarden Parade on April 14.
After receiving word, White and his fellow Dragoons set off to reinforce the Dutch patriots in Leeuwarden. He remembers vividly that the wet streets were empty, save for armed Dutchmen who engaged fire with German soldiers.
As the Canadians breached the city with their Staghounds and Dingos, the enemy forces quickly realized that they were greatly overpowered and withdrew. The appreciation for their help was tremendous, and people flooded the streets, cheers resounding loudly, and residents warmly embraced the Canadian soldiers with gratitude. “We did stick around for a little while after we liberated the town until headquarters’ squadron got onto us,” said White as the crowd laughed. “But that wasn’t unusual.”
He remembered that a baby girl was born shortly after this event. Her father was so overjoyed that his child was born free that he wrote a letter thanking the regiment for saving them. “I think that is the spark of why we are still celebrating the liberation of that town,” said White. This gratitude is still expressed when the Dutch city flies the RCD flag on April 15. It is a gesture reciprocated by the Dragoons as they fly Leeuwarden’s flag during their own celebrations.
Appreciation for Canadians spread throughout the Netherlands, as this wasn’t the only town to be liberated.
When the Dragoons moved on to free the Town of Franeker, about 15 km away, the simple act of giving a hungry little boy a chocolate bar marked White deeply. Particularly since that same boy, now a man, approached him decades later, reminiscing about this simple act of kindness and how it had touched him. “I couldn’t help but think that the Canadians in Holland must have made a great impression for a ten-year-old boy to remember a young guy like me in those days,” said White.
He was at a loss for words to explain the depths of the bond between both nations and their people. To him, there are no two countries in the history of the world that share such a love and respect. “Words won’t come to me to express my gratitude for this regiment and all it’s done for me,” said White. “My only regret at all is that some of my other buddies aren’t here to share with me this glorious day. I am so proud of these Dragoons that I can’t say any more.”
Following the celebrations, a Change of Appointment was held between outgoing Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Mercer and incoming RSM Chief Warrant Officer James (Jim) Hebert.
CWO Mercer had been RSM for the past three years, and is extremely proud to have worked with the Dragoons. “You fine men and women of this regiment, I’ve only asked you to ever do one thing and that is the right thing,” said CWO Mercer. “That you observe and continue to observe your tenets of training, discipline and acknowledgement and that you continue to develop yourself in courage, in loyalty, in integrity that is fitting for this regiment… So that we can hold our heads high in the presence of great men like Don White.”