The Royal Canadian Dragoons’ (RCD) Guidon is marched onto the parade square. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) Lieutenant Colonel Rob Marois stands at attention while the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Canada Henk van der Zwan spoke to those in attendance at the weekend parade. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
The Royal Canadian Dragoons stand proudly on parade on April 13. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Ambassador van der Zwan was invited to attend the event and made his way through the rows of Canadian Armed Forces members, thanking them for being part of the rich history being celebrated. He was told many stories growing up about how Canadian soldiers liberated his country from German occupation. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
No matter where they are in the world, the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) fly the Leeuwarden flag to commemorate the liberation. Master Corporal Richard Ward was given the honour at this year’s parade. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Trooper Don White was in Leeuwarden on April 14 and 15, 1945 and took part in the town’s liberation by Canadian troops. He remembers that night clearly, and shared his memories with those in attendance at the Royal Canadian Dragoons’ Celebration of the Liberation of Leeuwarden parade on April 13. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
The RCD celebrate the Liberation of Leeuwarden
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday April 18, 2019
Seventy-four years ago, the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) were marching through the Netherlands, liberating people from the oppressive regime that had governed them for so long.
When the Canadian troops received word that the Germans were attacking Dutch resistance forces in the town of Leeuwarden, the Dragoon Squadrons “C” and “HQ” descended without hesitation, forcing the enemy to retreat during the night of April 14, 1945, into April 15. As relieved and grateful citizens flooded the streets, crying out their thanks, the Canadian troops distributed the enemies’ rations and supplies, including chocolate to the excited children.
This night was forever marked and many decades afterwards, Canada is still held in high esteem by the Dutch people.
A parade was held on April 13 at Garrison Petawawa with guest speaker Henk van der Zwan, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Canada. He was told stories by his mother of Canadian Armed Forces personnel coming into town and giving her and the other children chocolate and bubblegum.
These small acts remain a part of the cultural fabric of the Netherlands, nearly as much as the liberation itself.
“For this, we are forever grateful,” he said, pointing out it was because of brave soldiers like World War Two Veteran Trooper (Tpr) Don White that they were freed.
Tpr White was barely an adult when he was sent to the Netherlands to fight Nazi occupation. He still remembers vividly being on the ground, forcing the Germans to retreat. He recalled the joy and relief of the citizens of Leeuwarden when the enemy fell. He shared his memories with the crowd, talking about that evening so long ago. The friendship between both countries is still cemented.
He was honoured by the Netherlands with a beautiful white tulip that bears his name. “It’s a great day to be a Dragoon,” he said.
As he spoke to his troops, RCD Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Rob Marois mentioned how important the friendship between the two nations was, and is still; both fly each other’s flag in recognition of this crucial moment, “remembering the bravery and sacrifice” of that day. Regardless of where they are in the world or what they are doing, each April 15, the Dragoons raise the town of Leeuwarden flag. “We remember our history with events like today,” said LCol Marois, adding commemorative ceremonies help strengthen the ties between both countries.
To the family members of those liberated as well to anyone from the Netherlands, he had a warm message.
“You are always welcome here and you are part of our Regimental family,” said LCol Marois.
He and his personnel were given a formal invitation to the Netherlands for the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Leeuwarden.