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Temporary 'field of honour' for Canadian soldiers in Wirdum



Indicazioni stradali

Immediately after the liberation in April 1945, a temporary Canadian cemetery was established in Wirdum. The 44 fallen soldiers of the battle of Delfzijl were buried here until a central Dutch cemetery was ready for them.

On the afternoon of April 25, 1945, the fallen Canadian Corporal Alfred Edwards was buried in a temporary cemetery in the village of Wirdum. He was the first of a total of 44 Canadians to find a first resting place here. All died in the battle for Appingedam and Delfzijl. In the spring of 1946, all bodies were transferred to the Holten Canadian War Cemetery. The graves were dug by captured NSB members. The Wirdumers were not satisfied with the appearance of the cemetery and asked for permission to maintain it. They set up a committee and started raising money; nothing was available from the Canadian side. A gardener from Loppersum was called in for professional input and advice.

Many Wirdumers volunteer for the Canadian cemetery. They also wanted to plant flowers on the graves. Gardenier Kempenaar: 'However, the soil was so bad that this was impossible. That is why I very carefully and hesitantly suggested that quite a lot of peat litter should be used. But I wouldn't know where that would come from. […] The next day I received a message that 15 packs of peat litter were ready. When I asked how that was possible, the answer I received was that the problem had been presented to the Canadians and they had managed to track down the necessary peat.'

White petunias and blue ageratums were placed on each grave in the shape of a cross. The wooden crosses bore the name, rank, and army unit of each fallen soldier, and each grave was bordered with white-painted stones. The committee maintained the graves throughout the summer and fall. Since no one knew when the graves would be opened to transfer the bodies to the cemetery of honor, the flowers were replaced by winter bloomers. The gardener: "If there was timely notice from the graves service, I would collect the plants in advance."

On Sunday, November 11, 1945, a memorial service was held at the cemetery in the presence of the mayors of Loppersum and Delfzijl and of various senior Canadian soldiers of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. The names of the fallen soldiers were announced, and wreaths were laid. In February or March 1946, the Canadian Graves Registration Unit came to clear the graves unannounced. Plants, stones, and other parts were randomly deposited in the emptied graves. For the people who did this work, this was just routine work; they picked up the dead all over the Netherlands. Everyone knew this would happen, but the Wirdumers would have loved to take care of the graves a little longer. Yet, by honoring the dead in this way, they have been able to express their great gratitude to the liberators.



Wirdumerweg 2, 9917 PE Wirdum