Holandia / Historia

A Bronze Lion for Major George Ernest Bergeron




During the attack on the city of Groningen, Canadian Major George Ernest Bergeron received the order on April 15, 1945, to cross the Herebrug and capture the Hereplein. After the successful crossing, Bergeron wanted to report to headquarters, but he would never reach it. Along the way he will be killed by a German sniper.

George Ernest Bergeron was born on January 17, 1920, in Montreal, French-speaking Québec, Canada. His parents, Arthur, and Lillian Bergeron had two more children, Paul and Madeleine. After graduating from college, he started working as an accountant at the Bank of Montreal. Bergeron joined the Canadian Reserve Army in 1940 and in September 1942 he decided to enlist in the Canadian Army, probably around the same time as his brother.

At the end of 1942 he started his training at the Valcartier training camp in Québec. After about a year and a half of training, he was sent on his first deployment to Europe at the age of 24. In mid-July 1944 he was promoted to captain and embarked for the United Kingdom, arriving twelve days later. He remained in the United Kingdom until the end of 1944. He was assigned to the fifth brigade of the second Canadian infantry division, in the regiment called 'Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal'. He was then transferred to occupied Europe at the end of November 1944.

On February 26, 1945, George was promoted from captain to major. About a month and a half later the battle for the city of Groningen began. The regiment Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal entered the city of Groningen from the south. On April 13, 1945, the Canadian army reached the city. The Canadians attacked from the south and east, so that the German soldiers and the Dutch SS could not flee to Delfzijl. The battle was tougher than the Canadian army had expected. The bridges and canals that protected the old city center were especially a problem. Many bridges had to be conquered one by one, because the German army had raised a large number of them or destroyed them themselves.

Major Bergeron received the order on the early morning of April 15, 1945 to cross the Herebrug and capture the Hereplein. The attack was launched, and one unit successfully crossed the Here Bridge under heavy German machine gun fire. During this action, a building was set on fire near the Herebrug, illuminating the area around the bridge.

The company commanded by Major Bergeron was the next company to cross. His lead platoon tried to move forward but was met with concentrated machine gun fire and stopped. Realizing the danger of an isolated company on either side of the canal, Major Bergeron moved forward and skillfully led the platoon across one by one. After this he placed them in positions in the buildings. Despite the very heavy resistance of the Germans, Bergeron, through his courage and determination, managed to occupy the left position of the Hereplein, relieving the pressure on the company on its right flank and allowing the rest of the battalion to cross.

After positioning each platoon, he began returning to his company headquarters to report back. But unfortunately, he would never reach his headquarters, on the way he was shot at by a German sniper, killing him instantly. He was posthumously awarded the Dutch Bronze Lion award. George was first buried in Eelderwolde and is now buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.