The history of the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek

Introduction 

On this page can you read the history of the War Cemetery in Groesbeek. Have you some questions about this page then can you mal me on the follow mail dress webmaster@geschiedenisgroesbeek.nl  

 

The photograph is made at 7 may 1980. On this day Europe was 35 years liberated from the Nazi's. On the photograph can you see the queen of the Netherlands Beatrix, she was only six seven day's queen of the Netherlands. 

 

The Canadian War Cemetery:

  As the farmer N. Zeinstra came back from the evacuation, he saw on his land different boards with “Verboden Toegang” (= trespassers will be prosecuted) writen on them. He went to the mayor of Groesbeek, Jonkheer van Grotenhuis for more information, but the mayor didn’t know something about it, and advised farmer Zeinstra to begin with his work on his land. After some days, a Canadian officer came a little bit indignant to mayor van Grotenhuis, to complain about his advice. Because that piece of land was specially selected by the officer, to make a war cemetery of it. The mayor could convince him, that this land was not suitable, because a residential quarter was near that piece of land, and that it was also a pity because of the very good quality of the land. He promised to take care of a good alternative. They asked for advice, Mr. Lambert Janssen (owner of the farm Groenendael near the Wylerbaan). He belonged to the foundation “Landbouwherstel” (a foundation for restoration of the agriculture after the Second World War) and as a farmer-son he was a specialist in the quality from land in the municipal of Groesbeek To make a cemetery there were two pieces of land possible:

  1. One piece near the woods of Klein America (the first dropping place from the airborne divisions) in the south of Groesbeek, and
  2. A piece of land near the Zevenheuvelenweg in the north of Groesbeek.

Both places had a viewpoint to Germany. This was a prerequiste. To have a look, the mayor of Groesbeek in that time, went to the land of large land owner Jurgens at the Zevenheuvelenweg, which was tenant by Zeinstra. As he came there, he saw that the land was destroyed by tanks, trenches and holes to shoot made by the soldiers. Also on the land, was a destroyed German tank. On the ground, he saw an empty packet of cigarettes. He took it and saw the trade-mark: “Sweet Corporal”. He took the packet with him, and he also found a Canadian uniform button. These two objects were the clue to decide that this was the real place. The Canadian officer agreed, but he also wanted to have a look to the other place in the south. By Jeep, both men went through the village of Groesbeek to Klein America in the south of our village. As they came on the road “de Colonjes” , the officer and the mayor both saw that there were still dangerous mines everywhere. The officer stopped the car, and said: “ I do not go further”. He also told the mayor, that he as an officer, had to do more important things, and that he was a little bit afraid to drive on one of those mines !! He thanked the mayor for his help, and with the adres from the family Jurgens he went to Berg en Dal (belongs to the village of Groesbeek, near the town of Nijmegen). With the Jurgens he made an agreement.

 

The making of the Canadian War Cemetery:

  The work began in the summer of 1945, and the first part of the cemetery took two years. A group of six Canadian people stayed in our village Groesbeek. They lived in the pub from the widow Jacobs, near the Molenweg in the center of Groesbeek. Cees Luyben, a prominent citizen in that time, could remember that in that pub a large wooden crucifix was made by a French-Canadian, who worked several months on it to get it ready. Later it got changed by a crucifix made of stone. By making the cemetery, the digging and the transport of the corpses, many men of Groesbeek helped to get it ready. They went by truck to Germany, to search for the corpses, laying in the temporary graves, who were everywhere in Germany. The corpses were wind round with blankets, and te wooden crosses with here names and other I.D.’s on them, were tied with a telephone-cable. As the truck was loaded, they went back to the last resting-place in Groesbeek.

 

How did the Canadian War Cemetery arise ?

  After the Netherlands were free again from the German Nazi regime on the 5 th Mai 1945, many militairy cemeterys were build. One of those cemeterys is the Canadian Militairy Cemetery in Groesbeek. Most of the soldiers are Canadians, some of them were very young men even from 18 years old who gave their live for our freedom !! Many of the soldiers have been killed at Operation Veritable and  The Battle of the Reichswald, not far away on the other side of the border.

On the next pages you can read how the Canadian Cemetery in Groesbeek arised. You can also read, that on the 4 th of Mai 1947 the cemetery officialy was opened by the Dutch queen in those days, Queen Wilhelmina. There is also the possibility, to see different pictures, who were made during this emontional opening.

The above source is from the book Groesbeek 1945 - 1950 The village of destruction resurrected compiled by Mr. G. G. Driessen from the book

 

 

This pages can you only read in the Dutch version

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GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY. Here lie buried mostly Canadians, who were killed in the fierce battles for the Rhineland in February and March 1945. The cemetery is unusual because many dead buried here were transferred from Germany. So this is one of the few times that bodies were brought across the border. Most victims were buried in the country and even city where she died. As far as can be determined, all Canadian soldiers (except one who is buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany) who died in the Rhineland battles reburied here. General Crerar, commander of the Canadian Army in Europe, gave an order that no Canadian dead were buried in German soil. This was not only the army and killed staff air force and navy.

 

On this cemetery lie 2617 deads bury:     

 

254 acquaintances UK (3 Navy, 211 Army, 40 Air Force)
13 unknown people UK (10 Army, 3 Air Force)
2 acquaintances Australia (2 Air Force)
 2332acquaintances Canada (2191 Army, 141 Air Force)
7 unknown people Canada (4 Army, 3 Air Force)
1 acquaintance New-Zeeland (1 Air Force)
 1 acquaintance Rusland (1 Army)
 1 acquaintance Netherlands (1 Army)
 1 acquaintance Joegoslavie (1 Army)
2 acquaintances Poland (2 Army)
3 acquaintances Belgium (3 Army)

 

 Since this cemetery is still a so-called open cemetery, is possible the number in the course of years something have increased. Regularly still material rests of soldiers is found and here her bury.

 Above text part comes of the Internet site Dutch war sepulchers