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Holland Remembers exhibit well received by appreciative visitors

Unexpected reunion at Airshow

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia – The special Holland Remembers exhibit at the Abbotsford Air Show attracted numerous visitors who for the first time visited the annual three-day event. Many people who passed through the Show’s largest pavilion on the opening day met former Dutch WWII special agent and RAF-pilot Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema. The veteran who became famous as ’the Soldier of Orange’ signed one hundred copies of his latest book, which is now out of print.

Hazelhoff’s schedule included reviewing a small reenactment of Apeldoorn’s Liberation Day parade. Canadian war veterans seated in or on WWII vintage vehicles drove by the dignitaries and an appreciative but reserved crowd.

At the special pavilion, a replica of the Cross of Sacrifice towered over the surrounding exhibit and stands. The profusely illustrated panels of the Holland Remembers’ display were mounted on three metal frames. Arranged by Dutch War Documentation Centre staff, the exhibit showed images of the occupation years but particularly focused on the Liberation.

Veterans Affairs Canada, showcasing its Year of the Veteran, and the Royal Canadian Legion also took part in the Holland Remembers pavilion. A small army of volunteers sold croquettes, bitterballen, sausages and coffee to pavilion visitors while Netherlands Association Je Maintiendrai’s Edie Bijdemast supplied copies of Hazelhoff’s book.

One of the very first Dutch Canadians to check into the pavilion was Engeland-vaarder and former special agent Lykele Faber who knew Hazelhoff from his wartime London days. Faber who worked for Bureau Bijzondere Opdrachten (BBO) twice was dropped behind enemy lines, first at Son near Eindhoven in September 1944, and again at Haskerhorne near Heerenveen in late 1944. Middelburg-born Faber together with agent Peter Tazelaar, Erik’s long-time friend, aided the resistance movement in Friesland by setting up weapons drop sites.

A number of the veterans shared mostly memorable but also tragic wartime stories. Such as veteran Jack Somerset of the Royal Canadians who made it all the way up to Warffum in northern Groningen with his unit in April 1945, when they were stopped by a frantically-waving member of the local resistance group. Johan Winkel, the son of an Amsterdam teacher, then guided them to another entrance of the village where they approached the enemy position from the rear and disarmed the Germans without a shot. A grateful Somerset still feels that he escaped great danger and that without Winkel’s intervention his name easily could have become an addition to the casualty rolls. Well into his eighties now, the Langley, BC, resident who visited the Netherlands this past May, would love to make contact with Johan Winkel once more and possibly meet him.

The Holland Remembers exhibit also was shown at the Saskatoon Air Show. From there it was taken to the Ottawa Air Show.