15 APRIL 1945 – THE LIBERATION OF LEEUWARDEN
The Liberation of Leeuwarden, by Trooper Don White, 2010
By the luck of the draw 1st Troop C Squadron was chosen to lead the advance on the 15th of April 1945.
Being a member of 1st troop, these are my recollections (65 years later) of the events of that day.
In mid-morning of April 15th, we were advancing on the road to Leeuwarden. A mile or so before the city we carne upon a cement roadblock. It was constructed in such a manner that the right half of the road was blocked and a few hundred feet further the left side was blocked.
We stopped briefly to survey the road ahead, trying to make sure there wasn’t an anti-tank gun aimed down the road at us. With much concern we decided to take a chance and made a hasty run through the barricade. There were 2 Dingoes and 2 Staghounds.
After arriving at the other side without any action, we proceeded into Leeuwarden.
We saw no living thing until we were a block or two into the town. Within minutes you could hardly see the ground for the swarms of people, all ages.
I have never in my life, before or since, seen such a joyous, hysterically happy group of people.
My officer, Lieut. Hume Wilkins (Sinbuster), many years later said he could still hear the people singing.
Dutch flags and long orange (the royal color) streamers were hanging out of every window. To this day I have no ideas of how these symbols were hidden for so many years.
A pretty young girl of perhaps 12 or 14 presented me with one of these streamers, which 1 have treasured for all these years.
We were held up temporarily a waiting the Colonel to arrive and formally enter the city. While waiting we were overwhelmed by people, young and old, wanting to hug, kiss, shake hands and pound us on the back. Needless to say, you could hardly see our vehicles After the arrival of the Colonel, we proceeded to the Town Hall in the center of the City where, amidst thousands of people, the Mayor and the Burgomeister made speeches, presumably of welcome, because we didn’t understand a word.
Ceremonies over, 1st Troop C Squadron was ordered on to Franiker.
Having kept and prized this streamer, with all its memories for so many years, I would at this time like to present it to the Regiment – its rightful place.
I am very proud to have served my country and had the good luck to have been a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
I am extremely proud of the young men and women who are serving in the Regiment today. They are carrying on the traditions and the reputation of the Dragoons