Liberation of the Netherlands

Liberation of the Netherlands

Between 1944 and 1945, the Canadian Army was given the important yet deadly task of liberating the Netherlands. Told through the eyes of Canadian Lieutenant Wilf Gildersleeve of the Seaforth Highlanders and of Marguerite Blaisse, a Dutch civilian, this Heritage Minute commemorates the sacrifice of Canadians who fought and celebrates the bond formed between Canada and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, April 1945

WILF (VOICE)

We fought our way through Italy, and then headed for Amsterdam, sweeping for Germans along the way. Our worst fear was to catch a bullet in these last hours of the war.

MARGUERITE (VOICE)

I was 15 when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands.

Marguerite (VOICE)

More than 100,000 Dutch Jews never came home. Our men were put into forced labour. By 1945, we were starving.

Outside of Amsterdam, 1945

Marguerite (VOICE)

The food drops gave us hope. And then –

Marguerite (VOICE)

-- the Canadians came.

WILF (VOICE)

Before Amsterdam, I couldn’t have explained why we were there, all those years away from home.

WILF (VOICE)

But the Dutch showed us why it mattered.

May 8th, 1945

MARGUERITE (VOICE)

Papa wanted me to bring some soldiers home to thank them personally.

Marguerite (VOICE)

And that’s when I first saw Wilf.

Marguerite (VOICE)

And I invited him over that afternoon.

NARRATOR (VOICE)

Marguerite Blaisse married Lieutenant Wilf Gildersleeve. They  moved to Vancouver where they would raise 8 children. Today, the Dutch still remember the Canadians who liberated them.