Meeting a Ukrainian-Canadian WW II war hero in Kyiv
Last Friday Ambassador Kees Klompenhouwer met Mr. Wally Bunka, a Ukrainian-Canadian decorated War veteran, at the Canadian Embassy. The 92 year-old, a very modest and friendly man, had an exceptionally moving story to tell.
Mr. Bunka participated in the liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War. With his Canadian unit of the Winnipeg rifles he personally was present on the first day of the Allied landings on the 6th of June 1944 on the beaches of Normandy (Juno beach).
He was wounded during the battle of Falaise, but recovered sufficiently to join his unit for the liberation of Belgium and the Netherlands. (Zeeland and subsequently the Northern Netherlands). He fought in the battle of the Scheldt in 1944 and in the liberation of Deventer in April 1945.
In Ghent he miraculously met his Ukrainian-Canadian brother, who had participated in the liberation of Italy, but he also recalled with deep sorrow having lost a lot of his comrades in arms during the long and often difficult battles. How they had to fight in the mud of Zeeland to allow the reopening of Antwerp harbor and had to deal with the inundations in defeating the enemy.
His fallen comrades are buried in the Commonwealth cemeteries in the Netherlands. On the 6th of May he has visited their graves to pay tribute to them. During our annual remembrance ceremonies in the Netherlands we still honor men like Mr. Bunka and are thankful for the sacrifices our allies have made for our freedom.