Veteran Stories:
Jan Jansma

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""I was still outside, dad was in the house, and all of a sudden the whole neighbourhood started to yell, “Here come the Canadians, here come the Canadians!”"


My name is Jan Jansma. I was born in a little town called Norg in the province of Drenthe in the Netherlands, 193 the 20th of April.

When the Canadians were coming through our area, the 5th or the 10th of May – I always got those two days mixed up because Germany either started coming into the Netherlands on the 10th of May or the 5th of May, and then the capitulation was also either the 5th or the 10th, so those two dates are very close together – but anyway, that particular day, 10 years old, I was helping my dad, who had a milk delivery route in between the town we lived in and the next town, and one of those customers at the end of the route was my dad’s sister, so that was my aunt and uncle’s place. I was still outside, dad was in the house, and all of a sudden the whole neighbourhood started to yell, “Here come the Canadians, here come the Canadians!”

And what was in that column of vehicles was a half-track – a tank on [railway] tracks, the wheels up front; a covered, international armoury truck; and then the four-wheel gun carrier with a cannon up on the back of it. So they came through the street, went out of town, didn’t stop, and then by the time we had gotten back home – it would be about 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock – I was back again outside, and that same group of vehicles made a tour to the countryside, and they came back right in front of our house when I’m standing again on the street, and that was the second time I’d seen that same group. I can still them, close my eyes and see them go by.

And another thing that happened with those Canadian soldiers there, the next farm over, one farmer closer to our place, that’s where the Canadian soldiers had their, more or less their garage, because I’d seen two or three jeeps, the motor changed in them, and that was – for a ten-year old kid, quite something to see.

So we must have had at least 6 or 7 people from the Canadian soldiers in our town. And it’s actually too bad that we did not put a scribble on the table and say, “write down your name,” because in 1954 – this is 9 years later – around ’45 and ’46, we were in Canada ourselves as immigrants. It would have been absolutely very interesting to meet some of those.

We were in the Netherlands for the 50th anniversary – was it 50th or 45th? – we were in Apeldoorn, because that’s where my wife was originally born and raised. And we were in somebody’s apartment, and the Canadians had a parade that particular day in that commemoration. And those guys, they had it organized, it would be about an hour and a half maybe for the parade, which ended up to be a three-hour parade because the Canadian soldiers got busheled up; they couldn’t walk four beside anymore, they were just one beside the other. And everybody fed them with all sort of things – they gave them a box of cigars, they gave them this, they gave them that. And so, instead of a nice, organized parade, it just was the guys going, well maybe it was like the way they were hiding one behind the other in the war time, getting out of danger’s way, now they were in between celebrating people.


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