Liberation of the Netherlands Trip - 2015



During the dates of May 1st  through May 10th, 2015 a Composite RCMP Band made up from a contingent of combined band members from across all of our RCMP bands in Canada participated in the celebrations to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands. Thank you to the leadership of the RCMP Band - NCR for your Leadership and Organization for this once in a life time trip.


Graham Muir, our Band Officer, kept a Daily Journal * that expands on the pictures captured below. Please take a few moments to read this incredible account of the Composite Band exciting and historical journey to commemorate the Liberation of the Netherlands. (* Adobe Reader Required)


Major Mike Motyl, Military Police Services Group is one of our Pipers and he wrote an article* for the Department of Defence MP website relating his experience regarding the Trip. It has been submitted to the DND/NCR Newspaper and the National Maple Leaf. Please take a few moments to read his account. (* Adobe Reader Required)


These few photo's below demonstrate the talent and decication of our Pipe and Drum Corps as they represented Canada and made us all very proud.



10000    Pre-boarding group shot in Montreal last night, and some of the cabin crew joined us for the photo.



10001    Sharing a laugh with a veteran who served with the 48th Highlanders of Canada



10002    We arrived in Apeldoorn in golf shirt order not sure where we were playing and expected a low key affair to fine tune things.



10003    We ended up with police escort, parading right into the town square!



10004    Not exactly a circle! But the audience was very appreciative and continued to grow as we played.



10005    Posing afterwards with the gentleman from the 48th Highlanders.



10006    Such a touching moment. This girl (not sure if she was Dutch or Canadian) wanted to meet him. They chatted a bit, and he was very classy as he bent to kiss her hand. So sweet!



10007    Parading out from the town square, with some of the beautiful buildings of the old part of Apeldoorn in the background.



20000    We formed up about 1 km away, and our appearance was a surprise.



20001    Marching past Dutch farms, with scenery very typical of this part of the country.



20002    Wheeling onto the gate road.



20003    A drummers view



20004    Marching up the beautiful tree lined gate road.



20005    Entering the estate.



20006    The guest of honour is introduced by a member of the Apeldoorn Legion.



20007    We played in a small open area adjacent to an old, thatched roof barn.



20008    Playing the show sets.



20009    Playing the show sets.



20010    The broad sword dancers make their debut!




20011    Group shot in front of the estate house, originally built by a baron in the mid-15th century!



20012    This picture captures the true essence of RCMP Pipes and Drums Band trip to the Netherlands. Inspiring and heart catching.



30001    Our hosts for the day, Amy and Dick - Leeuwarden



30002    Dick leading the band through the streets of Leeuwarden on our morning parade. We played for two busloads of Canadian veterans as they went for lunch with dignitaries.



30003    Amy leading us through the tree lined streets of this very picturesque town.



30004    Ready to step off for the afternoon parade.



30005    Parading along a tree lined street beside a canal. A very Dutch scene.



30006    March past - Leeuwarden.



30007    Entering the town square in Leeuwarden.



30008    We put on a 15 minute show in the town square.



30009    The Show



30010    Drum Major with re-enactors in the background.



30011    Snares in action



30012    Proudly wearing the Red!



30013    Some of our young fans.



30014    There were many re-enactors, some dressed in period military uniforms, some dressed as members of the resistance, and some, like this woman, dressed in period civilian clothes.



30015    Making new friends.



30016    Good times with the locals



30017    Group shot in the town square. The ground was sloped, but the background was great.



30018    The return leg of our afternoon parade. The band passes a billboard marking events around the liberation of Leeuwarden by the Royal Canadian Dragoons.



30019    Four re-enactors on period Canadian army uniforms bringing up the rear.



30020    Parading past one of the many unique buildings in Leeuwarden.



30021    Returning to our home for the day, an encampment in a city park which also served as an encampment for Canadian troops in 1945.



30022    A special ride to get to dinner at a Dutch air force base. Boarding an amphibious truck known as a DUKW. It was a real treat to get a ride in these.



30023    Some of the 150 vintage military vehicles one the air force base in preparation for tomorrow's Liberation Day parade in Leeuwarden.



30024    Our convoy of DUKWs (pronounced ducks) returns to the encampment for our evening parade.



40001    Making more friends.



40002    Our piper/bugler. He has not only played in shows, but played on base each morning to wake us up, and to mark the end of the day.



40003    Part of our drum line.



40004    Tight circle to play in support of the Apeldoorn Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, who were instrumental in help making this trip happen.



40005    Again, there were many vintage vehicles in site and many in the parade. A vintage RCAF firetruck makes an interesting background.



40006    A visit with Air Canada's senior representative in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Air Canada sponsored the ground transportation in the Netherlands for our trip. Many thanks to Air Canada for helping us make this trip possible!



40007    A ceremony with the Netherlands Chief of Defence, General Tom Middendorp.



40008    General Middendorp fires a ceremonial salute.



40009    General Middendorp greeting members of the Band



40010    Some of the assembled dignitaries and veterans for the parade.



40011    Prime Minister Harper saying a few words.



40012    The parade began with a jeep and a truck carrying veterans.



40013    The Band approaches



40014    We had the honour of following these lead vehicles as the first marching unit in the parade, together with the City of Apeldoorn Pipes and Drums.



40015    The bands march past



40016    The band passes the dignitaries. The building in the background on the right is the Hotel de Wereld in which the surrender was negotiated.



40017    We were followed by representatives of the Canadian Armed Forces.



40018    The parade included several units of Dutch re-enactors, including this band as well as the 48th Highlanders of the Netherlands and the Seaforth Highlanders of the Netherlands.



40019    There were also several fly-pasts by this B-25 bomber and several other vintage aircraft.



40020    Re-enactor on the main site. The attention to detail of these re-enactors is tremendous. They do much to keep alive the memory of Canada's role in the liberation of the Netherlands.



40021    A woman in the uniform of the Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division, posing in front of a vintage RCAF fire truck.



40022    Another re-enactor on site.



40023    One of the many vintage vehicles on site, a Canadian designed and built Sexton self-propelled gun, prepares to head home at the end of the day.



40024    A 25 pounder gun/howitzer together with its ammunition limber hooked up and ready to leave.



50001    Groesbeek - Entrance to the cemetery.



50002    An introduction to the cemetery by our guide from the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek.



50003    Like all Commonwealth cemeteries, the Groesbeek cemetery is in immaculate condition, and from the ceremonies earlier in the week there were many Canadian flags, flowers and other mementos. Over 2600 Allied soldiers, aircrew and sailors are buried in the cemetery, including 2338 Canadians.



50004    A touching inscription on a gravestone. A reminder that many who served and died had wives and children back home.



50005    We held a short remembrance service near the grave of Sgt. Aubrey Cosens, VC.



50006    Our bugler and piper with Maarten, our guide and host from the Royal Canadian Legion in Apeldoorn



50007    The Last Post



50008    Some time for reflection Groesbeek cemetery.



50009    Some time for reflection Groesbeek cemetery.



50010    Touring the National Liberation Museum



50011    Inside the Honorary Dome, which has books containing the names of all Allied soldiers killed in the liberation of northern Europe, from the invasion of Normandy to the end of the war.



50012    A memory tree inside the museum, resplendent with maple leaves with written messages of remembrance.



60001    Today we turn our attention south, to Flanders, and back to the events of a century ago, during the First World War. We visited Ypres, in Belgium (Ieper in Flemish), and had the tremendous honour of playing at the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Our first stop was the Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing. This cemetery is located near the once obscure village of Passchendaele, a name that will be forever associated with the horrors of war.



60002    Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the world. Almost 12,000 Commonwealth soldiers are buried here, not far from where Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote "In Flanders Fields" almost exactly 100 years ago, on May 3, 1915.



60003    A Moment of reflection - Tyne Cot Cemetery



60004    A Moment of reflection - Tyne Cot Cemetery



60005    From Tyne Cot, we headed into Ypres to visit the In Flanders Field Museum, located in the historic Cloth Hall. The Cloth Hall, like all of Ypres, was completely destroyed during the war, and the Hall and the rest of the town were rebuilt after the war. There was one new addition to the town's skyline, the Menin Gate, opened in 1927. The Gate is seen here from the belfry of the Cloth Hall.



60006    The Menin Gate is a war memorial dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres area during World War I and whose graves are unknown. Almost 55,000 names are inscribed on the monument



60007    Moments of Remembrance



60008    The Menin Gate



60009    Since the Menin Gate opened in 1927, a "Last Post" ceremony has been performed every single night at 8:00, interrupted only by the German occupation during World War II. The ceremony is led by buglers of the local fire brigade, joined from time to time by musicians from across the Commonwealth.



60010    Tonight, we had the honour of marching through the streets of Ypres and participating in the ceremony.



60011    Marching through the streets of Ypres



60012    Drum Section marching through the streets of Ypres



60013    At Ease! - The Menin Gate



60014    The Band at ease - The Menin Gate



60015    The Act of Remembrance being recited by one of our drummers.



60016    RCMP Wreath of Remembrance



60017    Our Drum Major presenting a wreath on behalf of the RCMP.



60018    Our Drum Major salutes the wreath lain behalf of the RCMP.



60019    The ceremony over, we played back to the Cloth Hall to the RCMP Regimental March.



60020    Back at the Cloth Hall, we played a set for the assembled audience.



60021    Young lad from Lethbridge acting as part of our Honour Guard



60022    As luck would have it, our bus was parked on the other side of the Menin Gate. There was only one way to get there. So we played back down the street and the through the Gate.



60023    Playing through the Menin Gate on our way to the bus



60024    At Attention in front of the Menin Gate - Ypres



70001    This is why we were there. Because these six young men from a faraway land volunteered to go to war, and gave their lives to help liberate the people of this village from tyranny. For this act, the people of Posterenk are eternally grateful, and we felt that gratitude tonight.



70002    The start of the parade, with the vintage vehicles so ubiquitous this week



70003    At easy, waiting to parade through the streets of Posterenk.



70004    Marching past the windmill, which was the focal point of the ceremony and the festivities.



70005    There was a wreath laying at the base of the windmill, to honour the fallen. Note the boys' shirts.



70006    Our Drum Major salutes the wreath of Remembrance.



70007    The band playing following the wreath laying.



70008    Then a local woman got up to sing songs from the war time.



70009    And then something magical happened. Something almost never seen. People in the band started to smile and grin and even sing along. For an evening, we became one with the people of Posterenk. We ceased to be outsiders.



70010    Unprecedented smiling breaks out



70011    Smiles all around the Band



70012    A perfect setting for a group photo - Posterenk



70013    After the ceremony we put on a short show, and we rocked it! The band sound amazing!!



70014    The show in Posterenk



70015    Our bus driver put to work!



70016    A re-enactor that we also met in Wageningen, posing while holding one of the pipers pipes.



70017    With encouragement, he gave them a whirl. Harder than he expected.



70018    But he proved to be darn good playing along to Highland Cathedral!!! Self-taught, and a lover of pipe music, we encouraged him to join the band in Apeldoorn. They may have a new recruit.



70019    Our dance team poses in front of the windmill.



70020    Piping atop the boardwalk of the windmill.



70021    Group shot with the huge Canadian flag flying from the windmill



70022    Our Saskatchewan contingent.



70023    Our "Choir Major" singing and dancing with the locals.



70024    Inside the windmill were displays about Canada and the war made by children in the local school. They even learn to sing ’O Canada’ at school. During the ceremony, the band sang ‘O Canada’, and many from the town joined in. It was very moving to hear.



70025    "Choir Major" joins the young woman from Posterenk for a duet.



70026    "Choir Major" joins the young woman from Posterenk for a duet.



70027    A gift from the band, an RCMP glengarry.



70028    The windmill in the early evening light.



70029    It was a very long goodbye. A rousing rendition of Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again" and we regretfully thought we were on the way. And then a piper started into "The Black Bear". One contingent then marched to the bus, then a second to the strains of Scotland the Brave, with about 20 people for the village following along. More singing, more hugs, and finally the bus departed. On the return ride to base, more singing, and an incredible solo by one of our pipers. What a day!!!



80001    The theme was "Hello Again" and there were banners everywhere welcoming the Canadian veterans. And there were Canadian flags EVERYWHERE!



80002    The vets covered the parade route in vintage vehicles.



80003    This gentleman was quite the entertainer, interacting with the crowd and singing along the way.



80004    We followed close behind, one of several Canadian pipe bands in the parade.



80005    This was no ordinary parade. We didn't keep on our normal, serious, eyes front "game faces". How could we, when there was so much joy and excitement in the crowd? So we crossed the "fourth wall" to share in that energy. We smiled, we shook hands, and we gave high fives. We were with the crowd, not apart from them.



80006    Great crowd interaction with the band



80007    Smiles along the parade route



80008    Handshakes along the way aswell



80009    We'll meet again .... but we didn't expect it to be this soon! Choir Major meets again with his duet partner from Posterenk, proudly wearing her RCMP glengarry.



80010    Appreciative crowds along the entire parade route



80011    Proudly on the March!



80012    This picture gives a good sense of the density of the crowd and the press of the crowd towards those in the parade. There were no barriers like at home, and no wide space between the crowd and those in the parade. They pressed closed to us, sharing their joy and excitement with us. There were pressing close not to get the better camera shot, they were pressing close to be with us. Fabulous!!



80013    After the parade, we went to a sports complex in town to play at a party put on for the vets. The massed pipes and drums, led by the RCMP, City of Apeldoorn and the 48th Highlanders of Holland, played as the vets entered. The place was packed, but for a few hundred seats in the upper rows.



80014    Maarten, one of our hosts from the Legion, poses as the band plays on.



80015    Words of greeting from the Mayor of Apeldoorn. But this was a celebration not a ceremony, and speeches were kept to a minimum.



80016    The main part of the celebration was an excellent concert by the band of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Before the show began, the conductor saluted the veterans.



80017    Through much of the concert, scenes from the liberation of Apeldoorn were projected onto screens.



80018    After the concert, our friend from Wageningen and Posterenk caught up with us to share a thank you gift of Dutch candies. They we very appreciated and didn't last long!



80019    The last function of the day was a dinner put on by the Legion as a thank you to the band and the many volunteers that made the trip and the whole range of activities the Legion engaged in this week possible.



80020    Thank you Dinner



80021    Band members were presented Legion medals as a thank you and acknowledgement of the contributions we made to the festivities to celebrate the liberation.



80022    A rousing rendition of "On the Road to Passchendaele" while the metals were presented.



80023    Thanks from the RCMP liaison officer for western Europe.



80024    We were also joined by the Canadian ambassador to the Netherlands.



80025    The band presented the Legion with a letter of commendation from the RCMP.



80026    We also presented a Canadian flag signed by all of the members of the band.



80027    One last round of "We'll Meet Again".



80028    With joy and regret, we depart to head back to base to start packing. Tomorrow we leave the Netherlands, but we take the memories with us forever.



80029    Our Drum Corps



80030    … and our Pipe Corps



80031    .... and the whole gang, joined by Air Cadets from Lethbridge Alberta who were with us at many events throughout our time here, as well as the Canadian military attaché to the Netherlands.



Farewell to the Netherlands. This morning, after our final morning bugle call rang across Harskamp army base, we cleaned up, packed up, and headed to Amsterdam to fly home. Soon we'll be home with family and friends, and able to share in person the wealth of stories and experiences of the incredible adventure.




Thank you to all who made this trip possible, and to all who supported us from near and far.