UPDATE: The Uncovering Valour Project’s first trip overseas to Holland, Belgium and Germany in 2018 was a wonderful success, generating significant research leads. We followed the 13th Field, Royal Canadian Artillery regimental diaries, which led us through several cities that were liberated by Canadians - as well as a variety of sites of interest noted in the personal diaries of Lt. Col. E. A. Olmsted. The blog post and updates are expected to be uploaded in May, 2019.
Hi Al! I am visiting Holland/Germany this week and am hoping to solicit input on important things to see while there related to the 13th Field, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) and my grandfather (Lt. Col. E. A. Olmsted). I’ve identified the following things of particular interest but am always looking for places and pictures that might be useful. Hope to hear your thoughts!
Nijmegan RHQ: Trench Art & Parachute
These pictures show "trench art" from Nijmegan. I believe these are 25pdr shells that were converted into ashtrays for the Regimental HQ fireplace... They say "13 CDN FD REGT - NYMEGAN - 1945". I checked the 13th Field History and found that the Regimental HQ was at least for a time at a monastery in Nijmegan. This is something I am thinking about exploring further.
I also have a piece of parachute (thought to be British) that my grandfather brought home from Nijmegan. I will post this in a future blog.
Crossing the Rhine at Emmerich
I am hoping to find the specific location that the 13th Field, RCA crossed the Rhine into Germany (I believe it was near Emmerich). The 13th Field History shows the regiment coming back to Holland on April 1, 1945 on this bridge: Pontoon bridge across the Rhine at Emmerich, used by the regiment - 1 Apr 1945. I would love to recreate a picture near where the unit crossed. I will also be going through Wyler and Cleve.
Holten War Cemetary & Weener
On April 23, 1945 an explosion at the 13th Field Observation Post (OP) near Weener (“Nikkie Shans”) killed several Canadian soldiers. This aligned with a family story that had been told by Major EA Olmsted (later promoted to Lt. Col.) where he suggested “[We were in a] forest in NW Europe, when a German artillery shell landed directly on the jeep I was in. We were receiving documents from a motorcycle courier at the time. I was thrown from the vehicle and unhurt, though several people were killed.“
I am interested in learning more about the men who were killed, visiting their graves and hopefully locating family members to share their relatives’ respective stories.
The 13th Field Regimental History describes this event in the following way: “The North Shores moved forward first, then the Chauds and Queens Own went through advancing up parallel roads. Just as the attack of the Chauds had started a concentration of heavy enemy shells landed near Major Olmsted and his crew. Two of the party L/Bdr JOSEPHSON and Gnr MACDONALD were killed and the others (Gnr Knight, W. E and Gnr Jeffries) knocked down by the blast but unhurt. The vehicle was badly damaged and communications disrupted for some time.”
The 13th Field Regimental war diary describes the event in the following way:
The following soldiers were killed in the event:
M/59315: Gunner DONALD MCDONALD (Age 21 —- HOLTEN CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY —- XII. G. 8.)
M/3411 : Lance Bombardier ALF HERBERT JOSEPHSON (Age 34 —- HOLTEN CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY —- XII. G. 9. )