Ontario Power Generation Ontario Reservists who proudly serve our communities and our country. In the photo (from left to right): Darren Reid, Director Pickering Site – Security & Emergency Services, CWO Derek Munroe, MMM, CD; MWO Mark Chandler, CD; MCpl Marc Reinson, CD; Sgt Peter Cuciurean, CD; Sgt Jonathan Tymec, CD & Brian McLellan, Director Darlington Site – Security & Emergency Services
The Ontario Regiment and the Netherlands in 1945
The beginning of 1945 saw The Ontario Regiment located in the mountains of northern Italy, just south of Bologna. The winter weather had brought the Italian campaign to a virtual standstill. The Regiment’s tanks were mostly in static positions, serving in the role of artillery. In late February orders were received for a major move. Operation Goldflake was the name for the relocation of all Canadian Army units deployed in Italy to join their counter-parts in north-west Europe. It had always been the intention of the Canadian government to have the army under a single command. A large number of elements, including The Ontario Regiment, had been serving in Italy since the invasion of Sicily in July, 1943.
The Regiment’s vehicles were sent by a combination of rail and ship beginning on March 5. By March 15 all of the vehicles and personnel were assembled at Mouscron, Belgium. After performing maintenance and re-organization, the Regiment entered the Netherlands on March 23, 1945. As of March 24, sub-units of the Regiment were located at Lent, Andelst, Ressen and Ewijk.
The early days of April were spent supporting the British 49th Division in Operation Destroyer. This operation successfully achieved its objective of forcing the Germans from the area north-east of Nijmegen, at the conjunction of the Waal and Nederrijn Rivers. This was followed by Operation Anger whose objective was to cross the IJessel River and then liberate Arnhem, with The Ontario Regiment providing support to the British 146th Infantry Brigade. German resistance was crumbling by this time but the Regiment destroyed several enemy anti-tank guns and took a large number of prisoners. Arnhem had been largely cleared by April 15. The Ontarios and the 146th Brigade liberated the town of Dieren on the 16th. This was followed by the liberation of the area south of Arnhem, the town of Ede and the Ede highway. On the 18th the Regiment pushed farther north, reaching south of Apeldoorn and Epe. Daily patrols were sent out and much assistance was received from the Dutch populace regarding the location and strength of enemy positions. A plan to clear the enemy out of Renswoude and Utrecht was put on hold as it appeared that the end of the war was imminent. The situation was quiet at the end of April.
On the evening of May 4 the British Broadcasting Corporation announced the unconditional surrender of German forces in north-east Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and the Frisian Islands to take effect at 08:00 hours on May 5. The final surrender of all German forces in all theatres took place on May 7. On that day, the Ontarios rolled into Utrecht and were greeted with a tumultuous reception from the town’s citizens. The Ontario Regiment ended the war with sub-units in Ede, Zeist, Utrecht and Hoogeloon. Throughout May, the Regiment guarded prisoners at Meerkerk. The Ontarios also participated in a victory parade in The Hague.
The Ontarios went into a period of waiting for the orders to return to Canada. Most of the month of June was spent in Leersum and then the Regiment moved to Harlingen on June 29. At Harlingen the education program that had begun in Leersum continued. The program now made use of the Harlingen Technical School’s facilities for classes in carpentry, machine shop and standard academic subjects.
The Ontarios stayed in Harlingen throughout the summer of 1945 where they became part of the community. Through the education program, some of the soldiers worked at local businesses. The machine shop students found work at the town’s ship-yard, while others worked at pottery. The Ontarios took part in the town’s celebration of Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday. Chocolate bars were distributed to the children of the town for the day, a Canadian military band put on a concert and the Burgomaster reviewed the Regiment. Further opportunities to interact with the locals came through the numerous dances that were organized by the Regiment’s squadrons and messes. Several members of the Regiment became engaged to Dutch women and eventually brought their new wives to Canada.
There were also opportunities for more leisurely activities. The Salvation Army ran regular movie nights and there were many stage shows. Boating trips in the Frisian Islands were popular that summer. There was a Regimental bus service to Leeuwarden for local entertainment. Many soldiers used their leave time to travel throughout the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
The long awaited orders for The Ontario Regiment to return home came in late September. They left Harlingen on October 5 and travelled to the Nijmegen staging camp where all remaining equipment and vehicles were turned in. On October 8 the Ontarios said good-bye to the Netherlands, commencing their journey to Canada.
The patches for the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade of which The Ontario Regiment was member. The patches and numbers were should on their tanks – the number (173 for Ontario Regiment) was on the rear left, the black and red rectangle with maple leaf in centre was on rear right (it showed our Brigade and of course the maple leaf showed Canada). The symbols were on both sides of the tank turret and showed which Squadron you belonged to in which Regiment. It was so if a “strange” tank pulled up near another you could tell who they were or at least where they were from.
The red and black diamond patch was worn on the upper right sleeve of the dress uniform.
The red and black diamond patch with 11 CTR in it showed the Regiment the soldier was from.