0028/Walk of the World

Day 3 – Day of Groesbeek

CWC1

The Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery and Memorial (French:Le Cimetière de Guerre Canadien Groesbeek) is located about three kilometres north of the town of Groesbeek, Netherlands. The cemetery contains 2,338 Canadian soldiers of World War II. The cemetery is unique in that many of the dead were brought here from nearby Germany. It is one of the few cases where bodies were moved across international frontiers. It is believed that all fallen Canadian soldiers of the Rhineland battles, who were buried in German battlefields, were reinterred here (except for one who is buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery). General H.D.G. Crerar, who commanded Canadian land forces in Europe, ordered that Canadian dead were not to be buried in German soil. Thousands of Dutch children tend the graves of the soldiers buried here as they do throughout the Netherlands. The cemetery also has a Cross of Sacrifice within it.

CWC2Commemoration

Within the cemetery stands the Groesbeek Memorial, which commemorates members of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaign in north-west Europe between the time of crossing the Seine River at the end of August 1944 and the end of the war in Europe. There are 1,103 names on the memorial; although since the date of completion of the name-panels, graves have been found for four men commemorated by it. The Bayeux Memorial in Normandy, France honours 103 Canadian servicemen and women. The memorial consists of twin colonnaded buildings which face each other across the grass forecourt of the cemetery, between the entrance and the “Stone of Remembrance.” The names of the men whose graves are unknown are inscribed in panels of Portland stone built into the rear walls.

Notable graves

Among those buried here is Aubrey Cosens (1921–1944) of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada who received the Victoria Cross. John Baskeyfield (1922–1944) of the South Staffordshire Regiment, who also received the Victoria Cross is remembered in the Memorial. Memorialized also, are Gustave Biéler, Frank Pickersgill, and Roméo Sabourin, Canadian members of the Special Operations Executive who were sent undercover into occupied France; all three were caught by the Germans and sent to concentration camps, where they were executed.

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