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Western Holland

Surrender of the 25th German Army, at Wageningen, May 5, 1945

Surrender of the 25th German Army, at Wageningen, May 5, 1945

In the western Netherlands the 1st Canadian Corps comprising the 1st Canadian Infantry division and the 5th Canadian Armoured Divisions, under the command of Lieut.-General Charles Foulkes, was responsible for the liberation of the area north of the Maas River. In this region with its large cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, the people had almost reached the end of their endurance from the misery and starvation which had accompanied the "Hunger Winter." Food supplies in the cities were exhausted, fuel had run out almost entirely and transport was virtually non-existent. Thousands of men, women and children had perished.

The assault on Arnhem began on April 12, and after much house-to-house fighting the town was cleared two days later. The 5th Division then dashed northward to the Ijsselmeer some 30 miles away to cut off the enemy defending against the 1st Division at Apeldoorn. Apeldoorn was occupied by April 17.

By April 28 the Germans in West Holland had been driven back to a line running roughly between Wageningen through Amersfoort to the sea, known as the Grebbe Line. On that day a truce was arranged, fighting ceased in western Holland, and several days later food supplies began to move through for the starving people. No part of western Europe was liberated at a more vital moment than the west of the Netherlands, and the Canadian soldiers who contributed so immensely to that liberation were cheered and greeted with great joy.

On April 25 the American and Russian troops met on the Elbe. A few days later in Berlin, encircled by the Russians, Hitler committed suicide. The war ended a week later. On May 5, in the village of Wageningen, General Foulkes accepted the surrender of the German troops in Holland. General Simonds of the 2nd Corps, in Bad Zwischenahn, did the same on his front. The formal German surrender was signed on May 7 at Rheims in France.

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