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Lesson Plan: Remembrance Dog Tags

Aim

To increase youth awareness of Canadian efforts in the Liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War.

Objectives

Youth will:

  • understand the contributions of Canadians in uniform who died in the Netherlands and are found in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial;
  • learn about the military identity discs, known as ‘dog tags’; and
  • develop an awareness of the importance of remembering the sacrifices and achievements of Canadians who gave their lives in the Liberation of the Netherlands.

Target Audience

This activity is suitable for ages 12 to 17.

Sequence of events and anticipated time frame [approximately 75 minutes]

(This activity can be modified to fit available time.)

  • Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]
  • Research and Preparation [15 minutes]
  • Presentations [30 minutes]
  • Wrap-up Discussion [15 minutes]
  • Possible Extension Activity [variable]

Materials

Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]

Ask youth if they know what a military ”dog tag” is. Have they ever seen one?

This dog tag activity is designed to help them ”put a face on remembrance.” Canada’s efforts in the Netherlands during the Second World War came at a high cost. More than 7,600 Canadians in uniform died in helping liberate this country between September 1944 and May 1945. The fallen heroes are mostly buried in more than 200 war cemeteries in Belgium and the Netherlands. Taking a few moments to think about these men and women is a way to remember all those who served.

If you want to show your students examples of research projects on Canadians who died in the Liberation of the Netherlands, watch these three videos, prepared by Veterans Affairs Canada former student guides in France.

Jeff’s video project on James Walter Walford

Jeff’s video project on James Walter Walford - Transcript When I think about the Liberation of the Netherlands, I remember my grandfather, Bernard Roderick Pelletier. After surviving the Italian Campaign, Grandpa Bern

Photo of Bernard Roderick Pelletier in military uniform

was sent to Northwestern Europe, with his battalion, the Saskatoon Light Infantry.

Photo of Bernard Pelletier in uniform standing in a city

My grandfather recalled how thankful the people of the Netherlands were

Photo of Bernard Pelletier in older years, signing a Canadian flag

for what the Canadians did there. He often returned for celebrations

Photo of Bernard Pelletier in older years with two comrades, standing on a tank

and anniversary events, until he died in 2013 at 89.

Photo of Bernard Pelletier on parade in later years with comrades

My grandfather was able to live a busy and successful life after the war, as a researcher and explorer

Photo of Bernard Pelletier in uniform in later years, in a military vehicle

with the Geological Survey of Canada.

Close-up photo of Bernard Pelletier in later years with a Royal Canadian Legion hat

He married his lifelong partner, had six children, and six grandchildren. Bern Pelletier was lucky to survive the war, and he did many great things in the decades that followed. Unfortunately, many young Canadians did not share that luck, including some from the Saskatoon Light Infantry…

Photo of James Walter Walford in military uniform

James Walter Walford was a delivery boy at the Cramer Bros. Grocery Store

Photo of James Walter Walford's Attestation Paper

in his hometown of Souris, Manitoba. On January 28, 1943, he enlisted in the Canadian Army.

Photo of military unit

James was 17 at the time, so he lied about his age and said he was 18.

Photo of a gun firing

He was the only son of Walter Wallace Walford

Photo of first aid training

and Gladys Edna Walford, and he had three sisters: Dorothy, Edna and Ferne.

Group photo with a politician

After months of training in Canada,

Photo of four soldiers, seated on the ground

James set sail for England in December 1943. Months later, James joined his battalion in Italy,

Photo of two gunners behind their weapon

and would take part in some of Canada’s fiercest fighting of the war.

Photo of devastated Italian scenery, in Monte Cassino

He sustained several injuries, but recovered from all of them,

Photo of two gunners among house debris

and continued fighting.

Photo of two gunners ready to fire their weapon

In March 1945, he and the rest of the Canadian 1st Division made their way to Northwestern Europe

Photo of soldiers on a armoured vehicle with tracks

to take part in the Allied advances.

Photo of soldiers walking on debris, in a city

In the Netherlands, James was once again wounded; this time, he suffered a fractured skull and forearm.

Photo of citizens driving through Holland, windmills in the background

Sadly, James never recovered.

Photo of civilians and soldiers with a tank in the streets

He died at the age of 19 on April 12, 1945.

Photo of charging soldiers

He was one of over 7,600 Canadians who gave their lives

Photo of amphibian vehicles landing on the shore

in the efforts to free the Netherlands.

Photo of soldiers on parade in a city

He was buried shortly after his death, in the Netherlands. His permanent resting place is at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery

Photo of a telegram about James Walter Walford

in the province of Gelderland. On his grave, the following is inscribed: “An only son born at Souris, Manitoba, Canada.

Photo of a letter about James Walter Walford

He died that we might live.” Back home, James is remembered at the

Photo of people at a cemetery

Souris-Glenwood Cemetery, alongside the graves of his parents. He is also honoured at the Souris War Memorial, outside

Photo of a Cross of Sacrifice, with a group of soldiers

the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Photo of the entrance to the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery

Many Canadians have made the trip overseas to pay their respects to the fallen of

Photo of the Royal Canadian Legion in Souris, Manitoba

the Liberation of the Netherlands, including his mother, who visited his grave in 1967. On the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands, let us remember Private James Walter Walford and all of the Canadians who served and sacrificed during this important campaign that helped put an end to the Second World War in Europe.

Vanessa’s video project on Arthur Joseph Martin

Vanessa’s video project on Arthur Joseph Martin - Transcript On May 5th, we mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands that took place in 1945.

Scenes of war

It is important to take a moment to remember our fallen heroes. To commemorate and to recognize those that made the ultimate sacrifice; the gift of their lives. Soldiers from all corners of Canada decided to join the military to fight for our freedom during the Second World War. Some may even be from your hometown or have the same background. Hi, my name is Vanessa, I am 22 years old. I’m a proud francophone from Sudbury, Ontario, and today I’d like to share with you the story of a soldier named Arthur.

Photo of Arthur Joseph Martin

Arthur Joseph Martin was a brave young man,

Family photo

son of Lea and George Martin. He was born on May 31, 1921, in Sudbury, Ontario.

Photo of entrance to Sudbury, Ontario

Arthur was a francophone who grew up with one sister, two brothers and his widowed mother in Azilda, a community nearby the city of Sudbury.

Photo of military document and Attestation Paper

It was on May 2nd 1944, when he officially enlisted in the Canadian armed forces in Chatham, Ontario. He was a young man who was in good overall health despite moderate smoking, and had the ability to read and write. Private Arthur Joseph Martin was part of the

Photo of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada crest

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, also known as the Princess Louise’s of the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps and wore the service number A113518 proudly. The 28th of August 1944 would be the last day that Arthur Martin was on Canadian soil as he was sent overseas to the United Kingdom for additional training. On September 23, 1944, he was taken on strength with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who were part of the 10th Brigade of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division in France. September 1944 would mark the beginning of

Video montage of troups in the Netherlands

the Netherlands campaign which would last until May 1945. In a war diary from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,

Photo of a war diary pages

it says they spent New Year’s Eve 1944 and January 1st, 1945 in Holland with the view of a German air attack, and the launching of several buzz bombs in the cold winter skies. Here is an extract from the Argyll’s war diary: “By 2200 hours most military activity had ceased, a lucky few obtained bottles of liquor for New Year’s Eve, but most of us were “firmed up” in the arms of Morpheus

Photo of military plan dropping provisions to people below

while a troubled world passed from anno 1944 to anno 1945”.

Photo of soldiers loading a gun

It must have been tough for these soldiers to be so far away from their loved ones.

Photo of two soldiers with two children

I can just imagine how Arthur Joseph Martin felt that night. It was on January 30th, during fighting along the Maas River at Kapelsche Veer, that the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders attempted an attack on a house that was given the codename “Raspberry” in order to gain control of the German stronghold. In general, the plan was that the tanks would engage with machine-gun fire and the infantry would go in.

Photo of a war diary page

In the second attempt they finally gained control of “Raspberry” but they did suffer a high casualty. During that fateful night of January 30, 1945, at the young age of 22, Private Arthur Joseph Martin

Photo of Arthur Martin

had died, fighting for his country.

Photo of military document

Today, he rests in the Netherlands,

Photo of Groesbeek War Cemetery

at Groesbeek War Cemetery in, section XVI, row C, plot 7.

Photo of a map of Groesbeek War Cemetery

The Liberation of the Netherlands is a very important piece of history as it helped in bringing an end to the Second World War and liberated the Dutch people.

Photo of crowd cheering

This was a great victory, however, victory does not come without great loss.

Photo of a pile of guns

More than 7,600 Canadians would have died

Photo of a war cemetery

in the efforts to free the country. One of which was Arthur Joseph Martin,

Family photo

that I will always keep close to mind. On this day of remembrance, during Veterans’ Week or any day of the year, I challenge you to learn more about a soldier from your city, from your background,

Photo of a group of soldiers

from your interest, whether that person died in service,

Photo of a group of soldiers marching

or continued to serve in times of war and times of peace,

Photo of currently serving CAF members

or is currently serving. We will remember them.

Rebekah’s video project on Arthur Malcolm Jones

Rebekah’s video project on Arthur Malcolm Jones - Transcript The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. The end of fighting in Europe was followed a few months later with the surrender of Japan, which ended the Second World War. Many countries were involved in the war, including Canada. This year marks not only 75 years since the end of the war, but also 75 years since the Liberation of the Netherlands.

Photo of a Canadian soldier in the middle of a cheering crowd.

This campaign was one of the last that happened during the war. It started in the fall of 1944 and ended in May of 1945.

Lieutenant-Colonel G.F. Eadie inspecting "C" Company, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, Kolkhagen, Germany, 24 April 1945.

Roughly 175,000 Canadians were involved in the Liberation of the Netherlands. Unfortunately, more than 7,600 sacrificed their life.

Military ambulance jeep, with 3 soldiers lifting a wounded soldier on a stretcher.

Among them was Pilot Officer Arthur Malcom Jones,

Photo of Pilot Officer Arthur Malcom Jones.

who died February 2nd, 1945, at the age of 30, only a few months before Victory in Europe Day. Arthur Jones was originally from Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island. He was born on November 14th, 1915

Jones' attestation papers with the RCAF.

to James Malcom Jones and Margaret May Smith. Before enlisting, Jones already had a bit of military experience. For 5 years, from 1928 to 1933, he was part of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in the Non-Permanent Active Militia, which can be compared to the Reserve Force today. Jones enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, or the RCAF, on May 27th, 1942 at the age of 27. The Royal Canadian Air Force, just like all other branches in the Canadian military, played a very important part during the war. The air force was responsible for clearing the skies

Aerial photo of a bomber with explosions on the ground, down below.

and also engaged in dangerous bombing missions. The contributions of aviation during the Liberation of the Netherlands is sometimes less known, however their work that was done

Close-up on a bomber turret wit broken glass, and an aviator smiling for the camera.

in the skies was a key element which led to victory. Arthur Jones was part of the No. 432 Squadron of the RCAF. The squadron flew with Bomber Command. Jones and his team knew that they were exposing themselves

Group photo of the crew of Squadron 432, in front of a bomber plane.

to a higher risk than most soldiers. The danger was that almost half of the men never completed their 30 combat missions. The squadron especially took part in night bombings, where they left from the Royal Air Force base East Moor, in England. When the squadron took part in different missions, they would often be flying between 6 to 7 hours at a time. In February 1945, the month that Arthur Jones died, it was the month where the big push

Highly-ranked Canadian military cutting the ribbon at the opening of a bridge, in front a crowd of soldiers.

to liberate Western Europe began. The goal of this large offensive was to free the Netherlands and all of Northwestern Europe from the German occupation. During this period, the role of the Royal Canadian Air Force and that of the No. 432 Squadron was to target German factories and railway tracks with the objective of weakening their army as well as reducing their resources. These efforts from the air force contributed greatly to

Bomber plane from 432 Squadron and five crew members.

the Allied victory of the Second World War. February 2nd, 1945, 14 airplanes of the No. 432 Squadron of the RCAF were supposed to bomb the German town of Wanne Eickel in the industrial valley of the Ruhr. Arthur Jones was part of this mission as a wireless operator air gunner. It was only his second bombing mission over occupied enemy territory.

Identification card of Arthur Jones with the RCAF.

Thirteen airplanes were able to take off, including the aircraft piloted by G. H. Thomson, the one that Jones was in, and they successfully attacked the target. The entire mission was done in total darkness, which could have made their objectives even more difficult to accomplish. On the morning of February 3rd, 1945, once the aircrafts were back at the East Moor base, Pilot Officer Malcom Jones and the rest of his crew were missing. Their bomber had never made it back from their mission the night before. All were hoping that the aviators had become prisoners of war. But the weeks and months passed by without any news from them. By the end of the summer, because no news had been received from the crew, they were declared as most likely deceased.

Official document announcing Jones' death.

Jones probably died during the aerial operations on the night of February 2-3, 1945. His body and the bodies of his crewmembers were found after the war. Arthur Jones was not the only member of his crew that never returned to their base at East Moor in February 1945. Six other airmen also died. George Homer Thomson, from Brookdale, Manitoba.

Photo of George Homer Thomson.

William Henry Haryett, from Bancroft, Ontario.

Photo of William Henry Haryett.

John Thomas Robinson, from Arnprior, Ontario.

Photo of John Thomas Robinson.

Robert George Earl Silver, from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Photo of Robert George Earl Silver.

Harry Bloch, from Toronto, Ontario,

Photo of Harry Bloch.

and Roy Ronald Vallier, from Kingston, Ontario.

Photo of Roy Ronald Vallier.

All seven of them are buried, side by side, in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany. Arthur Jones rests in section 8, row D, plot 9.

Photo of Arthur Malcolm Jones' headstone.

Even 75 years since the Liberation of the Netherlands, Arthur Malcom Jones’ story, as well as hundreds of others, continue to be shared. It’s important that Canadians can commemorate the sacrifices of those who survived but also of those who were never able to make it back to Canada. That’s one of the reasons why the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa

Photo of Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

dedicated a room to all those who died while serving for Canada.

Photo of the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower in Ottawa.

The Memorial Chamber commemorates over 118,000 fallen men and women. Arthur Malcom Jones’ name can be found on page 529 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. Because of the rehabilitation currently happening in Centre Block, where the Memorial Chamber is, the Books of Remembrance have been moved to a temporary location for the next decade.

The Books of Remembrance in the Room of Remembrance, in the West Block.

They are now in the Room of Remembrance, in the Parliament of Canada’s West Block. I was lucky to be one of the Parliamentary Tour Guides

Image of the Parliamentary Tour Guide during the opening ceremony of the Room of Remembrance.

who was part of the opening ceremony of the Room of Remembrance. If ever you are in the Ottawa area, visitors are always welcome to the Room of Remembrance. We will remember them.

What is a military dog tag?

A dog tag is a piece of formal identification for military personnel. It must be worn when soldiers are on duty. The name “dog tag” comes from the similarity to real tags used to identify dogs. It was officially called an “identity disc” or I disc. The tag bears important information on the individual, such as the name, rank, service number, blood type and religion (to call the appropriate clergy person in case of injury or death).

Identification tags have been worn by Canadians troops since the First World War. The Canadian tags are now designed to be broken in two pieces in the event of death; one piece remains with the deceased and the other piece is sent to the Department of National Defence.

Research and Preparation [15 minutes]

Using cardboard paper for added strength, print the dog tag cards (PDF). They contain information about Canadians who died during our country’s engagement in the Netherlands.

  • Cut out the individual pieces. If you wish to re-use the dog tags, laminate them.
  • Make two holes in each of the dog tags and attach a piece of string or metal beaded chain.
  • Distribute the dog tags.
  • Have youth research the individual on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial website and ask them to add their fallen Canadian’s service number and age directly on the dog tag.
  • They may search the Internet to find out more personal information about their fallen soldier, such as their hometown, place of enlistment, places where he/she served, cause of death, place of burial, etc., which could be included in their presentation.

What is the Canadian Virtual War Memorial?

This site contains a registry of information about the graves and memorials of more than 118,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served valiantly and gave their lives for their country. Included on this site are the memorials of more than 1,800 men and women who died in service to Canada since the Korean War, including peacekeeping and other operations. The site also contains digital images of photographs and personal memorabilia. The purpose of the Canadian Virtual War Memorial is to recognize and keep alive the memory of the achievements and sacrifices made by those who served Canada in the defense of freedom and so have contributed to the development of Canada as a nation.

For further research

When the student is researching an individual who died during the Second World War, you can suggest that he or she use Library and Archives Canada’s Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947 online database. It should be noted, however, that not all of the military service records of the men and women who died during the Second World War are available. The digitization of service records from the Second World War is ongoing and new files will be added every two weeks. You can also encourage students to click on “How to obtain copies or consult a file” from the left-hand side menu and follow the instructions noted for Option #1, which will redirect them to the Ancestry.ca website. You and your students can create free accounts on Ancestry.ca. Although there are a few important steps to follow before accessing a military file, with some patience you will be able to access a wealth of information on the individual, which will allow you to do more extensive research and give better presentations.

Presentations [30 minutes]

Have each youth present 'his' or 'her' fallen Canadian to the group.

Wrap-Up Discussion [15 minutes]

Lead a discussion around the dog tag activity by asking the following questions:

  • Do they better understand the contributions of Canadians in uniform who died in service in the Netherlands?
  • Are there other ways to use the dog tags to honour those who served? (Note: for example, wearing the dog tag at a Remembrance ceremony, creating a ‘peace tree’ with all dog tags representing the ‘leaves’ of the tree, etc.)

Possible Extension Activity [variable]

Youth may wish to vary this activity by doing research on a Canadian from their town or region who served in the Second World War and making a class presentation. If the Veteran is available and interested in coming, he or she could be invited to share his or her personal experiences there with the class.

Some school groups travel overseas. Including a visit to a cemetery where Canadians are buried and visiting the graves of the fallen that students had researched would be a touching way to wrap up the activity.

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