WWII vet marks Dutch Liberation Day in Kitchener
Liberation day celebration is May 5
In the spring of 1945, Harry Watts rode a motorcycle across the Netherlands as part of the motorcycle unit of the Canadian Armed Forces, participating in the country's liberation.
It's a time Watts remembers clearly.
"We had been in Italy since November '43 and Italy was a whole different world: mountains and rivers and mud. There was a lot of poverty, but there was no starvation," he told the The Morning Edition host Craig Norris.
"But when we got to Holland it was a whole different thing all together, to see the young people scrawny arms and their eyes are black, just standing there looking at you."
Watts will be thinking of the time he served in World War II on Saturday when the City of Kitchener joins the Netherlands in marking Liberation Day — the Dutch equivalent of Rememberance Day.
Watts will co-host the ceremony at the Kitchener Market starting at 9 a.m.
"It's been on my to-do list for years," he said.
The event is intended as a gesture of thanks in part to the Dutch organizers of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of liberation in 1995. Watts and thousands others who served were flown over to the Netherlands 18 years ago to take part in the ceremonies.
Watts was 21 when he served in Holland. His job was to take messages from one location to another that were too sensitive and too important to send by radio or telephone.
He describes the liberation of Holland as highly emotional time, saying people were deeply grateful.
"Families wanted to share everything — but they had nothing to share."