BRUNSSUM, The Netherlands – After two years of limitations due to the pandemic, on Wednesday 4th May, the annual Dutch Remembrance Day service was conducted once again, in person, in the town of Brunssum. A solemn tribute was paid to those who made the ultimate sacrifice yesterday to give us the freedom and democracy we enjoy today.
Remembrance activities commenced with a ceremony at the St. Gregorius Church. On completion, attendees formed a parade behind a Joint Force Command Brunssum Flag Party and made their way to the Brunssum Cemetery. Once there, two minutes of silence were observed in respect of those laid to rest in the cemetery. Following this, the Mayor of Brunssum, Mrs. van der Rijt, made speeches, first in Dutch and then English. The crowd listened carefully to her moving words.
Wreaths were laid accompanied by music played by Fanfare St. Barbara, amongst others, by:
Mayor Mrs. van der Rijt, on behalf of the town of Brunssum, together with Mr. Sonders, Mayor of the city of Alsdorf in Germany (partner city of Brunssum). Having each paid their respects they turned to face each other and shook hands – a solemn symbol of friendship and lasting peace that was repeated by all wreath layers at the Brunssum Cemetery;
Mr and Mrs Aldewereld (on behalf of the State of Israel and the Israeli people) and Major General Maas, on behalf of the personnel of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum;
Captain Zwier, on behalf of the Dutch Forces serving at JFC Brunssum, together with Colonel Thiermann, representing the German Forces at the Headquarters;
Mr. Key, USAG Benelux Deputy Garrison Manager, who laid his wreath with Major van Roijen, on behalf of personnel serving at the NATO AWACS Early Warning Force, E3A Component, at Geilenkirchen;
Mr. van Oppen and Mr. Posthuma, on behalf Stichting War Cemetery Brunsssum together with Mr. de Zeeuw and Mrs. Koks on behalf of Jack Alderweld Stichting Brunssum;
Mr. Caumon and Mr. Thompson, retired RAF Squadron Leader, respectively on behalf of Politie Limburg Zuid and the Royal Air Forces Association, Amsterdam Branch/Club Limburg;
Mr. Lust and Mr. Hermsen, on behalf of the Dutch Veterans, together with Mrs. Spruyt and Mr. Frank, on behalf of Amnesty Intenational Brunsum;
Mr. Schut and students representing all the LVO(Limburgs Voortgezet Onderwijs) schools laid the last two wreaths with Mr. Roos and Mrs. Raats, there to represent the Scouts.
Thereafter, a chance to lay a wreath for the fallen soldiers was given to all those present.
Upon completion, a similar ceremony was then conducted at the adjacent British War Cemetery. There, Padre Norfield commenced proceedings as he reverently spoke of the debt owed to the 328 British sercicemen buried in the cemetery. This time, amongst others, wreaths were laid by:
the Mayor of Brunssum, Mrs. van der Rijt; by Commodore Ruddock on behalf of the British Forces and community at JFC Brunssum; by Major General Maas on behalf of JFC Brunssum; by retired RAF Squadron Leader Mr. Thompson, Chairman Royal Air Force Association, Amsterdam Branch/Club Limburg; by Mr. Berkholkst and Mrs. Werry and Pearl Werry, respectively representing the Veterans of the 'Het Eldershoes' and the Foundation 'Veteranen Brunssum;' Mr. Menten and Mr. van der Wal on behalf of 'Veterans Support Group Parkstad;' and, by Mr. Apps on behalf of the Foundation War Cemetery Brunssum.
Local people and scouts then laid flowers at all of the 328 British servicemen's graves and lit candles in their honour. The ceremony ended with the UK national anthem.
The formal element of the programme was followed by a reception at the Brikke Oave where VIPs, veterans and local people shared their thoughts, renewed old acquaintances and made new friends.