Brunssum, the Netherlands – Friday 04 May the annual Dutch Remembrance Day service was conducted in Brunssum. Shortly prior to the ecumenical service at the St. Gregorius Church attendees were delighted to witness a Lancaster Bomber, from the Royal Air Force’s ‘Historic Flight’, as it conducted an impressive fly-past.
On completion of a moving and well attended church service, attendees formed a parade behind the JFC Brunssum Flag Party and proceeded to the Brunssum Cemetery. On arrival, two minutes of silence was observed in respect of those buried in the cemetery who paid the ultimate price so that we can live in peace today. Following this the Acting Mayor of Brunssum, Mr Gerd Leers, made a short speech in both Dutch and English.
To the sound of background music performed by Fanfare St. Barbara wreaths were laid. First the Acting Mayor of Brunssum, Mr Leers, on behalf of the Town Council, laid a wreath together with Mr Sonders, Mayor of Alsdorf, Germany (partner city of Brunssum). Having each paid their respects they turned to face each other and shook hands – a symbol of friendship and lasting peace that was repeated by all wreath layers at the Brunssum Cemetery. Amongst others, the Mayors were followed by Mr and Mrs Aldewereld (on behalf of the State of Israel and the Israeli people) and General Riccardo Marchiò, Commander JFC Brunssum, on behalf of the personnel of Joint Force Command Brunssum. Then came Brigadier General Henny Bouman, on behalf of the Dutch Forces serving at JFC Brunssum, and Colonel Frank Warda, on behalf of the German Forces at the Headquarters. Major General Carl Alex, on behalf of American personnel at JFC Brunssum was paired with Major Hans Jacobs, who laid his wreath on behalf of personnel serving at the NATO AWACS Early Warning Force, E3A Component, at Geilenkirchen.
At the adjacent British War Cemetery a similar ceremony was conducted. This ceremony included, inter alia, wreaths being laid by the Mayor of Brunssum, Mr Leers, on behalf of the municipality of Brunssum, by Group Captain Neil Cummins on behalf of the British Forces and community at JFC Brunssum, and by General Marchiò on behalf of all personnel serving at JFC Brunssum.
Students and scouts laid flowers at the 328 British servicemen’s graves and lit candles in their honour. The ceremony ended with the UK national anthem.
A wonderful service, once again attended by a large number of dignitaries and local people, came to a close as the sun was setting. The formal part of the event was then followed by a reception at the Brikke Oave where VIPs, veterans and local people shared their thoughts, renewed old acquaintances and made new friends.
Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office