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Back "Home" to Nijverdal

Some photographs from the rare Dutch booklet: “Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, the Liberators of Nijverdal”

Page 20: The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Canadian Liberators of Nijverdal

Page 21: Major John C. Herbert, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada

Page 24: Canadian Liberators of the 4th. Canadian Armoured Division,
The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s)

Page 25 : Liberation March through Nijverdal (van Limburg Stirumstraat) Pipe Major Noble and
the pipe band of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada

                               Page 27 : When the Canadians go marching in                                                              Page 26 : Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada pipe band on “London Up”Route

On 12th August the Battalion held a memorial service in Nijverdal for all the Argyll's who had given their lives in the war. Col. Coffin read the names in the Roll of Honour and Hon. Capt. C. H. Maclean, the Chaplain, delivered the sermon. No fewer than 25 officers and more than 260 other ranks had been killed while serving with the Argyll's and about four times as many had been wounded in action. Upon his return to Canada, General Crerar stated that the three main battles for the Canadian Army had been the Falaise Gap, the clearing of the Scheldt Estuary and the approaches to Antwerp, and thirdly the battle through and around the Hochwald in Germany. In every one of these main battles, not to speak of many other important actions, the Argyll's had fought and fought well. It was, therefore, with a feeling of pride mixed with sorrow that tribute was Laid to those Argyll's who did not live to see the victory.

Selzate, Belgium Memorial Service

The Selzate WW2 Cenotaph

Excerpt from Chapter 9, Canada via Berlin, page 236:

By special invitation, a detachment from the 10th Canadian , Infantry Brigade attended the celebration of the anniversary of , the liberation of the town of Selzate in Belgium, which the Argyll's had cleared of the Germans on 18th September, 1944. Commanded by Major Bob Paterson of the Argyll's, the detachment included one officer and 15 men from each of the Algonquin Regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (P.L.), the 29th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment (South Alberta Regiment) and the 22nd Canadian Armoured Regiment (Canadian Grenadier Guards). The group of Argyll's was made up entirely of men who fought in the action and effected the liberation.
The detachment was honoured in Selzate by a special service at the Cenotaph, where plaudits were read by the Burgomaster and various other civic officials. Local Underground leaders were introduced, as well as the two girls who swam the canal on the day of liberation to present flowers to Major Paterson and others of his company. Also presented was one "Germaine", who had aided in evacuating the two Argyll's who had been badly wounded and later died: Wreaths were then laid on the graves of these two heroes, L/Sgt. Terse V. Gray of "A" Company and Pte. Paul J. Cole of the Scout Platoon, who gave their all for Freedom, as the inscription read. The service ended at 1230 hours.
Excerpt from Chapter 9, Canada via Berlin, page 237-238:

At 1400 hours, the Canadian detachment,a Polish group, a company of the East Yorkshire Regiment and two platoons of the 6th Infantry Battalion, 11th (American) Armoured Division, gathered before the Town Hall, where further speeches were delivered. A grand parade followed with the Argyll's in the lead immediately behind a Belgian military band. The parade consisted of troops, costumed civilians, bands and many picturesque floats. The onlooking crowd numbered up to 50,000, who had come to Selzate for the .occasion from many of the outlying communities liberated by 10th Brigade and the Poles. The official ceremony ended at 1730 hours with the presentation of illuminated scrolls to Major Paterson and to the Officer Commanding the Polish troops and with the playing of no fewer than six National Anthems.

Bergen op Zoom Memorial Service

Bergen op Zoom Cemetary

Another similar celebration in which a group of the Argyll's took part was held at Bergen op Zoom on 27th October, 1945. Forty Argyll's headed by Lt.-Col. Coffin and Major Pete McCordie, with an equal number from the South Alberta Regiment, the British Columbia Regiment, the Lincoln and Wetland Regiment, the Algonquin Regiment and the New Brunswick Rangers arrived in Bergen op Zoom at 1730 hours on the 26th to participate next day in a great celebration to commemorate those Canadians who died in the liberation of the town. The party was met by the town's brass band and representatives from the Burgomaster's office. After playing "O Canada" and the Dutch National Anthem, the procession marched to the Town Hall, where addresses by the Burgomaster and the chairman of the local Underground Committee were delivered. On the following day, the 27th, at 0845 hours the troops, led by the pipes and drums of the Argyll's followed by the civic brass band, marched to the cemetery. Flowers were placed on the graves of the Canadian dead while the band played the Canadian National Anthem. In the afternoon at a march past Lt.-Col. G. D. Wotherspoon, D.S.O., Acting Brigadier of the 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade, took the salute. Afterwards a crab pin was given to each Canadian soldier, making him an honorary citizen of the town.


From Nijverdal to Hilversum

The Pipes and Drums in Holland while waiting to come home, 1945.
Thanks for this photograph to Roderick Noble (the son of Pipe-Major Frank Noble of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada).

In late September the Battalion moved from its billets in Nijverdal to winter quarters in Hilversum. The move was made over several days a company at a time, the Battalion Headquarters closing at the former place on the afternoon of the 23rd and opening at Hilversum the following morning. With the end of the Japanese war and the necessity of sending Canadian troops to the Far East eliminated, more shipping became available to transport troops from Europe to Canada and with such ships as the "Queen Elizabeth", the "Aquitania" and the "Ile de France" released for this purpose, the repatriation programme was greatly accelerated. The happy result was that in December the Argyll's at last commenced their long journey home. Leaving Hilversum late that month, the Battalion moved by motor convoy to the transit camp at Nijmegen, there to pause for a few days and then move on to Ostende for the crossing to Dover. The Battalion left its vehicles at Nijmegen and thereafter continued its journey by rail and boat.

To England

It was good to see England again and thrilling to travel on the speedy little British trains, this time taking the Battalion to Haslemere. Leaves were granted in England over the period of several weeks intervening while awaiting embarkation orders. Finally on 21st January, 1946, the Argyll's moved to Southampton and there boarded the "Ile de France" for Canada.


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The S.S. Ile de France

Details on the Ile de France:

The SS Ile de France was a French ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. The ship was the first major ocean liner built after the conclusion of World War I and was the first liner ever to be decorated entirely with designs associated with the Art Deco style. It was neither the largest ship nor the fastest ship, but was considered the most beautifully decorated ship built by the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT, known also as the "French Line") until the Normandie.

At the war's beginning, the Ile de France was berthed at its New York pier. Since the French were not anxious to return the ship to its homeland, it was towed to Staten Island by ten tugs and was laid up after special dredging that cost $30,000. Its crew of 800 persons was reduced to a security staff of 100 while it was inoperative for the next five months. Then during March 1940, commanded by the British Admiralty, to which it had been lent, the ship was loaded with 12,000 tons of war materials, submarine oil, tanks, shells, and several uncrated bombers that were stowed on the aft open decks. On 1 May 1940 she departed for Europe, veiled in gray and black. From there, it traveled to Singapore where, after the Fall of France, it was officially seized by the British. During 1941 she returned to New York and made several crossings from the northeast as a troop ship such as the one on February 14, 1944, sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Greenock, Scotland, carrying among others the 814th Tank Destroyer Battalion at the end of the war the Ile de France was used to ferry American and Canadian troops home.

After a crossing characterized by rough weather and storms, the big liner docked at Halifax on the 26th to discharge her 10,000 troops to the waiting trains on the flag-bedecked quaysicle. The Argyll's came ashore at 1300 hours on the 27th and were soon speeding westward by train for Hamilton.

As there would be no opportunity for the 1st Battalion itself to withdraw the Regimental Colours it had deposited five years earlier in Central Presbyterian Church for safekeeping until its return from the war, authority was granted the 2nd Battalion to withdraw the Colours so that they might be carried on the last parade of the 1st Battalion before it dispersed on demobilization. Appropriate preparations had been made by the citizens of Hamilton and by the 2nd Battalion to welcome the homecoming Argyll's and when at 1930 hours on Tuesday, 29th January, their train emerged from the tunnel and pulled into the T.13. & B. Station, a huge crowd was there to greet them with tumultuous cheers in the bright sunshine of a crisply fine winter morning.

On the station platform to greet Lt.Col. Coffin and his Battalion, were Lt.-Col. Coffin Osborne, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Regiment; Lt.Col. H. D. Fearman, D.S.O., V.D., commanding the 2nd Battalion, and Controller Andrew Frame, representing His Worship, the Major. Outside the station were the Regimental Colours; a Colour Guard, the pipe and brass bands of the 2nd Battalion and thousands of cheering citizens.


The Canadian Argyll's home in Hamilton

Excerpt from Chapter 9, Canada via Berlin, page 239:

The Colour Party consisted of two officers, one warrant officer and two sergeants of the 1st Battalion, who had arrived home ahead of the unit, while the Colour Guard comprised three officers and 100 other ranks, the right half personnel of the 1st Battalion who had preceded it and the left half from the 2nd Battalion. As the 1st Battalion emerged from the station led by its pipes and drums, the Colour Guard presented arms in tribute to the returning heroes and the crowd cheered lustily.

The order of march for the parade to the Armouries was as follows : 1st Bn. Pipes and Drums, 1st Bn. Headquarters, 1st Bn. "A" Company, 1st Bn. "B" Company, (interval) 2nd Bn. Brass Band, Colour Party and Colour Guard, (interval) 2nd Bn. Pipes and Drums, 1st Bn. "C" Company, 1st Bn. "D" Company. To the Regimental March; "The Campbells are Coming", the Battalion marched proudly down James Street to the Armouries between cheering throngs of citizens lining either side of the street and beneath showers of ticker tape and confetti as it passed through the heart of the city, over Main Street, King Street and past the City Hall.

Excerpt from Chapter 9, Canada via Berlin, page 240:

The Colours were then played off parade by the combined pipes and drums of the 1st and 2nd Battalions. "God Save the King" was played by the brass band and then the Colour Guard marched away.

With full hearts and proud memories the 1st Battalion had come to the end of their road, a long road marked with the tropical green of Jamaica, splashed with red from Fala se to the Hochwald and Friesoythe, and in the heart of the German Reich covered with the sodden grey of a desolate capital. To end a great experience through the War of Liberation came the last command of the Commanding Officer:


"1st Battalion, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's), DISMISS!"


Badge of the Canadian Argylls' Military School of Piping