Memorial Register, Netherlands 83-84, War Dead of The British Commonwealth 1939-1945

THE WAR IN BELGIUM AND HOLLAND I T cannot have occurred to many of those who visited the cemeteries of the First World War as the last sounds of its battles became almost as the vexations of fierce dreams that the next of these vast ordeals was about to begin and to demand a similar reckoning inhuman lives. The restoration of peaceful concerns and appearances in Belgium especially might at onetime have seemed to announce that the tragic action was over and done and that these multitudes of graves of the fallen stood as a symbol of a great calm. How swiftly the sense of a history completed and a vision realized was extinguished by anew recourse to the argument of battle it is unnecessary to amplify now. In Belgium especially the meeting of the two generations in heroic death must long strike the hearts of those who observe their mingling monuments with a particular poignancy. The history of the second great war as it relates to the location and character of the cemeteries in Belgium and in Holland is given in brief in the passages which follow. It is hoped that it may supply sufficient explanation of the subject for those who desire the general view and at the same time it may recall the strenuous and intense situations in which those who rest in these cemeteries were at last participants whether in great numbers or entirely or almost alone. Frequent wars and periods of domination by foreign powers characterise the history of Belgium and Holland culminating in the two great wars of the twentieth century. As a result of the second of these there lie now in Belgium some 11000 and in Holland nearly 20000 graves of men and women from all countries of the British Commonwealth who lost their lives in trying to repel the German invasion in 1940 and in the struggle during the following years for the liberation of the occupied countries. In Belgium many of these graves are in cemeteries and churchyards which contain also graves of those who fell in the 1914-1918 war particularly along the Franco-Belgian frontier and near the coast. In Holland there are war cemeteries especially in the eastern part of the country on the route followed by the Allied armies in their drive towards Germany in 1944-1945 but in cemeteries near the mouths of the Rhine and the Scheldt lie those who died in the battle for those waterways in October-November 1944 and in a group of cemeteries in the Frisian Islands are the graves of many airmen who failed to return from raids on Germany. iil
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