In 2015 I was privileged to visit another of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries ― Groesbeek in the Netherlands. In years past, I had spent a day at El Alamein in Egypt.
Groesbeek is located near the German border in a lovely, hilly section of Gelderland province. Most burials here are of Canadian soldiers and airmen who died in the Battle of the Rhineland (1945). The Dutch have a special, continuing affinity with Canadians; my visit was shortly after the celebrations of their annual May 5th Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag).
On the memorial wall: Pro amicis mortui amicis vivimus (We live in the hearts of friends for whom we died). Part of the memorial wall:
"These walls bear the names of the soldiers of the British Commonwealth and Empire who fell in the advance from the River Seine through the Low Countries and into Germany, but to whom the fortune of war denied a known and honoured grave. 30th August, 1944 - 5th May, 1945."
We spent a long time in the rows of white markers, paying tribute to the dead. Most were identified but some were not. Many graves had touching messages from Dutch school children. Sometimes the family of the man provided an inscription. One stood out for me (see below the cross):
"Some day we'll understand"
Do we – yet? Will we ever understand such carnage? Will we ever understand how to avoid destroying each other?
© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman