Every year since 1991, the town of Holten, Netherlands gathers on Christmas Eve to honour the 1,355 Canadian soldiers buried there during World War II. An effort by the Mayor of Kingston, Ontario sought to recognize the contributions of the school children and adults that participate in the ceremony in Holten, and that has further lead to another initiative. The new initiative is entitles “A Face For Every Name” and its goal is to hopefully gather photos and information on all of the 1,355 soldiers buried there. As it turns out there is a Cranbrook connection to the cemetery.
“There is one soldier from Cranbrook buried in the Holten Cemetery, Sergeant Frank L. Martin,” explained Mike Muntain, who is working with the Welcome Back Veterans committee on the project. “Martin was killed on April 28, 1945, just weeks before the end of the war. As far as standards go, he was an old man of 33 years old. Born in the 1920s, he was a senior, a little older (than the norm).”
Muntain said “A Face For Every Name” is a significant undertaking. As photos and info is found, it is placed at the headstone of the appropriate grave, which gives visitors the opportunity to put a face and bio to the name of the soldier.
“We’ve had a lot of luck with newspapers. A lot of luck with Kingston, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Vancouver,” Muntain said.
“We’re just trying to get the word out. One newspaper article generally has several responses and we’ve been able to help the Dutch collect the information and the pictures they need.”
Muntain hopes that in the local community, as in Kingston, there are still relatives, friends and men who served with those who did not come home, who may be able to provide a photo and information to the Dutch.
“It’s basically started out of the archives of the Princess of Wales Own Regiment, which is Kingston’s regiment and we were helping the mayor of Kingston with another project and then this came about. We were asked to find five names of Kingston men to try to find a face for all 1,355 Canadian soldiers resting in Kingston,” he said.
Muntain said the Dutch look at the honouring of the soldiers as a sacred duty.
He referred to a video on YouTube entitled “1400 Candles” which shows the ceremony that the town of Holten puts on each year to honour the 1,355 Canadian soldiers buried there.
Anyone with information on Sgt. Martin or any other of the soldiers can contact Mike Muntain at 613-888-7267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.