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WW2 Veteran returns to Holland.....

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by Martin Bull, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    [​IMG]


    The photo was taken yesterday morning - I'm holding the umbrella for my wife's cousin, 87-year-old Mrs Dorrit Sander of New York. She's maybe not the Forums' usual idea of a 'veteran', but I think that she thoroughly deserves the accolade.

    As Fraulein Dorrit Frank, she, her sister, mother and father hid in the house behind us for three years, 1942-1945, in a small street close to the centre of Den Haag ( The Hague ). Other members of her family, and many friends, chose not to go into hiding and she never saw them again. Her first boyfriend is known to have died in Auschwitz.

    Her father left the house only to buy provisions at the tiny corner shop, explaining that he was a 'Swiss-German Doctor' caring for his supposedly deranged, bed-ridden wife. The girls stayed hidden all the time, thanks only to the courage and humanity of the Dutch family who also lived there.

    Dorrit described to me the terrifying day of the 'round ups', when a lorry stopped in the street outside and they listened to the sound of German boots running up the concrete steps next to the apartment. Shots could be heard in the distance.

    [​IMG]

    They were that close.

    By a miracle, the Germans did not enter No. 14. Maybe they had got their quota - who knows ? The family knew that one word of suspicion or betrayal from the Dutch would have meant exposure - and death.

    She also described the unforgettable day of liberation ; she and her sister ran to the town centre and shouted at the first Jeep they saw. 'Do you speak English ?' shouted the driver ( she even remembers his name - Charlie Martin from Toronto ).

    'Yes of course !'

    'Where do the Germans keep their liquor ?'

    But he swept the two young girls up into the Jeep and drove them back to No. 14, leaving them with a huge pile of provisions and candy - and a lifelong memory.

    Dorrit came back last weekend to meet 14 friends and family from all over Europe - including the daughter of the Dutch family without whom she would not have survived.

    Now a little, rather frail elderly lady, in the 1940s she was a small, pretty girl in her teens. If she'd been found - she'd have been taken away and put to death.

    It really does make you think.
     
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  2. PropCollector

    PropCollector Member

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    Martin,

    She is a real vet!

    I am glad you posted this as I feel everybody has to be reminded now and then on what happened with the Jewish people.

    Being Dutch, I heard stories on the fate of the Jewish people from my early youth on. Maybe it is one of the reasons why I developed a more than normal interest in WW2.

    At a certain point you might think: well I have heard it all.
    But all the time you hear more and new horrific things.

    In the last 3 years I did provide information for a book (published in the US) written about a Dutch Jewish boy that got killed after being deported to a workcamp in Holland. From camp, he did write letters home to his parrents. These letters were recovered from there hiding place when in 1997 a demolishing firm pulled down the old house of the Jewish family in Amsterdam.
    The letters formed the base for the book.

    Reading the letters, you feel the fear building up in the boys mind. It touched me so much..... Eventually the boy got killed at Sobibor .... 20 years of age.

    Again, thx for posting this!
     
  3. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Martin

    good show ! thanks for this, have a sweet customer who as a young girl hid up on the burned rafters of their home in Berlin, and several times evaded the Soviets as they swept through house to house pulling the neighbors out and shooting them in those last sad days of the war.
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Glad you liked the posting, Propcollector....

    I should also have mentioned that Dorrit subsequently met and married a soldier who fought with Patton's 3rd Army, and has lived since 1947 in New York. So flying the Atlantic at the age of 87 was quite an effort for her....
     
  5. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    A wonderful and moving story. It's great to see that people still have the courage to cross the atlantic after so many years. It must having been quite a pilgrimage for Dorrit .
     
  6. Mortman2004

    Mortman2004 Dishonorably Discharged

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    Shes Definatly a veteran and a victim of the horror of war... Thank god she survived and lifed a long good life
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I recall someone in a document telling a good comparison. The eskimos might know a hundred different words for snow but during WW2 under occupation people knew the meaning of a 100 different knocks on the door.

    Thaxn for sharing the story with us!
     
  8. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Thanks for sharing her story, Martin! Now I want to see if I can find anything out about the Canadian she met, Charlie Martin.
     
  9. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Well, I found the following about Charlie Martin:


    Various I Found About Charlie Martin of the Queen’s Own Rifles




    From Canada and the Liberation of the Netherlands, May 1945 Lance Goddard

    “Jack Martin, Queen’s Own Rifles: My friend Charlie Martin, he had gone all the way through the Scheldt, and he was so wet that he thought he could get away with walking on the dike while his men were down below. And that’s when a Jerry up and let him have it with a schmeisser and tore his map case and binoculars off, but Charlie was able to pull his pistol and fire on the way down and kill the guy.”

    Battle Diary D-Day to the Zuider Zee by Charles Cromwell Martin

    http://www.army.dnd.ca/Land_Force_Central_Area/32_Canadian_Brigade_Group/Queens_Own_Rifles_of_Canada/cenotaph/martin_e.html


    Company Sergeant-Major
    Charles Cromwell Martin DCM, MM
    CSM "A" Company
    D-Day
    1918 - 1997

    A well known and well respected Rifleman, Sergeant-Major Charles Cromwell Martin, DCM, MM, will be missed by all in the Regimental Family. As a young Rifleman one of the most memorable times of my career was listening to Charlie speak about those who had not returned from Europe. Charlie was very passionate about his men, a quality that endeared him to all who worked for him. As Major Fotheringham describes below, Charlie was a hero to all of us. History will recount his distinguished career and the Men will remember a good Sergeant-Major and a great man.

    So long Charlie...

    Corporal Ian Howard, QOR of C
    A hero among us

    The following is a speech recited by Major John Fotheringham during his Militia Officer Staff Course in 1993. Major Fotheringham chose Charlie as his subject for the public speaking portion of this course.

    When I first joined The Queen's Own Rifles in 1985, I would have told you that my military heroes were members of the Special Air Service or Delta Force. To me, these men were legendary - super soldiers, if you will. As my army career has progressed, and I have got to be friends with Green Berets and Rangers, and had the privilege of commanding Airborne Regiment troops, I've realized that these men are really not that different from you or me - they had a job to do, and with the proper conditioning, training and support, they got it done.

    While I certainly respect these soldiers, I think that a little of their mystique and my awe of them is gone, and my choice of military heroes has moved a little closer to home - to men such as Colonel Fraser Eadie, CO of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, who took command when his predecessor landed in a tree above a German machine gun nest; Queen's Own Victoria Cross recipient Sergeant Aubrey Cosens, who single-handedly cleared three buildings, killing 20 of the enemy and capturing an equal number, only to be killed by a sniper immediately after; and Company Sergeant Major Charles Cromwell Martin, DCM, MM, who I'd like to talk about today.

    These three Canadians, like thousands of others, were just like you and me - "average" Canadians - and they answered the call when it came, and got the job done when it needed to be done, and then went back to being "average" Canadians - these were not professional soldiers. I'm sorry that I couldn't get Charlie to be here today, all 5'5" of him, but his wife, whom he married in England before D-Day, is not feeling well, and he didn't want to leave her. He might also be embarrassed, having to sit through the military version of "This Is Your Life."
    I'd like to tell you a little of his military escapades, and then show you what kind of a soldier was really behind his deadly facade, and why I admire him so much.
    When war broke out, Charlie Martin was a farmer in Dixie, now Mississauga. On his way down to the University Avenue Armouries to enlist, his car brakes failed and he was almost smashed by a streetcar.

    The armouries were full of young men like Charlie, and they all shared Charlie's view, and I quote, "If you belong to a country, you should be proud enough to fight for it."

    When the Queen's Own arrived in Britain in 1941, Charlie was a Corporal, and on June 6, 1944, when The Queen's Own Rifles hit the beaches at Bernieres-sur-Mer on D-Day, Charlie Martin was the CSM of A Company, some of the first Allied troops to hit Normandy on that fateful morning.

    They felt as though they were 250 men against the whole German army. "In the movies", Charlie says, "you see hundreds of boats and planes in support, but there was nothing when we landed, just our ten craft. I remember looking back over my shoulder and the sea was empty. It was the loneliest I ever felt in my whole life."
    After racing off the beach, Charlie and two of his men took out a German machine gun, then carried on with what little remained of the Queen's Own to reach their first day objective. Charlie said, "After we had charged the beach and I knew what war was, I couldn't help going behind a wall and crying. I was so sad. Fellows I had known for four or five years, to see them destroyed for nothing."

    Charlie Martin continued as the CSM of A Company through France and into Holland, fighting in every battle in which the Queen's Own participated, finally being severely wounded on a dike in Holland. Because he had a cold, he didn't want to get his feet wet, so walked along the top of a dyke. His platoon had been held up, but he continued along, running into a dug-in German with a machine gun. They both fired at the same time, Charlie killing the German while having his arm and leg broken, and as he fell, an anti-aircraft battery opened up and put shrapnel in his back.

    The war was over for CSM Martin, but not before he had won the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal.

    Charlie was obviously a very effective and deadly soldier, but he also cared deeply for his own men and was a classic example of a good CSM. He never charged a man, preferring to talk to him instead, because he felt that he'd lost control if he had to resort to charges. Charlie cared for his men, and they respected him and would follow him because of it.

    After each battle, Charlie would take a few soldiers and go out looking for wounded men to bring back in. He personally rescued 16 wounded soldiers under fire one day.

    Shortly after D-Day, a Queen's Own Rifleman named Al Murray was lying on a battlefield, shot through the eye. The medic had passed over Rifleman Murray, thinking him dead. Charlie Martin noticed that he was breathing, and carried Murray back to the aid station, insisting that the medics take a shot at saving him. The last thing that Rifleman Murray remembered before he passed out was his Sergeant-Major leaning over him and saying, "Don't worry, you'll be OK."
    Al Murray survived, and he and Charlie met again for the first time in 45 years on our D-Day + 45 tour in 1989. On the second night in Normandy, we were eating in the hotel restaurant, and Al started to choke on his dinner. His wife sent him to the washroom and after about a minute, Charlie thought that he'd better check on Al. He found Al turning blue, and saved him with the Heimlich Maneuver. Not only was he caring for his men during the war, but he was still saving their lives 45 years later!

    Charlie returned to Canada with his wife and worked as an agriculture specialist for the Ontario government until retiring. Just last month, he was the guest speaker at our Mens' Christmas Dinner, and he's still passing on little tips to us that are still applicable today, and could save lives in war - things like using mortar smoke on a position while attacking, no matter how windy it is; or leaving a member of your patrol at the release point, so there's no surprises when you return - little, simple things.

    Charlie Martin finished his speech at our Christmas Dinner by telling a story about the day he won the Military Medal. The soldier with the Bren gun came up to Charlie, under fire, and said, "If you'll carry the gun, I'll carry the ammo." Charlie said, "Why don't you carry the gun?" The soldier held up his right arm, minus the hand. Charlie says, "This soldier was ready to carry on, and did, missing his hand. Who deserved the medal that day, him or me? I don't wear these medals for myself; I wear them for men like that who served with me."

    I really wish that you could meet Charlie Martin - he's one of the nicest men I've ever met, and he is definitely one of my heroes. I'm glad that I could tell you about him today. Thank you.

    To view the citation for CSM Martin's Distinquished Conduct Medal, CLICK HERE

    To view the citation for CSM Martin's Military Medal, CLICK HERE


    Award of The Military Medal

    B63919 Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant-Major)

    Charles Cromwell Martin, Canadian Infantry Corps

    On the morning of 4 March 1945, "A" Company, 1st Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada was committed to an attack on Balberger Wald at the southern end of the Hochwald Forest. In the initial stage of the attack and unknown to the platoon commanders ahead, the Company Commander of "A" Company was severely wounded. The fighting at this particular time was confused and due to the denseness of the woods, control was difficult to maintain. Company Sergeant Major Martin, of "A" Company, picked up a Bren gun and made his way under intense enemy fire to the right flank of the company. Upon reaching the right flank, Company Sergeant Major Martin personally led the attack of his men in a daring charge at the enemy. Firing the Bren gun from the hip and constantly urging his men on he inspired the men to great heights. The enemy was completely routed and left behind 26 dead and 47 prisoners. Company Sergeant Major Martin personally accounted for 11 enemy dead. This magnificent example of courage, coolness in action, ability to inspire men, and devotion to duty on the part of this Warrant Officer was mainly responsible for the success of "A" Company, 1st Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, in this attack.

    http://1jma.dk/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=465&whichpage=6
    From;
    Battle Diary
    Charles Cromwell Martin DCM, MM, CM
    CSM A Coy The Queens Own Rifles Of Canada
    8th Bde , 3rd Canadian Inf div
    Pg 22 (This section deals with the aftermath of an engagement between the QOR and the 12thSS at Le Mensil-Patry on June 11th 1944)

    During our approach to the village on that June 12 patrol we came across Tommy McLaughlin and his section. We'd been crossing a grain field,following a little dip in the ground not knowing where the enemy was or how soon we were going to hear from them. When your that tense, every little sound or sighting is magnified. Even at a distance, the six bodies didn't look right. We could see the field dressings on the wounds and the prayer books strewn round about. They were around fiftey feet from a low wall where the ground dropped away and provided some cover. My guess is they had all been machine-gunned in the action and had retreated over the wall to patch up as best they could. think the enemy hd come up to the wall and spotted them; Tommy's section would have been in plain sight and an easy surrender.

    Then we came close and saw each had been pistol shot in the temple. We had to move on and finish the patrol, but the image of our murdered men in that little draw, wounded and with field dressings, all of thems prisoners, their weapons gone, stayed with us. For myself, well, I had pretty strong feelings about what I'd do when I got my chance. But when it came down to it, I couldn't do it, I couldn't follow through with that kind of revenge."
     
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  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Michelle, I am totally speechless ! Many thanks for your very fine efforts.....:cool:
     
  11. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Speechless I am too! Great Job Michelle , it's wonderful to find out Charlie is alive too!
     
  12. Mats

    Mats Member

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    Skipper,

    Sorry, but I think that Charlie died in 1997.

    Mats
     
  13. PropCollector

    PropCollector Member

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    Great research Michelle!
    Thx!
     

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