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Second World War Vet Sought After Christmas Present Found on Battlefield

Bruce Monkhouse

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  http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2007/01/02/3135182-cp.html
Second World War vet sought after Christmas present found on battlefield

By BOB WEBER
   
EDMONTON (CP) - A long-ago Christmas present lost by a Canadian soldier who fought in one of the closing battles of the Second World War has turned up in a German wood nearly 62 years after the bloody struggle for the Reichswald Forest.

"It looks like an ID bracelet," said Pat Fowler, who is helping track down the rightful owner of the silver bracelet inscribed to Allan O. Edwards. "It's very intriguing."
Fowler and her husband, Don, who run a website dedicated to Canadian soldiers, first heard about the bracelet late last year when they were contacted by a Dutch man who had recently visited the Reichswald Forest on the German side of the Dutch-German border.

The man found the bracelet while combing the woods with his metal detector and contacted the Fowlers in the hope it could be returned to its original owner or his family.
"He wants to return it to the soldier who lost it," Fowler said Tuesday.
The bracelet consists of a silver chain and a small oval plaque. The top of the plaque is inscribed "A.O. Edwards."

The soldier's service number appears below and the centre of the plaque carries the crest of the Toronto Scottish Regiment.
The back of the plaque reads: "Allan from Florence, xmas 1942."
On the bottom, a jeweller's stamp says Sterling Ecco.

In February 1945, the Reichswald Forest was the scene of bitter fighting as the First Canadian Army along with nine British divisions and Belgian, Dutch, Polish and American units - the largest Canadian-led force ever - began their final assault on Germany.
The Nazi army had blown up dikes in the area, flooding the landscape and forcing the Allies to concentrate their attack along a 10-kilometre front through the dense Reichswald Forest.
The struggle was especially tough.

The Allies faced thousands of well-dug-in enemy soldiers, including crack parachute regiments, who were fighting for the first time to defend their own soil.
Heavy rain and an early thaw turned the ground to bog, making it nearly impossible to move tanks or other armoured units to where they were needed.
The dense forest forced the Allies to advance the hard way, sometimes literally from tree to tree.

"We didn't like the Reichswald," recalled one British vet.
"It was a thick forest, mainly of pine trees, mostly close together, and there was an eerie silence all the time - except, that is, when we weren't being subjected to heavy artillery fire in which the shells tended to explode in the trees over our heads and causing heavy casualties."

Throughout the battle, the Toronto Scottish provided machine gun, mortar and anti-aircraft support to Allied troops.
It may have been sometime during the 12 days it took to punch through the Siegfried Line into the German Rhineland that Allan Edwards lost his bracelet.
"That's what I'm thinking, that it fell off during battle," said Fowler from Edmonton.

According to military records, Edwards joined the army in Toronto and was posted to the Toronto Scottish sometime between Dec. 17, 1939, and December 1942.
There are no records of his death in battle. If he stayed in the army, there is no indication he was killed in Korea either.
Fowler said the Royal Canadian Legion has no record of his death since his military service. The Toronto Scottish regimental and officer's association is currently trying to track him down.

The bracelet remains in the hands of the Dutch finder. The effort to return it is typical of the regard in which the Dutch hold the Canadian soldiers who liberated their country from the Nazis, said Fowler.
"They have never forgotten the Canadians liberating them."

Reichswald Forest is now home to the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in Germany. It has more than 7,400 graves.




 

1feral1

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Interesting post Bruce. Thanks for sharing the news.

Cheers,

Wes
 

Devlin

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Very cool story...I hope they are able to locate Mr. Edwards
 

Haggis

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I sent the story link to the present CO of the Toronto Scottish Regiment.  Hopefuly he'll have some luck.
 

PoPo

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Not meaning to Hijack a Post...but looks like the mystery has been solved.

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2007/01/03/3154747-cp.html


Woman weeps after learning battlefield bracelet was her father's
By BOB WEBER

CP) - A Toronto woman broke into tears Wednesday when she learned that a bracelet recently found on the site of a former German battlefield belonged to her father, a Canadian soldier who lost it during one of the closing battles of the Second World War.
"I think it's great," said Maureen Torreiter, 60, who wept when she realized the service number found on the old silver ID bracelet matched that of her late father, Allan O. Edwards.
When she gets the bracelet from the man who found it, it will be the only thing she has that belonged to her dad, who died when she was 21.
"I just have pictures. Other than that, it's all I've got. So it's . . . it's really nice," she said Wednesday.
"I'm in shock with it all."
The bracelet, which consists of a silver chain and a small oval plaque, was recently found by a Dutch man using a metal detector in the Reichswald Forest, the site of bloody fighting between Allied and Nazi troops during the final advance into Germany.

In an effort to return the bracelet, the Dutch man contacted an Alberta couple who run a website dedicated to Canadian soldiers.
Torreiter learned of it after The Canadian Press ran a story about the search and she was able to match her records of her father's service number to the number on the bracelet.
The top of the plaque is inscribed "A.O. Edwards" along with the service number and the crest of the Toronto Scottish Regiment. The back of the plaque reads: "Allan from Florence, xmas 1942."  Florence was Torreiter's mother.

Allan and Florence married in May, 1940, just after Allan completed basic training with the Toronto Scottish. He left overseas shortly after.
Florence died last August, just months before the long-lost Christmas gift she gave her husband could have been returned to her.
In February 1945, the Reichswald Forest was the scene of bitter fighting as the First Canadian Army along with nine British divisions and Belgian, Dutch, Polish and American units - the largest Canadian-led force ever - began their final assault on Hitler's regime.
The Nazi army had blown up dikes in the area, flooding the landscape and forcing the Allies to concentrate their attack along a 10-kilometre front through the dense, dark woods.

Thousands of well-dug-in enemy soldiers faced them, including two crack parachute regiments. The Germans, for the first time defending their own soil, fought hard. Heavy rain and an early thaw turned the ground to bog, making it nearly impossible to move tanks or other armoured units to where they were needed.  The Allied advance was slow, sometimes literally from tree to tree.  Edwards drove an ammunition truck during the operation until it was struck by an artillery shell.

He wasn't badly hurt and rejoined the front lines after recuperating, this time with the Quebec-based Chaudiere Regiment.
It was probably sometime during the 12 days it took to punch through the Siegfried Line into the German Rhineland that he lost his bracelet.
Allan Edwards survived the battle and the war. He spent most of his subsequent career in the newspaper industry, working in the production plant of the now-defunct Toronto Telegram.  He died at 51 of heart failure.

"My dad never talked much about the war," Torreiter said. "A lot of them didn't.
"I never heard about the bracelet."
Reichswald Forest is now home to the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in Germany, with more than 7,400 graves.


 

patrick666

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It is very touching to see the Dutch, still, remember the sacrificies made for them during the war. The Canadians were not lost in vain thanks to depths of their hearts.

Great story, thanks for sharing.
 
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