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My dad passed away in 1976 when I was 16 years. I had known he had fought in World War II and Indonesia and that he had a special wooden box in which he kept his photographs and documents from the war and most precious his Medal. Everyone once in a while he would get it out and look at the pictures, but when he did he wanted to be alone. I never questioned it. He never spoke much about it, expect when a war movie was on which we had to watch then he would tell me -- that's bull that isn't what it was like or occasionally -- that one wasn't too bad but the one he always praised was BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI because it was realistic and true. And I knew that he was very proud of what he had done and how he had served his country.

When I grew up and had a home of my own my mother gave me dad's wooden box. I looked at the pictures fascinated by the man in them, my daddy, but only one or two had anything written on the back explaining where it was taken, or who the people where and all but two of his paper where in Dutch, which I cannot speak, read or write. I often looked at the pictures wondering, wanting to know but not knowing who to turn to and wishing I had asked when I was young and had the chance.

Then in October 1997 we hooked up with the Internet, the World Wide Web and I discovered homepages and chatrooms. I made a lot of friends in one particular room and decided to build my own homepages. In May 1998 I purchased a scanner to scan my Dad's war photographs and other photographs from his family and dedicate a site to him, and to all veterans....Lest We Forget. This site.

Well I got the photos up and went into the chat to ask everyone to go look and that is when a true miracle happened. One of my friends in chat sent me a private message saying she was originally from Holland and her Dad was in the war too. She asked where my Dad was from and it turned out they had lived close by and she said when she next talked to her dad she'd tell him about me and my site and how much I would love to learn about my dad.

A MIRACLE STARTED. Her dad gave her the address of a man who is involved with the veterans for me to write to because he may be able to tell me about my dad. And, her father was pretty sure he knew my dad and served with him but wasn't sure because he didn't have access to the net or my pictures.

I wrote to that man who wrote back. He didn't know my dad but knew another man who did and who was now living in the house my dad originally grew up in, and that he had given him my letter and to expect a letter from this other man. IT HAD BEGUN. This gentleman wrote me back and gave me my first information about my dad and the War, as well as addresses of other men to write. I sat and cried.

A the same time I decided to surf the net and came across a Veteran from Holland who was talking about Indonesia. I sent him an email asking if there was a possibility he might have know my dad or knew where I could write. He got in contact with another man who did indeed know my dad and this man had his son-in-law use his email as our contact. More information about my dad and more people to contact.

Each of the men I have contacted has helped me in some way either with information or with someone else to write who might know something. And my website itself has helped. I have had people offer to help or information about being to my site and of course I continue to surf the net and find places where I can ask for information or ask them to pass around the address of my site and that I would welcome contact.

I have also received a great deal of help from the Dutch Ministry of Defense who has translated things for me, sent me forms in English whenever possible and looked into their archives for anything about my dad.

Just recently (November 11th, 1998) I received a letter from a veteran (Mr. H. Verbrugge), 80 years old, who sent me 5 of his own photographs from the war in Indonesia. This is a true honour to me because I know how important those photographs are to these men. The help, kindness, and caring everyone has shown me is remarkable. I don't think they will ever know how much their help and information means to me.

Again I have to write about something extraordinary happening. In February 1999 I had wrote to one of the veterans (Mr. H. Winkens) who I had contacted at the beginning and asked if I could have a copy or photocopy of a picture of him from the war to put on my Veterans Who Are Helping Me as my way of saying thank you to him for helping with a promise that I would return a real photograph. On March 22, 1999 I got an answer back - an envelope containing 26 of his photographs from Indonesia, all numbered with a letter telling me about each photograph. I don't have the words to say how I felt being entrusted with those photographs.

I thought I had been blessed with all the help I received but the blessings have continued. Mr. Cor Korreman's decided the area newspaper for where my dad was from would be interested in what I was doing and asked me to send him some photographs of my dad's time from the war that he could take to the newspaper, Limburgs Dagblad, and tell them about me. I don't have words to express how honoured I was by this and I admit, proud, that a Dutch newspaper might be interested in me. Imagine my surprise when Mr. Korreman emailed me back and asked for my phone number so that the newspaper could call me! Of course I gave it to him but didn't really believe a reporter from Holland would want to call me, after all Mr. Korreman's could tell them everything or they could just check out my website. When the phone rang one morning and an operator came on telling me I had an overseas call from Holland I was speechless, but not for long. Mr. Hans Toonen was on the phone to tell me the newspaper was very interested in what I was doing and planned to do an article in a section of the paper called Spoorloss, kind of like a lost and found section and that they would use one photograph I had sent Mr. Korremans with my dad, another soldier and a woman who I knew was a POW that my daddy had snuck food too so that she could survive. He had never told anyone her name and I was very curious who she was because I know she was very important to him, and the paper would base on the article on trying to find out who she was as well as the others in the photograph. We talked for at least 10 minutes with Mr. Toonen asking me several questions about what I was doing, if I'd ever been to Holland etc.
Several months went by with no news and one day I received an email saying the Limburgs Dagblad had run an article on April 21, 1999 and it was very good. I was thrilled but never expected what followed. Having no access to the paper I had figured it was a fairly small article and that would be it, maybe if I was lucky there would be another little article if anyone responded to the article. You can't imagine my surprise when the following week I received another email saying they ran another article (April 28, 1999) because of the response they had received and then another notice that there was another article on May 5th, 1999 (this was very important to me because May 5th is Liberation Day for the Dutch). My friend told me the replies to the article were from someone who knew the name of the other soldier, a man who grew up with and was best friends with my dad, my Aunt Mein, and a debate over where the photograph was taken. Still I didn't know what the stories looked like or anything.
On July 19, 1999 I received an envelope in the regular mail from the newspaper with the copies of the articles, which are now posted on my site. I cried when I saw them, I had never expected such elaborate articles or so many of them, but there was one minor problem. I can't read Dutch and there was no English translation but luckily my friend Petra is translating them for me so I can read them. So far I still don't know who the woman is but I was given the address of my dad's friend so I could write to him, which I have done, as well as my aunt' address who we had lost contact with after my dad died. I can't adequately explain how wonderful and cool it was to see my name along side my dad's in what for me is a foreign newspaper and to know that after all these years someone still remembers my dad with love and respect.
In October 1999 I decided to contact our local daily paper, The Windsor Star, to see if they might be interested in this site as a story for Veteran's Day, November 11th. I don't like to toot my own horn but then I thought, I'm not praising myself but my daddy and all the men who've done so much to help me. I was turned over to reporter Eric Mayne who was very, very interested in my story. We set up an appointment and he came out with a photographer to interview me. Truthfully I expected maybe a short article, buried somewhere in the paper at best. On Saturday, November 6th 1999 the article appeared on page 4, four columns wide with a gorgeous photograph of me showing my page on the monitor and holding one of my dad's medals. I can't express how surprised, thrilled and honoured I was. Through that article I got to meet a Dutch veteran who lives close by and while he never knew my daddy he held the same job as my daddy did while in Indonesia. He told me what it was like to be the Brengun carrier driver and the dangers they faced as well as giving me some of his photographs which I posted, along with his story, on this site. We gave each other a gift, he his photographs and story, I the knowledge that he wasn't the only person from around here who knew about Indonesia and what the Dutch soldiers went through.

This year I signed the guestbook of Mr. Peter Gunther whose son was killed while on a Canadian peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. He visited this site in return and offered to help with the photographs, resizing them etc. so that they would load better and weren't stretched or anything. I was and am very, very grateful for that help as I am still a novice when it comes to working with a scanner. Thank you very much Peter, and for anyone that reads this please visit his tribute website to his son, there is a link on my links page.

Soon it will be the dawning of a the new Millenium - 2001 - and it appears the end of information about my daddy, I have learned all I am able to learn. I still have some unanswered questions but then I think I always will because really the only person that could answer them is my daddy and until we meet again they will have to go unanswered. What has happened in these 2 short years has been truly miraculous, so much much more than I ever hoped or dreamed when I started, so while it is with a touch of sadness that I will probably close the chapter on searching about my dad I'm finding that a new chaper has begun, one totally unexpected but very, very fulfilling.

The new chapter that opened is having children of Dutch veterans writing to me asking how can I learn about my daddy, can you help me please, and having Dutch veterans write to me saying thank you, I've kept silent so long I didn't know how to begin to talk to my children and answer their questions about the war, now I can send them to your site and go from there, your site opened the door for me. There are no words that express how I feel when I get asked help me learn about my dad and that I can help through giving them addresses to write or putting a request for help up on my site, and the heart warming letters that say I've met veterans that knew my dad and they are telling me about him! To me every time I receive a letter and I can help them in someway I am just passing on the gifts I have been given by all those veterans and others who have helped me.

I know this will sound strange but I believe that each time a veteran's child sees my site and says to themselves wow, that's what my daddy when through I want to learn all I can about him I'm going to start searching and learning, I have helped to ensure that these amazing, wonderful men will never be forgotten, all that they sacrificed and went through to protect those born and yet-to-be born will be remembered and appreciated, and most importantly that when their bodies are no longer on this earth that their spirit, courage, sacrifices and love will live on.

It's March 2001 and more amazing things have happened. A Dutch veteran, Mr. Marinus (Mac) Traas, that lives here in Canada came across my site and send me a wonderful email congratulating me on what I have done and offered to send me some information from his own private collection, but it would have to be through the postal mail because it wasn't suitable for email. Well I no real words to tell you how I felt when I opened the parcel to find a copy of his autobiography, Who Am I?, autographed just for me, some of his own photographs from Indonesia, and most precious of all, a series of booklets called De Stoot with photographs from Indonesia from 1946 to 1948. The fact that he entrusted me with something so irreplacable having never met me was a great honour. Alas he never knew my daddy but because of de Stoot I found out the name of one soldier who my dad had a photograph of in his collection which was fantastic. I was also able to add photographs to many of the names of those soldier's of the 1st battalion 1st regiment Stoottroepen who were killed in action. This is something I feel is very important. So now my sites grows again. The internet is a magical place.

It's hard to believe how quickly time has gone by, we're already in mid-February 2002, and a great deal has happened in that time.

It's hard to remember everything but one very important thing happened was a man in Denmark, Tom Andersen, contacted me about my website because of his interest in Indonesia during and after WWII. Tom offered to help me find more information about my dad's unit and not only does Tom read and write his own language, he can also read and write English and Dutch so here I was getting offered help from a translator!

One funny thing happened while he was contacting different places in an attempt to find out about Holland during WWII and Indonesia. One website he contacted to see what they had on the Dutch Underground emailed him back saying he should go to a website done by a Canadian woman because she has the the most information -- and the URL they gave him was mine!!!!!! When Tom wrote me to tell me I was speechless, surprised and very proud to think my website is considered one of the best.

Tom, who enjoys translating and does it to relax, came across a book about the Tiger Brigade entitled Tussen Sawahs en Bergen "Het Leven van de soldaat in de Tijger Brigade" English translation -Between Rice Fields and Mountains "the life of the soldiers in the Tiger Brigade" and decided to translate it for me since it does talk about the 1e Regiment Stoottroepen and I started putting up the English translation on my site.
Not long as I put it up for view online I was getting emails asking about the book and how to get a copy, so of course I emailed Tom and set up a contact between the people interested in the book. I have half the book online now and when Tom gets the chance he will start translating and sending me more to put up. Tom is one wonderful guy and I'm indebted to him for all he has already done and is still doing! He's become a special friend.

Last week I had a Veteran sign my guestbook and his comment made me feel very proud, and a little bit teary. I wrote back to thank him for what he said and since he is a Dutch Veteran as well as a Canadian Veterns offered to put a page up for him if he wanted. A few days ago he emailed me back thanking me for the offer but asked something from me that means a great deal to me.
Dear Mrs.Sutherland
About a week ago I wrote in your guestbook and I received your e-mail with thanks. I mentioned to you that I am the Service-Officer for our local legion Branch 265. One of my task and duties are organizing and "doing" the Veteran Service at the funerals. (mostly memorial sevices , approx. 15 X in a year).
Also this afternoon and another one coming up for next week Thursday. Even as those service rituals are standard in my book ,I do have a certain freedom to add something to it. I read your poems a few times and the one that I see as a very appropiate and suitable ,to add in my service is "MY PROMISE",Especialy when children and grandchildren are involved.Those are the ones who have to carry on after we are gone. "Lest we forget."
I hereby ask your permission if I may use the following poems when appropiate : A Soldiers Prayer , My Promise , To those Who fought the War and We Are Free.

There was no doubt in my mind about allowing him to use the poems and to me this is a very great honour. When my dad passed away the Catholic Church we belonged to said they wouldn't give him a Catholic funeral service, or even let the local priest preside over the funeral, because he had married my mom who was not a Catholic - she went to all the classes to become a Catholic but was turned down because she had gotten a divorce many years before from a marriage where the man disappeared after just six weeks and being Anglican she didn't need to get the church's acceptance of what happened, therefore in the Catholic Church view they were living in sin.
Mom and I were devastated because daddy was the reason I'm Catholic and we didn't know what to do about the funeral. That is when our local Legion stepped in to help. The wonderful veterans offered to be the pallbearers (daddy had no family other than us in Canada and we didn't really know or have anyone we could ask to be pallbearers) and that one of the Catholic Priests (he was the lowest on the totem pole), Father Clark, would be performing the service in his role as Legion Chaplain. They made sure daddy had a veteran's service and that a marker was placed at the grave to let everyone know that daddy was a veteran and when mom was ready took daddy's clothes so she wouldn't have to deal with it. The Legion honoured my daddy and made a very difficult time much easier for my mom and to be asked if for permission to read some of my poems (if one was appropriate) as part of the Legion's Veteran Service at a funeral was one of the greatest honours I could ever be paid.

So I guess I'm up-to-date now. I don't know when I'll have something else to add, but I'm sure it will something I wasn't expecting!

I'm back, it's March 20, 2002 and I've learned more about my dad, to be more exact the van Duinhoven family. Daddy never talked about his parents, I never even knew my grandfather's first name until I started researching for this site, and what little I had been told, mostly by my mom as she remembered daddy telling her in their early years together, made me want to learn more. I wanted to know about my grandparents, the mine daddy worked in, anything and everything else that I could.

I started by sending an email to Rijksarchief Limburg to see if they would be able to help me. In just a few days I received an email back from Mrs. Henny Vijgen giving me the physical address and email addresses of different organization that may be able to help me in my search, which I was very grateful to receive. So one of my next emails was to the Gemeentelijk Informatiecentrum Afdeling Communicatie in Heerlen where I again received a very quick response from Samantha Wisniewski in turn gave me other addresses to email since all that she would be able to do would be send me a copy of daddy's birth certificate. So again to my email, new message, where I wrote to the address she gave me, explaining that she told me to write them and what I was hoping to learn. Again, I was blessed with another very quick response from the Stradsarchief in Heerlen.

Marc Leemens was the person who answered my letter to the Stradsarchief in Heerlen and that answer made me want to cry. Mr. Lemmens was able to tell me about my grandparents, Anton van Duinhoven and Maria Leona Elisa Fontaine, and my great van Duinhoven grandparents - A section of the letter he sent me is on the page Josef van Duinhoven - My Daddy - and when I wrote back to thank him and to ask about something, he again answered almost immediately giving me the websites that I should visit to get the information I was interested in. I had sent the address to this site and the other page to daddy as I knew him. Mr. Lemmens actually took the time to go through my webpages which means a great deal to me, told me that he thought they were very good which is a huge compliment from someone who deals in archives and history, and gave me a little more information about the Underground and new websites to visit.

So that is where I stand now, able to learn about my genealogy, and add to my websites thanks to so many wonderful people who took the time to read my email pleas for help, and to do whatever was in their power to help me. I don't know how I will ever be able to thank these wonderful people enough for the gifts of knowledge they have given me.

A SPECIAL THANK YOU
Thanks to a friend I made through the net, PETRA, and her father PETER HONNEFF I have been put in contact with many Veterans who were with my dad in Europe, Indonesia or both and these wonderful men are sharing with me, A COMPLETE STRANGER, their memories so that I can learn about my Dad and what it was like for him being a soldier during WWII. It was Mr. Honneff who told his daughter Petra where all my pictures where taken and Petra is going to go over the information with me when we can get on the net at the same to view each picture. Mr. Honneff also went to the trouble of having copies made of some of his pictures that he thought would interest me and needless to say I am so very grateful.

I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO THANK THESE MEN ENOUGH FOR WHAT THEY ARE DOING.

I did learn from my dad that those times are very personal and emotional and very difficult to share, especially with someone who wasn't there. For their willing to open up to me and share those memories I will be forever grateful.

I also wish to thank R.C. PAUWELS, Senior Officer of Veterans Payment services who translated a document for me as well as forwarded some questions I had over to another department who could help, G. van der Horst from the Chief Record Office, P.V.E. HORBOWEIC and B.W. LUITEN of the Head, Honours and Awards Section who helped me with the documents I needed to apply for the medal for my dad and who sent me information explaining about the medals, and S. MARTIJN, head of the Central Archives and staff who photocopied all my dad's services record - admission as a volunteer, resignation, status as well as part of a dairy from the 1st Battalion Stormtroops Regiment that gives insight in their movements and fighting action while in the Dutch East Indies.

Each of these people and their staff went out of their way to help me by writing me in English, sending the information to me very very quickly and going out of their way to help.

Thank you Hans Toonen, Ray Simoen and the Limburgs Dagblad for taking an interest in what I am doing and for writing such beautiful articles in an effort to help me learn more about my dad.

A Thank-you from the Heart

Thank you from my heart goes to Mr. Peter Honneff who gave me my first name and address to contact Mr. J.A. SCHENK, Maastricht who didn't know my dad but knew a man who did, and so he passed my letter to Mr. W. SMITS, Hoensbroek who gave me the first information about my dad, and who gave me the address of Mr. H. WINKENS, Brunssum and Mr. H. Verbrugge, Kerkrade. Thank you so much Mr. Schenk and especially Mr. Smits.

And again, thanks to the internet, I found Mr. C.N.W. KORREMANS, Voorburg who asked Mr. MATHIEU SCHEPERS, Geleen to help research my dad. And it turned out that Mr. Schepers actually knew my daddy and he has be kind enough to talk to everyone he can to get information for me about my dad and now is helping me put names with the faces in my photographs. Mr. Schepers son-in-law JOHN BONGERS is being kind enough to act as the messenger between Mr. Schepers and myself by using his email. And John is also helping me with any translations I need and in some cases personal contact with the Dutch government. Also Mr. TED VAN DEN DRIESSCHEN, of Australia, who I just made contact with recently. Thanks to the Windsor Star article about my site in 1999 I met PETER VAN ROOMEN who lives in my area and while he didn't know my daddy, he also had the job of driving the brengun carriers and because of him I learned just how dangerous that job was. In this new millennium of 2001 I get to add the name of MARINUS (MAC) TRAAS , who found my site while surfing the net and has added immensely to my site.

I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO REPAY YOU.

Mr. Smit recently (November 1998) contacted the Dutch Ministry of Defense on my and my father's behalf in regards to the distinction Ereteken voor Orde en Vrede and I was sent forms to fill out, but all in Dutch which I cannot read, speak or write so Mr. Bongers, through fax and email helped translate them so that my Dad may be considered for the distinction. I have been told I shall hear back by May 4th, 1999.

A WONDERFUL THING HAS HAPPENED.
On Wednesday, February 23rd, 1999 I received a special delivery envelope from the Dutch Ministry of Defense Awards Division. Inside the envelope was the ERETEKEN VOOR ORDE EN VREDE, The Cross For Order and Peace medal and certificate awarded to my daddy posthumously on February 19th, 1999. A picture of the Medal and Certificate, as well as a history of the medal, are now on the page HIS MEDALS. There are no words to say how proud I am.

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