Veteran Froland 'Vriend van Hoevelaken' ('Friend of Hoevelaken')
During the fifth Walter Strang Memorial on Friday, April 19, 2013 in conference-centre De Haen in Hoevelaken, the Canadian war veteran Ken Froland (90) received the distinction of 'Vriend van Hoevelaken'. In the presence of some 110 children in the final year of primary school in Hoevelaken, veterans, and other visitors, the last Mayor of Hoevelaken, Marianne Hendriksen-Ansing, presented Ken Froland with the accompanying certificate.
'Hoevelaken municipality, as it existed on 19 April 1945, no longer exists as an independent entity. However, it has remained a close-knit circle of friends sharing many social and cultural activities.Hoevelaken, this circle of friends of nearly 10,000 people, today is represented by the Walter Strang Foundation, the Orange Association Hoevelaken, the historical association Historisch Hoeflake, and the Lions Club Hoevelaken, and is honoured to nominate you, Mr Kenneth Froland, as "Vriend van Hoevelaken"", Hendriksen told the veteran, who was an army friend of Walter Strang and served with him. Ken Froland received the honour for his efforts and sacrifices in the liberation of Europe, the Netherlands, and Hoevelaken during World War II, and also for his important contribution to the effort to discover the man behind the name Walter Strang, the Scottish-Canadian soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice in the liberation of Hoevelaken on April 19, 1945.
In his own speech, Ken Froland recounted memories of the heavy battles he fought in Italy, together with Strang, against the Nazis. When Ken was wounded in his foot near Rimini, and was removed from the battlefield on a stretcher, Walter held his hand. "He wished me the best and said: 'take care of yourself'. My future was uncertain and tears rolled down my dirty face." After his recovery Ken rejoined the Loyal Edmonton Regiment.
Ken concluded his speech by emphasizing the importance of passing on the history of the war to the youth of today: "Walter's death did not change the world, but there is a greater meaning, there is still injustice in the world, but there is a child, who will live, because men left the security they enjoyed in Canada to come here. If Walter's life buys the safety of one child like that and he or she will one day change the world, it will be a tribute and an honour to have served as liberators."
Other speakers during the Walter Strang Memorial included Coos van Rijswijk, chairwoman of the Orange Association, Jan Baas of Historisch Hoeflake, Theo Zuurman, chairman of the Walter Strang Foundation, and Nel Dumon, a former resistance fighter from Hoevelaken. Jan Siemeling of The Seaforth Highlanders of Holland played the bagpipes and provided musical support during the walk to the Walter Strang Monument in Park Weldam, where Alderman Bert de Graaf gave a speech, one minute silence was observed, and 140 red roses were laid at the monument.
WW2 veteran Ken Froland (90) receives the 'Vriend van Hoevelaken' certificate from the last Mayor of Hoevelaken. PHOTO: ALWIN BIJVOET
Ken Froland, 18 years of age, during his training in Canada after receiving his first stripe as corporal. PHOTO: ARCHIVE KEN FROLAND
After the Walter Strang Memorial in De Haen 140 red roses were laid at the war monument in Park Weldam. To the right, Alderman Bert de Graaf. PHOTO: ALWIN BIJVOET
Ken Froland (90) emphasized the importance of passing on the history of the war to the youth. Charlotte de Groot (10) enjoys having her picture taken with Ken. PHOTO: WALTER STRANG FOUNDATION
Group 8 of Hoevelaken primary schools
Friday morning 16 April 2010.
Participating schools (five out of six Hoevelaken schools participate):
't Blokhuus - 31 pupils
De Spreng - 41 pupils
SvanderOye - 26 pupils
WFarel - 27 pupils
De Viersprong - 23 pupils
TOTAAL 148 pupils
Due to the timing of the spring holidays primary schools have not been able over the past few years to participate in Remembrance Day on May 4. Therefore, the Orange Association Hoevelaken in cooperation with the Walter Strang Foundation offer an alternative date for commemoration: 19 April 1945, the day the Scottish-Canadian soldier Walter Strang fell in Hoevelaken.
Location: 'De Haen', De Brink, Hoevelaken.
Time: Start 9.30 a.m., premises open at 9.00 a.m.
End: 12.15 p.m. Park Weldam.
10.00-10.10 am Welcome and aim of the meeting, Coos van Rijswijk
10.10-10.30 am The last days of the war in Hoevelaken based on a diary, Historisch Hoeflake, who will also present an exhibition of photographs
10.30-10.45 am Canada and The Netherlands, John B. Roeterink Canadian embassy
10.45-11.00 am Break with drinks and food
11.00-11.20 am Lecture with photos 'Walter Strang, the man', Theo Zuurman
11.20-11.45 am Music/Poems/Lectures by the schools
11.45-12.15 pm Floral tributes at the monument on Park Weldam, Mayor or alderman of education of the Nijkerk Council.
The organising committe will provide flowers; everyone will present a rose at the monument.
HOEVELAKEN/HOLLAND - On Friday April 17, a hundred pupils from a number of primary schools in Hoevelaken laid one hundred roses at the monument commemorating the Scottish-Canadian soldier Walter Strang who fell on April 19, 1945. Alderman Bert de Graaf from the council in Nijkerk drew a comparison between the Canadians who came to Europe and the Netherlands to liberate us from German repression, and the Dutch soldiers who are now in Uruzgan to protect the Afghan people against the Taliban.
After a solemn minute of silence the children of Group 8 of the 'Blokhuus', 'Spreng', 'Schimmelpenninck van der Oye', and the 'Willem Farel' primary schools laid 50 red and 50 white roses at the war memorial. This number symbolizes the fact that, had Walter Strang not been killed and had he been alive today, he would have been one hundred years of age by now. The national commemoration of the war dead takes place on May 4th every year. However, the schools can no longer participate in this commemoration due to it being in the middle of the May-holidays. Thus, the local Orange Association, in cooperation with the Walter Strang Foundation, has decided to organize an alternative commemorative moment on the day this allied soldier fell in Hoevelaken.
Prior to the laying of flowers a two-hour meeting took place consisting of three presentations. The chair of the 71 year-old Orange Association - Ms Coos van Rijswijk - held a speech in which she also commemorated Frans Tromp, the teacher of the Schimmelpenninck van der Oye school who turned resistance fighter and was executed by the Nazis in September 1942.
Alderman Bert de Graaf of the Nijkerk council with one of the hundred roses at the war memorial in Hoevelaken. (Photo: Walter Strang Foundation)
Theo Zuurman, the chairman of the Walter Strang Foundation, talked on 'The Man Walter Strang', using photographs to illustrate his talk, some of them unearthed during his search for the man behind the monument. Zuurman has done a lot of research over the past few years aiming to discover the real person of the fallen allied soldier. To this end, he went to Canada to visit the regiments in which Walter Strang served, as well as members of Strang's family in Toronto. After his speech, the children were given the chance to ask question, among them 'Why was Walter Strang buried in Groesbeek in Holland and not in Toronto?' and 'How exactly did Walter Strang fall?'.
After a short break, a video by our local filmmaker Hans Meijbaum on the unveiling of the renewed monument which took place on Saturday April 19, 2008 was shown. According to Van Rijswijk and Zuurman, this way of having our school children commemorate Walter Strang in particular and the war dead in general has been a success and should be turned into an annually recurring tradition, a view shared wholeheartedly by alderman De Graaf.
Donations are welcome on account number 1383.97.805 of the Walter Strang Foundation in Hoevelaken, the Netherlands.
One hundred roses for the Scottish-Canadian soldier Walter Strang to commemorate the anniversary of his death. (Photo: Walter Strang Foundation)
Walter Strang (1908-1945): from unknown to known soldier
HOEVELAKEN/HOLLAND - On April 19, 2008, exactly 63 years after Walter Strang fell in the liberation of Hoevelaken in the Netherlands, a renewed monument to honour this soldier was unveiled at the ill-fated spot where he lost his life. Until recently, Strang was an 'unknown' soldier insofar that only his name, rank, and nationality were known. Theo Zuurman, an inhabitant of Hoevelaken, through intensive research, has discovered more and more about Walter over the past few years. In order to renew the existing monument Zuurman established late last year the Walter Strang Foundation.
Walter's nephew Lionel Strang, Hon. Col. Hugh Stewart of the Scottish Toronto Regiment, Ken Froland (veteran of WWII) of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, and six schoolchildren from Hoevelaken took part in the actual unveiling of the monument. Strang had served in both regiments as a volunteer. Others who attended the ceremony - apart from further representatives of those regiments - included Col. John Roeterink, military attache at the Canadian Embassy, Major Theo de Vries of the Dutch Army, the Thank-You-Canada organisation, Dutch veterans and former resistance fighters, and burgomaster Gerard Renkema. During his speech the burgomaster contemplated the question 'Why pay so much attention to just one fallen soldier after 63 years?' I think that remembrance can be much more meaningful when you reduce it to the actual human being. By paying attention to one person, to someone with a name, a life, a family, you start to understand what price was paid for our freedom here in Europe. In him, those other untold millions who fought for our freedom also become known. All of them deserve our greatest thanks!
A stainless steel sheet with a life-size picture of Walter Strang has been placed behind the original 1946 'anonymous' monument, that consist of a white cross and a commemorative plaque. This life-size image is repeated but as a cut-out, symbolising the way Walter's life was suddenly cut short. The steel represents his birthplace Glasgow - at the time a city of heavy (steel) industry -, the infantry, and the German mortar that fatally wounded him. The sheet of 2 metres height and 2.6 metres width further contains Walter's signature, a short biography, the emblems of the two regiments in which he served, and at the request of the family the biblically inspired text: "My sheep which was lost, has returned".
After the unveiling Pipe Major Doug Swann of the Toronto Scottish Regiment played the Lament. PHOTO ALWIN BIJVOET
A delegation of the Toronto Scottish Regiment with fifth from the left Hon. Col. Hugh Stewart flanked by Col. John Roeterink and nephew Lionel Strang. PHOTO ALWIN BIJVOET
Veterans of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment and some schoolchildren from Hoevelaken. PHOTO ALWIN BIJVOET
The stainless steel monument in Hoevelaken (Holland) in honour of Walter Strang and - through him - all those who died for the freedom of Europe. PHOTO WALTERSTRANGFOUNDATION.ORG
Burgomaster and en Ian Strang in the naming ceremony of the Walter Strang lane
The committee for street names of the municipality of Nijkerk decided in spring 2007 that one of the new streets in Hoevelaken will be named after Walter Strang. A street sign bearing his name was officially unveiled on Walter Strang's birthday: 1 December 2007. Een straatnaambord met zijn naam is officieel onthuld op de geboortedag van Walter Strang: 1 December 2007. The Nijkerk burgomaster, Mr. Gerard Renkema, together with Ian Strang, a great-nephew of Walter unveiled the street sign.
"It cannot be taken for granted that people make sacrifices..."
During the ceremony burgomaster spoke the following words: "Welcome in the municipality of Nijkerk, and specifically in the pretty village of Hoevelaken. An especially warm welcome to our military guests from Canada and to Ian Strang, the second cousin of the man we are honouring today. The fact that all of you have come to the Netherlands in order to commemorate with us Walter Strang's birthday and thus the Second World War is very special to me. No words can express what you have meant to our lives and to our future. Thanks to your sacrifices of the past we can live in freedom today. And thanks to Walter Strang's sacrifice....
... At present the village has some 9000 inhabitants. Hoevelaken is still expanding, however modestly. One example is the new development you see here. And new houses, new areas, require new streets. The committee for street names has decided to name this street 'Walter Strang lane', also because it is adjacent to the 'Frans Tromp lane', named after the Hoevelaken schoolmaster who was executed by the Nazi Germans. As burgomaster I am very pleased with the name chosen. I consider it of great importance to commemorate people such as Walter Strang. The Second World War may have ended a long time ago but it is still stamped on many peoples' memory. It cannot be taken for granted that people make sacrifices for the liberation of another country. But this is precisely what Walter Strang did, just as many of his fellow-soldiers. Therefore, it is just and proper that Walter Strang will be forever honoured in the Nijkerk municipality through the street bearing his name..
... Now I would like to invite the grandson of the youngest brother of Walter Strang - Mr Ian Strang - to unveil together with me the street sign. The sign 'WALTER STRANGLAAN', in honour of him and other war dead. In honour also of those who liberated us.