Brief van Air Commodore A D Huggett (EN)
In conjunction with the Foundation for the War Cemetery Brunssum, UK military personnel based at JFC Brunssum participated in the annual Remembrance Ceremony on Saturday 11th November. Due to major a NATO exercise taking place at the same time, the number of UK personnel available to attend was less than would normally be the case. However, we felt it essential to join the local community in remembering not only all those who are buried in the cemetery but also those who have died in other conflicts.
The Commonwealth War Grave in Brunssum is lovingly cared for. The unveiling of a new sculpture at the entrance to the site reflects the enduring support as well as providing further recognition of the sacrifices made during the war. As it states on the website of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission, Brunssum was liberated in September 1944 by American forces. Shortly afterwards, they were followed by the British 43rd (Wessex) Division, who made their headquarters in the town; they were succeeded by the 52nd (Lowland) Division. The first burials in the cemetery were made in November 1944 by an advanced dressing station and a casualty clearing station. These units were situated in Merkelbeek while the 43rd Division was engaged in clearing a triangle between the Rivers Roer and Maas. Later, other casualties were brought back and buried in the same place - they included fifty men who were killed while clearing mines on the German border at the beginning of January 1945. Operations in the Geilenkirchen sector accounted for a great part of the casualties buried here. There are 328 soldiers buried in the cemetery, made up entirely of soldiers of the British Army, of whom 1 remains unidentified.
The 11th November is an important date in the calendar and is an opportunity to remember those who died in conflict, some quite recently. There is always a strong emphasis on UK military personnel being able to attend a war memorial somewhere close to where they live and work on that date. For those of us based in Brunssum, we are in the fortunate position of being able to pay our respects at a war grave. I particularly welcome the idea of people adopting the graves as it not only helps the cemetery remain in good condition but it also shows the respect the community has for the sacrifice made by these young men over 70 years ago. Moreover, it helps educate young people about what happened during World War II so that those sacrifices will never be forgotten. It also acts as a poignant reminder about the conditions and suffering their family had to endure both during the war and in the aftermath.
We are looking forward to joining the Brunssum community at the Commonwealth War Cemetery again on 4th May 2018 to commemorate Liberation Day and then at the Remembrance ceremony in November.