The Cape Breton Highlanders
Canadian War Cemeteries Italy, Sicily and Holland

Canadian War Cemeteries Italy And Sicily

Ancona Cemetery Cesena Cemetery Gradara Cemetery Naples Cemetery
Argenta Gap Cemetery Cassino Memorial Minturno Cemetery Ravenna Cemetery
Caserta Cemetery Coriano Ridge  Cemetery Montecchio Cemetery Rome Cemetery
Cassino Cemetery Forli Cemetery Moro RiverWar Cemetery Villanova Cemetery

Canadian War Cemeteries Holland

Groesbeek Cemetery Holten Cemetery

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Canada's over 5,900 identified war dead in Italy are buried mainly in 17 Commonwealth War Cemeteries or commemorated on the Cassino Memorial.

The only Second World War cemetery that is exclusively Canadian is the Agira Canadian War Cemetery in the heart of Sicily, 71 kilometers from Catania, where 490 Canadians are buried.

In Bari War Cemetery on Italy's Adriatic coast, are 2,245 Commonwealth headstones, of which 210 are Canadian.

Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, five kilometers before the Moro River site, two Canadian flyers are buried along with some 2,600 airmen of the R.A.F.

Most of the Canadians who fell in the Liri Valley are buried in two cemeteries in the area south of Rome: Caserta War Cemetery, where 98 Canadian soldiers and one Canadian airman are buried, and Cassino War Cemetery, farther north and just off the road to Rome. The latter is the largest Second World War Cemetery in Italy. Among the over 4,200 headstones located here are those of 855 Canadians who died during the battles of the Hitler Lane and the advance towards Rome. Also found in this cemetery is the Cassino Memorial which lists the names of 4,054 men who died in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns and have no known grave, and includes the names of 192 Canadians.

At Beach Head War Cemetery in Anzio on Italy's west coast, 68 Canadians lie among the 2,313 war dead.

Rome War Cemetery has 22 Canadian graves - those of administrative staff and prisoners who died in captivity.

In Florence War Cemetery, east of the city on the north bank of the Arno, the graves of 50 Canadians can be found among those of 1,637 Commonwealth soldiers who died in action before the city was captured.

Two cemeteries near the Adriatic Sea were begun during the fighting to breach the Gothic Line: Ancona War Cemetery, where over a thousand Commonwealth soldiers and airmen are buried, including 161 Canadians; and Montecchio War Cemetery, further north and 13 kilometers inland from Pesaro, where 289 graves, of a total of 582, belong to Canadians.

In Gradara War Cemetery, the 1,192 Commonwealth headstones, including those of 369 Canadians, are mute testimony of the Allied sacrifice in the advance from Ancona to Rimini.

Coriano Ridge War Cemetery also contains 1,940 graves of those killed on the advance to Rimini, including 427 Canadian graves.

A total of 937 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the winter of 1944-45 are buried in Ravenna War Cemetery, including 438 Canadians.

A half-hour drive from Ravenna is the Casena War Cemetery where 307 Canadian graves can be found among the 775 graves dating from November 1944.

In Villanova Canadian War Cemetery, 206 of the 212 graves belong to Canadians. This cemetery has been described as a memorial to the fallen of the 5th division as 85 members of two battalions of this division are buried here.

While Canadians did not fight in the area of Argenta Gap War Cemetery, north of Ravenna, this cemetery contains the graves of 75 Canadian soldiers and airmen who were brought here from battlefield graves farther south.


Canadian War Cemeteries Holland

Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery

The countryside surrounding the cemetery
Groesbeek War Cemetery


Allied forces entered the Netherlands on 12 September 1944. Airborne operations later that month established a bridgehead at Nijmegen and in the following months, coastal areas and ports were cleared and secured, but it was not until the German initiated offensive in the Ardennes had been repulsed that the drive into Germany could begin. Most of those buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery were Canadians, many of whom died in the Battle of the Rhineland, when the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions, and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, took part in the drive southwards from Nijmegen to clear the territory between the Maas and the Rhine in February and March 1945. Others buried here died earlier or later in the southern part of the Netherlands and in the Rhineland. The cemetery contains 2,610 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, and nine war graves of other nationalities. Within the cemetery stands the Groesbeek Memorial, which commemorates by name more than 1,000 members of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaign in north-west Europe between the time of crossing the Seine at the end of August 1944 and the end of the war in Europe, and whose graves are not known.


Groesbeek is located 10 kilometers south east of the town of Nijmegen and close to the German frontier. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery is 3 kilometers north of the village and 1.5 kilometer east of the main road to Nijmegen. On leaving the A73 motorway at the junction Overasselt-Mook-Groesbeek, follow directions to Mook. Follow direction signs towards Mook War Cemetery. After passing Mook War Cemetery continue to the village of Groesbeek to a roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout onto Dorpstraat passing through Groesbeek. The road name then changes to Molenweg. A Commission direction sign indicates the right hand turning from Molenweg onto the Zeven Heuvelenweg. 1 kilometer after entering this road lies the cemetery on the right hand side of the road. There is a large parking area in front.


Holton Canadian War Cemetery

Holton Christmas Eve

Holton, Holland
Canadian War Cemetery, Christmas eve 2007

On Christmas Eve each year the school children place these candles
Here at the Holton Cemetary there are 21 Cape Breton Highlanders


The Netherlands fell to the Germans in May 1940 and was not re-entered by Allied forces until September 1944. The great majority of those buried in Holten Canadian War Cemetery died during the last stages of the war in Holland, during the advance of the Canadian 2nd Corps into northern Germany, and across the Ems in April and the first days of May 1945. After the end of hostilities their remains were brought together into this cemetery. Holten Canadian War Cemetery contains 1,393 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War.

Even until autumn 1945 one could find crosses scattered all over the country in the eastern and northern parts of the Netherlands, marking the places where soldiers had been killed and buried. They had given their lives to liberate a country from 5 years of brutal oppression. One day, while passing Holten, Overijssel, it occurred to Lt. General G.G. Simonds, commander of the 2nd. Canadian Army that the Holterberg area might be a suitable place for a Canadian War Cemetery.

Some officers made contact with the mayor of Holten at that time, mr. W.H. Enklaar, who immediately did everything possible to raise a cemetery. In a later stage negotiations were carried on by the Ministry of War. The result was that the grounds were given to the Canadian government and became a Canadian territory.

The cemetery was constructed and carried out by Canadian soldiers who were waiting for their repatriation. They flattened and terraced the site. The first fallen soldiers buried were all Canadian soldiers, killed in the Holten area. Their graves are in the first plot left of the entrance.
Nearly 1,400 fallen comrades were to follow.

Afterwards the planned area of 14 acres turned out to be too large, so the front part was laid out as a beautiful heather-garden. Until 1970 both cemetery and garden were kept by Mr. Reeves, an Englishman. He served in the Royal Hampshire Regiment. After him the work was done by Mr. H. Krieger, a citizen from Holten.

Today the Mobile Group of the Commonwealth Grave Commission maintains the cemetery. A member of this group is Mr. Andre Deijk, a citizen of Holten. Among the rustling pines of the Holterberg lies the cemetery quietly with its hundreds of graves and every year on May 4th a service of remembrance is held by the schoolchildren of Holten. On Christmas-Eve the schoolchildren put candles on the graves to carry on the light of freedom.


Holten is a village 20 kilometers east of the town of Deventer, on the main A1 motorway from Amsterdam to Bremen in Germany. Following the A1 motorway, turn off at exit 30 and follow the N332 in the direction of Holten. Follow the N332 until reaching a signpost for Holterberg. Turn right onto the N344 in the direction of Holten, then at the T junction turn left towards Holten. Follow this road to the roundabout. Take second exit then turn first right towards Holterberg. Follow this road uphill until you see a green Commission sign pointing to the right. Turn right down the track and follow to the end. Turn left and the cemetery lies along here on the left hand side.

©Cape Breton Highlanders 2004
Last update: Thursday, January 10, 2008