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Old 30-06-21, 11:19
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Hanno Spoelstra Hanno Spoelstra is offline
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Default PLDG settled in Holland post hostilities

The war is over and the IV PLDG settled in Holland post hostilities. Maj DJ Burke, OC A Squadron, wrote about those relaxed days.

It gives an honest insight in how sales of cigarettes, impounded vehicles and liberated German soldiers’ pay made life easy:
David A. Burke

The war is over and the IV PLDG settled in Holland post hostilities. My father, then Maj DJ Burke, was OC A Squadron.


While we had been away with the Berlin Brigade, the Regiment had been mainly concerned with the disarming and escorting of German troops back to Germany. This usually meant that half a dozen men would be responsible for several hundred or even a thousand German POWs.
Troops of A Squadron had liberated the funds of a German paymaster so were all well off. I also understood that Jim Griffith’s Troop had liberated a couple of civilian trucks that had been confiscated by the German Army and had negotiated their sale to some Dutch civilians for an outrageous price. The money was divided up with his troop.
One afternoon I was checking on the officers’ quarters when I heard some mumbling and girlish laughter in someone’s room. I found Jim Griffiths, Art Richardson and Paul Bourque playing strip poker with some Dutch girls and cheating terribly. Discretion being the better part of valour I left them to it.
Troops of the other Divs in 1 Corps were also now in Rotterdam. There were the usual bits of nonsense about “D” Day and some bickering between the “D Day Dodgers” and the others. 1 Div had a Pub called the “Bucca di Bacchio” which became the scene of several scuffles.
The recruiting of officers and men for the Pacific Force was in full swing and several of our regiment took the opportunity to return to Canada early. There was also an opportunity for educational and vocational training and education officers were appointed.
There was a Divisional March Past in Rotterdam on the 12th in which the Regiment took part. On the 13th there was a Regimental Parade for Major General Harry Foster who had originally commanded the unit. After the parade Charlie Petch had an informal talk with the troops and told them of what likely was in store over the next few months.
He said “The War is over, and we all want to get home. I will not impose any “chicken shit” parades on you. All I ask is that you be responsible for one another and keep out of trouble. I will see that we have as many facilities as we can within our own barracks”. The men appreciated this as we only had two reported crimes during our remaining time in Holland. One for speeding and one for drunkenness.
On the 18th we moved to a new Divisional concentration area south of Hilversum. Our Regiment was billeted in a former German Air Force Barracks in a wooded area. Regt HQ was established in a big house in the adjacent “Oranje-Boom Beer Estate” with beautiful grounds and a huge swimming pool.
We established a Men’s Mess, a Corporals Mess, a Sergeants Mess and a Regimental Pub “The Dragoon Tavern” in the camp.
Each Squadron established their own Officers Mess in the houses on the base. A Squadron Mess was known as “Burke’s Beanery”. Each Squadron was allocated a Barracks Block of their own. We also located a house on the shores of a flooded area (old peat bogs) called “Loosdrecht” where we established the IV PLDG “Yacht Club”. The Royal Dutch Yacht Club found some boats for us.
There was a complaint from Corps HQ that there had appeared to be “females” wearing black berets commanding some of our armoured cars during our move to the new area. We did not investigate these complaints too closely. Our men had acquired a few “lady friends” to do mending and laundry while in Rotterdam and it appeared that some of them had moved to Hilversum with us.
I said that I did not want to see them in the barracks so when I made my inspections, they would go out the far door as I entered and come back in the other door after I had left.
We turned in all our armoured vehicles and only retained those vehicles required for administration. Most of our time now was concerned with marking time and keeping the men employed with educational, vocational, and recreational activities. Because we had facilities within our own area, we had little trouble with the troops. When they went out of camp they looked after their own. If a man was getting drunk or into a brawl, someone would return him to camp promptly.
There were lots of facilities for officers. There were officers’ clubs in Utrecht, Amersfoort, Bussem and Amsterdam. One of our former regimental officers Captain Keswick ran the Canadian Officers Leave Centre in Amsterdam which was formerly one of the big hotels and we were always welcome there. There were lots of lovely Dutch girls around and some of the Canadian got involved. The Royal Dutch Yacht Club on Loosdrecht turned over the facilities and the boats that the Germans had confiscated so there was lots of swimming and sailing in the warm summer weather.
On 4th July I went on a ten day leave to Paris. I drove to Brussels and wangled a flight on a US Air Force Dakota to Paris. I stayed in the same hotel I was in before. It was a great leave. Noelle and I had exchanged letters since I had my 48 there in March. We had a lot of fun and she showed me a lot of Paris.
As I did not smoke cigarettes and people sent them to me from Canada, I had a plentiful supply of them. My batman traded them to the Dutch civilians who would pay fabulous prices (40 Guilders each) for them so I went to Paris with a haversack full of Guilders. I was only allowed to exchange so many of them a day at the pay office so I would make a deal with some impecunious British Officer to trade them in for me on a 50/50 basis.
Eventually my leave pass ran out, but I was having too good a time to return to the unit just yet. I could no longer stay in the leave hotel, so Noelle found me a little French Hotel.
Bastille Day was coming up and the French were going to celebrate it in great style. Noelle and I danced all night at the various street dances. We went to Versailles, to the Art Galleries, the Zoo and the Museums. The Canadian Officers Club still offered good food and liquor.
Finally, on the 17th one of the PLDG officers found me and said that I was wanted back at the unit. He had come particularly to find me, so I had transportation back. Ken Campbell was going back to Canada to the Pacific Force and I was to take over as 2i/c.
I received a cable from home congratulating me, but I didn’t know what for. It turned out that I had been awarded the MC for service in Italy and my family had been notified. It had not yet been promulgated in our orders.
There were lots of rumours about when the unit is going back to Canada, but the dates were only tentative. Most of the problem seems to be with getting an American commitment for shipping. We are supposed to leave Holland for England in September and then after a few weeks back to Canada. I had decided I would return home with the unit as I had been away from home for over five years.
I was offered a posting to go to the Occupational Force as 2i/c of the 2/7 Recce Regiment. It was made up from volunteers from the VIII Recce and the 17th Duke of York Regiment. Johnny Merner was the CO and I knew him well. I still thought I should go home as that would mean another year or two overseas.
I was also offered a Staff Course at the British Army Staff College at Camberley and the receiving of my MC from the King at Buckingham Palace. I was tempted but still decided to go home.
Bob White took over A Squadron and I moved up to Regt HQ. I took the caravan with me and set it up in a little glade beside the swimming pool. The job as 2i/c was not very arduous and I spent a lot of time just lazing around. Charlie Petch had acquired a couple of good riding horses from the Germans and kept them in a barn at Regt HQ. He also acquired a nice Dutch girl friend. He also managed, by hook or by crook, to keep the Packard roadster he acquired at The Hague.
The swimming pool was quite an attraction for visitors, and I met a charming Dutch girl (Marlise Roell) who was here for lunch one day. We had a lot of fun visiting the various officers’ clubs in the area
Marlise had me over for dinner at her family home. It was a large stone house or a small castle at s’Graveland. Her father was dead. He was a Baron. I met her brother and sister and her sister’s husband at the dinner. They told me about how near they were to starving the past winter and gave me a taste of the bread they had made from tulip bulbs. They own a lot of land in Holland and in the Dutch East Indies.

Officers of IV PLDG Holland
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CO IV PLDG, Lt-Col Charlie Petch speaking to the unit.
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Lt-Col Charlie Petch on horseback.
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IV PLDG Yacht Club - sailing on Loosdrecht
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