I was recently approached about a very special event that is taking place this year in Holland. Running from, April 30th to 21st of May, The Faces of Groesbeek strives “…to pay tribute to those young soldiers who lost their lives so far away from home fighting for our freedom. Especially now most of their comrades are not able to do this any longer. We would like to recognize every single one of them by a photo and the story of his life, so they will never be forgotten.”
'Faces to Graves' is a non-profit organisation, founded in 2015 and based in Groesbeek. Its aim is to paint a picture of all the soldiers at the Canadian War Cemetery by compiling their life stories, preferably with a photograph and possibly with family memories, a letter or other memento. This work is done by the volunteers of Faces to Graves who devote many hours of their free time to this cause. The life stories are made available to the general public in a Digital Monument on the website www.facestograves.nl as a tribute to the Canadian soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. This website also contains more information about the Faces to Graves organisation, e.g. how to become a volunteer, how to give (financial) support and how to pass on new information about soldiers. Source: https://www.facestograves.nl/facesofgroesbeek.html
As it happens, a member of the Canadian Army Film Unit is buried at Groesbeek. Sgt. Lloyd Frank Millon had experience doing commercial, and portrait photography in Winnipeg, freelancing on the side as a photographer, with experience in shooting 16mm motion picture film.
On November 1st, 1944, during the landing at Walcheren, Sgt. Millon was working with cameramen of the British Film Unit. As the assault craft he was shooting from neared the beach, it is believed to have sustained a direct hit. All hands on board are listed as missing. Although never found, his headstone resides at the GROESBEEK MEMORIAL in the Netherlands.
Also partnering with Faces to Graves, are my good colleagues over at Project44;
From their website: “Project’44 is an online map of the Western Front of the Second World War, co-created by Nathan Kehler and Drew Hannen from the Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA). The CRMA partnered with museums and partner institutions like the Library and Archives Canada for over three years to digitize war diaries, maps and aerial photographs so that they could be available on the web map. This incredible feat has made over 7,000 pages of text and 7 million words available to the public. Aerial imagery of the Normandy front was supplied by the Institute National de L’information Geographique et Forestiere (IGN). The combinations of these primary source documents are distilled into Project’44 an easy-to-use interactive web map which is at the fingertips of historians and the general public.“
Faces to Graves has been relying on service profiles provided by Ancestry.ca, and Library and Archives Canada, from which researchers and volunteers use to compose their life stories. In addition, the non-profit organization is pairing up the stories with photos of the fallen, as Alice van Bekkum, President of the Research Team, explains;
"Our researchers love to get in touch with relatives, so they can add photos, memories, letters to the story. Which makes a story more meaningful. Sometimes they approach Legions, which might help in smaller villages. Local libraries or historical associations do have photos from time to time. We also publish life stories without having a photo, in some cases we get a reaction from a relative or a friend who does have an image of the soldier." "But in the meantime we already have over 700 stories published in English and Dutch and we are proud of that. Groesbeek is the largest Canadian War Cemetery, in Holten volunteers have composed life stories in the Information Centre they have. We work together with Holten and Bergen op Zoom to realise a website where all cemeteries are gathered in one website."
Faces to Graves is encouraging people to send photos, copies of documents, newspaper clippings, along with stories of their family members, friends, neighbours etc.
The foundation is currently looking for photos of the soldiers provided in this document.
Should you have any information, or photos that you wish to share, please contact them at:Bergen op Zoom: email@example.com
Holten (+other cemeteries): firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more, please visit their website: www.facestograves.nl
The video below provides a wonderful look at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, using aerial video on how to locate a grave of a loved one, and for those looking to visit. Lest we Forget.