Canada and the Liberation of the Netherlands, May 1945


Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 marked the beginning of five years of terror for the Dutch people. They faced oppression and death with remarkable stoicism, but nothing could save them from the Hunger Winter of 1944-5, when more than 30,000 people died of starvation.

In this time of unimaginable despair, Canada came to the rescue, playing the largest role in liberating the Netherlands and ending the Nazi reign of terror. The Canadians gave the Dutch freedom - and food - and out of such dark times an eternal friendship was forged.

Told through interviews with Dutch survivors and Canadian veterans, Canada and the Liberation of the Netherlands, May 1945 delves into this little known chapter of history.


As a record of their collective achievement, Goddard's book is a success. But there is a deeper and more important story for the reader here: war is a dirty and miserable, lonely, and even tedious business from which no one escapes unharmed. To survive war means that one has witnessed misery and death firsthand, and it is impossible to follow the path of this book as it unwinds from Normandy to VE Day and not be moved by the accounts of soldiers and civilians whom fate united on May 5. Copiously illustrated, the text alternates gracefully and compellingly between first-person interviews with Dutch civilians and Canadian servicemen. Goddard links the accounts with a succinct and admirably compact historical narrative that manages to convey broad strategies but keeps the momentum intact. On occasion he slips into sentimentality or trite observation ("The war was truly a team effort"). These occasional stumbles seem trivial overall in what is a graphically stunning account. Young people especially will find this book a valuable introduction to an important chapter in Canadian and world history. "It seemed no one was interested," writes veteran John Drummond upon his return to Canada. "No one asked questions, what it was like. It was just like when you come home, okay, get on with your life." We must do honour to those who did so much and asked for so very little in return. This book may be a beginning. - Jonathan Schmidt, Quill and Quire, June 2005

"Gripping accounts of the fighting are finely balanced by the stories of the men, women, and children who lived through it, their stories enhanced by a remarkable collection of period photographs and excellent maps." Highly recommended. - Bill Twatio, Esprit de Corps, May 2005

"... highly recommended to those interested in the personal stories of participants and eye-witness non-combatants ... Goddard's book also offers an excellent insight into the problems encountered by a liberating army once the fighting has stopped."

Canadian Army Journal (January, 2007)

"... the short bursts of 'voce/over' commentary followed by first-person interviews move the story along at a brisk pace ... his filmmaking background helps bring all the elements together in a highly informative and spellbinding manner."

Canadian Military Journal (January, 2006)

About the Author

Lance Goddard

Posted by Dundurn Guest on October 30, 2014

Lance Goddard

Lance Goddard has worked in television for nearly 2 years. His first book, D-Day: Juno Beach, Canada's 24 Hours of Destiny, accompanied the TV documentary of the same name, which he also produced, became an instant bestseller.