Daughter of Canadian soldier gets long overdue closure in Holland

Carolyn Russell didn’t just go back to see where her father died. She went back to see where he lived.


After 72 years of wondering, she made up for a lot of lost time by doing just that this week.

“Very, very emotional,” she said from Holland of her and her family’s pilgrimage.

Rifleman Oswald “Ossie” Edmond Cameron, a Toronto milkman who volunteered to go and fight for his country, was killed in action in the Second World War and that’s about all the Sarnia woman who was just six-years-old at the time knew.

But there was more.

The window to seeing her dad in a new light was opened when the people who tend the cemetery in Holland where he is buried bumped into a man who asked if he could light a candle specifically for Cameron’s grave.

Why Cameron specifically?

Well, it was because Ossie had boarded with this man’s family in Holland in the weeks before he left for the battle where was killed. The man was 16 at the time and said he remembered the soldier.

When Carolyn and her husband Ross and kids Jody, Todd and Scott heard this story they decided to travel to Europe. They had to meet this guy.

Meet him they did and they learned about what a kind young man their dad was and what a brave warrior.

In a classy move, as the family landed their Air Canada pilot announced, “We have special guests on board, Ossie Cameron’s family who was a Canadian Soldier that gave the Supreme Sacrifice for the Liberation of Holland. Thank you Ossie Cameron and to his family for all that you gave.”

The plane erupted in applause. It was a special moment for Canada’s 150th birthday.

“I fell to pieces,” said Carolyn.

There would be need for more Kleenex — starting with meeting the man named Hendricks who was 16 at the time her father was there and remembers him well.

“Meeting this man was like going back in time,” Carolyn said. “He explained that Ossie Cameron left their family home February 8th, 1945, and came back to say goodbye on February 20th to go to Kleve, Germany, for Operation Veritable which was a massive force by the Canadians into occupied Germany.”

He didn’t come back.

“In a short seven days in Kleve, my father was killed February 27, 1945.”

It left her mom Madeline (Guerin) Cameron widowed and she and her brother Ken without a father. But they always had his memory.

Now they have more.

At his grave site at Groesbeek Cemetery on May 4th about 30 people, including Canada’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Sabine Nolke and the local mayor, gathered to pay respects to her dad. But there was someone missing.

“My mother until her death never got over my father,” said Carolyn.

So knowing how much this journey would have meant to her “we brought two teaspoons of dirt from her grave in Canada to put on his grave in Holland and got two teaspoons of dirt from my father’s grave to put on my mother’s grave in Canada. Now they are together.”

And their kids and grandkids now have seen the actual steps he walked.

“I had knots in my stomach as I knocked on that door,” she said of the home in Nimegan, Holland.

On the other side of it “a beautiful young woman who bought the house 10 years ago invited us in. Built in 1941 it was not demolished by war and the terrazzo floor in the kitchen and foyer are still the original.”

Upstairs was “the bedroom that my father slept in. It was all too bittersweet. I am standing where he stood.”

It took her seven decades but some things are worth waiting for. Ossie Cameron may be buried in the Netherlands but clearly his memory is still very much alive in Canada.

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