During World War II, I was living in Holland when that country was occupied by the Germans. My first wife, Eltge, and I lived in the town of Wageningen, on the Rhine River.
In September 1944 we were forced to evacuate to a safer location because there was so much fighting along the river. We had friends in the town of Lunteren about 20 miles inland who knew of a 200-year-old farmhouse that was vacamt. Along with my wife's parents, we spent the winter there.
After the Allies crossed the Rhine we knew they were coming our way and were not far off. So, on April 16, 1945 I pedaled my bike through the forest looking for the soldiers. All of a sudden I saw a guard and knew I had found what I was looking for -- the Canadians!
Luckily, I could speak English. The guard took me to his captain where there were six big camouflaged tanks.
The captain asked how the situation was in the next town. After quite a discussion he said,
"I will put you on the first tank and you lead the way to town."
By that time it was about 5 o'clock in the afternoon so he said, "We will first have dinner." I told him there was a curfew and he said, "You don't have to worry about curfew anymore."
After dinner they put me and my bike on the first tank. (We were about three miles from Lunteren.) When we came to the outskirts of town there was not a soul on the street because of the curfew.
When the people heard the noise of the tanks, everybody came out of their houses. When they saw me riding on a tank they could not believe what they saw.
They were hollering and crying. It was something you would never forget.
The six tanks stood on the main street for the next two days before they went on to the next town.
The town butcher brought me a big steak. We had not had steak for a very long time. About two weeks later we were able to return to our home in Wageningen, free at last!