The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders
"Keep 'em Moving"
George Sands MM.
last journey to Holland

May 2005

I accompanied my Father to Vught, Holland, to attend the memorial day events at Kamp Vught and the Fusilladeplaats (Killing Place) and the Liberation celebrations on May 4th & 5th 2005. Transported by our good friends, Peter & Jeanne van der Krabben, We would find the graves of fallen Camerons and try to find answers to the "Vught Plaque" (page9). No one knew just how ill my Father was, he passed away just six weeks later, after having finally put to rest over sixty years of nightmares and guilt.

Congrgation at memorial service in Kamp Vught
The congregation assembles for the service in one of the original barrack huts of prisoners at, "National Monument Kamp Vught".
Wreaths being laid in garden of ashes, Kamp Vught
Wreaths and flowers laid in memory of the victims of the SS, killed at "National Monument Kamp Vught"

Richard Massey, Heusden Holland 2005, Town hall in background
Richard Massey in Heusden, Holland. May 2005.
The new municipal building in the background is on the site of the building which was blown up by SS troops, with over 130 women and children inside. The main body of 5th Camerons entered Heusden, 6th November 1944.

George Sands and Richard Mssey with Jeanne and Peter van der Krabben, Beekvliet, St. Michielsgeste
Peter & Jeanne van der Krabben with George & Richard Massey, outside the building in BEEKVLIET,
Holland, where George received his Military Medal. Richard Massey was chosen as "Stick Man" as a 19 year old soldier forming part of the guard of honour.
george and his daughter and daughter in law, Beekvliet, St Michielsgestel
George ( his daughter and daughter in law) and Peter van der Krabben,
Beekvliet, St. Michielsgestel near s'Hertogenbosch, Holland

George Sands and Richard Massey, Beekvliet.

George Sands & Richard Massey at Beekvliet, St MichielsGestel, near s'Hertogenbosch, Holland, May 2005.

During our visit to Holland in May 2005, our good friends, Peter and Jeanne van der Krabben, transported us to various places my Father and his comrades had fought and relaxed. We then visited three Commonwealth war grave cemeteries, and viewed the graves of fallen Camerons, some of whom were well known to George and Richard. Cemeteries at Mook (Holland), Reichswald Forest (Germany) and Uden (Holland)

George Sands and Richard Massey, Mook war cemetery, HollandA sad moment for George Sands, Mook war cemetery, Holland

A sad time for George Sands and Richard Massey at Mook war cemetery Holland, May 2005.

Peter van der Krabben ecorting George Sands along the rows of headstones, Reichswald Forest war cemetery, Germany
Peter van der Krabben escorting my Father along the rows of the fallen. There are 7654 allied graves in the Reichswald Forest cemetary.

George Sands reading the name of a fallen Cameron. Reichswald war cemetery, Germany
Richard Massey standing at the headstone of his best friend of 1945, Ernie Maddock. Maddock and Porteous, were killed by the same shell just after Richard massey had gone off to get his tin helmet. Both men were killed during the Rhine crossing operations.

George Sands and Richard Massey, entrance and memorial Uden war cemetery Holland

George Sands and Richard Masey, Uden war cemetery.

circa 1940 photo of a young 1st Lieutenant Alfred Nigel Parker
circa 1940:  1st Lieutenant Nigel Alfred Parker.
(by kind permission of his son Mr Colin Parker)
On our visit to Uden cemetary my Father found, (amongst other Camerons) the grave of his D company commander, Major Nigel Parker. Killed in action 23rd October 1944, Schijndel's liberation day.
This is my Fathers memory of his part in the battle for Schijndel;

As soon as "A" and "B" companies crossed the start line and hit open ground they were hit with intense defensive fire, mainly from Spandau machine guns, and sustained heavy casualties, only a depleted "B" company reached its objective.
"A" company had lost their company commander wounded, and were nearly wiped out. We in "D" company were launched round "B" company’s flank in an attempt to gain "A" company’s objective.
Again, as soon as we were in the open, the Spandau’s opened up on us. The two guys either side of me were both hit. The one on my immediate left was killed instantly as Spandau bullets ripped into him. He was hit and ripped open diagonally across his body from shoulder to opposing hip. It was if his body had been unzipped.
I managed to lie flat to the ground in a furrow on the edge of the field we were in, wishing it were a lot deeper. Machine gun bullets and tracer just whistling over my head, I was powerless to do anything. I laid like that for most of the night, listening to the screams and moans of the wounded and dying.
I managed to inch my way toward the Spandau, which was firing on fixed lines, down the shallow depression I was in, with bullets whistling just over my head. I passed the body of our dead Lieutenant and the body of our company commander Major A. N. Parker. There were at least twenty dead Camerons lying in that field. It made me all the more determined to get to the Jerry responsible. I eventually made my way round the back of his position and could see he was a German Parachutist. He was, I guess, about five feet six tall. I finally got into a position where I could get to him. I launched myself at him and hit him full in the face with all the force I could muster with a right fist. I was on top of him. I began punching him, kicking him, I was strangling him. I hit him in the face with the rifle butt, God help me I wanted to kill him with my bare hands. Lucky for him, the Adjutant, Captain Lamb pulled me off him, but even as he was being carried away I tried to shoot him. The C.O. took me to one side to calm me down, I was screaming at him, "look at all my mates dead, Major Parker, all the boys. I still sometimes cannot understand why I was not allowed to finish the Jerry off. Major Parker had been a good commander and friend and a very brave man.

Dads last Nightmare;-

Our Dutch friends had driven us to various Cameron battle grounds and taken us to visit various War cemeteries.
Having visited the Reischwald cemetery and seen various Cameron graves with familiar names known to Dad, we headed back to Holland from Germany.
En route we stopped at the cemetery in Uden and came across several Camerons, all of whom were killed 23rd October 1944 at the battle for Schinjdel. Among them was Major Nigel Parker, dads company commander. Dad saluted his grave and muttered “that’s put that to bed”. Tears in his eyes I supported him as we walked and he spoke of his “horrible death”. We shared tears and finally regained our composure.
That night in our hotel room he began to murmur in his fitful sleep. Then the shouts began “Sarge don’t leave me Sarge” a nightmare I had heard before. Relating to 6 “of his boys” aged between 18 and 21. Killed by our own shells. Then the nightmare changed into something I had not heard before.
“Boss, Boss, stay down don’t move, Boss” then he woke and began to cry. We each sat on the edge of our beds facing each other and we held hands, both of us crying. He began to tell me how he had carried the guilt of not being the one to die. They had the habit of taking turns to lead the men into battle, Dad said “it was my turn, but the Major insisted he lead”. “It should have been me”.
I tried to reassure him it was not his fault, following orders.
He told me that the major had lumps shot out of him from machine gun fire. He began to sob, reducing me to tears as well.
“He got up 3 times trying to take care of us”. He had been hit 7 times.
Dad finally calmed and went back to a restless sleep.      

Contents PagePrevious PageNext Page; Cameron veterans hold their own memorial service at Schijndel, Holland October 2009, The 65th Anniversary of Liberation.
site constructed & maintained by Richard Sands