4 countries, 6 weeks, 7,000 km – an unforgettable war memorial journey in Europe
‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’ is a new non-fiction book by Prince Edward Island author Daria Valkenburg
North Tryon, Prince Edward Island. In 2015, retired diplomat Pieter Valkenburg began researching 48 names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion in. “Who were these men?” he had wondered during Remembrance Day ceremonies.
As someone born during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, Pieter wanted to show gratitude to Canadian soldiers who had given their lives for the freedom of Western Europe. He decided to research those names on the Cenotaph, and enlisted the help of his wife Daria, who documented his research on their blog ‘On The War Memorial Trail Research Project’ (see https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/) and in Island newspapers.
In 2017 they visited cemeteries and memorials on a war memorial tour in 4 European countries – France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany - to commemorate the names from that Cenotaph. They drove over 7,000 km during their 6 week journey.
“I kept a diary and recorded our experiences and impressions so they wouldn’t be lost” said Daria Valkenburg. “Our research project tells the stories of individual soldiers, but when you are in Europe, particularly in northern France and Belgium, the impact of war hits you. I was overwhelmed! War cemeteries and memorials were everywhere we turned.”
Valkenburg found it an emotional trip. “It’s not just soldiers on both sides of the wars that are buried in cemeteries. Many civilians also lost their lives and there was so much destruction.”
When asked what people will learn from the book, Valkenburg explained that “You’ll be engrossed by the stories of the soldiers we honoured at each cemetery and memorial we visited. As well, highlights of the challenges and adventures we encountered are included.”
Researcher Pieter Valkenburg and writer Daria Valkenburg make a dynamic team. Born in The Netherlands, Pieter Valkenburg served in the Dutch Air Force before going on to a career in the Dutch Foreign Service. He was posted to ten different places around the world during his diplomatic years. Canadian born Daria is a retired accountant, adult education instructor, and writer.
For more information on how to purchase ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’ see www.nosoldierforgotten.com. In addition, Valkenburg is available for author readings and speaking engagements. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or a tweet to @researchmemori1.
Valkenburg will be at an Author Meet and Greet on May 19, at the North Bay Public Library at 7 pm in the Auditorium.