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WWII Photo: Crowd celebrates as armored car drives down street in Netherlands

An armored car rolls down the street a s a crowd celebrates in the Netherlands during WWII. (Philip Siersema/Contributed)

An armored car rolls down the street as a crowd celebrates in the Netherlands during WWII. (Philip Siersema/Contributed)

This photo was in a box that belonged to my grandfather Johan Nico Siersema, so I could infer that it was taken in the Netherlands during WWII — likely by one of his relatives. But, since I didn’t know much else about it, I posted on the military history sub-Reddit to see if anyone might know more.

Alex Clumpkens identified the car as being of the Canadian Corps’ 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division, aka “the Polar Bears,” and suggesting Utretch as a location:

“It is probably a candadian Humber Armoured car. As far as I can make out it belonged to the British 49th(West Riding) Infantry division, nick named the Polar bear division. It was attached to the Canadian 1 Corps during the later stages of World war 2

This Unit was heavily involved in the liberation of Utrecht! Hm saw that city mentioned in your blog. For pictures see http://www.mapleleafup.ca/ve2.html

Redditor hydrogenjoule also responded, but with an alternative location:

“Because your grandfather was Dutch, and there seems to be a Dutch flag in the photo, I’m going to say that this was at Arnhem in April 1945, during I Canadian Corps liberation of the city. This was, as far as I know, the only major action in the Netherlands that the 49th took part in, and would certainly have merited a celebration.

After the failed Operation Market-Garden in ’44, Arnhem was the front line of the German resistance in the Netherlands until I Canadian Corps secured it during Operation Anger.”

So! We know who is in the photo now, just not the when and where. If anyone has any ideas, let me know!

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Helena ‘Lenie’ de Wit’s identification papers circa 1944

The cover of Helena de Wit's identification.

The cover of Helena de Wit’s identification.

The inside of Helena de Wit's identification.

The inside of Helena de Wit’s identification.

The back page of Helena de Wit's identification.

The back page of Helena de Wit’s identification.

These are — as near as I can tell — my great-grandmother Helena de Wit’s identification papers from 1944, complete with photo, fingerprint, and address.

Johan Siersema’s University of Amsterdam student ID from 1947

Student identification for Johan Siersema for a university in Amsterdam, dated 1947-1949.

Student identification for Johan Siersema for a university in Amsterdam, dated 1947-1948.

Student identification for Johan Siersema for a university in Amsterdam, dated 1947-1949.

Student identification for Johan Siersema for a university in Amsterdam, dated 1947-1948.

These are scans of the student ID my grandfather Johan Siersema was issued while attending the University of Amsterdam following WWII. By that time, he had fought in the Dutch resistance, been a POW twice over, and lived through a difficult period of starvation during which he lost some family members. The new Dutch army wanted him to stay on, but he decided to go to school instead.

Now, by “go to school,” I don’t mean that he went to classes. He was incredibly intelligent, with a 139 IQ, so he simply read the books, showed up to take the tests and then graduated with a degree in a economics — in two years instead of the usual four.

I’ll write more about him in his bio, but I’m still collecting information on that!