Royal tribute to Teesside-born Canadian general who received Nazi surrender in Holland
A royal tribute has been unveiled in honor of a Teesside-born WWII general who received Nazi surrender in Holland.
Lieutenant-General Charles Foulkes, who was born in Stockton, joined the Canadian Army in 1926 after his family had crossed the Atlantic to settle in Ontario; it played a central role in operations in Europe during World War II and a central role in Germany’s surrender to the Netherlands during the final days of the conflict.
Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Princess Margriet of the Netherlands met at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa for the unveiling of a large Canadian plaque honoring his legacy. General Foulkes was buried at the National Military Cemetery of Canada after his death in 1969.
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Flowers were also laid in front of his headstone during the ceremony.
Not much is known about General Foulkes’ early life, other than he was born in Stockton on Tees in 1903, one of eight children. His family emigrated to Canada and settled in London, Ontario, where he enrolled in college before joining the Canadian Army in 1926.
He returned to England in 1937 for officer training where he was deemed “sound and competent, and possessed drive and determination”. When war broke out in 1939, he served as a major and served throughout Europe, reaching the rank of lieutenant general in 1945. He led a division during the Normandy campaign, took command of Canadian troops in Italy, and in 1945 , is transferred to the Netherlands. On May 5, at a table in the Hôtel de Wereld in Wageningen, he dictated the terms of surrender to German General Johannes Blaskowitz, ending the five-year Nazi occupation.
After the war, Foulkes was appointed Chief of the General Staff and helped guide Canadian military policy through events such as the formation of NATO and the Korean War. He finally retired from the army in 1960 and continued to teach at a university before his death in 1969. His medals are on display at the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum in Ontario.
Beechwood Cemetery posted photos of the plaque unveiling event on its social media account and the tribute was noted by many people, including one who wrote: “77 years ago it was the actions de Foulkes and the dedication and bravery of the Canadian Armed Forces which ended the German occupation of the Netherlands and liberated the country, forever binding the Dutch and Canadian peoples in friendship. I am so proud to be Canadian and to have been there to witness this beautiful tribute.