WmFKnapp grave marker a

World War II Veteran, Lt. William F. Knapp. One of those who became known as the Greatest Generation…for they were. He is missed by all who were blessed to have known him.

Before we lost Bill, he succeeded in publishing his book. It is his story of his journey into and through WWII and beyond. Bill got to see his newly printed book just days before we lost him.

I Didn’t Know Anyone Cared is available from Amazon.

bills book cover resized

A HUGE thank you is extended to our friend, Ted Podewil, for taking on this mission once again and providing the many photos and information of his “travels” with Bill. Bringing to a close the life of cherished family member and friend, WWII Veteran Lt. William F. Knapp.

As with Bill’s “return to Normandy” for the 75th Anniversary D-Day celebrations, he also “returned” to the Netherlands for their 75th Anniversary of the beginning of their liberation – which started on September 17, 1944. Those travels can be found at:


Once again Bill’s fellow 82nd Airborne Paratrooper and friend, Ted, “took” Bill along with him to the Netherlands in September 2019, for the festivities. Bill succeeded in “jumping” while there.

On September 19, 2019 Ted and “Bill” jumped into the Grave, Netherlands, 82d Airborne Drop Zone. Ted placed Bill’s laminated token in a slot cut into the ground at the 82nd Drop Zone. It was identical to what he took to Normandy.

Ted’s jump “with” Bill began on the C47 “Drag em Ooot”. That’s Ted “with” Bill just coming out the door.




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Upon landing, Ted proceeded to emplace the laminated keepsake of Bill in the Grave Drop Zone.

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The red area on this map is the 82nd Drop Zone at Grave, where Ted jumped “with” Bill on September 19th. If you look closely, you will see a black dot to the left of and slightly higher than the yellow T. This is the approximate landing spot of Ted and Bill’s jump and where Ted emplaced Bill’s laminated keepsake.


The jump into the 508th Drop Zone was held on September 18. Ted didn’t participate in that jump but was able to observe it. He returned to the area on the 20th to emplace one of Bill’s dog tags at the Airborne Drop Container. This jump was into the area just off the Wylerbann Road north of Berg en Dal/Groesbeek. It is the area where Bill’s 508th jumped into Drop Zone T at the start of the liberation of the Netherlands all those years ago.

The yellow area on the map indicates the drop zone/landing zone – DZ T, LZ T (the landing zone is the designation for the gliders). You can also note reference to the 508th and 505th PIR. Just to the left of the DZ notations and outside the yellow area you can see the number 34 in the triangulation of the roads. Number 34 is where the Airborne Drop Container is located and Bill’s dog tag was emplaced – as seen in the following photos.

You can also see the German town of Wyler on the map – just above the yellow area – where ultimately many hard-fought battles took place.  After landing, the 508th marched into Nijmegen. The next day, the Germans were attacking our gliders so they were ordered back to the drop zone to protect our gliders as they came in to land. Bill spent many days fighting throughout this area. History states the battles at times were ferocious. This is also the area where Bill and his friend Joe (later KIA in the Battle of the Bulge) received their battlefield commissions after their platoon leaders were wounded and/or killed. Many 508 troopers and gliders landed in this area.


The Airborne Drop Container. This is a memorial site for the 508th “Red Devils”.
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This area was a good drop zone, close to the Groesbeek Heights/Berg en Dal area…..the only high ground in the area. Germany can be seen across the DZ  in the distance.
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If you look closely, just above the arc of the brick line, just right of the center of the photo under the outer edge of the bushes, you will see the bright green of Bill’s dog tag.
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And so the final chapter in the life of this cherished WWII Veteran has come to a close.
Our World War II Veterans truly earned and deserve to be remembered throughout history as the Greatest Generation.




Table of Contents

Battlefields and Memories – Introduction

The Journey Begins – Thursday, April 30, 2015 –

          Friday, May 1, 2015

Battlefield Revisited – Saturday, May 2, 2015

Brielle Liberation Festival – Sunday, May 3, 2015

Touring the Island – Monday, May 4, 2015

Ouddorp Remembrance Ceremony – Monday, May 4, 2015

Goedereede Liberation Ceremony – Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finding Joe Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Journey’s End:  Time to say Goodbye – Thursday, May 7, 2015

         and Heading Home – Friday, May 8, 2015

The link for 2016’s “Return to Normandy” website:


I must apologize for the lack of a menu – just couldn’t figure out how to accomplish it! However, these are the nine “chapters.” As you scroll through them they will continue to “roll” up. Some delay may occur until the “buffering” completes the loading but just wait a few seconds and you will see the “scroll” bar on the right side raise which is an indicator that there is “more to follow.”

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The videos are “live” you only need click on them to activate them.  When done viewing videos or “blow-ups” of the photos – click on the bold, black left-pointing arrow in the upper lefthand corner – it will return you to this website.  If the arrow is NOT black click on the “x” that appears in the “tab” at the top for the video or picture that will then return you to this website.

Continue reading


Battlefields and Memories

                  BILL 1946      BILL 2015                                          1946                                           2015


WWII Veteran Lt. William F. Knapp’s journey to return to the battlegrounds of Holland began in 2012. Bill’s fellow 508 Paratrooper and lifelong friend, Walter Barrett, author of “My Story – Every Soldier Has A Story”, had met Fred Hoek at a 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment Reunion and gave Fred Bill’s contact information. Fred had come over from Holland to attend the reunion. Fred e-mailed Bill and they swiftly became e-mail “buddy’s” developing a strong friendship over the next couple of years. I have no doubt they will remain so over the coming years. 

In 2014, Fred invited Bill to come to Holland in May 2015 as an honored guest to participate in the 70th Year Liberation Celebration of Holland. After much thought and consideration, Bill accepted Fred’s invitation which would return Bill to battlefields he had not visited since the end of the war. He had been asked if he would like to participate in a Veteran tour to Europe to revisit Normandy, Holland, and Belgium, all countries and battles he had fought in. But the time spent in Holland was very short and that was where he most wanted to return to. So the decision was made to go on his own to Holland. Without Fred and his help, Bill would never have been able to achieve the peace he now has as a result of revisiting all those old memories, and to finally find Joe and be able to say his goodbye’s to him as well.

The people of Holland take the preservation of those dark hours in their lives and the price the United States and our Allies paid for their liberation very seriously. The extent of their knowledge as to events during those times, the “where, when and who” of battles, the places where our planes crashed, bodies were buried and found, etc. is amazing. But having visited with these wonderful people and gained a better understanding of what it was like to be conquered and occupied by Hitler and his forces, I can appreciate their commitment to never forget who liberated them and the price that was paid to do so. Those of us who have never lived under those circumstances can’t begin to conceive what life is like.

This journey was an incredible honor for Bill, and I am humbled that I was included in the ceremonies (which I had not expected) for this momentous year as well – the 70th Year Liberation Celebration of Holland. The Remembrance Ceremony is always the same every year, the Liberation Celebration is a huge event every 5 years with celebrations on a smaller scale in the intervening years.

The following link was provided by Fred’s lovely wife, Ellen.  While the site is in Dutch it also will translate which I have done and copied/pasted it below. I have changed some of the wording to compensate for the translation. However, I suggest that you open the link so you may see the bridge they built in honor of those who saved their country.


Sunset March is a tribute to the Allies who fought for the freedom of the Netherlands .

“Sunset March is a daily homage to the allied soldiers who fought for the freedom of the Netherlands. In Nijmegen is a new bridge built; the Crossing near the part of the Waal [river] where on September 20, 1944 American soldiers of the US 82nd Airborne crossed the Waal to the north side. During this so-called “Waal Crossing” 48 allied soldiers have died.  The lighting of the new bridge is very special. There are 48 pairs of light poles on the bridge. Around the time of sunset, these light poles, pair for pair,  light consecutively at the pace of a slow march. The complete lighting takes nearly 12 minutes. The first pair to light starts under the southern arch of the bridge. The inverted V.

Every night is a veteran Sunset March at sunset. As the first few lampposts illuminate the veteran walks along at the pace of the lights. The veteran is identified by a barrette or they wear insignia or medals that he or she wears, or a combination thereof. Any veteran can enroll through the Sunset March website in the Applications List to perform this task. Sunset March was initiated by “Veterans Overbetuwe”.

The following link provides a beautiful view of the new bridge as well as the trailer from the movie “A Bridge Too Far” which depicts the battle that was fought for this bridge all those years ago.  A battle that Bill participated in.



The original bridge

We also wish to thank Fred and his sister, Suze, for the photos they shared, some of which are included in this album.  

Bill would like to take this opportunity to thank his friend Herb Lahout for making his jump suit precise down to the last detail, refusing to take any compensation except to be put on the “mailing list” for pictures, etc.  Also for providing some of the medals and braids.

 A thank you as well to Dennis and Bob for providing the campaign medals.

Also a huge thank you to the Patriot Guard Riders of Southern Nevada for the surprise gift of a significant amount of “spending money.”

Comments must be made here about my efforts to record this! Novice that I was and still am, the videos are posted simply as raw video – nothing fancy, no added music or commentary – just “as is”. Wish I could have “spruced them up” as they say but, believe me, I am lucky I got this far!!

While this was Bill’s experience, the logistics of putting it on the web are mine.  Working together we hope that we have made a presentation that will “take you along” on the journey we traveled. For it truly was incredible.

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The Journey Begins

Thursday, April 30, 2015 – Friday May 1, 2015

Over the next several months, Bill and I made flight and hotel reservations and began preparing for this journey which began at 2 a.m. Thursday morning, April 30, 2015 when the “bugle blew rise & shine”. An hour later our friend, John Kawano, who is a chauffeur for a limo service, picked us up in a really big “stretch” limo – his surprise for Bill. We arrived at the airport by 4 a.m. and our day of travel began. Several hours later and by then the next day, Friday, May 1st at 8:05 a.m., we arrived in Amsterdam, Holland.

Our friend and host, Fred, was waiting at the airport for us and once we retrieved our luggage, we were off and running. Our first hotel was in Nijmegen, (pronounced ni-megen) where we stayed two nights. Upon arrival there we took a couple hours break to reconnoiter and then we were out the door to the museum in Groesbeek.

Driving through Nijmegen, Bill recognized the roundabout where the 508 had fought a fierce battle with the Germans 70 years ago. Coming from their participation as attacking forces in Normandy, on September 17, 1944 the beginning of the liberation fight for the Netherlands, known as Operation Market Garden, began. Bill once again was with the attacking forces – 82nd Airborne Division “All American”, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment “Red Devils”, Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Platoon. In all those 70 years, he had never returned to any of those battlefields.

The 508 jumped into an area known as Fox Hill at 1:30 p.m. on a sunny, Sunday afternoon, as Bill remembers it, “a beautiful blue sky with fluffy white clouds”. Immediately after landing and regrouping, they marched from there into Nijmegen – a distance of approximately 7 miles, to secure the Nijmegen Bridge which was to be our backdoor into Germany. As they drew closer to town they began engaging the enemy, ultimately fighting their way through the streets of the town to get to the roundabout that the Germans had control of to protect their (German) access to the bridge.

They dug fox holes in the streets next to the buildings, in the flower beds, wherever they could. Fighting their way through the streets, the people of Holland came out to cheer them on. The battle raged all night long until our troops received word that the Germans were bringing in massive reinforcements to the Fox Hill DZ (drop zone) where our gliders were to land. The order to withdraw back to the DZ to secure it was issued. It is now the morning of Monday, September 18, 1944 and they have had no respite since their flight into Holland the morning before. Facing skirmishes until they cleared the town, they eventually marched the 7 miles back to the DZ to face yet another battle.

Bill and his friend, Joe Endress (2nd Platoon), were battlefield commissioned for their joint actions on September 18, 1944 after their return to Fox Hill, formulating a plan for their 2 platoons that allowed them to hold off the Germans, succeeding in routing them so our gliders could safely land bringing in jeeps, heavy equipment and the big guns. Both of their platoon leaders had been casualties and Bill and Joe, both staff sergeants, had to take command of their platoons.

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The Liberation Museum

To continue. The name of the museum is simply the Liberation Museum. It was started privately with monetary help from WWII Veterans who had jumped in the area, mostly 505th. Today it is a foundation. I am sorry I don’t have much information regarding the museum. While most Dutch people speak English (which is mandatory to learn in their schools) the printed brochures, etc. were mostly in Dutch so there is nothing to refer back to for better and more accurate descriptions of all that we saw.

Life-size depictions of Airborne paratrooper events.

(Note: If you click on the images, they will enlarge.)

     82ND MUSEUM 1   82ND MUSEUM 3


A WWII communications station and a howitzer.  


The director of the museum personally took us on our tour and explained many of the exhibits. We were able to view a 15 minute film showing live action during WWII in Holland. The film was provided by the United States exclusively to this museum.  

   82ND MUSEUM 6   82ND MUSEUM 7

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These relics are the real thing, preserved from WWII.

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Bill and Fred – real Sherman Tank located on the museum grounds.

There are also rooms with exhibits that show the lives of the Dutch people in WWII, as well as the Holocaust and a room devoted to the bringing down of the Nazi’s. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t get to see those exhibits. We were scheduled to return the next day for a completion of the tour.

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Battlefield Revisited

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Today we went to the battlefield known as Fox Hill, where Bill received his battlefield commission in 1944. Groesbeek Airborne Friends, Jeanne, Herman, and Marco, interviewed and videoed Bill. Herman is “behind the camera” but he does appear towards the end of my video – the guy in the striped shirt giving the “thumbs up”! They are also the Dutch Department of the C-47 Club. Jeanne’s father was the head of the resistance in Groesbeek during the war.  

They are very involved in documenting the history of the area and have extremely detailed information of the action that took place at Fox Hill all those years ago. They have made it their life’s work to document this history. Bill indicated that he never really did know all that went on that day, so many years ago.

As Bill, Marco, and Jeanne talked they were able to exactly pinpoint where Bill and Joe were that day, Monday, September 18, 1944, when they fought the Germans to clear the DZ (drop zone) so our gliders could safely land.

(Note:  If you click on the images, they will enlarge.)


                          Marco, Bill and Jeanne studying the charts                                         




Em, Bill, and Jeanne

FOX HILL Video is 5 minutes. The video shows the battlefield and the interview. The man in the blue jacket taking photographs with the big camera is Piet Spanjers from the newspaper in Groesbeek which published the article appearing below.

(Note the black and white cat – what a ham she was, appearing in many of the scenes!)

As we were leaving the Fox Hill area, a young couple who live down the road from here, wanted us to stop. I believe this had been arranged by Marco, Herman, and Jeanne. They presented Bill with this actual aerial photo image of the Fox Hill area that was taken 4 months after the DZ battle. If you click on this image to enlarge it you will be able to see the gliders.  They appear almost as “x’s”.  I was able to count 19 on the photo that was given to Bill.  The black “smattered” areas are a result of all the fighting that took place.


This article was published Tuesday, May 12, 2015 by Groesbeeks Weekly. It was a result of Bill’s interview at Fox Hill. The title says “Veteran (93) with a mission”.

Article Groesbeek Newspaper

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With the conclusion of Bill’s interview, we returned to the Liberation Museum. The video provided by the link below is a visual recording of the room housing the Panels of Remembrance which list the names of all the fallen soldiers in this area during Operation Market Garden – mainly the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions.

PANELS OF REMEMBRANCE  Video is 40 seconds. I apologize for the shaky quality of this video – still trying to determine how to move and record at the same time, how fast/slow to move and hoping it all comes out like a Hollywood production in the end!

I find it amazing all the physical and historical information these groups have collected over the years and continue to collect yet today.

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Brielle Liberation Festival

Sunday, May 3, 2015

We checked out of our hotel in Nijmegen and headed for Brielle (pronounced breelay) for the Liberation Festival and to meet the re-enactors and see their WWII camp. Bill was also interviewed here. He was an honored participant in the parade along with 3 other WWII Veterans – from left to right 101st Airborne Jimmy “Pee Wee” Martin (he jumped last June, 2014 in Normandy!), English Veteran – Mr. Leary, 101st Airborne Eugene Gilbreath who was on the same flight from Atlanta as we were, and Bill.

(Note:  If  you click on the images, they will enlarge.)


My videos of Brielle’s Liberation Festival are presented in four parts. There is dialogue but you may have to turn up your sound to hear it. Much is in English.

I recommend  having a box of tissues handy!

BRIELLE ENCAMPMENT AND CEREMONY. Video is 15 minutes. Most of the ceremony is spoken in English and I recommend listening to it. The “Medal of Brielle” is presented to each of the 4 Veterans along with a book about Brielle. Trying to translate the information that came with the medal it appears that Brielle became a village over 650 years ago. The medals presented to the Veterans are part of a numbered limited edition of 2,000 Brielle had made in 1980.  The coin Bill was given is stamped #374. The medal is very heavy, appears to be copper perhaps, is 2-3/4 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick.



BRIELLE PARADE  Video is 9 minutes.  My video isn’t the best partly because I am new at doing this and partly because the streets of Brielle are very narrow and they were crowded with hundreds of people. There was no place to back up so I could be far enough away to fully capture the vehicles as they passed – which were 6-8 feet from where I was able to stand. It is a bit hard on the eyes because of all the motion and focus issues. But at least you can see our 4 Veterans riding in their individual jeeps through the village as they appear in the first minute and a half. By now it was raining pretty steady.  



      Bill on the left – Eugene Gilbreath 101st Airborne on the right

These photos were added Monday, June 16, 2015 and were provided by our friend Fred and are used with permission from Sander Photography.   

BRIELLE DANCERS  Video is 1 minute. I walked in on the boogie woogie dancers already doing their routine. I really goofed recording them. Having videoed much of the dance and not knowing how long it would go on, when the music seemed to start over I ended recording – and within seconds that was when they made a grand finale “dip” ending their routine which I totally missed and would have been a great ending for their performance. My apologies to them – it was a great performance and fun to watch.


BRIELLE BACK AT CAMP  Video is 3 minutes. When everyone got back to camp after the parade, our Veterans were invited to partake of a meal that had been prepared especially for them – I do believe.  The cook offered me a cup of the soup she had made which I accepted.  After tasting it I told her she needed to open a restaurant so she could sell it – it was soooooooo delicious!!  She thought that was funny.  The video includes footage of all the vehicles returning to the camp and parking so it includes much better video of them with only a couple instances that weren’t the best.


OFFICIAL 2015 BRIELLE LIBERATION VIDEO Fred provided the following link to this year’s “official” Brielle Liberation Festival video. You will see Bill and the other 3 Veterans at the 41 second mark.  It is short but I definitely encourage you to watch it. It really is quite something.

A MAJOR TISSUE ALERT for this one.  Be sure and turn up the sound.  This video is only 2 minutes 20 seconds but has an impact like being hit by a bus as we say.


This is an annual re-enactment during the celebration week. The participants are Dutch and Belgium, even with some from England and Scotland. The German re-enactors are Dutch or Belgium as well. They are allowed because it is an historical event but they are forbidden to represent the SS and can not cross the barrier that is placed at the camp’s edge. Other re-enactment groups come from every country in Europe.

This group travels mostly to France, Belgium and Holland and occasionally to England.

From here we were off to check into our hotel in Ouddorp (pronounced ow-dorp). That evening Fred, Bill and I ate dinner at the Fletcher Hotel which is where we were staying. What an event! Food at the hotels we stayed in truly was gourmet. Following our meal the staff surprised us with these wonderful desserts. At first I couldn’t read the word on the plate as one was placed in front of me and the other in front of Bill. I was expecting it to be Dutch so it didn’t hit me what it said until I asked Fred. And he said “Stars ‘n Stripes”. My plate had the “Stars” and Bill’s had the “Stripes”. And it was every bit as delicious as it looks with about 9 inches of delicacies and we ate every bit of it! They just wanted to show us that they, too, care.


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Touring the Island

Monday Morning, May 4, 2015

Today is Remembrance Day, the ceremony to be held this evening beginning at 7 p.m.

This morning, however, Fred squired us around the island showing us where the dikes had been destroyed by the Germans, and those that have been constructed in more recent years. The island is below sea level and only the dikes keep the North Sea at bay.

The devastation the destroyed dikes, and the subsequent flooding of the island caused, took years for the land to recover because of the salt water. Not only did the Germans destroy some of the dikes but they also didn’t do any maintenance on the remaining ones during the years they occupied the island. The economic destruction of Holland the war also caused was further detrimental to the dikes as there was no money to make much needed repairs and maintenance as well. It took the land many years to recover, 5-7 years, in an area where farming was/is huge. Then, just as the land was beginning to recover, in 1953 some of the dikes broke, once again flooding the area which was again devastating because of the cycle required to reclaim the land and make it productive once more.

So for a period of some 20-25 years, the peoples of the island of Goeree Overflakkee struggled to reclaim their land and make it productive once again. This was done by treating the land with chalk which helped to neutralize the effects of the salt water. Today, the farm land is healthy and very productive. The dikes are strong and well maintained. Besides flowers, mainly tulips, potatoes are the biggest food crop and have been for many years, all the way back to those long ago war years.

Bill told a story of standing in the plane doorway flying over the dikes and seeing a German gun emplacement that was firing at them. One of our spitfires came flying by and dropped a 500 lb. bomb directly on the ack ack guns, blowing them up.

NORTH SEA  Video is 2 minutes.  Fred initially drove on the road with the shore on our right and the dike on our left, which seemed quite high to me, but Fred turned the car onto the bottom of the dike and he drove up the slope to the top where we rode for a ways.

As we rode around the countryside, Fred showed us some of the memorials for American pilots and crews who fought and crashed on his island. These memorials may be found throughout the island near the area where they crashed. Shell casings, and other relics of the war can still be found in the land. After the war all the land mines the Germans had placed that hadn’t blown up presented major problems.  Fred indicated there were millions of them.

(Note:  If you click on the images, they will enlarge.)


This B-25 and Spitfire flew over the island on May 5 on V-E Day.


One of the countryside memorials we viewed.

These memorials are spread throughout the island.  They are covered with what appears to be heavy plexiglass panels completely encasing and sealing in the contents.

Fred contributed information regarding the field seen in the following video. He recently talked to an 87 year old lady whose husband has passed and still had items from the B-17 that crashed in this field.

COUNTRYSIDE MEMORIALS Video is 12 seconds. Five years ago, just before the 65th year celebration, a farmer was plowing his fields and uncovered the bodies of two Americans, members of the 82nd Airborne, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The bodies were removed to the United States where one was successfully identified and the other was not.

Most of today’s videos were taken through the car’s tinted windows as we were riding so the quality is not the best but at least it will give you an idea of all we saw this day.

YELLOW FLOWERS  Video is 27 seconds. The yellow flowers in the video are an interesting story. There were fields and more fields of these flowers as well as many growing along side the roads and embankments. We came upon them so fast I wasn’t able to get a picture of the fields. The flowers produce a seed that is used to make biodiesel fuel.

GERMAN BUNKERS  Video is 21 seconds. There are still a number of German bunkers around the countryside – long overgrown with vegetation. Fred informed us that they are 3 meters thick (a bit over 9 feet).

TULIP FIELDS  Video is 2 minutes. Fred was trying to find tulip fields for us to see. While there were many in the area, the growers were already in the process of “topping” the flowers – removing the flower heads so the bulbs would grow better. These are tulips grown for bulbs for commercial purposes. We did find some as yet untouched fields and they were breathtaking in their masses of color. I can’t imagine what it would be like if the fields were all at their prime.


Tulip fields. The fields in the foreground have already been topped.

WINDMILL AND MARKET IN OUDDORP  Video is 1 minute. We wrapped up our tour by going to the Village of Ouddorp where Fred lives. We had to make a stop at a store and he wanted us to see the market and the town itself which is over 600 years old with many of the buildings original having been repaired over the years. The windmill is one of three working windmills left in the area. It is over 150 years old and still in use today.

We went to Fred’s home where he provided us with lunch. An interview with Jaap Ruizeveld, from the local newspaper, had been scheduled with Bill which took place following our lunch. Mr. Ruizeveld also did the photography/filming at the Remembrance Ceremony.

The article Jaap Ruizeveld wrote and published in the Ouddorp newspaper. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a method of getting the article into a translation program so we may read what Mr. Ruizeveld has written.


The “thank you” we requested to be published in the Ouddorp newspaper.


“We wish to thank the wonderful people of the Netherlands, especially the citizens of Ouddorp, for welcoming us so openly and warmly. You are a great country.

The invitation extended to Mr. Knapp to participate in the ceremonies and celebrations for this, the 70th anniversary year of your liberation, allowed us to experience your commitment to always remembering your liberators and the human price we all paid, bringing with this an understanding of the suffering you also experienced during the horrors of occupation, that we could not imagine. We thank you for sharing the many stories from those long ago times. The homecoming welcome 82nd Airborne, 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment Paratrooper William Knapp received was very emotional for both of us.

Being able to participate in the Remembrance Ceremony and the 70th Anniversary Celebration Ceremony, are experiences we will cherish for the rest of our lives. It was truly a great honor that you bestowed upon us and we are grateful for that privilege. Witnessing the honor and care you take of our fallen Veterans helps to heal many emotional wounds we all harbor for the thousands who never came home. It helps to know that in our absence they are being cared for and remembered.

It is with a great deal of gratitude that we especially wish to thank Fred Hoek and his family for making it possible for us to come to the Netherlands and share in your celebrations of this momentous year. The time he took to show us your beautiful country and memorials, getting us where we were supposed to be, and inviting us into his home making us feel like family. We could never have made this trip without his help.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for caring and for extending your hands of friendship. As with our lost Veterans, the people of Holland will never be forgotten by us. It was truly an experience that will remain with us through eternity.”

Always your friends,

William Knapp and Em

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On this day Bill was also gifted with this commemorative bottle of wine which came from Normandy.


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Before going to the Remembrance Ceremony, we were invited to have dinner with Fred and his family at Suze’s home (Fred’s sister). It was a great time, great food and fellowship shared.  Esther, Suze’s daughter, had brought the son of a friend of her’s. He had stated that “I want to meet a real Veteran”!  I’m sorry I don’t know his name.  Following dinner we left for the Remembrance Ceremony.


Fred’s daughter Lisa, Bill, and Esther’s friend

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Ouddorp Remembrance Ceremony

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fred once again was our “taxi” and transported us to the meeting place for the Remembrance Ceremony, which started at 7 o’clock in the evening.

I have separated the videos into two parts as  I thought perhaps segments would be easier to find the time to watch. I encourage you to watch it all. It was an incredible experience that is beyond description. The only parts that I have edited out are the very beginning speech as it was almost 9 minutes long and most of the speech outside as they were all spoken in Dutch. But the solemnity of the occasion was not lost by doing so. I hope my Dutch friends will understand my reasons for doing this. If you listen carefully you will realize that the speaker is talking about Bill and welcoming him to the ceremony. 

Following the opening ceremony inside we adjourned outside. As we were leaving the building to go to the Ouddorp Village Memorial for the wreath laying ceremony, we passed an elderly man in the audience who was still sitting and quietly sobbing – Bill approached him and the man took his hand. This gentleman, Linus Hoek, his father and Fred’s father were brothers, is a survivor of the Holocaust. I also took his hand and held it – it was such an honor.

During the outdoor ceremony, at precisely 8 p.m., 2 minutes of silence are observed in honor of the fallen. If you turn up the sound enough you will hear the bells tolling 8 o’clock – note the time on the village clock. Even the children are required to observe the 2 minutes of silence. Fred informed us that 90% of the people of Holland stop what they are doing and observe those 2 minutes in silence. Not even the children made a sound and all stood still in observance. It was remarkable to be a part of it. This part of the ceremony is on Part I – it occurs after the trumpeter plays.

Following this the wreaths were placed. This was highly emotional and we were barely able to hold ourselves together during the ceremony, especially when it was our turn to place our wreath. It was extremely humbling to see how the peoples of the Netherlands honor those who were lost in the fight for their freedom. This is the way this ceremony is held every year. I don’t think as long as I live I will ever experience anything that could remotely compare to this.

My thanks to Esther, Suze’s daughter, Fred’s niece, for taking over the videoing for me. I thought I would be doing that – not participating in the ceremony. She did a great job – probably far better than I could have done. Thank you so very much Esther.


REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY PART I  Video is 13 minutes. Opening indoor ceremony then adjourning outside for outdoor ceremony including 2 minutes of silence and closing song.  Notice the Honor Guard – they hold their salute throughout the 2 minutes of silence.

REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY PART II  Video is 14 minutes.  The wreath laying ceremony.

Note the military honor guard standing behind the memorial – as far as I am aware, they held their salute throughout the entire wreath laying which took several minutes.


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Fred took us back after everyone had left so we could take pictures.


                                    The wreath that Bill and I placed.

The two panels, directly behind the wreaths, contain the names of citizens from Ouddorp who were killed during the war, some victims of German labor camps in Germany, some soldiers from the Dutch Army, others casualties when attacked by the Germans bombing the village of Ouddorp in May, 1940.

I felt it was necessary to list those names here so that they may not be forgotten, as the Dutch people honor our Veterans by not allowing them to be forgotten. The dates on the panels appear as numbers – day/month/year – which I found to be confusing as we do not generally write dates that way. For ease of reading I have changed the date format showing month/day/year instead.  The name appearing between the two sets of dates are where these individuals lost their lives.  The man who died in Thailand was a soldier in the Dutch Army who was serving in Thailand.

1940 – 1945


(For Those Who Died/Gave Their Lives)

Van ‘T Geloof, Markus – 12-02-1908 – Cuyk –  05-10-1940

Breen, Jacob – 01-15-1915 – Tholen – 05-15-1940

Meijer, Jan Cornelis – 08-19-1889 – Ouddorp – 11-01-1940

Meijer, Lena – 06-23-1928 – Ouddorp – 11-01-1940

Akershoek, Klass – 10-15-1918 – Nabij Engelse Kust – 06-1941

Haas-Franken, Anna – 05-08-1873 – Oswieqlm (P) – 10-26-1942

Van Wijk, Arnoldus – 12-18-1924 – Amersfoort – 02-17-1943

Hameeteman, Martijn – 07-18-1908 – Thailand – 08-04-1943

Sperling, Johannes – 11-09-1925 – Weert – 03-19-1944

Hoogmoed, Markus – 10-14-1918 – Goedereede – 09-11-1944

Hameeteman, Dimmen – 05-19-1925 – Braunschweig – 10-29-1944

Breen, Adrianus Aren – 12-12-1905 – Nordhausen – 02-02-1945

Lokker, Adrianus – 09-08-1911 – Hamburg – 02-03-1945

Meijer, Thomas – 11-10-1917 – Hessenrode – 03-20-1945

Koek, Theunis Krijn – 08-12-1913 – Hessenrode – 03-27-1945

Hameeteman, Eeuwit – 06-06-1914 – Salza – 04-09-1945

Van Wijk, Jacob – 01-13-1922 – Jutzenbach – 04-12-1945

Nieman, Aren – 11-14-1904 – Petersdorf – 04-16-1945

Witte, Theodoris Fr. – 07-10-1916 – Hela Danzig – 04-16-1945

Mastenbroek, Willem – 07-05-1925 – Neustadt/Holstein – 05-03-1945

Komtebedde, Jan – 08-24-1922 – Nordhausen – 05-06-1945

Molesteeg, Gerrit – 07-14-1913 – Sandbostel – 05-10-1945

Hoek, Johannes – 02-06-1920 – Wittstock – 05-31-1945

De Mooij, Krijn – 02-03-1915 – Parijs – 07-16-1944

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Fred tells the following story of what his father saw:

“The bombs dropped in the street I (Fred) live on now. They came from German bombers and killed 2 family members. [Jan Cornelis Meijer and Lena Meijer, a child of 12 years] Do you know what these nazi’s did? When English bombers started to go to Germany, the German fighters tried to shoot them, of course, but what these Germans did was fly a few bombers behind the English and dropped bombs on the area they flew over and killed some people. Then the Germans wrote the English bombed a village or a town in Holland but that was not the case. They did this. That is why older people, like my dad, still do not like them. We call them the moffen (English say jerries).”

Meijer, Jan Cornelis – Fred’s father’s uncle.

Meijer, Lena – 12 year old daughter of Jan Cornelis – Fred’s father’s niece.

Hoogmoed, Markus – killed in a tram (small train) attacked by 3 spitfires. The wagon has been restored and is now in a museum.

Hoek, Johannes – not a relative of Fred – was with the resistance on their island, Goeree Overflakkee. He was taken prisoner and sent to a labor camp and was killed over there.

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The memorial panel on the right behind the first wreath is in memory of the 3 fishermen who lost their lives 10 years ago. They had been fishing and were bringing in their nets unknowingly bringing in a bomb from WWII which detonated killing them. Two other instances of fishermen netting bombs have occurred, however they were able to remove themselves from the danger before they detonated. The two women who placed the wreath are relatives of the 3 who were killed.





(Reminder of the Disaster of the OD1)

6 April 2005

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4 January 1945


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J. van der KLOOSTER

4 September 1976


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J. J. van BELZEN

1 August 1966


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The monuments in Ouddorp are adopted by the children of their 2 schools.

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Goedereede Liberation Celebration

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Today was a joyous day of celebrating the liberation of the Netherlands throughout the country, each community having its own celebration to one extent or another.  Every five years a more elaborate celebration is held – this being the “fifth” year.

When we arrived in the village of Goedereede, which is not far from Ouddorp, a jeep was waiting for us, vintage WWII and in mint condition.

(Note:  If you click on the images they will enlarge.)


JEEP RIDE TO THE CELEBRATION  Video is 4 minutes. They insisted I ride with them. Let me tell you – it is NOT an easy thing to get into the back seat of a jeep! Pushes and shoves and finally crawling on hands and knees were necessary to accomplish that back seat!

The Liberation Celebration Ceremony included lively music this day, speeches by dignitaries amid a festive atmosphere.

Bill was presented with a commemorative bottle of wine and I was given roses by the children.

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Fred’s sister, Suze, is in the top center of the picture taking the video with my camera.  Thank you Suze!  You did a great job.

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Picture taken after the Celebration Ceremonies.

LIBERATION CELEBRATION  Video is 9 minutes. The video says it all.

Following the formal celebration we were taken to a local pub. People everywhere wanting to shake Bill’s hand and have their pictures taken with him. Members of the committee who were in charge of the festivities hosted us with appetizers and beverages. It was great fun, great food, great new friends, and a cherished memory.

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Finding Joe

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Henri Chapelle American Cemetery

JGE 2 adj.

Today we were off to Belgium to finally find Joe.


For Joe


For all Veterans


As the wreaths appeared on the wreath bench beneath the Guardian Angel statue that stands on top of the large pillar just behind the wreath bench.

HENRI CHAPELLE AMERICAN CEMETERY  Video is 9 minutes. It tells this story so much better than the written word. The book for Joe’s file couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of his family, Todd and Susan Slattery, who provided family pictures of Joe and his brothers and sisters when they were children as well as him and his brothers when they were in uniform and preparing to go to war.  Also including a copy of the newspaper article (the original still in the family’s possession) about the family and all the telegrams they received notifying them of the missing and losses of these three brothers – only one of which returned from the war.

The following pictures and documentation are representative of what was included in the book Bill left at Henri Chapelle to be kept in Joe’s file through eternity.



S/Sgt. Joseph G. Endress

2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, Co. B

508th Parachute Infantry Regiment “Red Devils”

82nd Airborne Division

Battle Star Normandy, D-Day, France

Battle Star Operation Market Garden, Nijmegen, Holland

Battle of the Bulge, Belgium, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

July 6, 1923 – January 31, 1945

Joseph was the eldest of the Endress brothers.

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Pfc. Raymond Endress

Raymond was the middle brother.

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S. 2/c Melvin H. Endress

July 21, 1926 – March 19, 1945*

Melvin was the youngest of the Endress brothers.

Seaman Endress served aboard the USS Franklin in the Pacific. On March 19, 1945 the Franklin maneuvered within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland, closer than any other U.S. carrier had done during the war. Suddenly, a single enemy plane pierced the cloud cover and made a low level run dropping two semi-armor piercing bombs. Both struck the flight deck causing enormous fires in the hangar deck below which threatened the ship and left 724 killed and 265 wounded. Seaman Endress was one of those 724 killed – just a little over six weeks after his brother, Sgt. Endress, was lost.

Seaman Endress is memorialized on the panels of the missing erected on the Cenotaph in the Courts of the Missing, Court 3, of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.

*The memorial card prepared for the service for these two fallen brothers lists Melvin as having died on April 4, 1945. In checking the records for the USS Franklin he is listed as killed along with 723 of his fellow sailors on March 19, 1945.

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Because of the snow on the ground, this picture was probably taken while Sgt. Endress, (on the right) was stationed in Belgium fighting in the Battle of the Bulge which makes this photo probably December 1944-January 1945.

The paratrooper on the left is Alex D. Langham. His rank is not known. He was Company B, 1st Battalion, 508th “Red Devils”, 82 Airborne.

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The family still has the original telegram. Bill had kept the Memorial Card for Joe and Melvin all these years.

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The following information was taken from a newspaper article about the three brothers. Referring to the content it appears that the article was written in 1945. The photo shown is a copy of the original newspaper which is in the family’s possession.

“Vet Unaware 2 Brother-Warriors Dead”

“Six War, Navy Department Tidings Come to One Home”

“Norwood Family Hopes Surviving Son Will Be Returned Home

From Combat Zone”

“In the past eight months, six War and Navy Department telegrams have been delivered at the Endress home [Norwood, Ohio].

Mr. and Mrs. Adam Endress have found it hard to realize that they never will see two of their boys. Sgt. Joseph Endress, 21, was killed in action in Belgium Jan. 31. The latest telegram told how Seaman Melvin Endress, 18, died of wounds while serving aboard a ship in the Pacific.

The third son, Pfc. Raymond Endress, 20, in Germany, is unaware that his brothers are dead.

The first of the six telegrams was received by Mr. and Mrs. Endress when Raymond was listed as missing in action in France, Aug. 31. Later notification came that he had been separated from his unit, and was safe.

The next message reported that Joseph was wounded in action in Holland Nov 9. A third telegram said Raymond was wounded in Germany Nov. 30.

Subsequent notifications from the government told of the deaths of Melvin and Joseph.

Mr. and Mrs. Endress hope Raymond will be returned to this country. He has been in combat in Germany, but now is in a rest camp. Two daughters, Helen, 17, and Dorothy, 14, are at home.”


In the family photo from the far right side, counting those standing, Raymond is the 5th and Joe is the 7th. Melvin is in the first row, far right, sitting on the floor.

The Endress family

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The following is extracted from Joe’s Remembrance Book.

On this day, May 6, 2015, this book of memories is presented by William F. Knapp in remembrance of his best friend.  That in the years to come, the world will have a record and story of the Endress family’s sacrifices and service.  Of two brothers lost and the one who survived.

For 70 years, Mr. Knapp never knew where his best friend had been interred.  He helped to carry Sgt. Endress to the medics.  He attempted to locate where he had been taken but was never successful. Then Mr. Knapp was invited to return to Holland for that country’s 70th Anniversary Celebration of Liberation.  It would be the first time for him to return to Holland since his service in WWII – 70 long years ago.

With a bit of deductive research by a couple of Mr. Knapp’s friends, it was determined that in all probability Sgt. Endress could be interred in one of the three American cemeteries in Belgium.  With today’s internet computer world, within a couple of hours Sgt. Endress had been found.  And so began the odyssey to visit Sgt. Endress and honor him.  Perhaps bringing peace to a man who has grieved for the loss of his best friend for 70 long years.  One – eternally 21 years old – the other just weeks from turning 93.

May you rest in peace Sgt. Endress, knowing you will never be forgotten.

~ ~ ~

After taking care of business, it was time to place the wreaths, and to visit Joe.

FINDING JOE  Video is 8 minutes. Again, the video tells this story so much better than words. The wind was blowing something fierce this day so the audio quality is a bit difficult but if you turn up the volume conversation can be better heard.

The sand that is used to highlight the Veterans names and info on their crosses comes from Normandy, Omaha Beach.


It was a very difficult time.

This journey to find Joe brought great peace to Bill.  He now can talk about Joe more easily as well as his war experiences. This was Joe’s final gift to Bill.

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It was now a time for friends and family to come together in preparation for saying goodbye.  Tomorrow we will head to Amsterdam to begin our journey home.

From Henri Chapelle we returned to Ouddorp. Suze and Fred were hosting a BBQ at Suze’s house also including a Canadian WWII Veteran – Roly – and his son Mick, along with Fred and Suze’s father Gert Hoek, Fred’s wife Ellen and their daughters Iris and Lisa. Suze’s daughter, Esther did the cooking and marvelous it was. Ellen made the best apple pie I have ever had.

As we sat around the table relaxing after eating, Mick brought out his guitar. He has a band, the Mick Armitage Band, and he is the drummer. But he sang for us and played the guitar just fine. We all enjoyed the camaraderie.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY  Video is 4 minutes. Even the family dogs got into the act. Suze’s Bouvier Arco was HUGE and loved everyone. Fred’s Lab Molly wasn’t so sure about us. She had fairly quickly warmed up to Bill a few days prior but she would raise her lip at me. However…..at the BBQ she decided she really did like me – hiding under the table as I fed her tidbits – she soon was my bosom buddy wanting hugs and pets as much as Arco.


Molly the Lab, Iris, Arco the Bouvier, Esther, Lisa

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