Rtn Roland (Rolly) Swan was a 13 year old boy when the Germans occupied his country of birth, Holland. As a Remembrance Day tribute Swan shared some memories of what it was like to live in Holland, during the World War II years.
 
As a 13 year old, his first recollections at the beginning of the war were the bombing of Rotterdam by the Germans. At the time Roland was living on the dykes west of Rotterdam.
 
Shortly thereafter, the family moved to a farm near the German border where he was enlisted by the Germans to dig trenches on the German side of the border.
 
Swan recalls one time when airplane bombs landed nearby and he jumped into a trench, followed by two or three others landing on top of him.
 
He also recounted another occasion when he was riding his bike...going for a loaf of bread and he was hailed by the Germans to stop...and he did not ...until they shouted that they would shoot. Needless to say he stopped.

Photos from the Holland Occupation

The complete destruction of Rotterdam

Low flying Allied bombers over Grave

Children scavenging for food during the "Hunger Winter"

Canadian troops liberate Holland

 
Since new tubes and tires for a bike were almost impossible to obtain, they would take strips of old car tires and wrap them around the rim to get a softer ride.
 
On many occasions, when Allied bombers returned to England from Germany they would fly very low so as not to be detected by radar, however many planes would be damaged and they often dropped any excess weight usually unused bombs over fields in Holland.
 
Along the Dutch coast, people were so hungry that they made coffee from tulip bulbs and even ate them. (see Hongerwinter “Hunger Winter” the Dutch famine of 1944)
 
After Swan’s talk, Rotarians stood and observed a few moments of silence in remembrance.
 
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