L/Sgt Worden’s bitter-sweet victory in Europe: A story in pictures

Lance Sergeant Edwin Worden survived D-Day and the Battle for Normandy. But the war would not be over for another year: This seasoned D-Day soldier continued to fight in Europe for the liberation of France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and the final Allied victory in Germany.

Tragically, L/Sgt Worden did not live to see Victory in Europe on May 8, 1945.

He died in action in the liberation of Netherlands on April 8, 1945.

The last month of the war saw many Canadian casualties. The Canadian Battlefields Foundation aptly describes these deaths at the end of the war as “a potent mixture of triumph and tragedy”:

“In April 1945 more than 50 soldiers were killed on each of seven days; 114 more were killed between May 1 and the surrender on May 5, including 12 on the last day of fighting in Europe.”

A bitter-sweet victory?

Crowd of Dutch civilians celebrating the liberation of Utrecht by the Canadian Army, May 7, 1945 (Library and Archives Canada)

These amazing photographs from Library and Archives Canada take us on a journey through the last year of the war–and LSgt Worden’s final days:

June 10, 1944

  • Unidentified infantryman of “D” Company, Regina Rifles, on guard duty in forward post, Normandy, France  (Donald I. Grant, Photographer)

July 10, 1944

  • Regina Rifles holding a position in a damaged storefront in Caen, France (H. Gordon, Photographer):

July 16, 1944

  • Canadian chaplain H/Captain Callum Thompson conducts a funeral service in the Normandy bridgehead, France:

July 23, 1944

  • Regina Rifles manning a Bren gun position, Vaucelles, France inside a capture German barracks:

July 23, 1944

  • Regina Rifles having a shave in Vaucelles, France (Ken Bell, Photographer):

August 25, 1945

  • Liberation of Paris, Germany surrenders France

September-November 1944

  • First Canadian Army fight on into Belgium

October 13, 1944

  • Buffalo amphibious vehicles carrying troops across the Scheldt River to Hooftplaat:

October – November 1944

  • The Regina Rifles fight in the Battle of Scheldt.
  • Allied victory in Scheldt has a high cost: Some 12,873 Allied soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing–and half of them Canadians.

November to February 1945

  • Canadians were not involved in any large-scale operations.
  • In February, the Regina Rifles pushed on into the Netherlands and Germany. (source)

February 9, 1945

Regina Rifles in Zyfflich, Germany (Capt. Colin McDougall, Photographer):

February 9, 1945

  • Regina Rifles keep warm in the smoldering ruins of a house, Zyfflich, Germany (Capt. Colin McDougall, Photographer):

February 9, 1945

  • Regina Rifles J. Boehm in position among the ruins of Zyfflich, Germany. (Capt. Colin McDougall, Photographer):

February 16, 1945

  • Regina Rifles preparing to attack Moyland Wood near Calcar, Germany (Colin Campbell McDougall, Photographer):

April 8th, 1945

  • L/Sgt Worden is killed in action in the Netherlands.
  • His family would have received a telegram like this:
Source: The Canadian War Museum
  • Although I have found no official record of how L/Sgt Worden died, it is likely that he spent his last day fighting a strategically important battle in Deventer, Netherlands.
  • On April 8th, the Regina Rifles suffered several casualties from enemy fire, but ultimately went on to achieve their objective of establishing a bridgehead over the Schipbeek Canal.

April 9, 1945

  • Royal Canadian Engineers construct a Bailey bridge to enable soldiers to cross the Schipbeek Canal, Netherlands:

April 10, 1945

  • Rifleman R.M. Douglas, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, with a group of Dutch women celebrating the liberation of Deventer, Netherlands (Donald I. Grant photographer):

April 11, 1945

  • The Germans fiercely defended their stronghold in the Deventer area, but by April 11 Canadian soldiers had driven out enemy forces, and liberated Deventer. For this, they received military honours.
  • Canadian soldiers search Deventer for enemy soldiers:
Source: National Archives of the Netherlands

May 8th, 1945: Victory in Europe Day

  • Canadian soldiers celebrate in London:

By the end of the war, the Regina Rifles lost 356 men, and earned twenty battle honours:

  • NORMANDY LANDING
  • Bretteville-l’Orgeuilleuse
  • CAEN
  • The Oren
  • BOURGUÉBUS RIDGE
  • Faubourg de Vaucelles
  • FALAISE
  • The Laison
  • The Seine, 1944
  • Calais, 1944
  • THE SCHELDT
  • Leopold Canal
  • Breskens Pocket
  • THE RHINELAND
  • Waal Flats
  • Moyland Wood
  • THE RHINE
  • Emmerich-Hoch Elten
  • Deventer
  • NORTH-WEST EUROPE (1944-45)

Final post in the series: Finding L/Sgt Edwin Worden

For more reading:

On to Victory: The Canadian Liberation of the Netherlands, March 23-May 5, 1945, by Mark Zuehlk

Juno Beach Website

Royal Regina Rifles Regimental Website

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