Sherrie’s Oma joined the Taz Show to talk about her experience in occupied Holland during WW2 where she met a Canadian soldier, Lloyd Rains, that she would marry in the future.
She also speaks about her amazing work reuniting over 4000 kids that were born after WW2 with their fathers.
My Opa – A Canadian Soldier – Sherrie Rains
My Opa, Lloyd Rains, a Canadian soldier from Sault St. Marie signed up to join the military when he was just 17 years old. He lied about his age so that they would let him fight. Lloyd fought on the front lines for 3 years in total, taking him through Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and Holland. It’s amazing he didn’t die, or even get seriously injured.
Opa was never one to talk about the war. He’d politely answer questions we had as kids growing up, but never offered more. He wanted to forget that it had ever happened. Regular nightmares and shrapnel in his hands and arms would not let him. He lost many friends and comrades. His best friend, Jack Purvous, stepped on a land-mine right in front of them in the closing days of the war in Holland.
My Oma, Olga Trestorff, was a Dutch girl. Her father was a banker and her mother a cigar shop owner. They were quite successful until the Nazis invaded. They lost their business and starved for years. Food was scarce; they survived off of lard and tulip bulbs. Oma, just a teen, lived in fear every day knowing she might die any time.
Thankfully the war came to a close in 1945. It was a time of celebration and joy! Canadian soldiers were praised for liberating the country. Young European women and Canadian soldiers were finding love after a horrific 6 years. That’s when Lloyd and Olga met. He stopped her on her bicycle and asked if he could take it for a spin. She said sure, for a chocolate bar. The rest is history. Lloyd and Olga got married, both the age of 20, at city hall in Haarlem. Olga was a talented seamstress and made her wedding dress out of a war parachute that was used to drop food for the starving Dutch people.
Olga then moved to Canada to start her new life with her Canadian soldier, in Hamilton.
Three sons and many years later, Lloyd and Olga returned to Holland for a Remembrance Day celebration. The Canadian soldiers were honoured while marching in a parade. During the parade Lloyd and Olga noticed many young adults holding signs saying “Are you my Dad!?”. This didn’t sit well with them. After taking the time to talk to a number of people they discovered how many European women were impregnated by soldiers in the celebratory summer of 1945, and were left to raise these kids on their own because the soldiers returned to their home country. Many soldiers didn’t even realize they had gotten these young girls pregnant.
Lloyd and Olga made it their life mission to find these war children their Canadian soldier fathers, and spent decades of their retirement years committed to reuniting families. In a time without internet, nor any assistance from the government. There are many sad stories and many happy ones. All in all my grandparents found the fathers to over 4,000 war children. In fact, one of those war Children was Eric “Slowhand” Clapton. They’ve written many books, been on several TV programs and even had a movie made after them. My oma was also Knighted by the Dutch queen, Beatrix. As you can see, I am one proud granddaughter.
My opa passed away just after his 88th birthday (a year and a half ago). Oma, 89, is a whipper-snapper and still going strong! She often thinks about Opa and his comrade Jack being reunited in heaven. That makes her happy!
I know there are many of you whose fathers, grandfathers or great grandfathers also fought in the war so you realize how important this day is.
Thank you for listening to this very special part of my history. Please take the time to thank a veteran today, we cannot comprehend the lasting effects their courage and willingness to sacrifice on behalf of others has had on their lives. The pain they went through and devastation they witnessed first hand is unimaginable for most.
I’m honoured to be related to two real life heroes, Lloyd and Olga Rains. Opa, thank you for the legacy you left behind. I cannot wait to see you again someday.