My dad was with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and took part in the liberation of Holland. He always told his kids that they knew the Dutch were starving. When dad and his comrades cooked their meals, food was left in their cooking pots and placed outdoors overnight for the civilians. There was no food in them by morning. “Picked clean” was dad’s expression.
Dad smoked at the time. One day, he noticed a young girl following him whenever he smoked. Dad would drop his half-smoked cigarette on the ground and the girl would come over, place the remnant in a small box she carried and run off. He always assumed she was running off to give the cigarette to her folks. Perhaps they smoked it or perhaps they sold it for food. He said that this was the time he realized how lucky he was and he resolved to never be a wasteful person, which he wasn’t. As kids we couldn’t understand why dad was so picky about wasting food, etc. We finally learned via this story that he told us.
Finally, dad always talked about a young boy he saw in some town. He handed the boy his chocolate bar, which the boy promptly wolfed down then threw back up. The chocolate was too rich for him and my dad realized that this was because of the starvation the Dutch people endured.
Dad returned to Holland a few times, the last being in 2015, for the 70th anniversary liberation. He was always grateful for the attention, kindness and hospitality shown to him and my sister (his escort); from the special flight to the parades and ceremonies.
May you always live in peace!