Charles Storm van s'Gravesande. Major General (ret), educated at the Royal Military Academy in Breda, the Netherlands. He served at the Air Force General Staff, was Chief of Personnel on Soesterberg Air Field and ADC to Her Majesty the Queen Beatrix. He was appointed Defence Attache of the Netherlands in Moscow in 1991 until his retirement in 1995. He got a Master's degree in History in Groningen University in 2000.
Vvedenskoye Cemetery is a cemetery in the Eastern part of Moscow. At the very end of the main through-lane one finds on the left, under some birches, a tombstone a bit higher than the other graves. The engraved text in Dutch says:
OF THE NETHERLANDS
G.H.M. VAN DER WAALS
2ND LT INFANTERY
24 - 4 - 1920
11 - 8 - 1948
The tombstone has been erected by the Netherlands Wargraves Foundation. Likewise tombstones are present on all Netherlands Wargraves Fields in the Netherlands, but also in Indonesia and elsewhere, where Dutch military personnel died during or after the Second World War. Every year, on May 4 at 20.00, the Netherlands nation remembers all soldiers who sacrificed their lifes for the Motherland. So, also all Dutch citizens who live in Moscow, gather together at the grave of Lieutenant Van der Waals on that particular evening.
Who was this Lieutenant van der Waals? Why was his grave an official war grave, when he died in August 1948, three years after the end of the Great War? And why is this honour for a Dutch officer? During the Second World War quite a few Dutch, Belgian French, Norwegian and other young men from countries, overrun by the nazis in 1940, joined the German Forces and fought on the wrong side. But those who died on Russian territory were certainly not entitled to an honourable grave such as this one. Let us therefore try to unravel this mystery and find out what really happened.
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