WWII bracelet found on hike given to Dutch-Canadian soldier’s family

Bombing of Rotterdam in WWII (PIcture: Wikimedia Commons/Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed)Bombing of Rotterdam in WWII (PIcture: Wikimedia Commons/Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed)

In what he describes as a "small miracle", Willem-Wouter Dijkstra managed to track down the owner of a WWII bracelet he picked up while hiking 16 years ago. Or track down the owner's family at least, the Telegraaf reports.

Willem-Wouter (26) and his father Will (60) found the bracelet while hiking at the Maasdijk in Heusden in the year 2000. The engraving on the bracelet quickly revealed that it belonged to a soldier who must have used it as an additional means of identification.

That launched a 16-year-long search for the owner. And after years of searching through various websites, military reunions and questions to embassies, their story was ultimately published in an American veteran magazine. Former marine Wayne Morgan from California came with an answer for the father and son - Jim from Canada believes the bracelet belonged to his father.

Email correspondence revealed that this was indeed the case. The bracelet belonged to Reinier Arnoldus Dirk Hendriksen, born in Zoeterwoude in 1902. He immigrated to Canada for business, where he took the name Reginald Hendrickson, married Irish Mary Jane Torrens and had five children before the Second World War started.

When the war started, Reginald decided to join a Dutch battalion, departing for England in 1941. He joined a small Dutch battalion composed of 1,200 soldiers, later named the Princess Irene Brigade. After that, Reginald's path is hazy. "We know that he took part in D-Day and he eventually ended up in Heusden", Willem-Wouter said to the newspaper. "But other than that there are plenty of open spaces to be filled."

Jim, the Dutch-Canadian soldier's only surviving son, informed them that Reginald was given an honorable discharge in April 1945 as a Sergeant. He returned to Canada, where he had some trouble getting back to normal life. He died of lung cancer in 1968.

Will and Willem-Wouter are now dead set on returning the bracelet to Canada. They plan to travel there this fall.

Photos of the bracelet can be seen in the Telegraaf.