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Hij is getrouwd met Muriel Elsie Lorraine Trick op 6 april 1946 te Winnipeg (Manitoba-Canada), hij was toen 25 jaar oud.

Kind(eren):

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Notities bij Hermanus Cornelius (Herm) Sulkers

Oorlogs-veteraan WWII

By Paul Sulkers (son):

We are often reminded of the major events of wars in which Canada participated - Vimy, D-Day, Holland etc - but there is one story that is very important to me - the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan, in the early AM hours of April 29th, 1944, taking the lives of 128 men from a ships complement of 256.

The Athabaskan sinking is memorable as the only Canadian ship to be lost in action with surface ships. She had served by escorting convoys on the Murmansk run into Russia, sub chasing north of Scotland and the English Channel, as well as joining the HMS Duke of York in the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst, the twin of the Bismark.

On a mission to clear the English Channel in preparation for the Normandy landings, the Athabaskan along with her sister ship HMCS Haida (now at berth in Hamilton) engaged enemy destroyers damaging two but not before the Athabaskan was torpedoed in her stern, destroying the stern X and Y guns.

The explosion was fatal and the Athabaskan sank off the Brittany coast in 200m. As day broke, the residents along the Brittany coast came out to pull the floating bodies from the beaches, with many buried in a chain of small French cemeteries along that coast line.

Of the 128 survivors, many were taken as POWs by the Germans, including my father, with the remainder rescued by the Haida, before she had to turn back to England as the sun rose. My Dad was released from Marlag Milag POW camp in May, 1945.

In the water, the Athabaskan survivors clung to floats - my father tried on three occasions to hold his mate Frank "Sammy" Sampson - but alas in the frigid waters - causing hypothermia and drowsiness, my father let go, and Sammy slipped away and was lost. Years later, during a History Channel program on the Athabaskan, my father tearfully recounted this painful story - always blaming himself for not holding tighter. Remarkably, relatives of Sammy were watching the TV program, and for the first time, heard the story of their relative.

In remembrance of the 256.

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Hermanus Cornelius (Herm) heeft het nimmer kunnen verkroppen dat zijn tante Adriana (1882-1945) als eerstgeboren kind van zijn grootouders, wegens haar psychologische gesteldheid niet tot Canada werd toegelaten en op 28-jarige leeftijd in Holland werd achtergelaten terwijl de rest van de familie (vader, moeder en 11 broers en zusters) naar Canada emigreerden. Herm is diverse keren naar Nederland gereisd en heeft alles in het werk gesteld haar lot en begraafplek te achterhalen.

De opsteller van deze stamboom (Roelf Schrik) ontmoette Herm in het jaar 2000 in het Noord-Hollands Archief in Haarlem (Nh). Ziende hoe Herm zich door de 'mysterieuze' nederlandstalige dossiers probeerde te worstelen om zijn familie en Adriana in kaart te brengen, besloot Roelf Herm onder zijn hoede te nemen. Samen bezochten zij een aantal archieven verspreid over het hele land, brachten de stamboom Sulkers {ten dele) in kaart, en speurden (zonder succes) zigzaggend een aantal kerkhoven af om het graf van Adriana te ontdekken.

Herm keerde terug naar Canada. Na maanden van intensieve corrspondentie met ziekenhuizen en instellingen lukte het Roelf eindelijk het graf van Adriana op te sporen. Na het goede bericht is Herm opnieuw naar Nederland afgereisd en heeft samen met Roelf het graf in Zeist bezocht, onder begeleiding van de beheerder van de begraafplaats de heer A.D.E. van der Laan. Herm's levenslange missie was geslaagd.

Wat overbleef was een zeer warme vriendschap tussen Herm en Roelf.

TRANSLATION

All of his adult life Hermanus Cornelius (Herm) had a hard time accepting the fact that his aunt Adriana (1882-1945), first born of his grandparents, was denied entry into Canada due to her psychological condition and aged 28, was abandonned in Holland while her parents and 11 siblings migrated to Canada. Herm travelled to Holland various times doing his utmost to find out about her destiny and grave.

The author of this Sulkers family-tree (Roelf Schrik) met Hermanus Cornelius in the year 2000 in the North-Holland Archive located in the city Haarlem. Watching him struggle through 'mysterious' dutch-written files trying to trace his ancestors and Adriana, Roelf took Herm 'under his wings', travelled together with Herm to a number of archives spread throughout the country, mapping (parts of) the Sulkers family and (initially unsuccesfully) scanned a number of cemeteries in order to find Adriana's grave.

Herm returned to Canada. After months of intensive correspondence with various hospitals and institutions, Roelf finally traced Adriana. Upon the good news Herm returned to Holland and together with Roelf visited the cemetery located in the city called Zeist (Ut) and, accompanied by the manager Mr. A.D.E. van der Laan, her grave. Herms' lifetime mission was completed.

What remained was a very warm friendship between Herm and Roelf.

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As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 10, 2006.

HERMAN CORNELIUS SULKERS The family of Herm Sulkers sadly announces his passing at his home in Chilliwack, BC on Monday, November 6, 2006 at age 86. Herman, husband of the late Lorraine (nee Trick) Sulkers; loving father of Jane, Cathy, Paul and Neil, proud grandfather of four granddaughters and seven grandsons, will be sadly missed.

Born in Winnipeg May 5, 1920, Herm has left a great legacy of caring and integrity, shared among his many friends. Survivor of the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan, and a year as a Prisoner of War, Herm has dedicated much of his life remembering and cherishing the sacrifices of his comrades and of our veterans. He was very community minded, and will be missed by all. Funeral services and Poppy Ceremony will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 14, Chilliwack United Church, 45835 Spadina, with a Celebration of his life to follow at the Royal Canadian Legion Chilliwack, Branch #4. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Royal Canadian Legion. PLEASE WEAR A POPPY.

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Herman Sulkers’ ashes were dispersed over the Athabaskan, sunk in 1944 in front of l’Île Vierge.

Three whisles from the boatswain. On the rear deck of SNSM de Portsall, Neil Sulkers lets go the funeral urn containing his father’s ashes, Herman Sulkers. On April 29, 1944, the Canadian destroyer Athabaskan was sunk by the Germans off the coast of l’Île Vierge (Finistere). 128 of the 261 sailors died. 85 sailors who survived the sinking, among them a 21 year-old gunner, Herman Sulkers, his face burned, were captured by the Kriegsmarine and led to Aber-Wrac’h. The sea washed the bodies of dead sailors on the shores and people buried them in the cemeteries on the Finistere’s northern coast. This is why such strong bonds were created between Bretons and Canadian veterans, notably on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. In 2002, Jacques Ouchakoff, president of l’Association bretonne de recherches archéologiques en activités maritimes, located the wreck of the Athabaskan.

Since the sinking in front of the coast of Finistere, Herman Sulkers came eleven times from British Colombia to Brittany. Before his death, three years ago, he had said to his son that he wanted his ashes to return to the Athabaskan.

Yesterday (28-09-2009), the boats SNSM de Portsall, l’Aber Wrac’h, Plouguerneau and Plouescat, along with the Tigre of the French Navy circled three times over the Athabaskan. Their sirens gave a salute in memories of Herman Sulkers, while two Rafale flew over the flottilla.

“I am in peace, confided his son, deeply touched, at the end of the ceremony. Dad is where he wanted to be, with his comrades, and near the people of Brittany without whom this ceremony would never have happened.”

Yannick GUÉRIN.
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