Valkenswaard was liberated at the 17th of September 1944. During the battle for this liberation there were several casualties. On allied side these were mostly from the Irish Guards and Devonshire Regiment.
Directly after the battle these casualties were buried beside the road near the place were they fell. On the 2nd of may 1945 there is already a mentioning of a so called British Cemetery in official municipal government correspondence.
On the 5th of October 1945 The 55 Graves Concentration Unit (then still called 55 Graves Registration Unit) settled in Valkenswaard.
There job was to exhume, identify and rebury the war death of the Common Wealth. The war death were being concentrated in war cemeteries instead of their original graves which were spread out all over the country. They worked on different war cemeteries in the south of Holland and the north of Belgium.
On the 14th of June 1946 they were still doing renovating work at the Valkenswaard war cemetery and handed the cemetery over to the Imperial War Graves Commision on the 15th of June 1946.
The ground on which the cemetery is situated is 0,3 hectare forest ground right on the boundary between the villages of Valkenswaard and Westerhoven (Bergeyk). The largest part of the cemetery is on the ground of the village of Westerhoven.
Although the first casualties for the battle for Valkenswaard fell on the 17th of September 1944, the earliest casualties on the cemetery are from the 14th of September.
Directly after the war local families took care of the graves. Later the Common Wealth Graves Commission took over the caretaking of the cemetery. In years after the opening of the war cemetery many changes were made. There is much correspondence about hedges being placed and removed. At a later moment the cemetery got a fence, gate and memorial building. Also the cross of remembrance was placed and in 1949 the first correspondence was made about replacing the original crosses with the headstones as they are today.
The first commemoration on the cemetery took place directly after the war. Ever since then there are held annual commemorations at the cemetery. Nowadays there are two annual commemorations. The first one at the 4th of may as on this date in the whole of Holland it is the day of remembrance. The second (and larger commemoration) is at the 17th of September, the date that the British liberated Valkenswaard and the surrounding area.
In 2016 we placed candles at the graves on Christmas eve. Hopefully this will be a new tradition that will continue for years.
More info on the history of the war cemetery can be found in our newsletter of february 2019 (in Dutch!).