Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Uncle Jasper

Grandma and GrandpaVandenBergh had two sons: Uncle Jasper and his elder brother Jacob ("Jake") both fought in World War II. Jake came home at the end of the war; Jasper did not. He was killed in the Battle of the Bulge.

Before going off to war, the brothers posed in the yard of the family home on Beacon Avenue in Albany:

Jasper and Jake at home on Beacon Avenue

The story of Jasper's company and what happened during his last days has been recorded by a researcher who has established a Web site that documents World War II casualties who are buried in the Netherlands.  Jasper is now buried in the Loosdrecht-Rading Cemetery, in his mother's hometown. My grandparents apparently thought that it would be too traumatic to bring Jasper's remains back to Albany, and thus arranged for him to be buried in Grandma's hometown. Over the years, several relatives have seen to it that the grave was cared for.

By coincidence, a number of Jasper's nieces and nephews happened upon another Web site where they exchanged information with a Loosdrecht resident who was curious about the grave of an American soldier in his hometown. A memorial page can be found at this Find-a-Grave Web site
The same researcher has also contributed to this additional Web site in Dutch.

Uncle Jasper in uniform
Entrance to Loosdrecht-Rading Cemetery
During our trip to the Netherlands, we had the opportunity to visit Loosdrecht with other relatives. We were unable to locate the old Daams smithy photographed fifty years ago by another relative (see the previous post "Spring Scenes in Loosdrecht"), as we did not have an accurate address, but we saw many other old houses that resembled it. We did however, visit the cemetery where Jasper is buried.

Thus we were able to pay our respects to the uncle we had never known. 

Jasper VandenBergh's Grave
The grave is indeed well maintained, with a neatly trimmed hedge around it and a profusion of delicate white flowers. All this is an indication that the Dutch still remember with gratitude the liberation of their country by the Allied Forces.

We also located the grave of several other Daams relatives, including another Jasper, the "Oom Jas" mentioned in the post, "The Giechelaars."

How ironic it was to think that these two men, so closely related, but who never knew each other in life, now lie only a few feet from each other.

Jasper Daams' Grave


  1. Nice page you have made for your uncle Jasper.
    Greetings from Taco Hansma, Loosdrecht/Hilversum

  2. Thank you Taco, nice to hear from you! Yes, I have always been sorry that I never knew my Uncle Jasper. Perhaps you have also seen the other piece I posted last year on November 11, 2012 about Uncle Jasper's funeral in Loosdrecht; if not, if you search the blog for "A Ceremony in Loosdrecht," you should be able to find it.

  3. Goodmorning.Yes I have seen and read that piece and posted it on facebook on the page Historisch Loosdrecht (Historic Loosdrecht): Nice to see the photos. Quite a lot of people attended the funeral.
    Since I had a day off of work, I went by the cemetery and placed a bunch of Dutch tulips on his grave for Veterans Day.

    I read your other blogs. They are very nice. I enjoyed reading them :-)

  4. Goodmorning. Yes I have seen that piece about Jasper's funeral. Nice to see the photos. I'm glad that a lot of people attended the funeral. I posted the piece on Facebook on the page Historisch Loosdrecht (Historic Loosdrecht):
    As I had a day off of work, I went by the cemetery and placed a bunch of Dutch tulips on Jasper's grave for Veterans Day.

    I enjoyed reading your other blogs. Nice stories about your (great) grandparents

    1. Hello Taco, thank you so much for your kind thoughts, and especially for placing flowers on Uncle Jasper's grave. That was so very thoughtful of you.

    2. No thanks. Glad I could do this.

  5. Can I ask you something else? I just found the Vandenbergh family in the US 1940 Census. I saw he was a inspector. For which/what company did he work, and was that in Albany?

    Did Elisabeth and Barend became US citizens or didn't they gave up their Dutch nationality?

  6. That's an interesting piece of information you found in the 1940 Census! I didn't know about that, and I don't really know what company Jasper worked for. I guess I'll have to ask my aunt if she remembers anything about that. As far as I know, both of my grandparents became US citizens; we have Barend's naturalization certificate in our family archives. It may have been the case back then that the wife of the head of the household automatically became a citizen as well at the same time. I'll have to check on that as well!

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