Similarly to the Netherlands which has a private museum dedicated to Canadian and Polish liberators of the country – Gdynia Museum, also Belgium can be proud of having their own – Canada-Poland War Museums.
It has been founded in the small town Adegem in the province of East-Flanders, a few kilometers from the dutch border. Adegem is located halfway between Bruges and Ghent, on the territory liberated in 1944. by 1st Canadian Army, which consisted also of the 1st Armoured Division led by General Maczek.
Polish-Canadian museum has been founded by Mr. Gilbert Van Landschoot 50 years after those events. As it is written on the website it: “came to as result of a death-bed promise that he made to his father who died in 1987. […] Maurits made his son Gilbert promise to finally do something to tell the current generation about the misery and the darkness of the war and about their liberators by the Canadian and Polish soldiers”. During the war Maurits Van Landschoot provided assistance to people who had to hide from Gestapo. He owed his survival to Polish and Canadian soldiers and obliged his son to cultivate the memory of those heroes.
All items in Canada-Poland War Museums are Original ones – Mr Van Landschoot has collected them personally. They consist of uniforms, weapons (about 200 models), photos, badges, posters and dioramas (battle scenes).
Also a 20-minute documentary about the battle of the Scheldt is shown.
The museum is divided into Canadian and Polish parts. The exhibition connected with the 1st Armored Division is located on the first floor. The ceremonial opening of the Canada-Poland War Museums was held on June 28, 1995 with a representative of the King of the Belgians. In 2004 the Polish part of the exposition was enriched by another part: the “Maple Leaf”. It shows different battle scenes of WW II in miniatures (scale of 1/35). Its heroes are among others soldiers of 1st Polish Armoured Division and Polish Airforce who liberated Adegem.
The Canada-Poland War Museum” can be visited individually or with a guide (for groups of 20 people). Further see information and prices on the Canada-Poland War Museum website.
Address: Heulendonk 21, 9991 Maldegem
Pictures of Poland War Museum by courtesy of Mr Gilbert Van Landschoot
An additional attraction of this place are beautiful gardens: English, French, Japanese and exotic and a tearoom, also belonging to Mr Van Landschoot.
There is also a Polish-Canadian-British military cemetery in Adegem, with graves of 33 soldiers of the 1st Polish Armoured Division. It is situated one kilometer from the museum).
Cemetery in Adegem / photo: Jaap Geensen