Chance encounter reunites veteran with man he helped save in 1945
In May 1945, George Emmerson was a young Canadian private stationed in Enschede, Holland, when he met a starving man who had just been liberated from a Nazi labour camp.
The man was clinging to life, desperate for food.
Emmerson cooked him a meal of beef and potatoes. He then dug into his pocket, found two chocolate bars his parents had mailed him, and handed them over.
“I didn’t know if he was going to live or die,” Emmerson said.
The two men parted ways. Emmerson went home to Ontario, where he got married.
Nearly 70 years later, a chance encounter brought the two men back together.
Emmerson went into a furniture store in Whitby, Ont., and started talking to the woman running the store. Both were from nearby Port Perry.
When the woman learned that Emmerson was a veteran, she mentioned that her Dutch father had been held in a labour camp and nearly died of starvation, but was saved by a Canadian soldier.
That’s when Emmerson told her his own story.
“When I came to the part about the two chocolate bars, she went into sobbing and I wondered what was the matter,” Emmerson said. “She said, ‘That was my father.’”
The man Emmerson had saved, Henk Metselaar, had moved to Canada after the war and settled in Ontario.
“That story he had told us his whole life,” Metselaar’s daughter, Hillie Carnegie, told CTV News. “That’s why he came to Canada -- because of that Canadian soldier.”
Metselaar now has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. It’s unclear how much he can remember of his encounter with Emmerson at the end of the war.
This week, Emmerson visited Metselaar in his Oshawa nursing home -- incredibly, in the same town where Emmerson lives.
“Do you remember a little bit?” Emmerson asked, as Metselaar looked back.
From his pocket, Emmerson brought out a gift: two chocolate bars.
With a report by CTV’s John Vennavally-Rao