HCapt Langford and her Little Blue Jacket

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HCapt Langford and her Little Blue Jacket, 26 April 2016.jpg
In April 1945 as the Second World War was drawing to a close, the situation was growing desperate for the three million or more Dutch still under German control. Food was scarce and the Dutch civilians were in danger of starvation. Although its people were in desperate straits for food, there was hope of relieving them without exposing them to the dangers of battle.

Apeldoorn, a town in the central region, was liberated on 17 April 1945 by Canadian Troops of 1st Canadian Division. Mixed with the enthusiasm of the people who thronged the streets was profound relief that the operations had caused so little damage to the town. Commanded by Major-General H.W. Foster CBE DSO, the division established it's headquarters on the palace grounds at Het Loo, the summer residence of the Dutch royal family.

Across the street lived Liesbeth Kalff (now Liesbeth Langford), a seven-year old Dutch girl. Her parents were very active in the Dutch resistance (her father was British and her mother Dutch) and, having been thrown out of their house by the Germans in 1943, Liesbeth's family was living with friends at a house on the Looseweg opposite the Palace Het Loo when it was occupied by the HQ and members of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. No doubt taking compassion on her, the soldiers befriended her and she was allowed to have breakfasts with the Canadian soldiers who had their barracks on the drive of the Palace. Told to give them very little to start with, initially just a little bit of bread and a scrape of butter, the soldiers gave her and her friend a little more each day so that their stomachs could to used to food all over again.

With the departure of the Germans, the family moved back to their our own house on the Soerenseweg. General H.G. Grerar, Commander of the First Canadian Army, made his headquarters not far from their house, in the woods, where he stayed for a couple of months. Liesbeth's mother, who was English, assisted as as interpreter and her father, as Alderman, helped the Mayor (Mr Quarles van Uffort).

During her time with the Canadians, Liesbeth was made an "Honorary Captain" in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. Her mother was given official rank and insignia and told how to put them on the jacket correctly. Her mother dutifully sewed the badges on her little blue jacket, which Liesbeth has kept all these years.

Liesbeth, who now lives in the north of England, has told the story of her family’s plight during the occupation for over four decades. She has has written a book, "Written by Candlelight" (2009) containing letters and stories her mother wrote to her father during the occupation. In it, Liesbeth she describes her life as a child in Holland during the occupation by Germany, the Canadian role in the Liberation and her parents work in the Dutch resistance, including arranging for Dutch families to adopt Jewish children to save them from concentration camps.

After over 70 years, Liesbeth reached out to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals to re-establish contact and extend her appreciation.

Canada House Reception - 24 April 2016

HCapt Langford Canada House Reception, 24 April 2016 (1).jpg
Honorary-Captain Langford was the Guest of Honour at a luncheon hosted at the Canadian High Commission at London, United Kingdom, 24 April 2016.

The luncheon was attended by General Vance (Chief of the Defence Staff), Col Sean Sullivan, CWO Patrick Richer, BGen Matt Overton, Scott Proudfoot (a Deputy with the High Commission), Ms. Margriet Leemhuis (Deputy Chief of Mission Netherlands Embassy), Peter Warwick (friend of Liesbeth who established initial contact), Col Simon Hutchinson (Royal Corps Signals) and spouse Mrs. Hutchinson, HCol Bill Richard (C&E Branch), Mr Al Cunningham (Second World War veteran), LCol Leslie Clarke (aid for Mr. Cunningham) as as well as HCol James Seldon (41 Signal Regiment) and Mr. Sam Blight (supporter of 32 Signal Regiment) who were in the area.

Liesbeth spoke quite eloquently and was well pleased with her "reunion" with the Canadian Army. She was presented with an engraved note box and letter from HRH The Princess Royal as well as a new set of captain rank from Col Sullivan.

CFB Kingston Visit - 20 September 2017

At the invitation of Brigadier-General William Richard, Honorary Colonel-Commandant of the Communications and Electronics Branch, and LCol Francois Robichaud, CD, Commanding Officer Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics, Honorary-Captain Langford visited Kingston 19-21 September 2017 accompanied by her husband Roger and son Adrian.[1][2]

Liesbeth Langford sat down for breakfast on Wednesday morning for the first time in more than 70 years with members of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals and Communications and Electronics Branch. In addition, she toured the museum and met Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson.

In the evening, she was the guest of honour at a reception held at the Military Communications and Electronics Museum. The reception included guests from the military community, the city as well as the Dutch community. Two Signals Second World War veterans who live in the Kingston area from the 1945 Liberation of the Netherlands campaign — Cpl. Basel Brosso and Cpl. Dwayne Kelsey — were also in attendance.

Langford delivered an engrossing and captivating lecture "Memories of a Dutch Girl in the Netherlands During WWII" about her time in occupied Holland based on her book "Written by Candlelight".

As part of the event, after caring for her "Little Blue Jacket" for more than 70 years, Langford entrusted it to the Museum.

"I’m now 80 and it won’t be so long that I won’t be able to give the talks that I have given for about 40 years, and then I wondered what was going to happen to the jacket," she said. Langford could give it to her children, but it would probably just end up in a drawer so she thought "Why don’t I give it back to where it originally came from?"


  1. The Kingston Whig Standard. Ian MacAlpine. (accessed 18 Dec 2021)
  2. Global News. Mike Postovit. (accessed 18 Dec 2021)