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Arsenault, Welly

Date of birth:
December 26th, 1918 (Grande-Baie/Quebec, Canada)
Date of death:
April 14th, 1945 (near Zwolle, the Netherlands)
Buried on:
Holten Canadian War Cemetery
Plot: III. Row: B. Grave: 5.
Service number:
Canadian (1931-present, Constitutional Monarchy)


Welly Arsenault is one of the three Canadians who lost their lives during the liberation of Zwolle, on April 14 1945. Of these three Arsenault is the most known because he joined Leo Major during his reconnaissance to the centre of Zwolle. Both Arsenault and Major were part of the Regiment de la Chaudière.

The other two killed soldiers are Thomas Thomas and Alex Serediak.

In 1995 Leo Major told in the Zwols Historisch Tijdschrift (Historical magazine Zwolle) how Welly was killed by German machinegun fire. Welly and he would voluntary explore in Zwolle. Their goal was to determine whether there were still enemy combatants in the city. Welly and Leo left half past nine in the evening for their nocturnal endeavour. When they crossed the railway line near Zalné (Heinoseweg) things went terribly wrong.
Major: "Shortly after eleven I crossed the railway line and lay down some distance away next to the road. Willy (sic) (see below for clarification) tried to do the same, he crossed the railroad to reunite with me, but some sounds were made by the grenades he carried, that is when the Germans opened up with a hail of bullets. I instantly knew he was dead."

Welly’s remains were transported to Almen (between Zutphen and Lochem) where he was temporarily buried. His last resting place would be the Canadian Was Cemetery in Holten.

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Second World War (1939-1945)
1st Battalion, Le Régiment de la Chaudière, 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Canadian Army
Awarded on:
December 8th, 1945
"On the 14 April 1945, Le Regiment de la Chaudiere was deployed on the south and east of Zwolle, Netherlands. During the night 14/15 April, Corporal Arseneault displayed a high standard of bravery, devotion to duty and utmost gallantry, paying the supreme sacrifice.

To ascertain the exact location of enemy defences was necessary in order to save as many Dutch lives as was possible. This gallant Non-Commissioned Officer volunteered to go with another soldier [Private Leo Major] on reconnaissance. Near the town, an enemy outpost was found manned by four Germans. Ordering his companion to take cover, this brave Non-Commissioned Officer charged the position alone, being mortally wounded doing so, but keeping on firing until he had no more ammunition. He personally killed two Germans and wounded another before he died. The enemy outpost was routed and his companion went on alone to finish the task.

The utmost gallantry, personal bravery and high standard of devotion to duty displayed by Corporal Arseneault were an inspiration to all, and were instrumental in the capture of Zwolle on the morning of the 15 April 1945, without a civilian casualty."

Royal decree No.2, dated December 8th, 1945.
Awarded posthumously.
Bronzen Leeuw (BL)