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Bracelet returned to B.C. WWII veteran after 73 years
Abbotsford News - 9/16/2017
In the winter of 1944 to 1945, while he was stationed in the Netherlands, Charlie Bernhardt traded a silver bracelet for some eggs and milk.
He gave the bracelet to Bernadina Cornelia Wijers (now Smith,) in Hoog-Keepel. She was 11 at the time.
On Friday, her daughter and grandson traveled to Summerland to return the bracelet to Bernhardt, while she watched via Skype.
It was an emotional moment for Bernhardt, now 96, as he was presented with the bracelet.
"After 73 years, it's back in these hands," he said. "And to think you people kept it all this time."
The family also gave Bernhardt a book they had compiled, detailing his time in Europe during World War II.
The bracelet had been given to Bernhardt by a woman named Daphne, who he met in London in 1944.
The Wijers family moved to the United States in 1948 and eventually moved to Oregon.
In the 1980s, Bernadina's daughter Karen Smith and her husband found the silver bracelet and tried to find Bernhardt.
The bracelet was inscribed with K37476 Chuck Bernhart, a misspelling of Bernhardt's last name.
During this summer, Bernadiina's grandson Kyle Smith worked to find more information about the bracelet.
Using the services of a Canadian military website, he learned Bernhardt was living just 877 kilometres from the family.
Kyle Smith sent Bernhardt a letter and a picture of the bracelet, asking if it belonged to him.
Bernhardt said his time in the Netherlands during World War II gave him an appreciation for the people there.
"The Dutch people strike me as being different," he said. "They believe in doing things well."
He added that the return of the bracelet was another example of this character.