The Holland (Michigan) Polar Bear Club - 1948

c. 1942 photo (
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From the Holland (Mich.) Evening Sentinel, May 28, 1948:


Memorial Day holds special significance for this group, for it was just 30 years ago that these men awoke in Camp Custer (now Fort Custer) for their first day of training in World War One.

Now organized as the Holland Polar Bear Club, this group was drafted in Holand and left the local depot May 29, 1918. Because the 85th Division was awaiting replacements before goig overseas, the Holland group found itself taken out of quarantine before the 10 days were up and was soon en route to North Russia.

All were assigned to Co. D and life in the sparsely populated northern tip of Russia proved quite an experience in spite of the routine nature of activities. If one Holland man received a letter, 50 others read it. If one Holland man got in bad with one of his superiors, there were 50 to go to bat for him.

The local group was late in organizing, and it was not until 15 years ago that an organization was effected. Since then the group has held bi-monthly meetings in places all over the area ranging from bowling alleys, plumbing shops, implement stores and hatcheries.

A few of the group plan to attend a biennial reunion May 29, 30 and 31 in Detroit. These conventions alternate between Detroit and Grand Rapids and are primarily for Polar Bears from Michigan and Wisconsin.

The above photo was taken about 6 years ago and nearly all members are still active in the club. Identification follows:

Bottom Row - Benjamin Roos, Holland; John Beyer, Zeeland; Bernard Schipper, Zeeland; Albert De Maat, Holland; Cornelius Wittingen, Zeeland; Ben H. Lievense, Holland, secretary for the club; Shud Althuis, Holland; Henry Bok, Forest Grove; Harvey Grover, Holland.

Second Row - John Van Loo, Zeeland; Martin Rotman, Holland; John H. Riemersma, Holland; Benjamin De Zwaan, Zeeland, president; Sam Hoekstra, Vriesland; Jacob E. Zwerner, Holland; William Renkema, Route 2, Hudsonville; John De Vries, Holland.

Third Row - William Huizenga, Route 2, Zeeland; Gerrit Stam (deceased); Henry Meeusen, Holland; Walter Bocks, Holland; Leonard De Pree, Oakland, Calif.; Jack Knoll, Holland; Thomas Halley, Holland; Henry Garvelink, Borculo; Albert Slagh, Route 2, Holland.

Top Row - Louis Meeusen, Route 1, Zeeland; Martin De Boer (deceased); Jacob Meeusen, Zeeland; Don Hacklander, Fennville; Henry Cook, Jamestown; John Molewyk, Route 2, Zeland; Dick Hunderman, Drenthe; John Piers, Jenison; Ed Whaley, Holland; Albert Pyle, Zeeland; Herman Gerritsen, Holland.

Other members of the club are Sgt. A. D. Cox and Burleigh Roberts of Battle Creek, Andrew Tiesenga of Jamaica, N.Y. and Lt. McWallace of Hammond, Indiana.



This page was created on 17 Jan 2013; last updated on 15 July 2014
Mike Grobbel

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