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In the midst of the Second World War, while firing at German soldiers on the other side of the Maas River in the Netherlands, Canadian soldier Bob Elliott and his tank crew found laughter and hope in a 10-year-old energetic Dutch girl named Sussie Cretier. Sussie’s family had escaped from the Nazis to the safety of the Allied troops. Sussie sang songs and lifted the spirits of the Canadian soldiers during a painful time in all of their lives. On Christmas Day 1944, the battle-weary Canadians honoured their adopted soldier with a special Army-style coat they ordered from a local seamstress. Sussie held on to that coat for decades, claiming it as the most special gift she had ever received and one she would never forget. Almost 40 years later, tank commander Bob Elliott returned to the Netherlands for a visit. Bob and Sussie’s relationship blossomed and she followed her favourite soldier to his home in Canada, bringing her precious coat with her.

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