– About me –
My name is Yuri Beckers and I am 40 years old. I was born in Maastricht, a city in the Southern part of the Netherlands. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my parents took my sister and me to Normandy. I remember standing in the middle of all those white crosses at the US Cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer. After asking about all the white crosses, I heard that these were all men that fought for my freedom. This made a huge impression on me. Ever since then I always have been fascinated by certain World War 2 events.
As I grew older I started to read all the books I could find on D-Day, the battle for Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Market Garden. I watched hours and hours of documentaries about these battles as well. I became more and more interested in knowing more about the soldiers. My father was involved in organizing a “Liberty Relay”, where members of an athletics club would each run several miles while holding a torch, following the route of the 30th Infantry Division. They went through the many towns that this Division liberated, ending in our hometown of Maastricht on the day it was liberated. Through this, I met the first veterans. Their stories always impressed me. My parent’s house is also not far from the US Cemetery at Margraten and I often visit this special place. Reading the names on the marble crosses made me want to find out more about the individual men.
In 2002 I bought a book called “If you Survive”, written by 4th Infantry Division veteran George Wilson. This book informed me about the battle in the Hurtgen Forest. I looked up where this terrible battle took place, and was shocked to learn it was only an hour by car from my hometown, across the German border. I was surprised because in all the years of reading about World War 2 battles, I never heard of this battle before! So, I started to do research to this battle, and found out not many books were written about it. I started to do more research to the battle and wanted to find out everything I could about it. I visited the area many times as well, and it was very impressive. Because of this research I learned about the 9th Infantry Division’s actions in the Hurtgen Forest. Reading about what they went through, I wanted to find out more, and started to focus on this Division alone. The more reports I received from the National Archives, the more interested I became. The 9th Infantry Division’s actions in this battle are often overlooked in the books that are available about the battle. When I met a veteran of this Division, he shared some great stories, and supported me in the idea of writing a book about the events of his Division. This was the beginning of a long project! For several years now I have been studying the actions of the 9th Infantry Division, and writing the book about their involvement in the Hurtgen campaign.
Although I don’t have an academic degree in history, my passion and dedication to know more about the 9th Infantry Division’s history and its men has brought me far. I am in touch with several veterans and family members of veterans who are all very supportive of my projects. Some good friendships came out of this.
I am currently writing my own book about the 9th Infantry Division’s actions in the Hurtgen Forest, am the webmaster of this website, also co-author of a book about a 9th Infantry Division Field Artillery man, and will participate in a special exhibition about the 9th Infantry Division’s actions in the Hurtgen Forest. Besides this, I am doing research for many people who want to know more about a relative who served with the Ninth. I am always learning more and new things about this Division. I hope this website will provide some good information for you as well. Feel free to contact me.
While going through this website, please think about all those men who fought for our freedom. They were young, a whole life ahead of them. They had dreams, they had families. They had loved ones. They left all of this behind to fight on foreign soil and liberate us from the Nazi tyranny.
The men met each other in training, on a ship or maybe on the battlefields. They are bounded by their shared experiences of war and helped each other through some of the worst times in their young lives. When one of them died, it affected many other people’s lives. Some of the young men never came back home. Others did come home, but never left the war. They carried their days with the 9th Division with them for the rest of their lives. It shaped the way these men lived their lives after the war. I don’t think we will have another generation as great as the one that served in World War 2. I hope they were able to make their dreams come true after all. That they married that girl they loved, started that job they wanted, and found a way to live their lives again.
When you pass any of the US Cemeteries, please stop for a few minutes and look at the names of the men who never got to live their lives and make their dreams come true. They died, so we could live our dreams and live in freedom and peace.
Thank you for visiting my website and reading my story here.