ARNHEM PLUS 60
REMEMBERING OPERATION MARKET GARDEN
SEPTEMBER 1944 - SEPTEMBER 2004
It could be 1944... the sky above DZ Y filled with chutes again.
Once again my work as a Battlefield Guide with Leger Holidays took me to the Arnhem battlefields, just as it had with D Day, for the 60th Anniversary. During the weekend I was able to travel round the area, talking to veterans and taking part in some of the commemorations. A high point was the final jump of Arnhem veterans on Ginkel Heath on 18th September. Another was the moving ceremony at Oosterbeek War Cemetery on the 19th. The parade of WW2 vehicles in the 'race to the bridge' was also spectacular, with many veterans taking part and being cheered along the route.
Below are some selected photos of the weekend, for those who were not able to make it and for those who did and want to recall this special event. Click on a photo to enlarge it.
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Photo Album - 17th-20th September 2004
|On Saturday 18th September a commemorative jump was made onto DZ Y at Ginkel Heath. Paratroopers from several nationalities made the drop, along with eight WW2 veterans and the entire 4th (V) Bn Parachute Regiment. This shows the central DZ with a landing just made.
|The WW2 veterans who made the jump went down in 'tandem' with another, serving, soldier of the Parachute Regiments. The veterans all wore bright orange jump suits and were cheered on by a crowd of more than 50,000 people!
|Two C47 Dakota's made a drop during the ceremony, one painted in Invasion colours from 1944.
|The 4th (V) Battalion Parachute Regiment then made a jump; it was quite something to see the sky above Arnhem full of so many parachutes again!
|One of the eight WW2 veterans who made the jump. All were aged 80 or above, and one had been blinded in the battle.
|Mr Johnson, a veteran of the Royal Signals who jumped into Arnhem, kindly allowed me to take his photograph.
|That afternoon we set off for the Hartenstein Hotel, now a museum to the fighting at Arnhem. As usual, it was very busy on the anniversary.
|A huge number of re-enactors were there with original vehicles and equipment; seeing so many of them in period gear really made the day and brought back many memories for the veterans.
|An airborne jeep, with trailer. Typical of the type used by 1st Airborne Division in Arnhem.
|A rare beast indeed! A 20mm Oerlikon cannon. There were only a handful available at Arnhem, but several were used. There were two on display here!
|Superb period scene, showing Parachute Regiment re-enactors on wartime jeeps.
|Another rare beast - one of the Wellbike collapsible motorbikes used by the division at Arnhem... and this one still running!
|Many of the vehicles had been involved in the 'race to the bridge', and were now on the return run to Hartenstein. Veterans were given rides in many of them and cheered by the crowds.
|On Sunday 19th we attended the moving ceremony at Oosterbeek War Cemetery.
|There were huge crowds present, with the graves screen off so that local Dutch school children could lay flowers on the graves.
|The children assembled and raised their flowers to the applause of all present.
|They then turned, each one facing an individual grave of someone who fell at Arnhem.
|The flowers were then laid on each grave.
|Graves of men from 4th Dorsets with flowers placed on them by the local school children.
|A veteran of the Glider Pilot Regiment, who fought at Arnhem and was in the Battle of the Oosterbeek Perimeter, pictured at the ceremony.
|Having walked the battlefields with a 1st Border Regiment veteran, Fred Hodges, a few years ago, I was pleased to see one of his comrades (left) at the ceremony.
|I spent a lot of Sunday talking to Ernie 'Roy' Jones, who jumped into Arnhem with the 21st Independent Parachute Company. He had served right through the battle, was wounded by a phosphorous bomb, and escaped by swimming the Rhine. He is pictured here being interviewed by the BBC and wearing the original beret he wore at Arnhem, which was the only bit of kit he got out when he swam the Rhine!
|The ceremony ended with a fly-past of C130s and a wartime C47, pictured here.
ŠPaul Reed 2004