Sixty-five years since A Bridge Too Far

Veterans, politicians and royalty will take part in ceremonies commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem on Friday evening and this weekend.

This week it is exactly 65 years since allied troops took part in Operation Market Garden, when 30,000 British and American airborne troops were flown behind enemy lines to capture the eight bridges that spanned the network of canals and rivers on the Dutch/German border. The aim was to clear the way for an allied advance into Germany.
Events were later immortalised in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far.
This evening, the taking of a strategic bridge over the river Rhine in Arnhem itself will be remembered.
On Saturday, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende will witness a drop by 1,000 parachute jumpers close to Driel, in an echo of events in 1944.
Military cemetery
And on Sunday, defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop and his British counterpart Bob Ainsworth will lay wreathes at the military cemetery in Oosterbeek, where 1,800 allied troops are buried. Oosterbeek was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting.
Queen Beatrix and Britain’s prince Philip will attend a ceremony to remember the liberation of Nijmegen on Sunday night.
Among the oldest army veterans making the journey to the Netherlands for this week’s commemorations is 93-year-old Eric Gill, from Yorkshire. ‘I was one of the first troops to arrive in Arnhem and am proud to say I played a part in liberating the town,’ he told Yorkshire newspaper The Star.

For a BBC explanation of Operation Market Garden, click here

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