World War Two veterans, royalty, ministers and thousands of well-wishers took part in events in and around Arnhem this weekend to commemorate Operation Market Garden 75 years ago.
Operation Market Garden was an attempt to liberate the north of the Netherlands from the Nazis in September 1944, which ultimately failed with great loss of life among the allied forces.
Some 35,000 British, US and Polish forces were dropped by parachute and glider behind enemy lines in an effort to open a way into Germany. But despite initial victories, they did not manage to secure eight bridges crossing the river Rhine.
‘The battle was tough, brutal and vicious,’ Dutch defence minister Ank Bijleveld said at a ceremony to commemorate the battles, immortalised in the film A Bridge too Far.
Britain’s prince Charles and the Netherlands’ princess Beatrix were among the guests who laid wreaths and met veterans.
On Saturday thousands of parachutists re-enacted the mass droppings behind enemy lines, including veteran Sandy Cortmann from Aberdeen, now aged 97.
‘I can’t remember much about the jump in 1944, we were just a bunch of young lads out for a good time if you like,’ he told the BBC. ‘But it turned out rather terrifying in the end with the guns and mortars and things opened up. They were all aimed at us.’
Meanwhile, Arnhem mayor Ahmed Marcouch has apologised to four British veterans who refused access to the VIP enclosure at one event on Friday because they did not have a ticket.
‘We thought our medals would be good enough,’ veteran Leslie Reeves, 95, told local broadcaster Omroep Nederland.
Ik zou het goedmaken als wij #veteranen vgemist hebben, beloofde ik. Ik ben op zoek gegaan, ik heb ze gevonden bij een naburige herdenking, excuses aangeboden en omarmd. Goed maken bestaat. Het gaat niet om de fout, het gaat om het herstelhttps://t.co/byVLrxOswq
— Ahmed Marcouch (@ahmedmarcouch) September 22, 2019
International press coverage of the weekend’s events
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