To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden (September 17-25, 1944), the travel arm of the Royal British Legion will be taking a group of World War Two veterans, now all in their 90s, on a special journey of remembrance.
Heading over to Holland the veterans, who served at the Battle of Arnhem, will retrace their steps and visit key battle sites and cemeteries. On the itinerary are the Dutch towns of Oosterbeek and Nijmegen, as well as the key landing and drop zones of the US Airborne Divisions at Groesbeek, Eindhoven and Hamminkeln Station.
Visits will also be made along the Rhine at Wessel and Rees where the greatest river assault crossing of all time took place, plus a stop at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the country, for private remembrance.
The tour will also include visits to the National Liberation Museum ‘Friendship Museum’, as well as a commemorative service at the Commonwealth Graves cemetery to give veterans the chance to remember their fallen comrades.
The eight-day tour has been funded by the Treasury through LIBOR fines and enables each veteran, plus a carer and family member to return free-of-charge to where they served.
Nichola Rowlands-Smith, head of travel at Royal British Legion, said: “Our journeys of remembrance are vital for veterans of World War Two to lay old ghosts to rest. They’re also ideal for families to travel together and understand what dad and granddad went through in the war.”
Following the success of the D-Day landings, Operation Market Garden was planned by Field Marshal Montgomery. It was a daring airborne plan to outflank the Siegfied Line, secure the River Rhine crossings and advance into Northern Germany.
However, Allied forces faced months of bitter fighting against a tenacious enemy and although it did manage to liberate a large part of the Netherlands, it is also considered to be the only major Allied defeat in the North West Europe campaign.