Welcome to the Ackworth and Pontefract Branch of The Royal British Legion
TRIP TO HOLLAND -
The trip to Holland was timed to
coincide with the 67th anniversary of Operation Market
Garden. Highlights of the visit, therefore were a re-enactment
of the parachute drops near Arnhem and a celebration of the event
in the form of a drive past of vintage military vehicles.
These notes are my personal
recollections, but others will most probably have other favourite
places in a seven day visit that covered a lot of different places
At this stage it is appropriate to
acknowledge the efforts of the Tour organisers, George Hepworth,
Gordon Naylor and our colleague in Holland - Peter van Dinther, who
worked out the itinerary with his wife, Willia. Many thanks
to them for arranging everything for us.
We got off to a flying start with a
visit to an air museum, which is on the site of an operational
airbase. The airfield was originally used by the Luftwaffe
and many of the exhibits were found in and around the airfield.
Later in the day we had a stark
reminder of the horrors of the German occupation of The Netherlands
with a visit to Camp Vught, which was built as a concentration camp
in which many people died or were transported to extermination
camps. A very poignant memorial recorded the names of the
children who were transported to
On the second day of our trip we
were fortunate to be joined by Arie Jan van Hees, who is an
acknowledged expert on Operation Market Garden and is the author of
a number of books on the subject. He guided our coach along
the route taken by the ground forces from the start point to where
they finally halted. Arie was able to point out the
difficulties in the terrain and showed us places of interest along
the route. We continued on to Arnhem and halted next to the
John Frost Bridge.
En route we conducted a simple
ceremony at the War Cemetery and Peter Gibby, a WWII veteran laid a
wreath on behalf of the branch for those killed in the
Later in this packed day we stopped
at Oosterbeek just a few miles from John Frost Bridge to listen to
a talk by a local historian about the events centred around the
church during the battle. There was considerable action in
the locality resulting in many wounded in action. Famously a
Dutch housewife, Kate ter Horst opened her house next to the church
to take in the wounded and care for them. Her British
patients nicknamed her 'The Angel of Arnhem' and she was awarded an
MBE after the war.
Saturday, 17th September
was another eventful day. We went to a heath, close to
Oosterbeek and watched an airdrop. During the course of the
morning there were some 800 parachutes descending onto the heath as
a reminder of the original operation 67 years ago. It was a most
spectacular sight, witnessed by many local people as well as
visitors from the UK, Poland and other countries.
In the afternoon we visited
Oosterbeek. The Airborne Museum had some interesting exhibits
concerning Operation Market Garden. There were a number of
tableaux with sound and flashing lights that provided a convincing
representation of the battle that raged in Arnhem all those years
Later in the afternoon we saw a
wonderful and sometimes amusing drive past of vintage military
vehicles with passengers suitably attired for the occasion.
The following day we visited the
National War and Resistance Museum, Liberty Park, at
Overloon. The very large collection of military vehicles from
many countries is impressive.
There is a pleasant picnic area in
the grounds of the museum where some of us enjoyed our lunch
The penultimate day of our visit was
spent sight seeing in the beautiful towns of Marken and Volendam
plus a visit to the Peace Palace in The Hague.
The final day of our trip included a
visit to the war cemetery of Bergen op Zoom and a visit to the
nearby grave of Guy Gibson.
After a lunch break we embarked on a
boat to tour the nature reserve of Drimmelen Biesbosch.
Our guide explained to us that this
remote and difficult terrain was the haunt of Dutch resistance
fighters during the war.
A very pleasant final day was
completed with a visit to the beautiful historic fortress town of
Photographs taken during the trip
are in the Photo gallery.