poppy field






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 and events.

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 extermination camps.

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 operation.

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 ago.

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 boxes.

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 Heusden.

Brian Berry