Our first stop today was to attend the Commemoration of the XX1 Independent Parachute Company in Oosterbeek. The men of the Independent were British and were a part of the Market part of the Market Garden initiative. The monument is situated in Oosterbeek where the XX1 met with fierce resistance from German soldiers. It was an intense battle lasting many days. Many innocent dutch citizens were killed, many lost their homes and many soldiers were killed or badly injured. There was a serious lack of supplies and communication with other allied forces was badly inhibited.
Next stop, the Airborne Museum.
Many troops were rescued by the Storm Boat Kings (among the rescuers was the 23rd Royal Canadian Field Engineer - Uncle Tony being one of them) It was called Operation Berlin.
Off to Old Church
As mentioned the The Dutch Reformed Church was used by the airborne troops as cover from the Germans and to house their medical team and the wounded soldiers. They were under heavy fire by the Germans. On Monday September 25th, the airborne troops were told to evacuate from the church onto a treacherous route toward the Rhine. There they would be rescued by the allied forces in boats (the 23rd being among them).
Finally, the Airborne Commemoration in Arnhem
This was a commemoration for both the British and Polish Airborne Troops. The ceremony was extremely well attended with almost 70 Veterans in attendance. It was so amazing to see at the end of the ceremony, a parade of veterans marching to the cheers of thousands of people on each side of the street. Many even left their wheelchairs as proudly they marched - heads held high in pride. The clapping did not stop until the final veteran made his exit from the parade. In the evening, in an attempt to attract more of the younger generation, a light and sound show was put on a dyke next to the Rhine River in Arnhem. There was a large screen attached to the bridge and a full orchestra on stage. It was an incredible evening as the veterans appeared on the water in the Jules Verne cruiser - ready to watch the show. They received a standing ovation by the crowd (thousands) who were first seated on the grass...