Report By Graham Williamson
At the end of October 1995 some intrepid members of the Third Way set off to the Continent. The party arrived in Amsterdam at a reasonable hour, and after booking-in at a city centre hotel enjoyed some of the sights of the old Dutch capital.
Next day, Saturday, saw our group drive to Arnhem. First stop was the Bridge. What struck me was the incredibly flat terrain, interspersed with woods and canals. I could easily imagine the paratroopers descending onto the land with few strong features affording defensive positions. The bridge has been rebuilt and re-named “John Frost” after the soldier who with the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Airborne Division held out at the Northern end for so long against overwhelming odds. Rebuilt to the original plans, we were surprised by how relatively small the bridge was.
Next we visited the Oosterbeck memorial/cemetery to all those who had perished in “Operation Market” in and around Arnhem. Wreaths and crosses were laid to our fallen heroes at the monument. As with all Commonwealth First and Second World War cemeteries they were well kept, and fitting tributes to our fallen.
In a busy day the next duty was to visit the Airborne Museum at Haarenstein — originally the HQ of German General Model, and later that of his enemy General Urquhart of the Para’s. The museum houses many exhibits, audio-visual presentations and diagrams; it is a must for military buffs.
After spending another enjoyable night in Amsterdam the party set out the next day to visit the Canadian memorial in Groesbeck, where Jeannie Trueman and Graham Williamson laid wreaths to honour the Commonwealth fallen. Most of those who were buried here had fought and died in the savage battles to breach the Siegfried Line in 1945. The nearby Liberation museum records the events leading up to the Second World War, the occupation of Holland, Operation Market, and the eventual liberation of the area in March ’45. The museum is extensive and its treatment of events detailed. It combines evocative video recordings with pictures and actual items from the period. The large centrepiece is a diorama of the area which highlights the course of battle.
All who attended learned more about our history and were pleased to be able to commemorate our fallen heroes in this way. Socially, members were able to relax and enjoy each others company. All those who attended pledged to join our next pilgrimage….
Why not join us?