In war-torn Europe, September 1944 - eight months before the end World War II - Allied forces launched a ground and airborne attack through Belgium and The Netherlands called Operation Market Garden.
The plan was to capture a series of five bridges from the Germans so that an Allied stronghold could be established to attack Germany from the north, while US troops moved through Belgium to attack from the south. The conflict for the final bridge across the Rhine became known as The Battle of Arnhem and even though it was an Allied defeat it has become famous for the bravery of the men in holding off German troops for nine days, despite heavily outnumbered.
In the 1977 film “A Bridge too Far”, which starred Sean Connery and Michael Caine, the story highlighted the sheer heroism of the Allies and as part of the Victory in Europe (VE) celebrations in early May, BritNed held a commemoration service to honour those who lost their lives in the battle, including 453 civilians.
The ceremony was attended by 160 British WWII veterans who were driven to The Netherlands in 85 London Taxis courtesy of the London Taxi Driver’s Association. On arrival they were escorted to Arnhem by Dutch police outriders.
The tree, a poignantly chosen ‘scarlet oak’, was planted in the grounds of the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ and the plaque unveiled by Arnhem Glider Regiment veteran Staff Sergeant Laurie Weedon who was accompanied by many other veterans, Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns and the members of the Royal British Legion.