Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 7°C

min temp: 0°C

ESTD 1874 Search

East Anglia: Veterans gather for annual commemoration of Second World War’s Operation Varsity

Soldiers past and present joined together to commemorate the anniversary of the largest airborne operation of the Second World War.

 
Photo: Corporal Andy Reddy

Soldiers past and present joined together to commemorate the anniversary of the largest airborne operation of the Second World War. Photo: Corporal Andy Reddy

Crown Copyright 2014: This image may be used for current news purposes only.

Veterans joined serving soldiers in a service marking the anniversary of the largest airborne operation of the Second World War.

Service marks anniversary of Operation Varsity. 

Photo: Corporal Andy ReddyService marks anniversary of Operation Varsity. Photo: Corporal Andy Reddy

Operation Varsity saw 40,000 British and American troops land by glider and parachute in March 1945 to successfully secure a bridge across the River Rhine, opening the way for the final advance into Germany.

Many gliders involved in the operation flew off from the Earls Colne Airfield towed by Halifax transport planes.

The RAF squadrons’ headquarters at nearby Marks Hall, now an arboretum, was the site of today’s 69th anniversary service.

Operation Varsity saw 98 pilots killed and 77 wounded from the Glider Pilot Regiment, disbanded in 1957, while of the 416 British gliders involved in the mission just 88 were undamaged.

Soldiers past and present joined together to commemorate the anniversary of the largest airborne operation of the Second World War.

 
Photo: Corporal Andy ReddySoldiers past and present joined together to commemorate the anniversary of the largest airborne operation of the Second World War. Photo: Corporal Andy Reddy

The annual commemoration is organised by 4 Regiment Army Air Corps based at Wattisham, in Suffolk, and the unit’s 664 Squadron is currently flying Apache attack helicopters on operations in Afghanistan.

This year’s service saw a parade along with music from the Band of The Parachute Regiment and a flypast by two Apaches.

Major Simon de Labillière, the regiment’s acting commanding officer, said: “It is both a privilege and an honour for the regiment to serve as the custodians of the memory of Operation Varsity.

“It is particularly significant for us to be here today to honour past operational achievements while one of our squadrons is deployed in Afghanistan.

“The wartime achievements of the Glider Pilot Regiment are astounding, given they were flying gliders made of wood and had only crude instrumentation to assist in their flight and navigation.

“It is important our soldiers have the opportunity to mix with veterans and learn about their experiences, which help to create the sense of identity, history and purpose which is behind our current achievements on operations.”

David Brook, chairman of the East Anglian branch of the Glider Pilot Regimental Association, suffered shrapnel wounds when the glider he piloted was hit after it landed near a German artillery position.

Mr Brook, 91, said: “The importance of this service is to honour our colleagues who didn’t come back and to keep alive the memory of a very successful operation.

“The experience of war is not something you can really describe, or want to, and what is important to me is to remember the faces of the friends I served with.

“Many of them died on Operation Varsity and as the years go by the number of surviving veterans gets fewer.”

0 comments

Stock image of the A11 in Red Lodge.

A luxury sports car crashed through a central reservation and caught fire in a single-vehicle crash in west Suffolk in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Cockaynes Wood, is off Cockaynes Lane, Alresford. Photo: Archant

A 60-home development has been approved in a north Essex village after an appeal – while another housebuilder asks for views on a separate 145-home estate.

Inflatable 5k Santa Run at Trinity Park in Ipswich, December 2016.

Delivering millions of presents around the world in a single night won’t seem as strenuous this Christmas for Santa after he completed a gruelling obstacle course in Ipswich.

Stock image.

A BMW was involved in a single-vehicle crash in Suffolk on Saturday night.

Scene of fire on Stanford Street, Lowestoft.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A man has died in a flat fire, despite the desperate efforts of brave neighbours to carry out a rescue.

The RSPCA centre in Martlesham is appealing to animal lovers to consider adopting a new pet

The RSPCA are appealing for animal lovers to come forward and adopt some of the cute creatures they are looking to rehome.

St John's Church, Felixstowe. The Victorian Christmas Market. 
Kay and Debbie, stallholders with handmade stationery, jewellery & accessories.
Photo by:Gill Atacocugu.

Eagle-eyed shoppers have spent the day looking for the ideal gift at a Christmas market at a church in Felixstowe.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24