Colchester: Paratroopers join 70th anniversary commemorative jump in Holland
- Credit: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC
More than 200 Colchester-based paratroopers took part in a parachute jump in Holland to commemorate a Second World War operation.
The soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade were part of a 500-strong group which landed on fields in Arnhem, in front of crowds of 40,000 including more than 50 veterans.
The ceremony marked 70 years since Operation Market Garden in September 1944, when Allied airborne troops landed behind German lines in a bid to capture a string of river crossings to help a big push to liberate Europe up to the River Rhine at the German border.
Strong resistance stopped the advance from linking up with the 1st Airborne Division at the final bridge at Arnhem, where paratroopers held out for a week longer than expected before withdrawing.
More than 1,500 British soldiers were killed at Arnhem and nearly 6,500 captured, while five Victoria Crosses were awarded.
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The operation was immortalised in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far, starring actors including Sean Connery and Richard Attenborough.
A Dakota and a number of Hercules aircraft were used for the commemorative jump.
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Brigadier Nick Borton, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said “The 70th anniversary of Arnhem represents another opportunity to record the humbling exploits of airborne forces, national and multinational, in the Second World War – as was done recently on the Normandy 70th commemorations.
“The warmth of the local population in welcoming back veterans and serving airborne personnel year on year has never wavered. The annual invitations received from the Dutch military to undertake parachute descents on the drop zones used on the operation represent a superb opportunity to both demonstrate and further our potent multi-national parachuting capability with a number of other countries, undertaking a succession of parachute descents from our own and their aircraft.”
Before the descent a service was held at the Airborne Memorial at Ginkel Heath, in Arnhem.