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Remembrance service will mark 74th anniversary of Operation Varsity

PUBLISHED: 16:13 07 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:49 08 March 2019

Left to right: Lt. J.F. Hubble, S/Sgt. B.L. Morgan, S/Sgt. J.R. Crone, Sgt. R. Biagott Picture: MUSEUM OF ARMY FLYING

Left to right: Lt. J.F. Hubble, S/Sgt. B.L. Morgan, S/Sgt. J.R. Crone, Sgt. R. Biagott Picture: MUSEUM OF ARMY FLYING

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A remembrance service to mark the 74th anniversary of a famous Second World War parachute and glider operation will take place in Essex.

A Horsa coming in to land Picture: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMA Horsa coming in to land Picture: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM

Operation Varsity took place on March 24, 1945, and was a vital part of what became known as the Rhine Crossings towards the end of the Second World War.

The mission to breach the Rhine was the largest successful airborne operation in history to be conducted on a single day in one location.

A total of 43 gliders from Earls Colne Airfield, near Colchester, formed part of the aerial armada – which landed more than 16,000 troops near the village of Hamminkeln and the town of Wesel in Germany.

A service of remembrance will take place on Sunday, March 24 at 10.45am at the Marks Hall estate and Arboretum in Coggeshall and members of the public are invited to attend.

A Horsa cockpit Picture: ASSAULT GLIDER TRUSTA Horsa cockpit Picture: ASSAULT GLIDER TRUST

Horsa gliders, which were nearly the size of a Lancaster Bomber but made from wood with no engines, were mostly used by British forces during the Second World War.

The loads carried on board and transported by the gilders included infantry troops, jeeps, motor cycles and heavy equipment.

The gliders were flown by men from the British Army’s Glider Pilot Regiment but due to heavy losses of pilots at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden in September 1944, RAF pilots were seconded to the glider regiment to take part in the airborne mission.

The pilots will be remembered alongside all those who lost their lives in the battle at the memorial service.

Lindsay Aspin, from the Glider Pilot Regiment Society, said: “This annual service is organised by the trustees and staff of the Marks Hall estate.

“The Glider Pilot Regiment Society would like to sincerely thank them for their ongoing efforts and the welcome they have extended to all of our members and followers.

“Members from the Glider Pilot Regiment Society will be in attendance again this year at Marks Hall estate on March 24, and will be happy to assist with any queries about the regiment.”

It is suggested people arrive no later than 10am in the visitors centre to allow time to walk to the memorial site.

For further information, people can contact info@gliderpilotregiment.org.uk

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