Market Garden Memorial 2009
Report by Remco Donselaar
On September 19th, Ginkel Heath, near the city of Ede and Arnhem, saw the memorial of 65 years Market Garden. The operation Market (Air) and Garden (Land) was aimed at creating a quick breakthrough across German lines to take over main bridges over the rivers Maas, Waal and Rhine in order to set up an offensive into Germany. It had to be one of the last hurdles before ending World War II, but things went different as the bridge over the Rhine in Arnhem was a bridge too far.
The memorial was held in the same beautifull weather as operation Market Garden started on September 17th, 1944. Ginkel Heath was part of the British 1st Airborne Division dropping zone north of the Rhine, while the other two (American) dropping zones were situated in the South of the Netherlands. Main action took place in the early morning on the 1st day when surrounding German barracks were bombed and at September 18th, when the 4th Parachute Brigade landed on the Heath. Due to heavy resistance they never managed to reach Arnhem and suffered hughe losses during the upcoming days.
During an official commemoration service near the Airborne Monument these losses were remembered with a wreath laying by the Mayor of Ede, the Commander of the RNLAF and others. The National Anthems of the United Kingdom, Poland and the Netherlands were played by the Band of the Parachute Regiment from the UK.
Before and after the commemoration service the skies above the Heath were once more filled with parachutes; a total of 1000 paratroops from the UK, Netherlands, United States, Belgium, Poland and even Germany. Since 2007 veterans don't participate in the droppings anymore due to their age.
The Royal Air Force attended with 3 Hercules' of the Lyneham Transport Wing while the United States Air Forces in Europe supported the droppings with 4 brand new C-130J-30's of the 86th Airlift Wing based at Ramstein. The Dakota from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight opened the morning programme and just before the afternoon droppings started the Royal Netherlands Historical Flight attended with 2 Harvards and the B-25 Mitchell.
This year's memorial was probably the last at such a large scale due to several reasons. This however doesn't mean those who fought for our liberty won't be remembered and honoured as they sacrificed their lifes for us.