Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Operation Market Garden

This was the official designation for the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. The objective was to capture the Rhine bridge at Arnhem, an objective that was not achieved. After more than a week of intense fighting, the Allied forces had to retreat across the River Rhine. More than 1,500 Allied men died in the battle, the majority of whom lie buried at a dedicated cemetery at Oosterbeek, 4 miles west of Arnhem. For reference, the German dead are buried at Ysselsteyn, 35 miles to the south.

I visited the "Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery" today, it is less than 6 miles away from my dad's home. We went their by pushbike, on quite a cold and grey day. The cemetery was still covered in 2-3 inches of snow. Before I went there, I had to trawl the register on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for the Scottish casualties. I am a contributor to the Scottish War Graves Forum, which shows photographs of wargraves in Scotland, and of wargraves of Scots overseas. For that purpose, I took pictures of 99 gravestones at the cemetery.

This entry is in tribute to all the more than 1,600 casualties, from several nationalities, that lie buried at the Oosterbeek cemetery. My efforts are also a tribute to their valiant efforts to liberate Holland and Europe of the scourge of Nazism in 1944 and 1945. The fact that their mission foundered at Arnhem meant that those parts of Holland, located north of the rivers Rhine and Meuse, remained under occupation for another 8 months.

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