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Thread: Yorkshire Post - 17/9/13

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    Admin/Membership Secretary/Treasurer On1on's Avatar
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    Yorkshire Post - 17/9/13

    Andrew Vine: Lessons from Arnhem for a nation that’s forgotten how to remember

    ARNHEM



    Published on 17 September 2013


    A SIMPLE ceremony as moving as it is dignified will take place in a small town in Holland this Sunday that has lessons for us here in Britain.

    A procession of hundreds of children will make its way solemnly into a cemetery. Every boy and girl, all in their Sunday best clothes, carries flowers and walks quietly across the neatly-trimmed lawns separating the rows of white headstones. A child will pause before each grave, and then lay their flowers. None will be missed out, and many of the blooms the children place gently on the grass will be of vivid orange, their country’s national colour. And then the children will leave the cemetery reverently, to return to their parents and teachers waiting just outside the gates. The adults know exactly how it feels to pay this tribute, for it has happened every September for decades, and they have laid their flowers before these graves as their own parents watched. In time, the children who take part in Sunday’s commemoration will watch as their sons and daughters pay tribute to the men who rest here.


    This is the British Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek, close to the border with Germany, and it is where 1,759 men who died in the vicious nine-day Battle of Arnhem are buried. Today marks the 70th anniversary of that battle beginning, when thousands of paratroopers and glider-borne soldiers descended from the sky in an audacious operation designed to shorten the war, only to fall into a German trap. It was one of the hardest-fought actions of the Second World War, and though the British lost, leading to brutal consequences for the Dutch, there is an abiding affection for our country, and our county, in that part of Holland. Six months afterwards, almost at the war in Europe’s end, it was Yorkshire soldiers of the 49th (West Riding) Division who finally liberated Arnhem and the surrounding towns from nearly five years of occupation. Seven decades on, the mention of being from Yorkshire still elicits an especially warm response from the people who live there.


    They have never forgotten, nor will they, and that is why, every September, the young are at the heart of the commemorations on the first Sunday following the anniversary of the battle commencing. The boys and girls so cherished by their families remind the community of the many young men destined never to see those who loved them again, who gave their lives in an effort to free people of whom they knew nothing. The children of Arnhem, with their flowers, have much to teach us about the nature of commemorations. Anniversaries of war and its terrible human cost crowd in upon us; the centenary of the Great War is just over the horizon next summer, and the 70th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War lies the year after that. There are no eyewitnesses left to tell us what it was like to fight in the First World War, and as the years pass, the last veterans of the Second will follow them into the pages of history. Here at home, when those voices are stilled, the two wars will, to too many, seem remote and of no relevance to their lives.


    Not in Arnhem. Remembrance there is part of the collective DNA. Children grow up knowing the price that was paid for their freedom to walk without fear, to think as they please and make of their lives what they will. Every generation since the war has grown up remembering, acknowledging, and valuing the liberty that was so hard won. There is nothing morbid about this, no sense of a society living in the past, nor any whiff of rancour towards the former enemy on the opposite bank of the Rhine. Neither adult nor child dwells on what happened or obsesses about it. It is simply there, as much a part of the fabric of ordinary life as everyday courtesy. To these people, failing to remember would be unthinkable. How very different that is from elements of our own society, of young people and adults who have no idea about the price paid for the liberties they take for granted, and worse, no interest in learning about it.


    And how very much at odds Arnhem’s quiet acknowledgement of sacrifice and what it achieved is from the shameful decision by the Heritage Lottery Fund that a project to plant poppies to mark the centenary of the Great War is not worthy of a grant. The Dutch children pick flowers for remembrance; ours cannot be given the pennies it costs for seeds to grow them from the public purse. As so often, the public knows better than governments and their agencies. There has been a heartening return to observance of the two minute silence on Armistice Day in recent years, doubtless as a result of the flag-draped coffins from Iraq and Afghanistan bringing home so powerfully that remembrance is as much about the here and how as it is about the past. Still, too many in Britain have forgotten how to remember. Perhaps if they were able to see the children of Arnhem, with their flowers, they would be reminded of the importance of never, ever, forgetting.
    Visit tree 49/189 @ the NMA and say hello.

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    Administrator Jock2413's Avatar
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    Nice piece and I hate to be the one to pick holes in it, but the 70th anniversary of Operation Market - Garden is next year. It is a date that has been etched in my memory since as far back as I can remember.
    On the second day of the operation, an 18 year old Private soldier of the 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment jumped with his unit into their drop zone and dropped into hell. After two days heavy fighting, the battalion was decimated and the survivors, including this young private managed to reach the divisional perimeter at Oosterbeek. There, they held out for a further 4 days when, out of ammunition and with a broken bayonet, the young soldier joined the survivors in attempting to break out of the German circulation. About 20 of them reached the Rhine in a group and found that there was only one boat waiting there. The boat could only hold 12 men so the others, including the young private took off their boots, ditched weapons, webbing, helmets and smocks and held on to a rope that was let out of the back of the boat so as to tow them across. The current of the Rhine was very strong and the water was freezing, so just over half way across, the young lad lost his grip on the rope. Luckily, he was a strong swimmer and managed to reach the far bank where he was rescued by members of the Wessex division.
    Three days later at a muster parade for the 10th Battalion, less that 30 men answered the roll, amongst them, the young Private. The Battalion was disbanded and most of the survivors, including the youngster were posted to the 3rd Battalion where he served with distinction till 1963 ending his service as a sergeant major in charge of training of 15th Para (TA) He served in Palestine, Cyprus, Malaya and on 5 November 1956, parachuted into Egypt with 3rd Battalion which captured the Egyptian airfield of El Cap during the Suez war.
    In later years, out of all the actions that the youngster was involved in, swimming the Rhine at Arnhem was what he was most proud of, and he was always grateful to his own father who had taught him to swim. I was always happy that he could swim as well, because in 1950, that young soldier became my father.
    You cannot fight a war with one hand tied behind your back.

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    Association Member of WUSA bigal's Avatar
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    WE will remember them.
    Be who you are and say what you feel...
    Because those that matter, don't mind.
    And those that mind, don't matter!

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    Association Member slapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jock2413 View Post
    Nice piece and I hate to be the one to pick holes in it, but the 70th anniversary of Operation Market - Garden is next year. It is a date that has been etched in my memory since as far back as I can remember.
    On the second day of the operation, an 18 year old Private soldier of the 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment jumped with his unit into their drop zone and dropped into hell. After two days heavy fighting, the battalion was decimated and the survivors, including this young private managed to reach the divisional perimeter at Oosterbeek. There, they held out for a further 4 days when, out of ammunition and with a broken bayonet, the young soldier joined the survivors in attempting to break out of the German circulation. About 20 of them reached the Rhine in a group and found that there was only one boat waiting there. The boat could only hold 12 men so the others, including the young private took off their boots, ditched weapons, webbing, helmets and smocks and held on to a rope that was let out of the back of the boat so as to tow them across. The current of the Rhine was very strong and the water was freezing, so just over half way across, the young lad lost his grip on the rope. Luckily, he was a strong swimmer and managed to reach the far bank where he was rescued by members of the Wessex division.
    Three days later at a muster parade for the 10th Battalion, less that 30 men answered the roll, amongst them, the young Private. The Battalion was disbanded and most of the survivors, including the youngster were posted to the 3rd Battalion where he served with distinction till 1963 ending his service as a sergeant major in charge of training of 15th Para (TA) He served in Palestine, Cyprus, Malaya and on 5 November 1956, parachuted into Egypt with 3rd Battalion which captured the Egyptian airfield of El Cap during the Suez war.
    In later years, out of all the actions that the youngster was involved in, swimming the Rhine at Arnhem was what he was most proud of, and he was always grateful to his own father who had taught him to swim. I was always happy that he could swim as well, because in 1950, that young soldier became my father.
    That has got to one of the best and most moving scripts EVER posted onto NIVA pages.


    'For a soldier I listed, to grow great in fame. And be shot at for ninepence a day.'

    'Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch'

    'It's been hard getting over my addiction to the hokey cokey, but I've turned myself around and that's what it's all about.'

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    Association Member & Guardian of the Fridge
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapper View Post
    That has got to one of the best and most moving scripts EVER posted onto NIVA pages.
    ......
    Growing Old beats the Alternative.........dying young Death is not the worst that can happen to you........JUST THE LAST

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    Old Warhorse turned Admin. Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 1st Class DeadHorse's Avatar
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    My dad was a bloody good swimmer too. (AND he was a gunner, but we try to keep that quiet)
    So the army sent him to N.Africa where he took turns chasing Rommel up and down the desert.
    Then he went to Italy (the govt kindly provided a boat for the crossing) and spent the rest of the war sunning himself under lemon trees with the rest of the D-Day Dodgers around some little out-of-the-way monastery at Monte Cassino.
    It must run in the family, this thing with water, as the only qualification I got on leaving school was a 25yd Swimming Certificate.
    RCT & bar (fully licensed)
    This Vehicle is Alarmed
    (but the driver has seen it all before)
    You can lead a horse to water - but you cant make me drink the stuff.

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    Association Member slapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadHorse View Post
    My dad was a bloody good swimmer too. (AND he was a gunner, but we try to keep that quiet)
    So the army sent him to N.Africa where he took turns chasing Rommel up and down the desert.
    Then he went to Italy (the govt kindly provided a boat for the crossing) and spent the rest of the war sunning himself under lemon trees with the rest of the D-Day Dodgers around some little out-of-the-way monastery at Monte Cassino.
    It must run in the family, this thing with water, as the only qualification I got on leaving school was a 25yd Swimming Certificate.
    I remember Clint Eastwood on your back crossing the Rio Grande mate. Brill stroke!!


    'For a soldier I listed, to grow great in fame. And be shot at for ninepence a day.'

    'Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch'

    'It's been hard getting over my addiction to the hokey cokey, but I've turned myself around and that's what it's all about.'

  8. #8
    Old Warhorse turned Admin. Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 1st Class DeadHorse's Avatar
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    You may laugh, but a big Hollywood fillum company wanted to make a flick about my life.
    All about how I was a great hunter and how I got captured by injuns who got on my tits etc.
    Richard Harris was down to play my part and it was going to be called 'A Horse Called Man' but they cocked it all up, as usual.
    RCT & bar (fully licensed)
    This Vehicle is Alarmed
    (but the driver has seen it all before)
    You can lead a horse to water - but you cant make me drink the stuff.

  9. #9
    Association Member & Guardian of the Fridge
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadHorse View Post
    You may laugh, but a big Hollywood fillum company wanted to make a flick about my life.
    All about how I was a great hunter and how I got captured by injuns who got on my tits etc.
    Richard Harris was down to play my part and it was going to be called 'A Horse Called Man' but they cocked it all up, as usual.
    .... must be a war horse.....
    Growing Old beats the Alternative.........dying young Death is not the worst that can happen to you........JUST THE LAST

  10. #10
    Association Member of WUSA bigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadHorse View Post
    My dad was a bloody good swimmer too. (AND he was a gunner, but we try to keep that quiet)
    So the army sent him to N.Africa where he took turns chasing Rommel up and down the desert.
    Then he went to Italy (the govt kindly provided a boat for the crossing) and spent the rest of the war sunning himself under lemon trees with the rest of the D-Day Dodgers around some little out-of-the-way monastery at Monte Cassino.
    It must run in the family, this thing with water, as the only qualification I got on leaving school was a 25yd Swimming Certificate.

    Ditto on all counts.
    Be who you are and say what you feel...
    Because those that matter, don't mind.
    And those that mind, don't matter!

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