Paras jump in alongside multinational partners to mark Arnhem anniversary
More than 200 British paratroopers from Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade jumped onto fields used 70 years ago by troops taking part in an iconic Second World War airborne operation.
In front of huge crowds of approximately 40,000, including more than 50 veterans, a total of more than 500 Allied troops, including Dutch, US, French, Polish, German and Italian soldiers parachuted onto Ginkel Heath near Arnhem yesterday (Sat 20 Sep) to mark the anniversary of Operation Market Garden.
70 Years ago
In September 1944, British and American airborne troops landed behind German lines with the aim of capturing a string of river crossings to allow tanks to thrust across the River Rhine in to Germany. However, strong resistance prevented armoured forces linking up with the 1st Airborne Division at the final bridge at Arnhem. Expecting to be relieved within 48 hours of landing, the paratroopers held out through nine days of brutal street fighting before withdrawing across the river. Over 1,500 British soldiers were killed at Arnhem and nearly 6,500 captured, while five Victoria Crosses were awarded.
The commemorative jump involved troops from every airborne unit within 16 Air Assault Brigade, jumping side by side with paratroopers from other nations who all have links back to the battle.