Croydon will, after all, play its civic part – and duty – with its twin town of Arnhem in the 70th anniversary commemorations of the Second World War parachute battle.
The weekend of September 19 to 22 will see the latest commemoration of the anniversary of the military Operation Market Garden in 1944.
Market Garden was the ill-fated attempt by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to use allied airborne troops to capture bridges through the Dutch lowlands, holding them for the ground forces of XXX Corps to take and move on, ambitiously hoping to cover almost 70 miles through enemy territory all the way to the crossing over the Rhine at enemy-occupied Arnhem, and so break into Germany and speed the end of the war.
Cornelius Ryan’s book on Market Garden, which was turned into an epic war film by Richard Attenborough, summed up the operation’s failings in its title: A Bridge Too Far.
In total, some 17,000 British, American, Polish and Canadian troops were casualties during the course of the week-long action (September 17 to 25, 1944), half of those losses from 1st Airborne, the British and Polish paratroopers dropped in or around Arnhem.
Since the end of the war, the Battle of Arnhem has been marked by Dutch, British, American, Polish and, more recently, German veterans with a range of activities, commencing on the first Saturday every September since 1947 with the Airborne March, with more than 34.000 participants from 17 countries expected to take part this year on September 6.
After 70 years, veterans of the battle are becoming fewer in number, and those who remain increasingly frail, and as with the moving D-Day commemorations staged in June, it is expected that 2014 may be the final, formal major commemoration to involve veterans of the action.
With that in mind, it is widely expected that this year’s event will be attended by members of the Dutch and British royal families, and other dignitaries from across the world.
Fortunately, and suitably, this will also include the Mayor of Croydon and other representatives of our borough, which has been twinned with Arnhem since the bleak days immediately after the war.
This is despite the proposal, passed by the Town Hall administration under florid-faced Mike Fisher’s Tories, to cut the modest £10,000 annual budget for twinning activities with Arnhem. The decision, especially in this 70th anniversary year, can only be described as petty, pointless and downright crass, like so much of the previous Conservative-run council’s conduct.
Now under Labour control, the twinning budget has been restored, at least for this 70th anniversary year, to ensure that officials from Croydon will join local reservists – which includes a unit from the Parachute Regiment – the British Legion and police to attend the Arnhem commemorations.
Oddly, little has been made of this piece of “good news” by the council press team.
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Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: The Two Faces of January, Sep 4
- David Lean Cinema: Fading Gigolo, Sep 6
- Thornton Heath Festival, Sep 7
- Stop the Incinerator Quiz Night, Sep 8
- David Lean Cinema: Camille Claudel, Sep 11
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Soul Symphony Community Choir sessions, Sep 16-Dec 23
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- David Lean Cinema: Chef, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Sep 20
- Open House London weekend, Sep 20-21
- David Lean Cinema: A Night At The Cinema in 1914, Sep 22
- Activity to Work back-to-work workshops, Sep 23
- David Lean Cinema: Jimmy’s Hall, Sep 25
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Fancy dress family funday, Sep 28
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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