Croydon to play full part in Arnhem’s 70th commemorations

We will remember them: British paratroopers during the Battle of Arnhem in 1944

We will remember them: British paratroopers during the Battle of Arnhem in 1944

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.

The war graves at Oosterbeek, outside Arnhem, where 1,700 allied soldiers are buried, will the the focus of the 70th anniversary commemorations

The war graves at Oosterbeek, outside Arnhem, where 1,700 allied soldiers are buried, will the the focus of the 70th anniversary commemorations

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.



Coming to Croydon


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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3 Responses to Croydon to play full part in Arnhem’s 70th commemorations

  1. davidcallam says:

    Excellent news. We could learn a lot from our Dutch cousins. For example, a colleague and I were shown around the local tertiary college by students who chatted to us in colloquial English. I remember thinking at the time, could students at Croydon College chat with Arnhem visitors in colloquial Dutch? Sadly, I suspect our students might have problems with colloquial English.

  2. Given that there are probably over 20 languages spoken in the EU I sometimes wonder which one(s) we should be learning. Most of us learnt some French at school and perhaps another language but this is just scratching the surface in the modern world. Maybe Mandarin and Arabic would be more use as most of the EU speak English to a high standard.

  3. Hooray. great news.Thanks for the article

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