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Hundreds jump at Ginkelse Heath World War II battle site
Parachutists commemorate ill-fated mission
Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill
EDE, Netherlands - Hundreds of British, American and Dutch parachutists drifted out of blue skies over the central Netherlands recently to mark the 65th anniversary of an ill-fated operation aimed at bringing a swift end to World War II.
The mass jumps over the Ginkelse Heath near the town of Ede honoured the thousands of Allied troops who took part in aerial drops as part of “Operation Market Garden” in September, 1944.
The operation was British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s plan to drop paratroopers deep behind enemy lines in the Nazi-occupied area to capture and secure key roads and bridges so that Allied forces massed south of the rivers could pour into Germany’s industrial heartland via an Arnhem bridgehead, with the hope of bringing World War II to an early end.
Once on the ground, the Allied troops met with stubborn German resistance in and around the city of Arnhem, stalling their advance on the Rhine River bridge in a battle immortalized in the star-studded 1977 Hollywood film “A Bridge Too Far.”
Thousands of Allied troops were killed, captured or wounded in the fierce battles in and around Arnhem.
Veterans of the mission watched the colourful parachute jumps. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk joined his Dutch counterpart Jan Peter Balkenende for a commemoration service in the town of Driel. Polish units were part of the 1944 battles.
The jumps were the highlight of four days of commemorative events spread across the former battlefields in the southeastern part of The Netherlands.
More than 500 British soldiers, 300 from the Netherlands, and nearly 100 from the United States, along with others from France and Belgium took part in the jumps from 12 C-130 planes and a vintage DC3 Dakota from Britain.