This morning the commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem took place at the Airborne cemetery in Oosterbeek, The Netherlands. Few more people could attent this year. Last year was very small with only 23 invitees, this year there were about 200 invitees present.
The veterans and their relatives were again not present this year, but thanks to the livestream of Omroep Gelderland, they were able to be there a little bit.
The 77th Airborne Commemoration
More than 1750 Allied soldiers who fell during the Battle of Arnhem are buried at the Airborne cemetery in Oosterbeek. They are traditionally commemorated on a Sunday, this year for the 77th time. Due to corona, also this year in a closed circle.
Around the commemoration, the access roads to the cemetery were closed and there was a strict control. After the service, everyone was allowed to lay down flowers and commemorate.
Representatives of the embassies of the United Kingdom, Poland, Canada and the United States, among others, were present at the closed meeting, but also the mayors of all Airborne municipalities and the Commissioner of the King of the Provence of Gelderland. The council and children’s mayor Aline Huijgen from the municipality of Renkum were also present.
The armed forces were represented by the commanders of the British Parachute Regiment, the Polish Airborne Brigade, the Dutch 11 Airmobile Brigade and Korps Commando Troops.
The two minutes of silence were interrupted by the fly-past of the Dutch Royal Historical Flight. The B-25 and the Spitfire flew over three times but it seemed to emphasise the quiet minutes more.
At the 77th commemoration, forty children were allowed to lay flowers at the graves. A lottery had to be drawn and it is said that the children who were not drawn, were very sad. That is of course conceivable. Last year, almost all children missed the chance to be a flower child when only one was allowed to attend. If we are allowed to add a little more this year, it is not nice that you are not one of them. But also this year all graves were decorated with a flower and many more will be added afterwards. Unfortunately, many people had to miss the 2th Airborne Commemoration in this corona time.
Veterans watched the service
Glider pilot Frank Ashleigh said shortly after the ceremony that he almost had the feeling he was there. “I have spent some time today with all of my friends in the Netherlands in the Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek. The service was, as always, impeccable and the broadcast can only be described as wonderful, thanks to GLD. It was not the same as actually being present but was indeed very close.”
He says that he was very moved when the flower children held up their flowers, just before they were placed on the graves in front of them, with the stems to the stones.
You can watch the live broadcast of Omroep Gelderland below. You can see Frank Ashleigh in the image below at one of the previous commemorations. More photos to be seen by clicking on the photo at the top.