Battle of Arnhem 75th commemorations at risk

Horsa Glider

A stained glass window being built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem has entered production, but organisers still need to raise £2,000 to ensure a broader series of events take place.

Based on a design produced by a former paratrooper who was based in Woodhall Spa, the stained glass window will be installed in St Peter’s Church in the town and unveiled to the public on Sunday 18th August.

A parade, exhibition, free film screening and concert in Jubilee Park are also planned but are in jeopardy as the organising committee’s fundraising efforts have so far failed to hit their target.

“We have some 100 veterans and serving personnel committed to coming to Woodhall Spa in August to commemorate the role the town played in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem,” says organiser Jackie Goodall. “A team of dedicated volunteers have so far raised enough money to fund the production of the stained glass window, which will look fantastic when installed. However, as well as the parade and service of commemoration at the church, we would like to put on a lively and interesting schedule of events, but at this moment in time, we are short of our financial target.”

Fellow organiser, Tony Woodrow adds: “We would like to stage a concert, give people free cinema tickets to see ‘Theirs is the Glory’, a movie about the Battle of Arnhem filmed in the 1950s, and treat veterans and their families to lunch. We would also like to stage an exhibition about the role paratroopers played in World War II and today, as well as develop links with the Polish community, whose soldiers served alongside the British.

“Sadly, at this point, we’re about £2,000 short. Raffle tickets are being sold, giving people the chance to win a ride in the Avro Lancaster Just Jane and we’ve received sponsorship from several businesses, including Aten Global. We would love to hear from people and businesses who can help us.”

One of the exhibits currently being developed for people to see on the day is a replica horsa glider. Hundreds of paratroopers were flown from Lincolnshire to Holland in Airspeed AS.51 Horsa gliders, which carried up to 30 paratroopers at a time.

The scale model, which will be one-third of the actual size, will measure 22 feet long and 10 feet wide. As well as Operation Market Garden, in which 1,200 Horsa gliders were involved, the aircraft was also used in the Normandy Landings.

“The Battle of Arnhem was a key point in World War II, and many of those that took part in it were based or trained here in Woodhall Spa. We feel it’s vital to mark the 75th anniversary in the right way, that’s why six of us have come together to develop this scale model,” says Woodhall Spa resident, Steve Newall, who is helping to build the model. “We’ve been told that an Arnhem veteran, who flew Horsa gliders in World War II and was part of Operation Market Garden is coming to the commemoration. It will be fantastic to show him this scale model and hopefully, to say thank you to him, by having a full day of events and activities marking the occasion.”

Details of how to purchase raffle tickets, make donations or offer sponsorship to the event, can be found on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Woodhall-Spa-to-Arnhem-75th-Commemoration-2135377943441465/