Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Final exhibits revealed ahead of 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem commemorations

With just over one week to go until Woodhall Spa marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem, organisers have revealed the final exhibits that will be on show.

As well as seeing a parade by veterans and current serving personnel and the unveiling of a specially design stained glass window at St Peter’s Church, visitors to the town on Sunday 18th August will also be able to see an exhibition by IWM Duxford and the Parachute Regiment Association. Two World War II jeeps that were used in the Battle of Arnhem will also be on display.

The Imperial War Museum Duxford exhibits will fill a five-metre marque in the grounds of the Golf Hotel and feature a wide range of armoury, clothing and World War II equipment. A second marquee will feature displays by the Parachute Regimental Association focusing on Lincolnshire’s involvement in airborne operations during World War II.

Three battalions who endeavoured to take the bridge at Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden were based and trained in Woodhall Spa.

Operation Market Garden sought to establish a foothold in Holland and create an Allied invasion route into Northern Germany. Central to this was the capture of nine bridges. The plan comprised two parts: Market – an airborne assault to seize key bridges and Garden – a ground attack moving over the seized bridges. The attack was the largest airborne operation up to that point in World War II, with many of the troops involved training in Woodhall Spa. As dramatised in the film a Bridge Too Far, Operation Market Garden failed to achieve its objectives.

The main focal point of Woodhall Spa’s commemorations will be a parade through the town en route to St Peter’s Church where a service of commemoration will be held and a new stained-glass window featuring a design highlighting various elements of the battle will be unveiled.

As well as the church service, veterans, their families and members of the public are being invited to enjoy a free afternoon concert in Jubilee Park and a screening of the film, ‘Theirs is the Glory’ which was produced in 1946 and featured veterans acting in the film. The film was directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, who worked in Hollywood following the end of World War I, during which he served in the 6th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. Hurst’s nephew will be attending the film screening in Woodhall Spa.

“We have a fantastic programme of free events planned for the day,” says Jackie Goodall. “A lot of people have put a lot of effort into the event, and we hope that lots of people will come along and pay their respects to those that took part in the Battle of Arnhem. There are very few veterans from Operation Market Garden still with us, and we think it’s incredibly important to mark the 75th anniversary in the right way.”

Funding for the day’s programme has come from a mix of commercial sponsorship, donations from Parachute Regimental Associations across the country and the generosity of Woodhall Spa residents.

Proceedings start at 10.30 and run until 3pm.

10.30    March to St Peter’s Church accompanied by a lone piper and the Staffordshire Corps of Drums

10.40    Salute taken by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire and dignitaries outside The Book Fayre.

10.50    Arrive at St Peter’s Church

11.00    Service of Dedication for the New Window

Marquees in the grounds of the Golf hotel open to the public.

11.45    Walk from Church to the museum Arnhem memorial for the laying of wreaths

Noon     Meet the Parachute Regimental Association plus find out about the Polish connection in the grounds of the Golf Hotel. View a one-third size replica horsa glider and speak to an Arnhem veteran who flew gliders during Operation Market Garden

1pm      Lunch for guests in the EGU Conference Centre and the Golf hotel

2.30      Free Concert in Jubilee Park featuring the Coningsby Wives Military Choir, Sparkle Entertainment, the Lincoln ukulele band and the George Formby tribute Band.

Free film showing of “Theirs is the Glory” at the famous Kinema in the Woods.

3pm      Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster bomber flypast over the park.

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