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British Airborne Forces (N.Z.) Inc.
Registered Charity no. CC46678

Patron:  His Excellency Lieutenant-General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand.

 
Unveiling Engineers monument at Driel


A MEMORIAL TO COMMEMORATE THE BRAVE ACTION BY BRITISH AND CANADIAN ENGINEERS.

During the night of September 25/26 1944 they manned the boats in which they went on their way to cross the Nether-Rhine, from the Southern bank. On the Northern forelands British and Polish Airbornes were waiting. Their position worsened by the hour. For days they had been surrounded. They had been in continuous, most murderous fire. They had fought the German tanks with their light arms. They were in need of everything and were overcome by sleep. All these things led to the decision to evacuate the Airbornes to the southern bank and from there to their own lines at Nijmegen.

The boat crews made their crossings under heavy German firing nearly all night, and gradually more and more boats got hit and many Airbornes tried to swim to the southern bank. Many of them got hit or were drowned in the dark waters. Their graves in the civilian cemeteries all along the Nether-Rhine and Lek are the silent witnesses of the terrors of that night. Also the engineers had many casualties during their brave operation.

Owing to their efforts, these British and Canadian Engineers, supported by other allied units, managed to rescue about 2,400 Airbornes in the course of one night. Nobody has ever forgotten that night, but those who were rescued have never had the opportunity to say "Thank you" to their saviours. Their gratitude and sincere appreciation towards the engineers is expressed in this memorial.

On the 15th September 1989, this fine and fitting, and long overdue memorial was unveiled by Col A.R. Holburn MM. The ceremony was extremely well attended, with Borderers much in evidence, in support of their one time 'comrade in arms' being that Robin was a young 'Mortar Platoon' private soldier with the 7th (Galloway) Airborne Bn K.O.S.B.at Arnhem in 1944 where he won his MM. After a distinguished career he retired the service - by now a full Colonel.

'UP THE BORDERERS'

We are indeed proud of you Robin, and consider ourselves privileged to have served with you.

 
 

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