Patron: Patron: His Excellency Lieutenant-General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand. .
ARNHEM PILGRIMAGE 1994
ARNHEM PILGRIMAGE 2004
Report by Jack Sherlock of the 60th Commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem.
We left Wellington on the September 13th at 6am arriving in Sydney at 7.30am. A few hours later we were joined by two of the veterans (both ex-members of the RNZAF attached to the RAF) Bill Sparks and Charles Swan and his daughter who arrived from Auckland. Alex Gibbs from New Plymouth had his flight delayed, but he managed to catch the same British Airways Flight as the rest of our group leaving Sydney at 2.50pm for London. Here we were joined by another veteran, Doug Thorley with his wife and took the flight from Heathrow to Schiphol. We were met by the Lest We Forget Foundation members who escorted us to the coaches to take us to Lebretweg Auditorium Oosterbeek. It was here that we met by our hosts, these wonderful people who gave up a week of their lives to enable us to take part in the celebrations.
The following day the 15th September there was a ceremony for the re-opening of the John Frost Bridge which had been renovated and painted in the Airborne coloursmaroon and light blue. The public were invited and the film A Bridge too Far was shown.
The Arnhem Veterans' Club Annual General Meeting took place in the evening, at The Lebretweg Auditorium. As the Lest We Forget N.Z. Representative I attended this AGM and was presented with a Ceramic Plaque and a Certificate of thanks for my 10 years of service to the Committee.
The official opening of the 60th. Commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem took place in the Eusebius Church on the 16th.September. We met up with Pam Henry-Lamm and her daughter at the church. All Veterans received a watercolour painting of the Bridge and also a book Airborne 60 years of Commemoration. These were in a small bag with a picture of the new flag, the 'Bridge to the Future'.
After the service the march-past across the John Frost Bridge took place. Two of the party marched across, the others, including Tiny Deys travelled in style in a military vehicle. A "Thank You Veterans" Concert was put on in the multifunctional stadium Gelredome for veterans, relatives and invited guests by more than 10,000 children.
On Friday 17th September, wreath-laying ceremonies took place at the monument opposite the Hartenstein Museum, King William III Barracks, Apeldoorn and the Airborne Circle in Arnhem. It was estimated that fifteen thousand people attended the Airborne Cemetery at Oosterbeek on Sunday 19th for the Official Commemorative Service and the laying of the flowers by schoolchildren. Queen Beatrice and Prince Charles were in attendance as was the N.Z. Ambassador to the Netherlands, David Payton. As seating for such a huge crowd was not possible all young people (anyone under the age of 65 years) were asked to stand to enable the Arnhem Veterans to sit during the Ceremony.
Our thanks go to the Lest We Forget Foundation Members and the hosts for this memorable week. The programme was very full (It wasn't until the last morning that we were able to meet Alec McKimm and his wife), and it wasn't physically possible to attend all the events, but we managed as many as we could to re-live the situations and to exchange memories. Our comrades were always in our minds - those that we lost in battle, those who have died since that time, and also the men in New Zealand who would have liked to attend the Commemorations, but were unable to do so due to health problems.
Thirty thousand people made their way to Ginkel Heath on the Saturday to see the parachute drop by Arnhem Veterans (about six managed to complete it this year) and the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Parachute Regiment.
Transport regulations did not allow private cars to park at the Heath and it was necessary to catch special coaches well outside the area and then be dropped off at the site. The delays caused by the numbers meant many of the general public did not reach the Heath until after the official closing time, so the parachute drops went on into the afternoon to the delight of many.
Arnhem Reunion - September 2013 - the 69th Anniversary
About the Lest We Forget Foundation:The objective of our foundation is to organize and keep up a dignified commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem. To host pilgrims (veterans of the Battle of Arnhem and their wives) with host families and give them support in the widest sense of the word.
1. Recruiting host families
2. Accommodating pilgrims with these host families (in 1994, the 50th commemoration this amounted to more than 1300 guests).
3. Contributing in travel costs of less fortunate veterans.
4. Organizing an 'air bridge' via Schiphol Airport and transport from Schiphol to Oosterbeek by coach (and vice versa) for those veterans who can no longer travel by train, ferry and coach as a result of their advancing age.
5. Organizing a journey by coach from Poland to Holland and back and providing a little pocket money for these veterans.
6. Providing wheelchairs for disabled veterans (in co-operation with the healthcare organizations).
7. Attending to our guests in case of illness, accident, or other problems.
8. Providing special bus tickets for veterans at the symbolic fee of € 2,50 for the commemoration period (in co-operation with the Connexxion transport company).
9. Co-operation with our representatives - usually Arnhem veterans - in the United Kingdom, Poland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand who carry out the administrative affairs in their region.
The board of the LWF are happy to be able to carry out this work as a tribute and a friendly turn to the men who in 1944 risked their lives for our freedom. The often moving thank-you letters from pilgrims which we receive are to us ample reward for our work. Over the past couple of years the number of pilgrims has been decreasing and it will not come as a surprise that some day these activities will come to an end. However, until then the veterans will be welcome and we will live up to our slogan: 'LEST WE FORGET'.
If any Arnhem Veteran wishes to attend these commemorations, please contact our Lest We Forget Foundation representative here in New Zealand,