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Veterans take a taxi to remember fallen comrades

09 May 2012

More than 150 British veterans of the Second World War are making a special journey to the Netherlands to mark the end of the Second World War.

They are travelling in 80 London taxis, on a trip sponsored by the London Taxi Benevolent Association.

Many of the veterans took part in Operation Market Garden - at the time the biggest airborne assault in history - which was Montgomery's brainchild for ending the war in 1944.

All the veterans have stories to tell. Sid Blackmore was in 2 Para, Wally Smith the Dorset Regiment and Jack Bruce was a glider pilot - click on their names to discover their personal tales.

Ultimately the Operation Market Garden failed, because of overstretched supply lines and fierce German resistance, typically at Arnhem, where the British First Airborne Division were withdrawn after holding their positions for nine days. The allies failed to cross the Rhine in sufficient numbers and had to wait until the Spring of 1945 to do so.

In the Netherlands May 4th is Remembrance Day, and the Market Garden Foundation is holding a memorial service at Groesbeek which the British veterans will attend.

The centrepiece of the service will be a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone, of an Unknown Soldier of the Second World War. The headstone has been provided for the occasion by the CWGC Northern Europe Area, which is based at Ieper in Belgium.

A spokeswoman said "When the Market Garden Foundation asked us to provide a headstone as a centrepiece for the memorial service we were delighted to oblige. We arranged for the headstone to be transported from our headquarters at Ieper. We felt it was important for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to be associated with this special occasion."

The majority of the British troops who gave their lives in Operation Market Garden are buried in Arnhem Oesterbeek War Cemetery or are commemorated on the Groesbeek Memorial.