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Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
I know that some of you are aware that I am an amateur military historian and my specialized area is Operation Market Garden.

On the 17th of September 1944, over 10,000 men were to be parachuted or flown by glider, to Holland, to drive a spear head through the German lines and into the heart of the Rhure, which was Germanys industrial area. Their job was to capture the three bridges at Arnhem, 60 miles behind enemy lines, and hold them for four days.

To cut a long story short, things did not go well. the Paratroopers were to be dropped into the area over three days. By day two, the Germans had the upper hand and were expecting the second drop! This meant that the British soldiers were targeted as soon as they jumped from the planes and hung helplessly in their parachutes. Many of the young men were killed or wounded as they landed. Some of those that lost their lives were listed as "Missing in action" as their bodies were never recovered. Until now that is!

On Monday, 68 years to the day, remains were found on one of the drop zones! The Dutch authorities are now going to start the difficult job of identifying the remains, then he will be given a proper burial alongside his comrades in the Common Wealth War Cemetery in Oosterbeek, where he will lie, with his name on his headstone, to be remembered forever!

The article if your interested in a bit of a read.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
Thanks Taz, and much more interesting than some of the other guff on the forum at the moment! And when you think many of those "missing in action" were well below the age of 20, really shakes you doesn't it?
And to relate something from a more recent conflict, the Falklands campaign, i remember a story of two young soldiers returning who lost a good mate over there and thought it right and proper to go visit the lads mother, one of the things they told her was that her 18 year old son had gone as a boy but died as a man. The other part of the story goes on to say how the lady watches her son's friends as 40 something year olds, mostly married and with children and wonders what he would look like now and what coerce his life would have taken, so sad.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Great news Taz I only hope that there is a full identification made and the soldiers family will then have total closure. I`m also pleased to read that the Dutch authorities will take the time and considerable expense involved in making sure he is laid to rest.

I was most shocked the other day to walk through our local cemetery and saw the war memorial in not a very good state of repair. The sun was shining and it brought it home to me the sacrifice those brave men and women made. regards N.
 

trimmy

One day i will...
Messages
10,272
Good story Taz, and hopefully a happy ending with the family being able to bury their loved one

I was most shocked the other day to walk through our local cemetery and saw the war memorial in not a very good state of repair. The sun was shining and it brought it home to me the sacrifice those brave men and women made. regards N.
Start a campaign :thumb:
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Good story Taz. I'm interested in WWI and II history as well. The Hartenstein museum at Arnhem is excellent especially as it was the UKHQ during the campaign. The cemetary at Osterbeek is beautifully kept, like so many others, and it provides an appropriate resting place with his comrades.

Have you been to the Firepower museum at the old Woolwich arsenal? It's very good. My late father-in-law worked there as a small arms ammunition expert - we have inherited several shell cases as doorstops and umbrella stands!
YC
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
Col I haven't been to the Firepower museum, but it's on my bucket list!

Navarro, like Trimmy said, start a campaign. Maybe get some local schools involved. The Dutch have a great way of educating the children. When they reach a certain age, each child is allocated a grave in the cemetery. The child then learns about the person who lies there, where they came from, how and where they died (where this is known) Then the child tends the grave for the year, cleaning and weeding the plot. On the first Sunday after the 17th of September, when the remembrance service is held, all the children walk silently into the cemetery and, when they are told to, they hold their flowers in the air and they read the name on the headstone in front of them, then they lay the flowers. By this time I'm sobbing like a baby! My uncle has four friends in this cemetery, to my knowledge, so this is very personal to me. Whay can't we do this over here in Britain?
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
The reality of these horrors hits me in just about any village. Used to take ma to a tea shop in Lealholm up in the Dales area. Cant be more that 30 houses and some outlying farms. Must be 50 plus names on the war memorial. If you stop to read them you see brothers grouped together. Orrible. By the by Taz, how hard or easy is it would it be to get the old mans army record? I have his service and pay book but the page with his number is missing. I have begun to look at this on the internet, but am losing the will to live. He was in the Rifle Brigade from 33 or 4 to 45.
Mike
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
It shouldn't be too hard Mike. You'd need to contact the MOD, I'll find which branch for you after work, give them as much information as possible and then it'll cost you about £30. You will have quite a wait on your hands though as there is an enormous que!
PM me with his details, (if you don't mind) such as date of birth/death, when he joined, exact name of regiment etc. and I'll see what I can do from this end.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Col I haven't been to the Firepower museum, but it's on my bucket list!

Navarro, like Trimmy said, start a campaign. Maybe get some local schools involved. The Dutch have a great way of educating the children. When they reach a certain age, each child is allocated a grave in the cemetery. The child then learns about the person who lies there, where they came from, how and where they died (where this is known) Then the child tends the grave for the year, cleaning and weeding the plot. On the first Sunday after the 17th of September, when the remembrance service is held, all the children walk silently into the cemetery and, when they are told to, they hold their flowers in the air and they read the name on the headstone in front of them, then they lay the flowers. By this time I'm sobbing like a baby! My uncle has four friends in this cemetery, to my knowledge, so this is very personal to me. Whay can't we do this over here in Britain?
Good thinking Taz/Trimmy, I will look into this. I have in the past written to the local council and e-mailed them as the summer before last I complained to them about families holding picnics on the grass area immediately in front of the scattering of war graves. It was a general complaint because I felt it was inappropriate for a cemetery to be used .

The reply I got after about two months and a questionnaire asking me if I had a relative buried there, stated `In the 21st century attitudes have changed and as long as there were no deliberate acts of vandalism or litter left around there was very little they could do about it, however they would alert the park authorities accordingly.` I am checking with the local British Legion branch reference the state of repair of the monument. Regds. N.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Taz, let me know when it rises to the top of your bucket list and I'll meet you there. It's not that far from me. I have couple of mates who would like a revisit.
My brother got a copy of our late grandfather's service record in the Boer and WWI. Exactly that - about £30 and a bit of a wait but worth it.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,947
My father tried for his father's record. Some records from WWI were destroyed in WWII by bombing. So apart from knowing his number and that he was in the Machine Gun Corps between certain dates, we have no other information about my Grandfather's service record.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
about families holding picnics on the grass area immediately in front of the scattering of war graves. It was a general complaint because I felt it was inappropriate for a cemetery to be used .

Regds. N.
Funny, I see it differently, I like to see the areas near war graves being used and family picnics seem very appropriate to me. After all, they gave their todays so that we can enjoy our tomorrows! I just hope the children have asked the question "Mummy, why are all the graves in straight rows?" Or "Mummy why are the grave stones white?"
I feel if they are unused, then they are forgotten. As long as the children aren't running in between the headstones, or using them for goal posts, then I don't have a problem with it.

Kev, have you tried this website they may be able to point you in the correct direction. There was a really good forum but I've lost the link. If I find it again I'll let you know.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
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3,551
I don't know if it's of any use to you, but the original Dutch article that Taz's link has come from says (roughly) the following:

Material Remains of British Soldier found near Ede

AMSTERDAM –the material remains of a British soldier from the second world war were recovered on Ginkel Heath, near Ede on Monday.

The remains were found last weekend with a metal detector, the Dutch Ministry of Defence announced. The remains included 2 hand grenades.

The explosives were made safe at the site.

The Ministry of Defence said that the soldier was part of a group of soldiers who were dropped above the heath on 18th September 1944. The British authorities have been informed about the find.

The material remains will be taken to a laboratory of the Rescue and Identification service in Soesterberg. There, they will attempt to verify the identity of the soldier.

According to the Ministry of Defence this is a special find because in less than a week’s time the annual memorial to the attack on Arnhem will be taking place. Hundreds of parachutists will be taking part in a memorial jump, landing on the heath where the remains were found.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Funny, I see it differently, I like to see the areas near war graves being used and family picnics seem very appropriate to me. After all, they gave their todays so that we can enjoy our tomorrows! I just hope the children have asked the question "Mummy, why are all the graves in straight rows?" Or "Mummy why are the grave stones white?"
I feel if they are unused, then they are forgotten. As long as the children aren't running in between the headstones, or using them for goal posts, then I don't have a problem with it.

Kev, have you tried this website they may be able to point you in the correct direction. There was a really good forum but I've lost the link. If I find it again I'll let you know.
Hi Taz perhaps I am being a little to conservative in my thinking. You have given me food for thought . Regds N.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,551
My son recently went on a history trip to Northern France and Belgium, where they visited battlefields and war cemetries.
We were asked to send them with smart trousers, shirts and shoes (ie jeans and trainers), so they could attend an evening remembrance service and lay a wreath from the school.

At one of the cemetries, local lads were skate-boarding up and down one of the memorials and between the headstones. My son's history teacher told them to be more respectful. Whether they understood him or not, they pushed off anyway. My son was appalled that lads his own age could be so disrespectful. He is a normal 15 year old, but appreciates the importance and significance of what these dead young men did for us.

My son is obsessed with war history (sadly my historic knowledge is appalling) He told me that where the headstones stand shoulder to shoulder without a gap, that indicates that many unidentified soldiers are buried there together. Identified soldiers get individually spaced headstones apparently.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
My son is obsessed with war history (sadly my historic knowledge is appalling) He told me that where the headstones stand shoulder to shoulder without a gap, that indicates that many unidentified soldiers are buried there together. Identified soldiers get individually spaced headstones apparently.
On the whole this is true although in the First World War, sometimes it was a matter of time. Bodies were buried almost where they fell, hence the small groups of cemeteries dotted around France in close proximity to each other. Sometimes the fighting was so close that it was quicker to dig one long trench and lay the fallen side by side. Other instances of this are when an aircraft with a multiple crew was shot down with all still on board. They could identify the crew by the aircraft identification. The crew themselves, however, was a different story. It was also believed that if Air crew were buried in a predominantly Army cemetery then they would lie together, shoulder to shoulder. A good example is in Oosterbeek. I think there are several examples, in one case, there are three headstones with no gaps, but there are about eight names on the stones. Its all very sad but I'm very pleased to hear that British children are being taken on such trips.
 
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