CPHS was proud to join together with the Airborne Forces on Wednesday 20 September to remember the bravery and sacrifice of British and Polish airborne soldiers who fought at the Battle of Arnhem, and to celebrate the enduring bonds formed between troops and the Dutch people.

The Second World War battle’s aim was to break into Germany by a combined airborne and armoured advance, striking a decisive blow that would bring the war in Europe to an end. 1st Airborne Division were landed by parachute and glider at Arnhem on 17 September 1944 to capture the final bridge across the Rhine. Expecting to be relieved within 48 hours, the soldiers held out through nine days of prolonged and brutal street fighting before withdrawing across the river on 25th September. Over 1,500 British soldiers were killed at Arnhem and nearly 6,500 captured, while five Victoria Crosses were awarded.

The service of commemoration, organised by Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade and Colchester City Council, saw civic dignitaries, soldiers and members of the public gather to mark the battle’s 79th anniversary. Our Senior School pupils were invited to lay sunflowers at the War Memorial, replicating what Dutch children do at the main commemoration service at Oosterbeek cemetery in the Netherlands.

After the service, a statue given by a Dutch artist Jac Van Someren to Sergeant Eric Atkinson, a British soldier who fought at Arnhem, was unveiled at The Minories Gallery.

Press release and images courtesy of LBdr Mills, British Army’ and Adrian Rushton.