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Welcome to the Taxi Charity

The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was formed in Fulham in 1948.

We offer international trips to Holland, Belgium and France, day trips to concerts or museums, transport to attend fundraising events, as well as special days out to catch up with friends and comrades.

To fund and facilitate these outings, the charity is wholly reliant on donations from members of the public, businesses and trusts and the amazing group of London taxi drivers who volunteer their time and vehicles so willingly.

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The 80th anniversary of D-Day

This year marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The Taxi Charity will be escorting veterans to France again in June 2024. In order to fund this trip, we seek donations from the general public and organisations...

In May 2024, the Taxi Charity elected Colin Mills as our chairman; he will be assisted by newly elected vice chair, Paul Cook.

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Episode 8: Ray Whitwell talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden
08:58

Episode 8: Ray Whitwell talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden

In the summer of 2021, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans spoke with veteran Ray Whitwell who served with the RASC 1st Airborne about the part he played in WWII. In the video, introduced by London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer, Brian Heffernan, Ray speaks about being in France in 1940 and how he escaped from Dunkirk; North Africa; and the invasion of Sicily and his time in Italy before returning to England to prepare for Operation Market Garden in September 1944. Ray was called up when he was 20 and went to Ramsgate on the Kent coast only to discover that his first night of army life meant sleeping on the floor, with a couple of blankets and his boots as a pillow. On 1 January 1940, Ray sailed to France. Once there, he drove a three-ton Bedford van to deliver petrol in tins which leaked, to those who needed it. Later that year, between 26 May and 4 June, the evacuation from Dunkirk took place and Ray headed to Dunkirk in his truck. Leaving his vehicle just outside the town, he headed to the beach to find thousands of British troops waiting to evacuate. Deciding that this wasn’t the place he wanted to be, he commandeered an Austin and drove to Lille. Once there, he exchanged the petrol he was carrying for a train ride to Le Havre and from there jumped on board a Dutch fishing vessel heading for Southampton. Ray’s part in WWII then took him to North Africa, the invasion of Sicily and time in Italy before returning to the UK to prepare for Operation Market Garden. Ray flew over to the Netherlands in a glider carrying a jeep and a trailer packed with ammunition and hand grenades which certainly made him consider what might happen on the way over. When they landed, their orders were to defend the landing zone from the Germans who were on two sides, which they accomplished. When asked if he ever considered dying, he was adamant that he always knew he would come home, and when asked if he was a hero his reply was simply, "No - I’m just ordinary". Ray was still in the Netherlands when the war ended, and he thoroughly enjoyed partying in the streets with the locals.
Episode 7: Peter Colthup talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden
05:42

Episode 7: Peter Colthup talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden

In the summer of 2021, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans spoke with WWII veteran Peter Colthup from the Glider Pilot Regiment about enlisting at the age of 17, the absolute horror of urban warfare during Operation Market Garden, and how killing a young German soldier left him with the overwhelming feeling of how futile war is. In the video, introduced by London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer Brian Heffernan, Peter explains that during warfare, "you don’t have time to feel brave you just get on with it". Peter joined up at the age of 17 when the war started and because of his young age he was sent to the Essex Regiment. When men were needed for the Glider Pilot Regiment, Peter was happy to volunteer as he thought it might be more comfortable to be sat down as a pilot rather than marching with the weight of a Bren gun. His new role in the Glider Pilot Regiment took him to North Africa and the invasion of Sicily before returning to the UK and being briefed for D-Day in June 1944. Problems with the landing zone meant that they were stood down and instead prepared for Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands in September 1944. When the Operation began and Peter flew in convoy into Arnhem, he could see other gliders being shot down. The urban warfare in the Arnhem region meant you were very close to your enemy and in danger all the time. Peter recalls one very memorable day when he had taken position on the second floor of a building and saw a German tank outside. He was aware of movement on the stairs and when the door opened there was a young German soldier. He opened fire and killed him without hesitation then had to get out of the building as quickly as he could through the back door as the sound of the gunshot would have compromised his position. Peter talks about never forgetting the face of that young soldier. If they hadn’t been at war, they could have been sat drinking together and this experience left him with the overwhelming feeling of how futile war is.
Episode 6: Wilf Oldham talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden
14:14

Episode 6: Wilf Oldham talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden

In the summer of 2021, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans spoke with 101-year-old WWII veteran, Wilf Oldham MBE, just a few months before he died. Wilf served with the 1st Battalion, the Border Regiment (Airborne) and he recounts his part in Operation Market Garden in September 1944. In this video, introduced by London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer, Brian Heffernan, Wilf describes the terror of being shelled and mortared day and night while surrounded by German troops, narrowly escaping death, finding a rowing boat to make his escape and what it meant when he returned to the Netherlands after 40 years to hear a Dutchman say to him, "You brought us hope". In 1941, Wilf volunteered for the Airborne Forces and was first sent to North Africa, was involved in the invasion of Sicily and returned to Africa, before going to Italy. He came back to England in December 1943 and recounts being briefed for about 14 operations which were all cancelled with the code word ‘Fabian’ before Market Garden. On 17 September, Wilf flew into the Netherlands in a convoy of gliders and spent the first hours guarding the drop zone before moving onto the Renkum area where they were heavily shelled. Orders were given to fall back to Oosterbeek where the heavy shelling and mortar fire continued day and night, while they waited for the Allied forces to reach them, but they were totally cut off and surrounded by German troops. The constant shelling was terrifying, and Wilf recounts a huge mortar explosion lifting him off his feet and rendering him unconscious. When he woke up, he realised just how close he had been to death. Wilf also talks about finding a bit of humour in the worst of every situation. He felt a wet patch on his back and thought he had been wounded. Fortunately for Wilf, a shell splinter had nicked his water bottle and it was slowly emptying down his back. Wilf moved to a position near to the Angel of Arnhem, Kate ter Horst, and from there was instructed to make his way to the river. At the river, he joined 300-400 men and only one escape boat so with a few other soldiers he began to walk downstream where they came across a rowing boat and oars and made their escape across the river. Once on the other bank, the escape route was marked by Bofors guns about 200 yards apart firing tracer rounds and Wilf knew he was safe. Wilf was taken to Belgium and from there he was flown back to the UK. He didn’t return to the Netherlands for over 40 years as he was embarrassed about the death and destruction Operation Market Garden had left behind. During his first return, Wilf was amazed to hear a Dutch man explain to him that what the Allied troops had done was "brought us hope".
Episode 2: Ron Johnson talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden
20:56

Episode 2: Ron Johnson talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden

In the summer of 2021, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans spoke with Ron Johnson from the Gilder Pilot Regiment about WWII and especially Operation Market Garden. In this 22-minute video, introduced by London Cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer, Brian Heffernan, Ron speaks movingly about his role in Operation Market Garden, cheating death twice and being captured by the Germans. Ron was called up just two days before war was declared on 3 September 1939, and as the only grammar schoolboy in his group, he was sent on many courses during training and after scoring 100% on an aircraft recognition course he was fast tracked to glider pilot training in readiness for D-Day. Not required for D-Day, Ron later flew into the Arnhem and the Oosterbeek area on the second day of Operation Market Garden in a Horsa, carrying a jeep, two trailers and four Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Ron describes flying over the North Sea in two streams which he estimates must have stretched for a hundred miles. Ron explains how he cheated death twice on the same day. The first time when a mortar bomb exploded in the trench next to him leaving those in the trench dead and Ron’s head and face bleeding. The second time was some hours later, after he had been bandaged and returned to the trench and possibly still a little concussed, he stood up intending to check for signs of life in the adjacent trench and was shot in the back by a sniper. Injured, he was taken to the Hartenstein Hotel (which is now the Hartenstein Museum) and was then moved to the Tafelberg Hotel. This hotel was overrun by the Germans and Ron was taken POW and held in Castle Spangenberg in Germany from September 1944 to April 1945. In the April, the Germans began moving the prisoners eastwards towards the Russians and Ron and his friend Bob Garnett took an opportunity to escape. They spent eight days in the hills, living on a few biscuits, before the advancing Americans got them to Paris and from there they took a train ride to the coast before taking a Dakota flight back to the UK.
Episode 3: Frank Ashleigh talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden
18:28

Episode 3: Frank Ashleigh talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden

In the summer of 2021, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans spoke with WWII veteran Frank Ashleigh from the Glider Pilot Regiment about, Operation Market Garden. Frank was captured, interrogated and held in Stalag Luft III, made famous as the POW camp in The Great Escape. In the video, introduced by London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer, Brian Heffernan, Frank speaks about his role in Operation Market Garden and being prepared to die rather than talk while being interrogated by the Germans. Frank volunteered on his 18th birthday and later, when volunteers were asked to train to become glider pilots, he put his hand up despite the recognised danger of the role. He was dispatched to London to sit an RAF test. He passed and was sent to Salisbury Plain where he was physically and mentally tested for six weeks before being accepted, promoted to corporal and began his training. The flight training commenced in a Tiger Moth biplane, moved to a Hotspur glider and finally on to the behemoth 8ft wingspan Horsa glider. After a hiccup taking off for Operation Market Garden when one of the Stirling Bomber’s engines towing their glider failed, they eventually took off at the rear of the gliders rather than at the front. Frank explains that on landing, his role when the brakes had been applied was to remove the tail. It should have come off with the loosening of four bolts, but the tail was stuck, and Frank had to jump out and use his own body weight to move it away. That first night, they slept in the basement of a café near the landing zone before making their way to Hotel Hartenstein (now the Hartenstein Museum) where they began digging a slit trench. Always the first to volunteer, Frank then found himself leaving the safety of the trench on an assignment to find out where the German troops were. Frank explains that as the group moved down one of the main streets in Oosterbeek, the German troops were suddenly everywhere and to hide they dived into the side entrance of St Benulphus RC Church. Finding a superb vantage point up in the belfry, they spent five days picking off German soldiers. Frank explained how they never aimed to kill as that would only take one soldier out. Instead, they aimed to wound so that they took out three. The injured man and the two people who were needed to move him. When their position was discovered, Frank surrendered, and they were moved to an interrogation centre where he was presented with a fake copy of the Geneva Convention which instructed him to reveal more than was necessary. After four or five days, the interrogators realised that Frank was not going to give them any information and they took him off to Stalag Luft 7 in the south of Germany where he would be held until January 1945 when the prisoners were marched with virtually no food to Stalag Luft III, made famous as the POW camp in The Great Escape.
Episode 5: John Bosley talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden
13:09

Episode 5: John Bosley talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden

In the summer of 2021, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans spoke with WWII veteran John Bosley who served with the 11th Battalion Parachute Regiment about parachute training, D-Day and Operation Market Garden, getting wounded in the leg in Oosterbeek and being taken to the house of the Angel of Arnhem, Kate ter Horst, before being captured and taken to Germany. In the video, introduced by London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer, Brian Heffernan, John replies to a question about being a hero by simply saying: "We were only doing our jobs". John enlisted in 1943 at the age of 17 and after training, as he liked flying, he volunteered for the Parachute Regiment and was accepted. His parachute training included two jumps from a balloon, three from Whitley Bombers and two from a Dakota before he was given his wings. Posted to 11th Battalion Parachute Regiment, he was on standby for D-Day in June 1944, but they were stood down. His first operation was in September 1944 when he landed on Ginkel Heath as part of Market Garden. They were ordered to proceed to the bridge in Arnhem to help Colonel Frost, Commander of the 2nd Parachute Battalion but they couldn’t reach the bridge and were re-routed to Oosterbeek. While defending a gun position, John was injured in the leg and taken to the house of Kate ter Horst, better known as the Angel of Arnhem. The British troops could not reach them, and John was taken prisoner and transported to Germany as a POW where he was held in a series of camps. At Christmas 1944, the prisoners were to be marched out of the camp. As John’s injured leg was still not good, he was hidden in the camp by the doctor and then secreted himself in the coal mine for a week. Running out of food, he came out and describes his amazement at watching the Germans throwing down their weapons as a column of American tanks approached. Taken to France, John was then flown back to the UK and given six weeks leave before being posted to Palestine for 18 months.
Episode 4: Alec Hall talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden
08:42

Episode 4: Alec Hall talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden

In the summer of 2021, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans spoke with WWII veteran Alec Hall, who served with the 181 Field Ambulance, about his part in Operation Market Garden. In the video, introduced by London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer, Brian Heffernan, Alec explains how he was one of the first to volunteer to join the Airborne Division and talks about burying three soldiers, treating the badly wounded, using two new drugs including penicillin and eating nothing but turnips as a POW. As soon as Alec landed in Arnhem, his unit headed to a small hotel where they found three dead soldiers lying in the garden - Alec helped the chaplain to bury them. As the battle for Arnhem intensified, Alec was stationed in the Hotel Vreewijk which was being used as a medical station and was being constantly attacked. Alec talks of receiving wounded men who were totally blackened, administering two new drugs, one of which was penicillin, and seeing some of the top generals and brigadiers use the medical station as shelter before the Dutch resistance extracted them from the area. When the resistance cleared the men, Alec was asked to stay behind to care for the wounded men. Unfortunately, the Germans put him on an army Red Cross train where he was taken to Germany and held in a 3,000 capacity POW camp - the only man in the red beret. He was held there until February 1945 in which time the only food he ate was boiled turnips. On 25 February, the prisoners woke up to find that the Germans had disappeared, and the camp gates were open. They vacated the camp, and Alec spent three weeks wandering until he came across an American tank. Alec was in rags, with his shoes falling off his feet. He shouted that he was English and was delighted when the American gave him his best uniform and a new pair of shoes. Alec helped with the wounded and ill for three more weeks before he was flown back to England in a Dakota.
Episode 1: Geoff Roberts talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden
22:18

Episode 1: Geoff Roberts talks to the Taxi Charity about Operation Market Garden

The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans spoke with Geoff Roberts about WWII, and especially his role in Operation Market Garden. In the video, introduced by London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer, Brian Heffernan, Geoff speaks movingly about his involvement in Operation Market Garden. Geoff joined the army in 1942 and after training in Scotland he volunteered for Airborne and was posted to the 7th Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers as one of the replacements for a glider that had crashed. After glider training at Brize Norton and on the Yorkshire moors and being briefed for several operations that were cancelled, he was one of the men who flew into the Netherlands as part of Operation Market Garden. On a sunny afternoon, Geoff’s glider flew into the Netherlands. He was sitting in seat 28 and when they encountered a bit of flack over the Dutch coast, his friend sitting next to him in seat 29 ended up with some shrapnel in his behind. After landing, they moved to Ginkel Heath to hold the landing strip. In the video, Geoff talks about his time in Arnhem, digging trenches at the White House, and the retreat to Oosterbeek when he was one of the last to leave in a jeep. He recounts feeding prisoners and a pregnant woman with a stew made from a rabbit they had caught. Forty years later, Geoff was delighted to meet the ‘baby’ as a 40-year-old woman. Geoff talks of being captured and the German officer giving him a packet of Woodbine cigarettes and telling him in perfect English “For you the war is over”. They were sent to the POW camp Stalag 12 A and after a few days were moved to Stalag IV-C where they worked in coal mines. When the Russians came through, they left food and told the men to wait for the Allies but impatient for his freedom, Geoff and two other prisoners liberated some bikes and cycled to find the Americans. They were fed, clothed and flown into France from where the RAF flew them to an aerodrome near Worthing. After being de-loused. Geoff was given eight weeks leave...

I am hugely proud to be a patron of the Taxi Charity

Vice-Admiral Sir Adrian Johns KCB CBE DL

The charity is a lifeline to many of our deserving veterans