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103-year-old WWII veteran commemorates Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands

The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was delighted to take 103-year-old Arnhem veteran Ray Whitwell to the Netherlands for the Operation Market Garden commemorations.

Ray flew over to the Netherlands in a Glider carrying a jeep and a trailer packed with ammunition and hand grenades in September 1944 as part of Operation Market Garden and took part in the fierce battle to capture the Bridge at Arnhem.

Despite his age, Ray, from Malton in North Yorkshire, is a regular on the Taxi Charity trips to remember those who did not return. From 15 to 19 September 2022, he joined a group of volunteer cab drivers and veterans who travelled to the Netherlands for the Operation Market Garden commemorations.

In a packed itinerary, Ray visited the Dutch Airborne Museum; was part of the ceremony to inter the ashes of another Arnhem veteran, John Jeffries, at Oosterbeek Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery; attended the unveiling of the Glider Pilot Monument at Wolfheze; went to Ginkel Heath to see the annual mass parachute jump; spoke with the British Ambassador to the Netherlands and laid flowers at the grave of his friend who lies in the cemetery at Oosterbeek.

Ray says of his time in the Netherlands in 1944: "We went nine days without food during Operation Market Garden and then snipers shot holes in the bucket we were collecting water in." One of the lucky ones, he evaded capture as he escaped back over the Rhine to British lines.

Frans Ammerlaan from The Market Garden Foundation, who coordinates Taxi Charity visits to the Netherlands, said: "I have been working with the Taxi Charity for many years to facilitate their visits and I consider myself very fortunate to call the volunteer taxi drivers, the carers, charity team and the veterans my friends. Ray Whitwell is well known, highly respected and much loved in the Arnhem area, and I was delighted that during this visit, Joanna Roper CMG, the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands took time to talk with him."

Watch this wonderful video of Ray from 2021 talking about Operation Market Garden...

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