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Fast Eddie's Blog: Liberators Diary - 4 May 2015 (Day 3)

We were up early for breakfast at 7:00am. After breakfast we had to go through the loading up procedure once again - 95 taxis and 300 people - believe me, it was a nightmare but we managed! Once again, the convoy was on the move.

We departed for Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. A lot of Canadian troops lost their lives in this area, along with our own boys. We had a simple and dignified service and laid our wreaths. Looking around at our veterans gathered together amid the rows of neatly tended graves, I saw many wistful eyes remembering what took place hereabouts, with everyone thinking of fallen comrades. The trumpeter played the Last Post and we quietly left with our thoughts.

At midday, we moved to the National Liberation Museum for lunch and to meet with some Canadian students.

We were entertained during lunch by a small group of musicians. Following lunch, our veterans took the opportunity of looking around the museum exhibits and met many members of the public who were visiting on this 70th anniversary period.

We left the museum around 3:00pm and returned to our hotel.

At 6:00pm we had a buffet dinner, after which the veterans were given a choice of three different remembrance services which they could attend:

  • The Arnhem service for Airborne Forces in the town square

  • The Oosterbeek service

  • Ceremony at Heteren, a small cemetery with only 21 graves

As an ex-airborne serviceman myself, I decided to go with our group of twenty five airborne veterans to the Arnhem town square service, with our vice chairman Dave Hemstead.

On behalf of the Taxi Charity, I had the privilege of laying our floral tribute to the fallen.

Our veterans were seated centre stage in the middle of the square. The entire square was packed with Dutch citizens, quiet and very respectful. Beautiful music was played by talented musicians.

Once the service began there was absolute silence. Children laid flowers. It was a lovely service. At the appropriate moment, I, together with two of our Parachute Regiment veterans, moved forward to lay our tributes alongside those of many VIPs and dignitaries on the memorial at one end of the square.

Following the service, the citizens of the town filed slowly past the memorial, paying their respects. The Dutch people really do respect the sacrifice made by our troops in those dark days of conflict. It is the respect of a people who have suffered and have been occupied by an enemy. IT REALLY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO THE WAY PEOPLE FEEL.

At 9:00pm we returned to the hotel have a couple of drinks and the vets had an early night.

End of day three.

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