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Taxi Charity takes veterans to the Netherlands for annual Operation Market Garden commemorations

Children Dutch children thank WWII veteran Don Turrell for their freedom
Children Dutch children thank WWII veteran Don Turrell for their freedom

Four London cab drivers, who volunteer for the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, travelled to the Netherlands with five war veterans for the annual Operation Market Garden commemorations.

Every year, the anniversary of Operation Market Garden, which took place between the 17 and 27 September 1944, is commemorated with a series of events in the Arnhem area. The Taxi Charity took veterans Don Turrell, Mervyn Kersh, Les Hammond, Tom Schaffer and John Pinkerton to the Netherlands for a long weekend to remember those who didn’t return.

On Friday 15 September, cab drivers Dean Euesden, Colin Mills, Paul Cook and Peter Carey took the veterans to a memorial service in the Bear Pit located near the John Frost Bridge in Arnhem. On the Saturday, they attended a reception hosted by the British Ambassador to the Netherlands Joanna Roper CMG at the Hartenstein Museum, attended Ginkel Heath to watch the spectacle of hundreds of paratroopers dropping onto the landing zone that was used in 1944 and visited a very realistic re-enactment of a field hospital.

On Sunday 17 September, the group attended the memorial service at the Arnhem Oosterbeek cemetery, more commonly known as the Airborne Cemetery, where those killed in the Battle of Arnhem are buried. At this moving service, local school children placed a flower on each headstone and then, after the service, queued to shake hands with the veterans and thank them for their freedom. The trip was rounded off with a meal on Sunday night in the Schoonoord restaurant which during the Battle of Arnhem was equipped as an emergency field hospital by the 1st Airborne Division.

Dean Euesden, London cab driver and volunteer for the Taxi Charity, said: "We had an excellent weekend in the Netherlands. The hospitality we received was top class, the weather was amazing, the events were very moving and the warmth our veterans received was just unbelievable. There were many highlights over the weekend but I think seeing Tom and John’s faces when they were asked if they wanted to fly over Ginkel Heath in a Dakota and seeing the children who had just laid flowers in the cemetery flock to thank the veterans for their freedom are memories I’ll never forget. I’m very lucky to be part of this charity and meet such a wide range of amazing people."

Frans Ammerlaan, Taxi Charity ambassador and treasurer of the Market Garden Foundation, said: "For many years, the Market Garden Foundation has been organising the Dutch side of Taxi Charity trips to the Netherlands and a warm bond of friendship has been built with locals, host families and authorities. The veterans are always shown enormous love by the Dutch people who also now understand and greatly appreciate the role the cab drivers play in bringing the veterans over."


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