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Veterans visit the Netherlands for Dutch Liberation

Alec Hall with Ronnie Wrijers, director of the Hartenstein Museum with WWII Veteran

Fifteen cabs driven by Taxi Charity volunteers took a group of veterans to the Netherlands for Dutch Liberation

The London-based Taxi Charity has been taking veterans to the Netherlands for Dutch Liberation since 2012. The liberation event begins on 4 May when the Dutch remember the civilians and members of the armed forced who have died in service to their country since WWII and hold a national two minute silence at 8pm. The following day, the country celebrates their liberation from Nazi Germany with a public holiday.

Before the official Liberation events on the 4 and 5 May, the veterans, who are all in their late nineties and hundreds, enjoyed lunch at the Freedom Museum in Groesbeek and a visit to the Hartenstein Museum in Oosterbeek. In September 1944, the Hartenstein served as headquarters for British airborne troops, and Alec Hall, one of the WWII veterans on the trip, shared memories with the director of the museum about the wounded that he had treated in the museum’s basement during Operation Market Garden.

This year, the Liberation Flame in Wageningen was lit at midnight on 4 May by WWII veteran Marie Scott, 96; this was the first time a female veteran had been invited to participate in this symbolic act. Marie had the added honour of joining dignitaries, including Mr Peter Van Vollenhoven, husband of Princess Margaret; Floor Vermueulen, the Mayor of Wageningen; and British Ambassador Joanne Roper, to watch the Liberation Parade on the 5 May.

The parade is the highlight of the Taxi Charity’s five day trip - the veterans lead the parade through the packed streets of Wageningen in golf buggies and iconic black taxis. The noise of the thousands of men, women and children lining the streets, shouting their thanks and applauding the veterans is deafening.

After the parade and much to the delight of the veterans, the British Ambassador took time out of her schedule to visit the veterans at their hotel in Wageningen, accompanied by Piers Strudwick, the Defence Attaché.

Brian Heffernan, London taxi driver and chairman of the Taxi Charity, said: "Our trips to the Netherlands are always very special. The Dutch people welcome us with open arms, and everyone, no matter their age, knows the history of the war and what the Allies did to give them their freedom. It was my first European trip as Taxi Charity chairman and I feel very privileged that during the charity’s 75th anniversary year, I joined my fellow volunteer cab drivers to take veterans to this important event."


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