This year participated in several events commemorating the 64th anniversary of Operation "Market Garden", the Allied plan to force a bridgehead into The Netherlands in order to by-pass the Siegfried Line and to enter into Nazi Germany in September 1944. This is a brief report of the commemorations and events we attended and actually took part in.

Oosterbeek, Saturday September 6th 2008
Since 1946, every year the Municipality of Renkum Police Sport Association organizes the Airborne March. It is the largest one-day marching event in the world. In this 62nd edition, 32.212 people either walked 10, 15, 25 or 40 kilometers. Battledetectives Tom, Ivo and good friend Wilbert joined ranks in a marching group of 40, dressed in period uniforms, weapons and equipment of the First British Airborne Division as worn and carried during the Battle of Arnhem. The detail was reinforced with a section of marchers in US paratrooper uniforms. This day was a very warm one but nevertheless everyone in the living history marching group made it across the finish line.


This is an impression of the march:

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Eerde, Wednesday September 17th 2008

Being host to Mark Durivage who would make no less than four commemorative jumps in the Netherlands in three days, Battledetective Tom took his guest to several events and historic locations along "Hell's Highway". On Wednesday, the 17th of September they were present at the annual commemoration of the liberation of the village of Eerde (today, it is part of the Municipality of Veghel) on that date in 1944. This year for the first time an honor guard consisting of a color guard and a rifle squad were present. It was made up of Belgian and Dutch reenactors.
This is an impression of the ceremony at the monument to the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment; the unit that freed Eerde from Nazi occupation.

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With Ray Nagell of the 321st Glider Field Artillery Bn.

After the ceremony there was the traditional coffee at the Eerde windmill. Local historians had made a modest exhibition inside the windmill building. Historian and parachutist Erwin Janssen (consulted in several of our investigations) sold copies of the 2009 calendar of his jump organization; The World War II Airborne Demonstration Team. Tom got his copy and was later reminded by several people that the September 2009 page features him!

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Tom either just looks like the paratrooper in the center of the photograph or he must have pulled the old Forrest Gump-trick!

Eindhoven, Thursday September 18th 2008 is proud to announce that on Thursday, September 18th, on the day the city of Eindhoven annually celebrates the fact it was liberated by the 101st Airborne in 1944, an exhibition on this subject was inaugurated in the Veterans House. We helped making the exhibition by putting part of our collection on display. Other collectors and historians also contributed by lending items and photographs to create an exhibition covering several rooms and hallways.

The Veterans House in Eindhoven is the second of its kind in The Netherlands. It is a large mansion that is used as a social 'living room' for veterans of all conflicts and peace keeping deployments to meet each other.

In the inaugural speech, veterans of the United States armed forces were welcomed in the Veterans House. Present were several American veterans of the Viet Nam War and World War Two.

Honorary Sergeant Major of the 506th, Joseph M. Bossi, who is a past president of the 101st Airborne Division Association and a veteran of the Viet Nam War, serving with the 327th and the 506th, made a speech and presented the newly designed colors of the 101st's 4th Brigade. It has the colors of the national flag of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in it:

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We have consulted Mr. Bossi on the subject of military strategy in several of our case files.

Also present was combat medic Robert Wright who we, of course, all know as the decorated World War Two veteran of Angoville-au-Plain fame.

Here Mr. Wright inspects our display of several items about the actions of the 101st during Operation "Market Garden".

Veterans House coordinator Jan Coolen points combat medic Wright to some medical items:

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An impression of the display:

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The exhibition lasts until October 25th and can be visited in the Veterans House on No. 17 Smits Straat in Eindhoven. If you are not a veteran, please contact the Veterans House first through their website or through our website.

After darkness fell over the city of Eindhoven, we witnessed the annual Torch parade and ceremonies on Stadhuis Plein (City Hall Square)

Son, Friday September 19th 2008

As in the December 2007 commemorative jump near the Rolle Castle outside Bastogne, Belgium, we were given the honor again to ride in the C-47 named "Drag-Em-Oot" that flew the parachutists of the Liberty Jump Team to their Drop Zone North of Son, Holland. Battledetective Tom was modestly instrumental in obtaining land owner's permission for the use of some pastures to land in. These fields were in the same area designated Drop Zone C in September 1944. That Friday morning, jumpers and jump master were taken to the DZ first to inspect suitability, wind direction, location of obstacles such as the power line pylons and other parachutist s technicalities.

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Jump Master was Major Frank Braun. Note him resembling Major Wellems of the 82nd Airborne Division's commanding officer of Second Battalion of the 504th:

After the inspection of the DZ and a short safety briefing, the group took off for the C-47, waiting on the tarmac of the Soesterberg Air Base.

The flight to Son lasted about twenty minutes and was uneventful. No turbulence of any significance. Two sticks of six jumpers each were unloaded over the original DZ and all came down in good order. One of the jumpers who was in contact with the DZ crew by two-way radio, handed the walky-talky to Tom who then maintained radio contact with Liberty Jump Team Drop Zone coordinator Jil Launay of Roanoke, Texas. Although, or maybe because, Tom was completely suited up in World War Two jump gear, jump boots and a main parachute inspected by the jump master prior to boarding the C-47, Jill instructed him over the radio not to even consider to stand up, hook up and shuffle out the door now that all jumpers had left the plane. Tom acknowledged and rode "Drag-Em-Oot" back to Soesterberg and sorted out the static lines that remained inside the plane's fuselage.

This is an impression of the preparation and the ride to the jump:

(Click on the thumbnails to enlarge) made videos of the C47 ride to the Drop Zone and the jumpers exiting the plane. To view these videos, click here.

Later that day, Mark Durivage also made a jump in British combat attire on a DZ near Wolfheze. Unfortunately we could not make it in time to witness it.

Ginkel Heath, Saturday September 20th 2008

To commemorate the Battle of Arnhem, parachutists from armies and air forces of various countries each year make jumps from C130 Hercules and C47 Dakota aircraft on the original Drop Zone on Ginkel Heath near Arnhem. Mark Durivage made a jump on this drop zone with the Pathfinder Parachute Group Holland. This time two plane loads of jumpers were flown to Ginkel and the pilot of "Drag-Em-Oot" used the so-called 'hot-load' method to pick up jumpers from Soesterberg Air Base. This means that he just set his plane on the tarmac to allow jumpers to board the aircraft with the engine still running and then take off for the DZ again.

On the DZ we met Erwin Janssen and his wife again:

This is an impression of activities on this historic DZ:

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Groesbeek, Sunday September 21st 2008
This Sunday, "Drag-Em-Oot" dropped several sticks of jumpers from the Pathfinder Group of parachutists in World War Two uniforms on the original Drop Zone near Wyler Baan outside Groesbeek, The Netherlands. This DZ was used by the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne on September 17th, 1944.
In the first stick, Mark Durivage made a perfect landing on a field he described as like landing on a mattress.
Together we watched our good friend Wilbert land in a subsequent stick:

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Wilbert also made a perfect landing and Mark's medical skills were not needed.
There was time for being a good ambassador for the US and for a certain Pennsylvanian chocolate company:

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Not every jumper had to walk back from the DZ:

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Social encounters on the edge of the DZ:

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Forensic evidence of the fact that this field was the same as the jumpers used on this bright Sunday:

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After sixty years, plowed-over scraps of camouflaged parachute cloth still lay strewn all over the field.

Grave, Sunday September 21st 2008

After field packing their canopies, daisy-chaining their shroud lines and putting their chutes into parachute bags, Wilbert and Mark rode with Tom to the bridge at Grave, crossing the Maas River.

This bridge was the objective of "E"-Co./504th of the 82nd Airborne in September 1944. At that time, the bridge had been defended by a force of German troops manning a 20 millimeter canon on the roof of a concrete casemate built by the Dutch in the years leading up to the attack on their country by the Nazis. The casemate is now open to the public and just when we arrived a group of British Army sappers (engineers) and their tour guide US Army major Korth were paying the position a visit.

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After exchanging some experiences of the past "Market Garden"- days the British and their tour guide departed and we entered the casemate.

This is an impression of what the defenders inside the casemate could see:

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This battlefield tour ended our participation of the 64th "Market Garden" commemoration.

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We all feel that this was a dress rehearsal for the next year's 65th which may be the last large scale commemoration with actual veterans present.

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