Craig Allen journeys to Arnhem to commemorate the 78th anniversary of Operation Market Garden
After a pause of two years due to the pandemic, I returned to Arnhem this September to cover the commemoration events.
The hike in fuel and ferry prices had made me think twice about such an expedition, but a generous offer of free camping helped to keep costs down. As usual, I was staying at the Zuid Ginkel site, beside Ginkel Heath – known for being Drop Zone Y in September 1944.
The British 4th Parachute Brigade had landed here on the second day of the battle, and it is still used as an active drop zone (DZ) by modern generations of paratroopers. The very week before I had arrived, the site had seen an international military parachuting meet known as Exercise Falcons Leap – with British, the US, Dutch German, Spanish and Polish Paratroopers earning their wings.
As I was staying at a campsite close to the DZ, I had only a short walk to cover all the activity. Every year, the third Saturday of September sees thousands of Dutch citizens converging on Ginkel Heath to watch the drops, and witness the moving service of remembrance.