Leicester

Village unveils memorial to Battle of Arnhem soldiers

Arnhem memorial
Image caption The memorial was unveiled on Saturday in front of three veterans of the battle, which claimed nearly 600 lives

A memorial to soldiers who died when their unit suffered "shocking" losses in one of World War Two's most famous battles has been unveiled.

The 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment was billeted in and around Burrough on the Hill in Leicestershire before Operation Market Garden in 1944.

Of the 582 men who took part, only 36 returned two weeks later.

The garden and stones have been funded with £100,000 raised by charity Friends of the Tenth over two years.


Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden) 17-27 September 1944

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thousands of men parachuted behind German lines
  • The planned operation was an airborne drop behind German lines combined with armoured attack to capture vital river crossings
  • The aim was to punch a hole in German defences and hasten the end of the war
  • German resistance was much stronger than expected and Allied forces were defeated after nine days of fierce fighting
  • More than 1,400 Allied troops died and more than 6,000 were captured
  • The battle was the inspiration for the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far

Charity chairman Alec Wilson, whose father was captured in the battle, said: "Nearly 600 men stayed in the area.

"One day in September they left and two weeks later, when the villages heard they were returning, they prepared a welcome home banquet.

"Imagine the shock when just a few dozen men got off the lorries."

As well as the memorial garden, the event saw several pubs and All Saints Church in Somerby put on special displays.

Mr Wilson said: "This generation is fast disappearing and we were determined to keep their legacy alive.

"As well as the garden, money raised will help towards education programmes to help make sure this sort of sacrifice is never needed again."

The main 75th Arnhem commemoration will take place in Somerby village on 8 September.

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