History

Remembering The Battle Of Arnhem 75 Years On

Thousands of Allied airborne troops were dropped behind enemy lines only to be surrounded and cut off.

D-Day commemorations have taken centre stage this week, but another significant moment of the Second World War has also been remembered in the Netherlands.

September will mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem.

Thousands of Allied airborne troops were dropped behind enemy lines, only to be surrounded and cut off.

British paratroopers’ valiant attempts to take the bridge over the Rhine are well recorded, but other units - such as 7th Battalion The King’s Own Scottish Borderers - also battled incredible odds.

Wreaths are laid to remember those who gave their lives in the Battle of Arnhem.
Wreaths are laid to remember those who gave their lives in the Battle of Arnhem.

7th Battalion first landed on German-occupied soil in a Dutch forest outside Arnhem, on 17 September 1944.

The Regimental March Blue Bonnets guided them to their rendezvous.

It was the prelude to Market Garden, the largest airborne operation in history.

Paratroopers were to take a bridge across the River Rhine, Nazi Germany’s last defensive barrier.

7th Battalion was part of the Air Landing Brigade sent in ahead to secure the drop zones, and they had arrived by glider.

Seventy-five years later the Battle of Arnhem still resonates with local people and visitors.
Seventy-five years later, the Battle of Arnhem still resonates with local people and visitors.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter McCutcheon, a military historian, said: “There are apocryphal stories of a German officer saying it never snows in September, therefore, this must be a parachute landing.”

“Also there’s a wonderful story about a Dutch girl looking up and saying 'look, God is throwing people out of heaven'.”

A view from the forest.
A view from the forest.

Resistance was much stronger than expected, and the airborne forces were quickly cut off. 7th Battalion had to defend themselves against ferocious opposition.

The Battalion’s modern-day successors have been to Arnhem to retrace an ill-fated mission that could have been even worse but for their extraordinary commanding officer.

The Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Colonel Robert Payton-Reid, a man considered too old for D-Day.

However, at Arnhem, he led several bayonet charges and was later awarded a Distinguished Service Order.

120 lost their lives, and some are still missing.
120 lost their lives, and some are still missing.

A total of 740 members of 7th Battalion arrived at Arnhem.

Only 76 made it back to Allied lines, the rest were captured or killed.

120 lost their lives, and some are still missing.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter McCutcheon said:

“The KOSB remembers them and has long remembered them and we will continue to come to Arnhem when we can to honour those men.”