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Charles to attend Battle of Arnhem commemorations in Netherlands

The event will mark Operation Market Garden, one of the most controversial Allied initiatives of the war.

The Prince of Wales is to visit a commemoration to the Battle of Arnhem in September (Michal Wachucik/PA)
The Prince of Wales is to visit a commemoration to the Battle of Arnhem in September (Michal Wachucik/PA)

By PA Reporter

The Prince of Wales is to attend an event in the Netherlands to mark the 75th anniversary of a battle that saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the Second World War.

Operation Market Garden, one of the most controversial Allied initiatives of the war, claimed the lives of more than 1,500 British soldiers and saw nearly 6,500 men captured.

Commemoration events will take place in Arnhem and the surrounding area on Saturday September 21.

Charles will first attend a commemorative service and wreath-laying at Ginkel Heath near Ede, with Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands, Clarence House said.

Ginkel Heath was utilised as a landing zone by the Allied Forces during the 1944 Battle of Arnhem.

The service will be attended by veterans and followed by a mass parachute drop of airborne troops, including soldiers from The Parachute Regiment, of which Charles is Colonel-in-Chief.

He will then attend a series of further events, recognising the contributions of those involved in Operation Market Garden – the codename for the events that took place in Arnhem in 1944.

Around 20,000 British and American troops were flown behind enemy lines to capture the eight bridges which spanned the network of canals and rivers on the Dutch/German border. Some 511 vehicles and 330 artillery pieces were also involved.

The Allies’ aim – conceived by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery – was to pave the way for the capture of the Ruhr, the German industrial heartland, by striking a decisive blow that would bring the war in Europe to an end by Christmas 1944.

Stubborn resistance from the German army prevented the link-up of British and US armoured forces with those who were deployed by air.

A damaging defensive battle had to be fought by the 1st Airborne Division in the streets of the Dutch town, leading eventually to the evacuation of the hugely depleted formation. Five Victoria Crosses were won.

The events were immortalised in the 1977 Hollywood film A Bridge Too Far.

Charles has previously attended events in The Netherlands to mark commemorations around key anniversaries of the Battle of Arnhem, most recently in September 2004, to mark the 60th anniversary.

Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, last visited The Netherlands in 2013 for the Investiture of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.

PA

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