Today is Liberation Day - and all across the Netherlands, the Dutch are celebrating their freedom. After the liberation in 1945, Liberation Day was commemorated every five years. Finally, in 1990, the day was declared to be a national holiday, and the liberation would be commemorated and celebrated every year.
Today - the group celebrated in a non traditional way as the storm clouds brewed and the rain came down in torrents. Despite all this - the group carried on from Giethoorn, the Venice of the Netherlands, enjoying a morning in the sun just before the rain - and travelled to the Hartenstein hotel located in Arnhem.
The Hartenstein served as the headquarters of the British 1st Airborne Division during the difficult and ultimately failed mission of Operation Market Garden. In the museum an extensive and diverse collection is displayed consisting of original weaponry, genuine uniforms and equipment used in the battle. The numerous photos and films on display provide a realistic picture which is enhanced by interviews with Allied soldiers. In addition the museum has an award-winning Airborne Experience exhibition, that depicts the area around Arnhem and Oosterbeek during the battle.
Major General Roy Urquhart chose ‘Hartenstein’ as his headquarters. After holding out north of the Rhine for nine days the Division had to be withdrawn, although just over 2,000 of the 10,000 men who had landed reached the Poles south of the river. The Allied troops lost the Battle of Arnhem and ‘Hartenstein’ was left in a heavily damaged condition.
Today, our Canadian veteran Bud Weeks, at 93 years old, successfully completed his main mission on his personal journey, and with that, he amazed the wonderous crowd below him. Slowly climbing out of his wheelchair, and with the help of our good men with us on tour, Bud took charge and made it to the summit of the sherman tank placed just outside of the Hartenstein.
In truth - I am overwhelmed and so happy he made it. A true bonus for all of us to see. Many pictures to share - and a truly huge thank you so far to Sharon Weeks, Sheila Hamblen, & Ruth Pearson. I am sure there are many more to come!