Arnhem Camp - Visiting Operation Market-Garden
In 2006 WO Crabbe received an invite from Major McLaren of the Parachute Regiment Association to join the PRA with our cadets at the Airborne March in Oosterbeek, Netherlands. Needless to say, the offer was taken up. Since then the squadron has attended the march each year, often accompanied by staff and cadets from other local squadrons. Until 2012 the camp consisted of PRA members, Air Cadets and Army Cadets.
The camp runs from Thursday to Sunday each year at the start of September, with two extra days of travel to and from the south of England. Friday is a battlefield tour around the sights of Oosterbeek and Arnhem, finishing at the bridge (now the John Frostbrug) that was the main target for the British troops on the fateful weekend in September 1944.
Saturday is the day of the Parade where the cadets and staff join a 10km march (although longer marches are available). The march goes through the town of Oosterbeek and involves not just the locals, but representatives from all over the world - making it the world's largest one day march.
From arriving on Thursday to leaving on Sunday the cadets are billeted at Harskamp, getting to meet some of the Dutch troops whilst sharing the messing and evening entertainment facilities on the base. The weekend provides an excellent opportunity for the cadets to socialise with others from all over the country.
Friday's battlefield tour starts at the drop zones and landing zones used by the First British Airborne and moves through sites of major battles and the war cemetery, then onto the Hartenstein museum - 1st British Airborne's HQ during the operation. Upon leaving the museum the tour moves to further critical sites such as the church used by the British during their final days in the battle and the hospital that was caught in the middle of the fight. The final port of call on the tour is Arnhem and the bridge that was considered central to the mission. The cadets get an opportunity to see the bridge then go into the city of Arnhem for a look around.