Several of our tours include poignant ceremonies commemorating the loss of soldiers in battle and one of the most beautiful and moving is the Flower Ceremony at Oosterbeek Cemetery, Arnhem. As part of our World War Two commemorative tours, we are participating in this year’s 70th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden), and will be attending the ceremony on our second day of the tour.
The Battle of Arnhem was one of the most famous Second World War military engagements fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside between 17 and 26 September 1944. During this bloody battle, 1,984 men from the allied forces were killed and 6,854 were captured. On the German side, casualties were also significant with 1,300 killed and 2,000 wounded.
The first ceremony took place a year after the debacle in 1945 and the event has continued every year, always on the first Sunday after 17 September. The commemoration is attended by veterans, local residents and school children who lay flowers on the graves of the dead.
As a mark of respect from the local Dutch people to those who died and showing how important the ceremony is to the area, the idea suggested on the 25th anniversary in 1969 by the
Parachute Regiment to end the ceremony, who believed the battle may have passed sufficiently into history, was rejected. The Dutch were vehemently and emotionally opposed to the idea and thus the ceremony continues to be held annually.
We are privileged that we are able to observe this beautiful memorial to the wounded and dead of Operation Market Garden and learning more about the heroism of the British 1st Airborne Division.