To the Netherlands today, after a brief respite from travel. Setting the alarm for 0430 to make the early morning flight was not easy, especially when my body clock was telling me it was just after midnight and time to go to bed. But I made it (by the skin of my teeth as usual) and one of the “originals” from IBM days, Friso picked me up from Schiphol airport to drive me to Arnheim for a client afternoon session. At lunch time we were at the site of the WWII museum, this was of course the site of Operation Market Garden, immortalised in the film A Bridge too Far. Now the history of this is controversial. I side with those who say the resources should have been given to Paton and not Montgomery (the former understood complexity, the latter was complicated but neither were nice people), politics however intruded but that is a story for another day.
What was moving was the memorial just outside the museum, pictured here. I'll repeat the text as it will not be easy to read:
TO THE PEOPLE OF GELDERLAND
50 years ago British & Polish Airborne soldiers fought here against overwhelming odds to open the way into Germany and bring the war to an early end, Instead we brought death and destruction for which you have never blamed us.
This stone marks our admiration for your great courage, remembering especially the women to tended our wounded. In the long winter that followed your families risked death by hiding Allied soldiers and airmen, while members of the Resistance helped many to safety.
You took us then into your homes as fugitives and friends, we took you forever into our hearts. This strong bond will continue long after we are all gone.
Now Arnheim was evacuated after this, the suffering of the civilian population was immense. It's rare to find a tribute from the military to civilians, and it it is all the more moving in consequence. It speaks for itself.
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