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Battle of Arnhem: Mass parachute drop marks WW2 assault

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A mass parachute drop has taken place in the Netherlands to mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden in World War Two.

The Prince of Wales joined veterans at the commemorations to the allied assault in the Battle of Arnhem.

Veteran Sandy Cortmann, 97, parachuted again over the Dutch city.

British, US and Polish forces dropped behind enemy lines in 1944 but failed in their bid to secure eight bridges and open up a route into Germany.

About 35,000 troops landed by parachute and gliders in what was then the largest airborne operation in history.

They seized bridges and canal crossings at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem, but were forced to retreat after German counter-attacks. More than 1,500 allied soldiers were killed and nearly 6,500 captured.

The events were portrayed in Richard Attenborough's 1977 Hollywood war epic A Bridge Too Far starring Sean Connery, Robert Redford, Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

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Prince Charles and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and veterans attended the service and wreath-laying at the former landing zone of Ginkel Heath.

Soldiers from the Parachute Regiment, of which the prince is colonel-in-chief, were among the 1,500 people who took part in the commemorative parachute drop.

Mr Cortmann, from Aberdeen, made a tandem jump with a parachutist from the Army's Red Devils display team over the Ginkel Heath nature reserve as part of the commemorations.

He was just 22 when he parachuted into the same drop zone in September 1944, where he was taken prisoner by the Germans.

The Arnhem veteran made an emotional return to the Netherlands on Thursday.

"When the fighting started we were just in amongst it," he recalled.

"You can describe it as brave, you thought you were brave, but once you got down there, Jesus Christ, terrified, absolutely terrified."

Another of the soldiers returning to the former battlefields for the anniversary is 100-year-old Raymond Whitwell, from Malton, North Yorkshire.

Speaking from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission&Read More – Source