Four men who took part in Operation Market Garden and who showed up for the events 75-year anniversary last night were turned away. The reason? The VIP room was already full.
The British soldiers were turned away by the municipality of Arnhem during the commemoration at Airborneplein. Various events have been set up this year to remember the failed WWII military operation which led the deaths of at least 15,000 Allied soldiers.
The memorials for the 75th year are particularly grand, and attendees must show a personalised ticket. The men who were turned away did not possess this.
But, the four veterans were puzzled by the rejection. “We have been around since the early 1980s and have never needed a pass. We thought our medals served as entry tickets,” said 95-year-old veteran Leslie Reeves told NOS.
Who was turned away?
Reeves was the only survivor of his tank unit after fighting in Nijmegen and was seriously injured in Germany after crossing the Rhine. “It is utterly embarrassing that they sent us away. I will never experience such a special occasion again,” Reeves said.
Of the four veterans that were unable to enter, two were eventually able to enter the memorial – but only after a Dutch couple saw them being turned away and gifted them their personal tickets.
— Niels Honkoop (@NielsHonkoop) September 21, 2019
96-year-old naval veteran Simeon Mayou and a fellow veteran were forced to turn back to their hotel. “Every year we look forward to the celebration. We saved the whole year to gather the money for the trip to the Netherlands,” he told NOS.
“There were people who were not even born during the war. But we were not allowed in. Our hearts broke.” he continued.
Why were they turned away?
The municipality of Arnhem has expressed regret over what happened, but says that places were limited. Spokesman for the municipality Carlo van der Borgt told NOS that the anniversary event meant only limited tickets were available.
Amazing footage of the landings at Arnhem, 75 years ago today. Can you imagine what it would feel like to jump? Or to be on the ground, seeing salvation arrive?
— Ben Coates (@bencoates1) September 17, 2019
According to Van der Borgt, Arnhem veterans had been invited, and those without an invitation could access an extra area. However, the veterans said that area was so full it was inaccessible.
The mayor of Arnhem, Ahmed Marcouch, wants to set the wrongs right. “If we missed veterans, I want to make up for this as quickly as possible,” he said.
What do you think about these veterans being turned away from the commemoration? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature Image: Mark Hurley/Georgia Army National Guard/Flickr