Op 20 september 2023 vond in Colchester de herdenking plaats van de operatie Marketing Garden.
Tijdens deze gelegenheid is het beeld Verwondering onthuld. Het beeld is in 2012 al feestelijk aangeboden aan sergant Herbie Atkinson en heeft nu in Colchester zijn definitieve plek gekregen.
Airborne Forces remember Arnhem anniversary
The bravery and sacrifice of British and Polish airborne soldiers who fought at the Battle of Arnhem, and the enduring bonds formed between troops and the Dutch people, have been celebrated in Colchester.
The Second World War battle’s aim was to break into Germany by a combined airborne and armoured advance, striking a decisive blow that would bring the war in Europe to an end. 1st Airborne Division were landed by parachute and glider at Arnhem on 17 September 1944 to capture the final bridge across the Rhine. Expecting to be relieved within 48 hours, the soldiers held out through nine days of prolonged and brutal street fighting before withdrawing across the river on 25th September. Over 1,500 British soldiers were killed at Arnhem and nearly 6,500 captured, while five Victoria Crosses were awarded.
Today’s (Wed 20 Sep) service of commemoration, organised by Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade and Colchester City Council, saw civic dignitaries, soldiers and members of the public gather to mark the battle’s 79th anniversary. Pupils from local primary schools laid sunflowers, grown by local charity Abberton Rural Training, at the War Memorial, replicating what Dutch children do at the main commemoration service at Oosterbeek cemetery in the Netherlands.
The service was themed around the experiences of Sgt Eric ‘Herbie’ Atkinson. Originally from Tilbury, Sgt Atkinson was called up in 1939 and trained at Colchester Garrison after joining the Army in 1939 and had already fought at Dunkirk, North Africa and Sicily.
Sgt Atkinson, a gunner in 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery Royal Artillery, was flying to Arnhem in a glider that crashed short of the objective and he was rescued by the Dutch resistance.
After the war, one of the resisters - Jac van Someren - became an artist, and he got in contact with Sgt Atkinson and presented him with a sculpture. Called Verwondering (Astonishment), it shows a woman looking up at the sky to see all the planes and gliders flying to Arnhem and represents the hope of liberation.
Both Mr Van Someren and Sgt Atkinson have passed away, in 2006 and 2012 respectively, and Sgt Atkinson’s family has donated the sculpture to The Minories gallery in Colchester to go on display in the city that is now home to airborne forces. The sculpture was unveiled after today’s service.
Mark Hurrell, Sgt Atkinson’s son-in-law, said: “Herbie was a modest man who didn’t like talking about his wartime experiences, he always said that he wasn’t a hero it was the one’s who didn’t come back who were the heroes.
“What happened to him at Arnhem and the friendship he struck up with Jac is a story that should be told, and it’s wonderful to have the statue on public display – but I think Herbie
would be surprised and probably a bit embarrassed by all the fuss and attention on him!”
Sergeant Sam Gosling, of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, said: “The history of airborne forces is very important to us, because the achievements of the past set the standards expected of today’s soldiers. For me as a sergeant in an airborne artillery unit, the same as Sgt Atkinson, it has been humbling for me to learn about the experiences a soldier in my position went through in the Second World War.”
5 mei 2021 - Stilstaan om in vrijheid te lopen
Ter gelegenheid van de bevrijding schrijft Lea van Someren een wandelblog waarin ze stilstaat bij de vrijheid. Lees verder>>
24 maart 2021 - Een nieuwe plek voor Ogen op Steeltjes
Het plastiek Ogen op steeltjes is gerestaureerd en heeft een nieuwe plek. Eigenaar GGZE heeft het beeld een nieuwe mooie plek gegeven met veel eerbetoon aan Jac van Someren die de laatste jaren van zijn leven als vrijwilliger veel creativiteit bij de cliënten wist los te maken.