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Wreaths laid for those who went ‘a bridge too far’

Press Release   •   Sep 15, 2014 12:27 BST

On Sunday (14) Rochdale Borough Council paid its respects to those who fought and died at the Battle of Arnhem during the Second World War.

Councillor Alan McCarthy, Lead Member for the Armed Forces, who laid wreaths at the Cenotaphs in Rochdale Memorial Gardens and Heywood Memorial Gardens, said: “It is 70 years since one of the best known battles of the Second World War, which we were destined not to win. However, it is only right and fitting that we remember those who fought and died to protect the freedoms we enjoy in this country today.”

The 70th anniversary, from 17 to 26 September, of the ill-fated The Battle of Arnhem commemorates the Allied attack around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel. The Allies launched Operation Market Garden on 17 September and paratroopers were dropped in the Netherlands to secure key bridges and towns along the Allied axis of advance.

Farthest north, the British 1st Airborne Division landed at Arnhem to secure bridges across the Nederrijn. Initially expecting a walkover, British XXX Corps planned to reach the British airborne forces within two to three days. However, they landed some distance from their objectives and were quickly hampered by unexpected resistance. Only a small force was able to reach the Arnhem road bridge while the main body of the division was halted on the outskirts.

Meanwhile, XXX Corps was unable to advance north as quickly as anticipated and failed to relieve the airborne troops according to schedule. After four days, the small British force at the bridge was overwhelmed and the rest of the division became trapped in a small pocket north of the river. After nine days, the shattered remains of the airborne forces were withdrawn in Operation Berlin. With no secure bridges over the Nederrijn, the Allies were unable to advance further and the front line stabilised south of Arnhem.

The Battle of Arnhem became the basis for the war book and film A Bridge Too Far.

The wreath laying was one of a host of events across the borough this year commemorating the sacrifice of British service personnel. To find out more visit

Rochdale was one of the first councils in the country to sign the Armed Forces Community Covenant, aimed at encouraging local communities to support services that promote and encourage activities that help integrate Armed Forces personnel back into civilian life.

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