60th Commemoration Operation Market Garden
60 years ago, courageous paratroopers were waiting to start Operation Market Garden in The Netherlands. Aim of the plan was to secure bridges over the Dutch rivers Maas, Waal and Rhine to free the Northern part of The Netherlands from the German occupier and force an entry into Germany over the Lower Rhine. More than 34,000 English, American and Polish soldiers landed by glider or parachute. The operation lasted from 17-26 September 1944 and ended in failure. At times Market Garden was hindered by bad weather and low visibility and the German enemy troops defended fiercely. After the successful Battle of Nijmegen, the Allies did not manage to take the last bridge in Arnhem. From the soldiers involved in Market Garden, 18,000 lost their live at the battlefield.
Market Garden is commemorated every year with a large-scale para dropping over the Ginkelse Heide near the Dutch town of Ede. On 18 September 2004 a large number of airplanes were gathered at Soesterberg Air Base to drop hundreds of international paratroopers at various locations.
The participating aircraft
Most of the paratroopers were dropped from C-130 Hercules planes. No less than seven different C-130s were present at Soesterberg Air Base. The RAF with two C-130Ks and two C-130Js. The USAF send one MC-130P and one MC-130H and the Royal Netherlands Air Force participated with one C-130H. Other planes used for the droppings were a Czech Antonov 26, a civilian DC-3 and a civilian C-47. Some other aircraft visited Soesterberg on this Saturday including a Polish Yak-40.