Saturday, 2 March 2024
Saturday, 2 March 2024

103-year-old WWII veteran commemorates Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands

THE Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was delighted to take 103-year-old Arnhem veteran Ray Whitwell to the Netherlands for the Operation Market Garden Commemorations.

WWII Veteran Ray Whitwell who served with the Royal Army Service Corps Ray flew over to the Netherlands in a Glider carrying a jeep and a trailer packed with ammunition and hand grenades in September 1944 as part of Operation Market Garden and took part in the fierce battle to capture the Bridge at Arnhem.   

Despite his age, Ray from Malton in North Yorkshire is a regular on the Taxi Charity trips to remember those who did not return. In late September he joined a group of volunteer cab drivers and veterans who travelled to the Netherlands for the Operation Market Garden commemorations.

In a packed itinerary, Ray visited the Dutch Airborne Museum, was part of the ceremony to inter the ashes of another Arnhem veteran John Jeffries at Oosterbeek Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, attended the unveiling of the Glider Pilot monument at Wolfheze, went to Ginkel Heath to see the annual mass parachute jump, spoke with the British Ambassador to the Netherlands and laid flowers at the grave of his friend who lies in the cemetery at Oosterbeek.

Ray said of his time in the Netherlands in 1944:

“We went nine days without food during Operation Market Garden and then snipers shot holes in the bucket we were collecting water in.” 

One of the lucky ones, he evaded capture as he escaped back over the Rhine to British lines. 

Frans Ammerlaan from The Market Garden Foundation, who coordinates Taxi Charity visits to the Netherlands, said:

“I have been working with the Taxi Charity for many years to facilitate their visits and I consider myself very fortunate to call the volunteer taxi drivers, the carers, the charity team and the veterans my friends. Ray Whitwell is well known, highly respected and much loved in the Arnhem area, and I was delighted that during this visit, Joanna Roper CMG, the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands took time to talk with him.”

To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers to veterans or to donate please visit: www.taxicharity.org.

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