THE London-based Taxi Charity has been taking veterans to the Netherlands for Dutch Liberation since 2012. The liberation event was on 4th May when the Dutch remembered the civilians and members of the armed forces who have died in service to their country since WWII and held a national two-minute silence at 8pm. The following day the country celebrates their Liberation from Nazi Germany with a public holiday.
Before the official Liberation events on the 4 and 5 May, the veterans, who are all in their late nineties and hundreds, enjoyed lunch at the Freedom Museum in Groesbeek and a visit to the Hartenstein Museum in Oosterbeek. In September 1944, the Hartenstein served as headquarters for British airborne troops and Alec Hall one of the WWII veterans on the trip, shared memories with the Director of the Museum about the wounded that he had treated in the museum’s basement during Operation Market Garden.
This year the liberation flame in Wageningen was lit at midnight on 4 May by WWII veteran Marie Scott 96, the first time a female veteran had been invited to participate in this symbolic act. Marie had the added honour of joining dignitaries including Mr Peter Van Vollenhoven, husband of Princess Margaret, Floor Vermueulen, The Mayor of Wageningen and British Ambassador Joanne Roper, to watch the Liberation Parade on the 5 May. This is the highlight of the Taxi Charity’s five-day trip when the veterans lead the parade through the packed streets of Wageningen in golf buggies and iconic black taxis. The noise of the thousands of men, women and children lining the streets, shouting their thanks and applauding the veterans is deafening.
After the parade and much to the delight of the veterans the British Ambassador took time out of her schedule to visit the veterans at their hotel in Wageningen accompanied by Piers Strudwick the Defence Attaché.
Brian Heffernan, London Taxi Driver and Chairman of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans said:
“Our trips to the Netherlands are always very special. The Dutch people welcome us with open arms and everyone, no matter their age, knows the history of the war and what the allies did to give them their freedom. It was my first European trip as Taxi Charity Chairman and I feel very privileged that during the charity’s 75th anniversary year, I joined my fellow volunteer cab drivers to take veterans to this important event.”
To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers to veterans or to donate, please visit: www.taxicharity.org.