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Arnhem Remembered

Arnhem Remembered

It was only appropriate that Radley College had the privilege to listen to an Arnhem veteran, Peter Clarke, and an enthusiastic Prep school Headmaster on the day of Armistice, 11th November, in the Coffee Shop. Titus Mills, the Headmaster of Walhampton School, Hampshire, greeted the crowd packed full of Radley boys and visiting girls from Singapore Chinese Girls School, in the Coffee Shop during Academic Priority Time.  

 

Titus Mills briefly quoted Montgomery saying, “If you ever meet someone who fought at Arnhem buy him a drink.” He proceeded to tell us where his interest and passion in the Battle came from. We then had the pleasure of watching a short documentary of Arnhem Veterans being interviewed by Mr Mills himself. The documentary was very powerful and managed to silence the normally buzzy atmosphere of the coffee shop. 

 

This film, “Last Words: The Battle for Arnhem Bridge”, gave the boys a tremendous insight into what it was like to be involved in Operation Market Garden seventy one years ago. The documentary emphasised how dangerous it was and how brave the fighters were in holding the bridge for four whole days. Sadly, only 2,000 of the 10,000 deployed escaped with 6,500 being taken Prisoners of war.  


Throughout the documentary the veterans spoke about how they had to consider the Germans as purely the "enemy" in order to be able to kill them. Also, we had a sense of the veterans' patriotism when we heard how one of them had to swim across the river in only his boxers and his beret during the evacuation Operation Berlin. Major Waddy also spoke about being shot in the back in order to save his unit. 

 

After the documentary we had the pleasure of listening to Peter Clarke give a summary of his life and role in Arnhem. Peter (pictured below with Titus Mills and Head of History, TSJ), who is soon to turn 95, spoke very well and told us how he went from training to be a solicitor in Croydon, to becoming a glider pilot and then setting up a simple first aid room in Arnhem.  

 

The flight into Arnhem was his 250th solo flight. He was flying an eighty-eight foot Tiger Moth, carrying over a dozen men. His greatest act of bravery was that, after being in Arnhem and Oosterbeek for six days tending the wounded, he decided to not leave with his comrades but to stay and help four injured men. This act of courage meant he was captured the next day and taken to a temporary prison camp, twenty miles north of Arnhem. It was here where Peter and two friends escaped the camp, only to be captured by Nazis deer hunting. He joked how comical it must have been for the Germans to go deer hunting and then return with three British men. 

 

Peter then told us how he walked over 330 miles after the war due to the Russians sending him off in the wrong direction. Peter made another joke saying he was not superstitious having been liberated on Friday the thirteenth of April. One of the highlights of the talk was listening to Peter answer the boys' questions about Arnhem; he told us the only difference between Arnhem then and now was the size of the trees. 

 

It was a truly fascinating talk from both Peter and Titus. It was such a great opportunity to learn and appreciate how brave a generation they were. Lest we forget them. 

 

Ollie Martyn-Hemphill, F Social, 6.1  

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