Following the Allies’ successful landings at Normandy in the north of France, the tide of the war seemed to be turning. America had joined the conflict, Paris had been liberated and German forces were losing ground.
However, not all Allied attempts to forge ahead through Occupied Europe met with victory. On some occasions, terrible defeats were suffered, and few were more brutal and complete as the Battle of Arnhem.
Having already managed to win back France and Belgium in the summer of the same year, the Allies were moving into the Netherlands. In September 1944, Operation Market Garden was put in motion, with British and Polish troops attempting to capture several key bridges and towns, including Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and, of course, Arnhem.
The Allies had received unreliable intelligence on what their men should have expected in the area, and they anticipated little resistance. Instead, these men soon found themselves taking heavy fire as they struggled to advance.
Various squadrons were separated or delayed, resulting in a calamitous loss of life for the British forces. The British 1st Airborne Division was decimated, losing almost three-quarters of its men, and those who survived the nine days of fighting were forced to retreat.
Following the battle, a cemetery was built in Oosterbeek, commemorating the Allied men who died during Operation Market Garden. The Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery contains 1759 graves, but to this day new bodies are still found in the surrounding region so that number continues to rise. Few military operations of the Second World War have become as synonymous with disaster and tragedy as this one.
This video, filmed at sunset, offers a powerful and poignant look at the cemetery itself, reminding us of the sacrifice made by all those who fought and died in the Battle of Arnhem 72 years ago.