London taxi drivers, or ‘cabbies’ as they are known, have joined together to organise a trip to Arnhem in the Netherlands for a group of World War Two veterans.
The Taxi Charity which is run and funded by London’s cab drivers, along with the veterans themselves, raised more than £120,000 to take 120 veterans back to the Netherlands to attend a commemoration ceremony for the liberation of Arnhem in 1945.
At the beginning of May, around 80 taxi drivers took the veterans across to Arnhem where they attended the ceremony at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.
The trip also garnered support from the National Lottery and the Royal British Legion, but the taxi drivers gave up their time, fuel and the use of their vehicles themselves.
The Liberation of Arnhem took place just a few weeks before the Germans finally surrendered. It saw the city come back under Allied control from the Nazis who had begun to retreat south east back to Germany.
Prior to the battle in 1945, there was an earlier battle when the Germans first invaded the Netherlands and where the Allies suffered huge losses. All involved in the trip said it had been hugely emotional since everyone who went knew at least one person who was buried in one of the cemeteries.
There was to be a National Liberation Parade at Wageningen to mark the occasion but that was cancelled due to bad weather. But the veterans still took part in all the other commemorations and remembered their role in the liberation of the city. The veterans laid wreaths, visited local veterans’ homes and met with Dutch officials, as well as finding the graves of friends from 70 years ago.
The veterans came from all over the UK – from Scotland through to Wales and the south of England. Some had never been back since they left the war torn city 70 years earlier, which made it especially emotional, the London Evening Standard reports.
Another London taxi charity, the London Taxi Benevolent Association for War Disabled , also organises an annual veterans’ day trip to Worthing and has been doing so since 1948.