Family fined for taking term-time trip to Battle of Arnhem site

Ben Pietersma with Andrew Lyons-Walker who has been fined after their annual pilgrage to Holland which visits the site of the Battle of Arnhem where Andrew's grandfather fought during World War II. See Ross Parry copy RPYBATTLE: A couple are preparing for war after being fined for taking their son out of school to visit the battlefields where his ancestors once fought. Andrew Lyons-Walker, 38, and his partner Rachel Hughes were told they must pay £120 after taking son Ben on a trip to Holland to teach him about his family's heritage. They were stunned to hear the matter was 'non-negotiable' after Ben was previously allowed out of lessons to make the same journey two years ago.

Battle of Arnhem

A family from Blackpool in England is being fined by local authorities after taking their 13 year old son out of school during term time to visit a World War Two battlefield where their ancestor fought during the war.

The Hughes family decided to take their son out of school to make the trip to the Battle of Arnhem battlefield in the Netherlands, after they discovered that their relative had fought there during Operation Market Garden in 1944. The Operation was infamously a failure for the Allies and many troops lost their lives.

Now the family has been given the mandatory fine of £120 for taking their son, Ben, out of lessons for five days. Ben’s parents have decided not to pay the fine and will be taking the authorities to court in an effort to get the fine cancelled.

Corporal John Atkinson fought Nazi troops in the Battle of Arnhem with the First Battalion Border Regiment. Prior to that, he had been stationed in Sicily to fight on the southern front. John survived the war and eventually died in 1994.

John was Ben’s stepfather’s granddad, and the family make the trip every year to honor and commemorate his actions during the war.

Ben’s school – Baines High School – issued the mandatory fine of £120 since the family made the trip during the academic year, when Ben had to miss a week of lessons. However, the family say that it is an important trip for their family and is also an educational experience for Ben too, and one that they shouldn’t be penalized..

Ben’s stepfather Andrew said that it is important for his son to understand his roots and what happened in the Netherlands during the war. The Nazis occupied the country for five years during the war, where the people suffered immensely.

The Battle of Arnhem ended with the Germans evacuating everyone from the city, the Mail Online reports.

The family took the trip at the same time that the battle actually took place in order to make the commemoration meaningful and the entire family attended from the UK and the Netherlands.

Recently another parent in the UK took their local authorities to court after they were fined for taking their daughter out of school during term time and they were successful. They had taken their daughter to Disneyland during April.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE