Sunday, September 15, 2019

This week, a group of proud London licensed Taxi Drivers will volunteer their time to take a group of WWII veterans to Holland for the 75th Anniversary of Arnhem

Travelling to Arnhem with the charity, for the services of commemoration, will be Ron Johnson 98 Frank Ashleigh 94, and Ray Whitwell 100, who all participated in the Arnhem conflict in 1944. They will be joined by other WWII veterans and four Chelsea Pensioners.

                     Ron Johnson (centre)

The Battle of Arnhem was a major battle of the Second World War at the vanguard of the Allied Operation Market Garden. It was fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, and Wolfheze, and the surrounding countryside from 17–26 September 1944.

Ron Johnson, Frank Ashleigh and Ray Whitwell landed in September 1944 for Operation Market Garden. They were part of the daring operation where more than 600 gliders were towed into battle in an attempt to secure the River Rhine crossings and advance into northern Germany.

Ray Whitwell recalls “We went nine days without food during the Arnhem conflict and then snipers shot holes in the bucket we were collecting water in.”  
One of the lucky ones, he evaded capture as he crossed the Rhine and made his way back to British lines.

Both Ron Johnson and Frank Ashleigh were not so lucky and were taken captive by the Germans and sent to Prisoner of War camps.

British Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Wilson comments: “Ron, Frank, and Ray are living examples of the bravery shown by our armed forces during the Second World War. 

I’m so pleased they are travelling to the Netherlands in London cabs thanks to the Taxi Charity, to mark this historic commemoration of Operation Market Garden with us. It is vital that we remember those who fought for our freedom; both to ensure we honour the sacrifices they made 75 years ago, as well as to remind future generations of the price of peace.

When Frank Ashleigh was told to land an aircraft far behind enemy lines at Arnhem 75 years ago he felt a “sense of relief that we were going into battle at last”.

He was then a 19-year-old glider pilot, the youngest British airman involved in the subsequent battle, and had by that point of the Second World War had readied himself for 16 missions. 

On each occasion, however, he had been stood down at the last minute.

Operation Market Garden, the plan to make strategic inroads into enemy territory devised by General Montgomery, the commander of the British forces in Europe. 


Below is a tribute video I made to my 5 uncles who all did their bit during WW2. 

The second photo shown is of my uncle Ronald (Ronnie) Sharwood. 

On this day 75 years ago, his unit was preparing for a massive operation....they would soon board a glider and parachute into a field just outside Arnhem. 

He had just written home to his family saying he’d heard fantastic news that his younger brother Leslie (20), had come through the D-Day landings at Normandy without harm. (Third photo)

Just a few days later, Ronnie would be found laying in a field wounded after being picked off, shot in the head,by a German sniper as he floated down. 

He was lucky to be still alive, and was rushed to a field hospital where his life was saved.

He would later join his oldest brother George (first photo) who had survived being blown up in a Tank, in a military hospital. 

The last two photos are of Robert (Bobby) Sharwood who was at Bletchley Park and Henry (Porky) Sharwood, who was in the fire service. 

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