Pilgrimage from Spalding to Arnhem is inspired by dads who fought there 75 years ago
Cherished memories of two heroic Spalding dads who fought in the Battle of Arnhem are inspiring Angela Newton and David Dakin to join September’s 75th anniversary commemorations in the Netherlands.
Many families in our part of the world have a link to Arnhem because airborne troops were stationed in Spalding, Donington and Bourne prior to the battle.
Immortalised in the Richard Attenborough film, A Bridge Too Far, the landings at Arnhem - codenamed Operation Market Garden - were meant to shorten the war. But the operation was a failure and a bloodbath.
Of the 10,000 troops who landed at Arnhem some 1,400 were killed in the fighting and more than 6,000 were captured.
Angela’s father, Basil Dash, was a member of the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment stationed in Spalding. She believes the horrors of the battle were too painful for him to even think of recounting what he saw or did.
“We used to have a knife at home that he had brought back with him,” said Angela. “My mum always said he had killed a German with it. It was a German knife.”
In June, Angela was in Normandy for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
There in spirit was her dad as Angela proudly wore his medals.
David’s father Les Dakin ended up as a prisoner of war but had actually reached Arnhem and fought alongside Johnny Frost, then a lieutenant colonel who became a wartime legend.
David said: “He was actually in the schoolhouse on the bridge with Johnny Frost.”
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