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Market Garden Memorial; Eindhoven, September 15, 2017

Airborne Troops in Eindhoven; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

This year, the 73th anniversary of the famous Operation Market Garden was commemorated. Traditionally, the commemorations are always accompanied by the necessary parachute droppings of different airborne troops of the army. These airborne troops are from several countries during the annually commemoration.

From September 11 until 16, 2017, the international parachuting exercise Falcon Leap took place for the third time. The special during this edition of the exercise was the 25th anniversary of the 11 Airmobile Brigade of the Dutch Army. During the training, military personnel from eight different countries would train together by jumping with each other's material. The exercise, which encourages collaboration between the various partners, is linked to the memory and commemoration of the Operation Market Garden which was conducted during the Second World War. Operation Market Garden was an allied offensive against the Germans in the Netherlands in September 1944. The operation was the most important operation in the Netherlands during the Second World War. Market Garden was largely unsuccessful, because the last bridge at Arnhem could not be occupied. The result of this failure was the Hunger Winter for the northern part of the Netherlands. Operation Market Garden consisted of two major sub-operations. The first operation was to drop a large amount of airborne troops behind the German lines and was called Market. The second operation was a ground offensive from Belgium to the Netherlands under the name Garden. The British, Polish and American airborne troops would occupy the important bridges across the major Dutch rivers. The ground troops could quickly flow from Belgium towards the IJsselmeer in the Netherlands. Operation Market Garden was seen as a failure by the Allied Army Staff. The most crucial goal was the bridge at Arnhem which could not be conquered.

The official historic anniversary of Operation Market Garden started in Brabant in Son and Breugel. On Friday September 15, a group of parachutists were dropped over Son and Breugel. The paratroopers would land in the area surrounding the Brouwerskampweg and Sonniuswijk. The parachutists belong to the Round Canopy Parachuting Team (RCPT). The RCPT team has members from 26 different countries and operate in the style of Operation Market Garden in 1944. The paratroopers wear

authentic uniforms and jump from an authentic C-47 Dakota. The RCPT organizes jumps to commemorate the warriors who fought for our freedom. On Sunday, September 17, 1944, 4500 parachutists landed in the fields west of Son and Breugel in a timeframe of 45 minutes. In addition, there were 53 Waco gliders which were transported by the C-47 Skytrain. The Paulushoef farm was chosen as marker for the drop zone by the pilots. The name of this farm was written in big white letters on the roof. People from the nearby farms helped the Americans in all possible ways after their landing. On Saturday, the RCPT continued to Veghel to start the commemoration there. At 6 pm, they jumped in the Kruigenstraat. The Ham en Havelt area was the scene of fierce fighting on September 22, 1944. That struggle has entered the history books as "Black Friday". Finally, at Sunday around 3.30 pm, there was also a jump on De Horstjens in Eerde. The landing took place on a field of drop zone A, which was not used since September 1944. The 3rd battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment landed at 1.15 pm at that time.

In addition to the RCPT team which traditionally makes parachute jumps during the commemorations, there are also international military teams deployed during the commemorations. The different units were facilitated during the commemorations by the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The two highlights are the public events on Wednesday September 13, at the Houtdorperveld at Ermelo and the commemoration jump on September 16, at the Ginkelse Heide at Ede near Arnhem. On both days between 8 am and 2 pm there were more than 800 parachutists been dropped in the designated areas. All aircraft which dropped parachutists would normally operate from Eindhoven Air Base. The Royal Netherlands Air Force would provide one C-130 Hercules for the exercise and commemorations. Normally, the Royal Netherlands Air Force flies with two aircraft, but this time it was only one aircraft due to the operational circumstances after the hurricane in the Caribbean. The German Luftwaffe flew with two C-160 Transall transport aircraft. The Polish Air Force provided one Casa C-295 transport aircraft. Finally, the United States Air Force would fly with one single C-130 Hercules which was especially from the United States flown to Eindhoven. In the past, the Belgian Air Force and the British RAF also flew along during the commemorations. However, this year, both countries were not involved during the commemorations.

The parachutists participating in the exercise Falcon Leap and the commemorations are from eight different countries. The participating countries, were; Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Poland and the United States. During the exercise Falcon Leap, it was mainly meant that the crews were completely mixed together. In this way, the troops are able to operate together and they are able to use each other's equipment and aircraft. This way of training ensures that the troops are widely deployable and that they are not dependent on their own equipment and aircraft. The large end scenario of the exercise were the parachute jumping’s during the commemorations around Operation Market Garden. For boarding the aircraft in Eindhoven, all teams were aligned in rows of two. The parachutists are able to enter the aircraft quickly for their mission. In some cases, the aircraft returned from a previous drop, and the new parachutists were loaded with running engines on the platform. The fast loading of the paratroopers is a part of the exercise which is being trained seriously by all involved parties. This way of loading delivers as little time as possible on the ground for the transport aircraft, making them less vulnerable in enemy territory during a combat mission. By training internationally in addition to the commemorations, both the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Army can effectively execute both Falcon Leap and the Market Garden memorial.

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