Walhampton marks the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem
A strong link has developed between Walhampton School and the last surviving veterans of the Battle of Arnhem, which took place in September 1944 and was depicted in the Hollywood film ‘A Bridge Too Far’. Headmaster, Titus Mills, takes a group of pupils and their parents to Arnhem every September to meet the veterans on the battlefield in Holland and to hear their stories first-hand.
Walhampton is the only UK school invited, annually, to lay flowers at the graves in the Airborne cemetery, at Arnhem, during the Remembrance Service. This year the service was marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem and with most of the veterans now close to 100 years old, it was a particularly poignant trip.
Titus explains: “For 11 years I have been taking children, parents and teachers to visit the battlefields. They visit the places where our brave soldiers fell and meet the veterans who remember so vividly the bloody battle. There is no better history lesson than listening to the accounts and stories of those who were there.”
He continues: “It is deeply poignant to see a ninety six year old, wearing medals and a beret, placing an arm on the shoulder of a ten year old and relaying unimaginable stories of bravery, sacrifice and friendship. In those moments history comes alive and leaves an indelible mark. Every year the children return from their trip inspired, humbled and with a renewed respect for their elders.”
Each year there are fewer veterans able to make the trip to Arnhem to attend the remembrance service, so Walhampton now hosts its own outdoor service in its Remembrance Garden with some of the last Arnhem veterans attending. Eight of them visited in 2018 and stayed on for a special supper.
Titus comments: “Within our Remembrance Garden is a beautiful statue depicting a veteran standing alongside two school children carrying sunflowers. The statue was specially commissioned by a group of Walhampton parents who visited Arnhem, with their children, and felt compelled to create something both poignant and permanent within the school grounds. The sculpture was designed and sculpted by our Art and Pottery teacher, Jane Pickance, herself an old Walhamptonian, who visited Arnhem and experienced first-hand the special relationship between the school and the veterans.