After a long, convoluted and covid-interrupted planning process, on the Remembrance weekend 2022, 678 squadrons based in Milton Keynes John Howard Barracks and our sister Sqn 677 were finally able to embark upon Exercise BLUE REMEMBER. This Battlefield Study Tour of the landing grounds of Arnhem afforded us the opportunity to study the harsh realities that faced British soldiers during Operation MARKET GARDEN, arguably the most disastrous airborne operation of WW2.
Through the application of the Army Leadership Code, Exercise BLUE REMEMBER encouraged the personnel to examine and compare British warfighting in 1944 with modern strategies.
For soldiers of the Army Air Corps, this was also a unique opportunity to explore the heritage and origins of the corps in the Glider Pilot Regiment. Members of 6AAC were able to stand on the landing grounds of Geinkel Heath and reflect upon their predecessors’ endeavours in Oosterbeek, and in Arnhem, for the limited few who made it through.
The exercise, first, retraced the steps of the Glider Pilot Regiment and 1st Parachute Battalion, from Geinkel Heath to Oosterbeek. We walked the route that our fathers, grandfathers, brothers and cousins battled as they sought to take Arnhem, before visiting the site of the original command post in Oosterbeek at the Hartenstein Hotel Airborne Museum. The museum’s collection of artifacts brought the journey to life with personal stories of the soldiers who were there.
On Sunday 13th November, we were invited to lay a wreath during the remembrance service hosted by the Royal British Legion Holland Branch at the Oosterbeek Cemetery. This was an incredible privilege.
In the final phase of the exercise, Service Personnel gathered at Oulde Kerk or “Old Church”, the command post from which the bloody last stand of Operation MARKET GARDEN took place, and to see the damaged buildings that remain and to reflect on the soldiers who lost their lives.
All in all, a memorable and informative trip which introduced critical lessons of leadership to our junior soldiers embarking on their army careers and afforded an opportunity for reflection for the more senior personnel.
678 Sqn John Howard Barracks Milton Keynes join us today on 01908 211155 – Smith, Kelly Sgt (6AAC-678-ReMSO) Kelly.Smith138@mod.gov.uk