The Somerby Commemoration of Operation Market Garden 2020

Sunday, September 13, 2020 9:45am - 11:45pm

The 73rd d Arnhem Memorial Service and Airborne Forces Parade, led by the Seaforth Highlanders Pipe Band will take place at Somerby, Leicestershire, LE14 2PZ at 10.00hrs on Sunday 13th September 2020

This is a call to all local Branches of the Parachute Regimental Association, members and former members of the Airborne Forces. We welcome your Standards and your support.

The Leicester Branch and the villagers of Somerby have held a Memorial Service and Parade in the village of Somerby, (which is near to Melton Mowbray), every year since the Branches inauguration in 1947, dedicated to all those men of Arnhem who paid the ultimate price.

These included, the men of the 4th Parachute Brigade, who were billeted in the surrounding areas of Leicestershire and Rutland.

The men of the 156 Parachute Battalion, (said to have suffered the greatest losses of any of the units involved in the battle for Arnhem).

The 10th Parachute Battalion whose headquarters were in the village of Somerby itself and the 11th Parachute Battalion billeted near to Melton Mowbray. These men not only fought side by side in the battle of Arnhem woods but also in the final battles for the perimeter of Osterbeek. The Battalions became indistinguishable as the men left the vulnerability of the houses, that were being systematically destroyed by the German Panzers, and took to fighting from trenches in the gardens, taking orders from anyone that was put in command regardless of unit.

Past years have seen the number of Association standards falling at the Somerby Parade. Last year the Leicester Standard was present in support at several locations, Bedworth, Nottingham, Woodhall Spa, Loughborough, Hardwick Hall, Arnhem. It is the intention of the Leicester Standard to support the Branches of the Parachute Regimental Association this year also, whenever possible and practical, it will be there, that is why we are asking for your support in Remembering the men of Arnhem, and the men of the 4th Parachute Brigade.

Itinerary.

09.30     Meet at the village Memorial Hall (formally the Village Monument to the men of the village who sacrificed their lives in the great war, now the Memorial Hall to WW1 and WW2)

10.00     The parade forms up                     

10.30     The parade moves off through the village to the Church

11.00     The Memorial Service takes place at the village All Saints Church, during which a wreath laying ceremony will take place at the Arnhem Window, after which the Parade reforms for the March Past.

Refreshments for all will be provided at the Village Memorial Hall, by the Villagers of Somerby and the Leicester Branch.

“Remember O God, for Good things all ranks of the Airborne Forces

 who gave their lives for their Country”

 

A brief history of the Arnhem Memorial Service and Parade, Somerby

 

Prior to their deployment at the battle for Arnhem, the 4th Parachute Brigade was stationed at various locations throughout Leicestershire and Rutland, with the headquarters of the Tenth Battalion being located in the village of Somerby.  After the decimation of the 4th Parachute Brigade at Arnhem there followed the disbandment of the 156 Parachute Battalion, the 10th Parachute Battalion and the 11th Parachute Battalion in late 1944. In 1945 a Church Service was held at All Saints Church Somerby, where a plaque was unveiled in the Church by survivors of the 10th Battalion and dedicated to their comrades that died at Arnhem. 

 

1946 the men of the 4th Parachute Brigade the 156 Parachute Battalion, the 10th Parachute Battalion, and the 11th Parachute Battalion came to Somerby and paraded through the village prior to a memorial service for the Airborne forces.

 

1947 Men of 4 Brigade formed the Leicester Branch of the Parachute Regimental Association and committed to having a Parade and Memorial Service in Somerby each year, a weekend where darts, cricket matches, and social evenings took place and men respectfully remembered their fallen comrades.   

 

1969 The members of the Leicester Branch and the Villagers of Somerby raised the funds for the Stained glass window (the Arnhem Window) that was installed and dedicated in the church that year bearing the Airborne Forces Pegasus, the inscription” Remember O God, for good things all ranks of the Airborne Forces who gave their lives for their country“. Without the inclusion of any Unit or Regimental cap badge. 

 

1996 The Villagers of Somerby presented the Leicester Branch with the pennant which adorns the Branch Standard Marking 50 years since the first Parade and, in 1997 a second pennant was added to mark 50 years since the men of the 4th Parachute Brigade formed the Leicester Branch.  

 

The Arnhem Memorial Service and Parade have been driven by the Leicester Branch and the Villagers of Somerby every year since 1947.

It is clear from its history, that the Service and Parade are dedicated to all Airborne Forces and not to any single unit, or regiment.

 

In essence, the Memorial Service and Parade are dedicated to the Airborne forces who took part in the Arnhem campaign with particular reference to the men that, not only fought side by side at Arnhem but, at the height of the defence of the perimeter at Oosterbeek became totally entwined.