Engineers at Arnhem
It is a tradition that each year, on our Annual Pilgrimage to Arnhem, that we attend the Service of Remembrance at the Driel Memorial. The memorial was erected in 1989 as a perpetual reminder of the hugely significant part that the Royal Engineers and the Royal Canadian Engineers played in the story of the Battle of Arnhem. The memorial bears the cap badge of both Corps.
Operation Berlin took place overnight 25th/26th September 1944. The Oosterbeek perimeter was under severe pressure from the German troops, who were hoping to end the battle by destroying the final enclave of British troops. They did not know that the order had been given for a silent tactical withdrawal. It was to take place, in darkness, on 25th September. By this time elements of 30 Corps had secured Driel on the far side of the river from Oosterbeek. But how to get the troops across the river? 260th Field Company Royal Engineers and 23rd Field Company Royal Canadian Engineers were tasked to transport, on boats, the men in the enclave.
The Engineers made repeated crossings during the evening and night.Although planned a silent crossing it soon got very hot when the Germans realised what was happening !! They opened fire and killed seven of the Canadians and took out a number of boats. None of this deterred the brave Engineers who went back and forth until 0545hrs bringing a total in excess of 2000 men across to relative safety.
A magnificant effort by some very brave Engineers who deserve to be remembered.