Message from our President ref: Arnhem 2024

Briefing Note 18 May 2024
Arnhem Riders 2024 – 80th Anniversary of the Battle for Arnhem
I write this briefing note as a way of communicating my thoughts and opinions of a couple of issues so that we may discuss these in the lead-up to Arnhem 2024.
The Airborne Forces Riders have been attending Arnhem as an organised group since 2014 and have become known both at home and in Arnhem as ‘The Arnhem Riders’. The initial attending group was of 14 riders and partners, but since then numbers have steadily increased to around 50, with around 180 attending in 2019 at the 75th Anniversary of the Battle for Arnhem Commemorations. This proved to be too many to manage safely or effectively.
Having become established as an accepted part of the overall Arnhem commemorations has been a distinct advantage to the group as this gives us an accepted role to play, we gain official and unofficial status and recognition as a veterans group, and most importantly we are seen to be continuing the memory of our Airborne forefathers and honouring the Dutch people themselves for the huge sacrifices they made before, during and after the battle.
Our acceptance by the Dutch authorities has in no small measure been due to our willingness to accept the Dutch plan and rules. They are our gracious hosts and it would be foolish to try to do anything that went against their meticulous planning and conventions.
In addition to this, as a group we have been seen to be well organised and responsible, with a high standard of riding discipline that cause the organisers and civil and military authorities little or no cause for concern. Actually, in the last five years they have come to trust our small organisation, and this must be protected. It is pleasing to note that we have had no discipline issues of note and it must stay that way, however, the more the group increases and we get greater numbers riders attending – some of whom are not in the ‘Airborne Family’ – we risk that reputation becoming tarnished should there be an incident on the road or down town by someone associated with the Arnhem Riders, and therefore we should make it very clear that we attend Arnhem to pay our respects to the fallen and the people of Arnhem, and that we have a zero tolerance of bad behaviour.
On the subject of who attends as ‘Arnhem Riders’ there has been a tendency for people to invite others along without the invitation of an ‘Airborne Rider’. If this were to continue just about anyone could invite themselves along and call themselves one of us and who knows what could result. I am very happy for non-Airborne Riders to come along on this as Arnhem was in fact an all-arms battle and thus it is of historical and commemorative significance to many units and organisations, however, I feel that we need to have a good think about how we control or limit who is actually in the Arnhem Riders grouping on a year by year basis for our own reputational protection, the administration of the group and to ensure that we do not become a burden on our Dutch hosts, or to ourselves. For those reasons, I intend this year – the 80th year and our 10th anniversary – that those attending on any of our official rides MUST be members of Airborne Forces Riders Branch.
(Riders or Supporters)
In order to cope with the expected high number of riders this year we will cap the number of riders in the commemorative ‘Ride of Remembrance’ taking place on Friday to an expected 3 groups of 10. (I will ask our NL guides to confirm group numbers)
Proposed Outline Plan by Day and Date
Thursday 19 September 2024
Arrival of the main body from various ports and in various groupings. Settle into accommodation at Oostappen Vakantiepark. We do not know if the bar will be open this year but I will update on this as soon as we get news.
1800 hrs – Meet and greet at patio / bar area
1900 hrs – formal welcome and short briefing in the Clubhouse / or patio on the plan for the weekend. This is aimed mainly at the new-comers but experienced Arnhem Riders should also attend as this ‘sets the scene’ of our involvement in this important event. This is also where people will confirm allocation to groups for the ‘Ride of Remembrance’ or other ride-outs the following day. (See below)
Friday 20 September 2024
I suggest that the groups attending the ‘Ride of Remembrance’ to the outlying gravesites are limited to three groups of 10 riders. Those attending the Ride of remembrance for the first time will be given priority but each group will have experienced members who know the form on this ride.
The intention is for these groups to be published early and for people to put their own names on a group list in specific slots. (See Example Group List) I include four experienced Arnhem riders in each group so that the accepted format of how we behave at the gravesites is communicated to the new-comers thus carrying on the tradition. These also act as mentors and group leaders.
It would be the intention for the groups to move from the campsite to the RV with the NL guides as their own organised grouping under the group leader and meet their Dutch guides at a time to be confirmed. They will then be in the hands of the Dutch guides for the rest of the day.
Depending on how many attend and how many guides the Dutch can produce there may be people left over or who may want to see something different. I suggest that these be given the opportunity to attend one or more of the following locations which are not far away.
a. Overloon (Oorlogsmuseum) War Museum.
b. Dutch Resistance Museum (Amsterdam)
c. Airborne Museum Hartenstein
d. Grebbeburg (NL) War Cemetery. (Wreath required)
e. Ysselsteyn (DE) War Cemetery. (Wreath required)
f. Renkum DZ – Pathfinders Para-Drop 1300-1700 hrs
I would suggest that these groups leave from the campsite under their own arrangements once the Ride of Remembrance groups have departed. I see that the groups attending these ride-outs may be the more ‘seasoned’ Arnhem Riders who want to see something different this year.
Friday evening – no plan, however there is traditionally a parade in town at the Bearpit and a march over the John Frost Bridge.
Saturday 21 September 2024
I am assuming that this will be along the traditional lines, however rather than meet at the campsite and clog up the entrance road I expect that we will meet the Red Beret Riders at the decathlon carpark as we have previously, purely for ease of parking and departure. We may also have the Polish veteran biker group ‘Motorcycle Club Monte Cassino’ on our ride out. Please note that as we do not know the security situation at this time we may have to amend some parts of the plan closer to the day.
Outline plan:
Meet Red Beret Riders. Time & Location – TBC
Ride out under their guidance. Arrive at Ginkel Heide DZ – Time tbc.
1400 Hrs approx. – Ride to Driel for the Polish Memorial Service at 1500 hrs. (Wreath required)
1630 hrs move to Engineer memorial for service at 1700 Hrs. (Wreath required)
Saturday evening – no plan.
Sunday 22 September 2024
Outline plan:
0900 hrs – Form Up
0930 hrs – Ride to Oosterbeek War Cemetery to arrive early and with minimum noise.
First 40 Airborne Forces Riders will be able to park in the civil cemetery. All others to park in the designated car park. (Pucks required)
1100 hrs – Service of Remembrance
1230 hrs – Dispersal – minimum noise. (No engine start before 1230 hrs)
I don’t envisage any further formal Arnhem Rider activity after this point unless we are asked to by the Dutch. Some people are staying over for Monday ferries but the majority will head for the ports on Sunday afternoon.
The Dutch people. As alluded to earlier, it is important that we build and maintain our relationships with the Dutch people in an official capacity but also as friends. It is also vitally important that we go with their plan and be seen collectively to do so. This needs to be made clear to those who come on this trip that while we don’t expect everyone to attend everything, we do expect them to attend the majority of events that we are involved in and to adhere to timings.
Arnhem Veterans – there are not many left and we should make every effort to meet them whenever possible.
There is no doubt that it costs a lot of money for the Dutch to mount this commemoration. In the past, the Dutch Motorcycle Club have funded the ferry crossings and coffee on the Friday, and someone must have funded the flowers they provide to lay on the graves. (We provide the crosses) Please offer to buy the Dutch guides a coffee or lunch. I’m sure the Dutch will say that it is not required but at least we should offer it if we can.
The Arnhem Riders have an excellent reputation that has been built over the last ten years and the Dutch people know that we are dedicated to Remembrance of the fallen and Respect for the people of Arnhem.
The Arnhem Riders continue to work with our Dutch hosts and we will continue to follow their lead in the Arnhem Commemorations, to promote the principles of Remembrance and Respect, and through our behaviour and bearing, promote our own Airborne ethos. In the future I expect that we will promote engagement in the historical interest in the Battle of Arnhem, and hopefully encourage new Airborne Riders to join the group, especially from those still serving.
Paul Moore
Airborne Forces Riders
18 May 2020