Number Two Company WG100 Leg Two – Nijmegen and Lingen
Between the 14-18 August 2015, seventeen members of Number Two Company travelled to Nijmegen in Holland and then Lingen in Germany to commemorate the actions of 1st and 2nd Battalion Welsh Guards in the North West Europe campaign of 1944-45. This was the action that liberated Western Europe from the Nazis and the Guards Armoured Division (including both Welsh Guards battalions) was instrumental throughout the campaign.
Leg two before starting their marathon
The group travelled to Holland on 14 August via ferry in two combi-vans and after a mammoth five hour drive, arrived in Nijmegen around midday. At this point, Sgt Hedges, LSgts Deeks and Green and I conducted a confirmatory reconnaissance of the marathon route to iron out any last minute problems. Thankfully, there were none! After a hearty breakfast, thirteen runners with four others in the support vehicle stepped off at 0800. Aside from one small hill at the beginning, the route was very flat and was a good opportunity for those taking part to see the kind of terrain the Welsh Guards fought over during Operation MARKET GARDEN in September 1944. That evening, the group enjoyed a few well earned beers and limped off to bed with sore legs.
Leg two commemorates
On 16 August, after a late start we drove to Jonkerbos cemetery in Nijmegen to conduct a memorial service. Many of the soldiers killed during Operation MARKET GARDEN are buried there, significantly nine Welsh Guardsmen. After a short service including the last post and the laying of a wreath each member of the trip was given a cross and poppy which were laid on the graves of the Welsh Guardsmen and other Household Division troops. Whilst only a short service, it was a moving event and drove home the sacrifices made by the Regiment during the war.
Gdsm O’Leary dressed for 1944 battle
Our final day abroad was spent in Germany just outside the town of Lingen on the border with the Netherlands. This was a battlefield study following the exploits of the 2nd Battalion in securing crossing points into Germany. During the War a force just shy of a battlegroup, composed of elements of the 2nd Battalion Welsh Guards and 1st Battalion Scots Guards, suffered heavy casualties in securing these crossing points in an action that showed incredible bravery and innovative tactics. During the discussion, Gdsm O’Leary dressed in a 1944 Battledress to give the group an impression of the basic equipment used by the Battalion during the war.
Overall, the trip highlighted the difficulties encountered by the Regiment in the Second World War and served as an important reminder of the immense casualty rate suffered as our forebears fought to free Europe.