When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
Weymouth charity cyclist's shock at meeting war heroes
A FORMER sergeant major had an unexpected encounter during his annual trip to Arnhem, Holland.
John Wilkinson, ex-paratrooper in the Royal Armoured Corps, is one of many veterans who head to the destination each year to pay tribute to the British troops who secured the bridge there in the Second World War.
During his visit he went to a bar to read his book, named ‘We Fought at Arnhem’ by Mike Rossiter, based on war veterans Tom Carpenter, Pat Gorman and the late Ron Jordan.
The decorated ex-soldier said: “It was really unbelievable. I was looking at past and present photos in the book of Tom Carpenter and Pat Gorman when I looked up to find them both sitting right in front of me.”
The three men were involved in the in failed Allied operation – Operation Market Garden – to take and secure a bridge across the River Rhine at Arnhem.
It was one of several key bridges in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands that the Allies hoped to take in a bid to shorten the war.
Pat Gorman served in 4 Parachute Brigade in 11 Parachute Battalion and Tom Carpenter as a sapper with 9 Field Company RE, 1st British Airborne Division.
Sapper Carpenter was later captured following the Battle of Arnhem and was badly wounded in the back by a shell fragment.
Mr Wilkinson, 63, of Weymouth, added: “I was reading about how Tom had jumped at the bridge and what had happened to troops there, so I had so much to ask them.
“I went over and introduced myself, it was fascinating to hear their stories.”
The 63-year-old has raised funds for Help for Heroes throughout the years by cycling to Arnhem.
He hosts motivational talks and says his new material will include the lessons he was taught by the veterans.
Mr Wilkinson, who lives with his wife Claire, works as a book delivery driver for county library service.
Operation Market Garden
DURING Operation Market Garden in Holland in September 1944, British troops were deployed to secure the bridge at Arnhem needed to advance into Germany.
The bridge was held for four days but, after facing stiff resistance, the Allies were forced to withdraw.
If the operation – begun in September 1944 – had been successful, it would have enabled the Allies to enter the Ruhr and the war could have ended up to six months earlier.
The operation was portrayed in the 1977 Hollywood film A Bridge Too Far. The city was eventually liberated in April 1945.
Comments are closed on this article.