Day 12: The End

After Operation Market Garden failed to establish a bridgehead across the Rhine, Allied forces launched offensives on two fronts in the south of the Netherlands. To secure shipping to the vital port of Antwerp they advanced northwards and westwards, the Canadian First Army taking the Scheldt Estuary in the Battle of the Scheldt. Allied forces also advanced eastwards in Operation Aintree to secure the banks of the Meuse as a natural boundary for the established salient. This attack on the German bridgehead west of the Meuse near Venlo was for the Allies an unexpectedly protracted affair, which included the Battle of Overloon.

In February 1945, Allied forces in Operation Veritable advanced from the Groesbeek heights which had been taken during Market Garden, and into Germany, crossing the Rhine in March during Operation Plunder. As a result of Operation Plunder, the city of Arnhem was finally liberated by I Canadian Corps on 14 April 1945 after two days of fighting. A surrender of the remaining German forces in the west of the Netherlands was signed on 5 May


Day 11 had been wet and windy and as I was ahead of schedule I decided to sit still for a day. That’s difficult to do when you’re tired and just want to get to the end but I just about managed. So Day 12 became the final day, another one on fantastic Dutch cycle roads, 43 miles up to Arnhem Bridge. Dan coughed and spluttered his 1939 motorbike which had come out in a van from the hotel the Project 71 group were staying in up to the bridge to meet me.

The ride’s been tough, I think it was carrying the extra weight which I found the hardest part. My route planning, which I’d spent hours doing generally worked quite well and where it didn’t, like when it seemed to take me down grassy or gravelly tracks, I’d just carry on past and hope I was heading in roughly the right direction. I’ve ridden somewhere in between 600 and 650 miles I think. I shall add it all up when I get the chance!

A huge thank you to Dan who has researched and written most of these blog posts for me, and to everyone who has donated to Project 71. If you could even spend 5 minutes with this group you would see how worthwhile the effort is. To have things to look forward to, friends to spend time with and plenty of smiles from both veterans and volunteers. I’ll end with some photos showing the fun and antics the group gets up to and show just how much your donations mean and some of the very special people Project 71 supports.


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