Share
twitterlinkedinfacebook
Image 1 of 1
BNPS_75YearsOfDedication_08.jpg
BNPS.co.uk (01202 558833)<br />
Pic: PhilYeomans/BNPS<br />
<br />
Dedication - Willemein Rieken at Trooper Edmunds grave at Arnhem.<br />
<br />
As the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden begins tomorrow, one of the original 'flower girl''s of Arnhem is still remembering...<br />
<br />
A heartwarming tale of dedication and rememberance has been revealed over a remarkable Dutch pensioner who still tends the grave of a fallen British Arnhem hero, 75 years after he perished in battle.<br />
<br />
Every year, Willemien Rieken (84) still lays flowers at Oosterbeek War Cemetery in memory of Trooper William Edmond, who was shot by a German sniper in the early stages of Operation Market Garden in 1944.<br />
<br />
Trp Edmond, of the elite 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron's final words, uttered to two comrades who came to his aid, were 'tell my wife I love her'.<br />
<br />
Willemien was just nine years old when Oosterbeek became a bloody battleground in September 1944. The retired director's secretary, now aged 84, hid in a small cellar underneath her father's confectionary shop for five days while fierce fighting raged around their house and garden.<br />
<br />
Twenty-five of her family, friends and neighbours packed into the confined space and cowered in fear in the deafening din of shooting and explosions.<br />
<br />
After the war the grateful citizens of Arnhem arranged a poignant ceremony involving a nine year old Willimein and other school children from the town, to lay flowers at the graves of the British soldiers killed in the battle. <br />
<br />
And the dedicated pensioner is now one of the last survivors to still undertake the task.