'Bridge Too Far' Operation Market Garden veterans' final reunion

Veterans of the World War II Netherlands bridge-taking operation are staging a final reunion in Merseyside.

Soldiers who took part in Operation Market Garden in September 1944 to try to take strategic bridges near Arnhem are having a farewell get-together.

The failed operation, which was mounted to shorten the war, was depicted in the film A Bridge Too Far.

The decision to make this the last reunion was made after the youngest veterans reached their mid-80s.

About 150 former British and Dutch servicemen from Market Garden Veterans' Association branches throughout the UK have gathered at The Prince of Wales Hotel in Southport.

Underestimated numbers

Organisers said that the four-day gathering would give members the chance to share stories for a final time and remember fallen comrades.

Operation Market Garden was halted by the Battle of Arnhem where 1,485 Allied troops died and more than 6,000 were captured by German forces.

If the Allies had not underestimated the number of German troops lying in wait for them and the operation had been successful, they would have been able to take control of key bridges in the German-occupied Netherlands.

This would have enabled the Allies to enter the Ruhr, Germany's industrial heartland, and could have ended the war earlier.

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