A 266lb bronze eagle statue, commemorating the airmen who lost their lives in one of the Second World War’s bloodiest battles, will finally be taking off from the UK and landing at in Arnhem, thanks in part to TNT.
The £20,000 memorial, which came about thanks to a two-year fund-raising campaign led by war veteran Alan Hartley, was collected free of charge by TNT from the Morris Singer Art Foundry in Braintree, Essex and taken by road and ferry to Arnhem in the Netherlands, 360 miles away.
Hartley, aged 81, from Mount Nod, Coventry, served for four years between 1943-47 as a mechanic with the 271 Squadron based in Gloucestershire. He has always maintained that there should be a memorial to his pals in the RAF’s transport command who played a vital role in Operation Market Garden in September 1944.
He said: “There were almost 11,000 troops on the ground in Arnhem that needed ammo, food and water. It had to come in by air because they were 60 miles behind German lines. Those brave men that flew straight into heavy enemy fire to deliver those supplies deserve to be commemorated.”
Allied memorials have already been erected in Arnhem but none to the RAF men who dropped supplies to troops on the ground.
The three-foot bronze eagle will stand on a five-foot black plinth and bear the words: “Greater love have no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.”