On the Saturday of this year's show we were visited in our slit trench by a veteran of the Arnhem battle, but as he informed us; he wasn't an Airborne!
Stan Hodge served with 4th Battalion the Dorsetshire Regiment 43rd Wessex Division and was one of the men who took the boats across to bring back as many survivors as possible on the 25/26th September 1944 known as Operation Berlin.
Stan informed us that they were given canvas 'storm' boats with outboard motors and made as many trips across the Rhine river as they could before daylight stopped the operation (the op took place between 22.00hrs and 05.00hrs with a total of approximately 2,500 men of the 1st Airborne Division being evacuated), he also told us that 4th Battalion lost 200 of their own number captured in an earlier attempt to cross the river and strengthen the Airborne soldiers in the Oosterbeek perimeter.
He bravely made his way through the mud with the aid of a Dutch Border Regiment Reenactor and also very kindly agreed to have his photograph taken with us. I asked him what he thought of our slit trench, had we got it right? and he answered "Yeah, not bad, about 95% correct"... Well, 95% correct is way better than 95% wrong I guess? It was an absolute honour to meet Stan, he was a ray of sunshine in a somewhat soggy slit trench!