Winds defeat Arnhem veterans: Former paratroopers grounded by bad weather in practice for 50th anniversary of airborne assault on Rhine
Friday 30 July 1993
The former paratroopers - aged from 68 to 74 - spent a frustrating day pacing up and down at the joint services parachute training centre at Netheravon, Wiltshire.
Low cloud and strong winds forced cancellation of their 12,000ft jump above Salisbury Plain, marking the start of training for parachute veterans set to re-enact the airborne assault on Arnhem.
The practice was proposed after several veterans had criticised the RAF for refusing to provide an aircraft for them in the memorial drop on the lower Rhine in September next year.
'The RAF are refusing to help us because they have a policy that they will not drop civilians,' the organiser, Geoff Holmes, 73, said.
'We are all trained parachutists and we are undergoing strict training for the jump. It is a bloody shame and we are hoping the RAF will change their minds.'
An RAF spokesman said: 'The situation is that the RAF never takes up civilians in service aircraft because parachuting is a dangerous sport and we are not insured to carry them.'
About 60 Arnhem veterans will make next year's memorial mission to the town featured in the film A Bridge Too Far for the 50th anniversary events on 17 September.
The drop will mark the airborne assault by British and Polish troops who fought a heroic but vain battle to secure the bridgehead for the British armoured advance. About 7,000 were killed, wounded or captured.
Veterans from South Africa, Australia, the United States and Canada aim to raise pounds 250,000 for charities supporting airborne forces and their dependants in Britain and the Netherlands.
More than 100 have volunteered for the jump. After medical checks and retraining an estimated 60 will eventually take part.
The veterans have been promised three private aircraft - including a Dakota which flew in the battle itself - to use for the jump but need at least one more.
Oscar Pistorius trial: Paralympian sick again after photographs of Reeva Steenkamp's body are shown in court
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: US pushes search towards vast expanse of the Indian Ocean
Tony Benn dead: Veteran Labour politician passes away at 88
Arrest made after man is found by the side of the road with his penis cut off
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Focus shifts west as Indian Ocean becomes latest search area for the aircraft and its passengers
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
- 1 Tony Benn meets Ali G: Watch Labour veteran burn Sacha Baron Cohen
- 2 Women do experience two different types of orgasm, study reveals
- 3 Tony Benn dead: Veteran Labour politician passes away at 88
- 5 Gauthier Soho has ranted against 'food blaggers' - so can we really trust online reviews?
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a trained Key...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: We are currently look...