This year marks the 75th Anniversary of VE, or Victory in Europe Day. On 8th May 1945, Winston Churchill made an announcement on the radio at 3pm after enemy forces had surrendered the previous day. He said, “My dear friends, this is your house.” This year on the 8th May 2020 it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent and marked the end of World War II. To commemorate the event, this year’s May Day Bank Holiday has been moved. Usually the May Day Bank Holiday is the first Monday of May, however this year the date has been moved to Friday 8th May to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Events will take place around the country over weekend from the 8th May to the 10th May 2020 to mark the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination shown by those who served and the millions who lost their loved ones in the conflict. If you wish to find out more information on how you can take part in celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day click here. Ensure your uniform is ready to take part in the parades and remembrance duties. You can find all your uniform accessories on our website.
This year, the 17th of September, marked the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden. This World War II mission was fought in the Netherlands from 17th – 25th September 1944. Market Garden consisted of two sub operations. Market was an airborne assault to seize key bridges and Garden which was a ground attack moving over the already seized bridges creating the salient, or inroad into enemy held territory Up until that point, this attack was the largest airborne operation, in World War II. The operation was the idea of General Bernard Montgomery. It began with heavy air raids, with para troopers landing around 13:00 hours. The initial phase of the operation was a success as the Germans were taken completely by surprise. Even though the resistance by the Germans was heavier than expected, most of the bridges were captured. The most important bridge, Arnhem, was the most strategically placed and in order for this mission to be successful the ground forces needed to capture the bridge. Unfortunately the German SS pounded the paratroopers and eventually they were forced to surrender. Operation Market garden achieved all objectives apart from the capture of the Bridge at Arnhem. The operation failed for a few reasons. Many felt that Montgomery’s plan was too optimistic. The paratroops were lightly armed and without the support from the ground force they couldn’t hold out for long. The general also failed to understand the terrain the men were fighting on. He assumed the tanks could make their way to the landing zones by only using the roads which was no longer the case. The roads became clogged with burned out tanks and vehicles which delayed the vehicles. Another reason the operation failed was due to intelligence. The Germans anticipated an offensive would be launched to seize Arnhem. Although the British had intelligence with compelling proof that the Germans had significant forces in that region, it was not believed by Montgomery. Lastly, the Germans had been driven back by the British and Americans as they dominated the skies and harassed the Germans. During this time the Germans lost some 90,000 killed or wounded soldiers and 200,000 had been taken prisoner or missing in action. The Germans regrouped in the Netherlands, after the British army failed to encircle the German army in the Scheldt Estuary. Due to German intelligence, and the regrouping of the German army, this meant the SS units were positioned in Arnhem. On a more positive note, Operation Market Garden did lead to the liberation of large areas of southern Netherlands, including the cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen, however it failed to secure the key bridge at Arnhem which delayed any other planned invasion of Germany and hopes of ending the war by Christmas in 1944. The river remained a barrier to invasion until offensives at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees and Wesel in March 1945.
The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment was an infantry regiment in the King’s Division formed in 1702 by Colonel George Hastings, 8th Earl of Huntingdon. Originally the regiment was named Huntingdon’s Regiment, as was custom back then, but the name later changed as one Colonel succeeded another. In 1751 regiments were given numbers, so from that day forward it was called 33rd Regiment of Foot. It wasn’t until 1852, when the Duke of Wellington died, that Queen Victoria ordered the regiment’s title be changed to the 33rd (or The Duke of Wellington’s) Regiment. In 1881, the 33rd regiment was linked with the 76th Regiment of Foot who shared their depot in Halifax. It was after this that the two regiments respectively became the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. By 1948 the two regiments were amalgamated into one battalion. Following further mergers in 2012, the battalion was renamed the new 1st Battalion (1 Yorks) of the regiment. Nine soldiers from the Battalion have been awarded the Victoria Cross medal, and Corporal Wayne Mills became the first recipient of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 1994. During the regiment’s early days its soldiers wore red lined coats with yellow breeches. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the coats had red facings with white linings which showed in the turn-backed skirts. The regiment was known for being unusual with its collars, cuffs and shoulder straps as they were also red. Most regiments had facings with contrasting colours. Officers in the regiment were distinguished by silver buttons and braid until 1830 when it was changed to gold. The badge of Duke of Wellington was worn by the regiment after 1893. The Honorary Colours for the regiment were 6 foot 6 inches by 6 foot. On the 31st of March 2007 the Regulation colours were taken out of service and are now laid up in Halifax Parish Church. The Mayor of Halifax inspected the troops at the short ceremony. Various Battalions from the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment have served in most land conflicts since its formation, including: the Battle of Passchendaele, the First World War, the Second World War, the Battle of the Somme. We stock some items for the Yorkshire Regiment on our website. Click here