This month a group of proud London licensed Taxi Drivers will volunteer their time to take a group of WWII veterans to Holland for the 75th Anniversary of Arnhem.
Travelling to Arnhem with the charity for the services of commemoration, will be 98-year-old Ron Johnson, 94-year-old Frank Ashleigh and 100-year-old Ray Whitwell, who all participated in the Arnhem conflict in 1944. They will be joined by other WWII veterans and four Chelsea Pensioners.
The Battle of Arnhem was a major battle of the Second World War at the vanguard of the Allied Operation Market Garden. It was fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, and Wolfheze, and the surrounding countryside from 17–26 September 1944. Ron Johnson, Frank Ashleigh and Ray Whitwell landed in September 1944 for Operation Market Garden. They were part of the daring operation where more than 600 gliders were towed into battle in an attempt to secure the River Rhine crossings and advance into northern Germany. Ray Whitwell recalls: “We went nine days without food during the Arnhem conflict and then snipers shot holes in the bucket we were collecting water in.” One of the lucky ones, he evaded capture as he crossed the Rhine and made his way back to British lines. Both Ron Johnson and Frank Ashleigh were not so lucky and were taken captive by the Germans and sent to Prisoner of War camps. British Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Wilson comments: “Ron, Frank, and Ray are living examples of the bravery shown by our armed forces during the Second World War. I’m so pleased they are travelling to the Netherlands in London cabs thanks to the Taxi Charity, to mark this historic commemoration of Operation Market Garden with us. It is vital that we remember those who fought for our freedom; both to ensure we honour the sacrifices they made 75 years ago, as well as to remind future generations of the price of peace."
The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was formed in Fulham in 1948, to work for the benefit, comfort and enjoyment of military veterans and arranges many trips every year for veterans from all conflicts. The charity offers international trips to Holland, Belgium and France, UK day trips to concerts or museums, transport to attend fundraising events, as well as special days out to catch up with friends and comrades. To fund and facilitate these outings, the charity is wholly reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses and trusts, and the amazing group of London licensed taxi drivers who offer their time and vehicles for free.