© 2019 The Glider Pilot Regiment Society

UK Registered Charity No. 1184175

Operation Varsity Remembrance Service

March 5, 2019

A Service of Remembrance will take place on 24th March 2019 at 10.45 am at the Memorial Site in the grounds of Marks Hall Estate and Arboretum, Coggeshall, to commemorate the 74th Anniversary of Operation Varsity. All are welcome and guests are advised to arrive by 10:00 to allow time to walk to the memorial site.


On the 24th March 1945 the editor of the Folkstone, Hythe & District Herald wrote, “Mighty to behold shall we ever forget that massive armada of the skies that passed over our heads on Saturday morning March 24th : that vast airborne army that filled the heavens and set our ears throbbing with the roar of the great four-engined machines that carried our parachute troops and towed gliders. I do not think in all my life I have seen a sight that so stirred me. As the great winged army passed in steady procession across the skies it seemed as if a veritable canopy had been placed over this England of ours, a canopy that moved along and yet seemed never to be completely ended”


Operation Varsity was the single largest successful lift of airborne forces ever undertaken. A daring collaboration between British and American Airborne Divisions, it played a vital role in the final assault on Germany. The operation took place on 24th March 1945 and was the spearhead of what became known as the Rhine Crossing. Forty-three gliders were flown from Earls Colne Airfield to the north of the Estate. These formed part of the aerial armada, which included over 1,300 British and American gliders. The Airborne contribution towards this operation was to capture and hold the town of Hamminkeln, along with 3 vital bridges over the River Issel.


The British gliders were piloted by men from the British Army’s Glider Pilot Regiment. However, due to the heavy losses of Glider Pilots at Arnhem (Market Garden) in September 1944, RAF pilots were seconded to the Glider Pilot Regiment and trained as Glider Pilots to take part in this final operation of WW2. More than 100 of these pilots lost their lives.




The service will take place on Sunday 24th March.


It is suggested to arrive no later than 10.00 am in the Visitors Centre to allow time to walk to the Memorial Site.


Refreshments will be available at the Visitor Centre before and after the service. The service will commence at 10:45.


During the service there will be a two-minute silence, after which there will be opportunity to lay a wreaths and crosses.




Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum, Marks Hall Road, Coggeshall, CO6 1TG


This annual service is organised by the Trustees and Staff of the Marks Hall Estate. The Society would like to sincerely thank them for their ongoing efforts and the welcome they have extended to all of our members and followers.  


For further information please e-mail us on info@gliderpilotregiment.org.uk

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