Whilst the taxi charity planned this trip to Holland to enable British veterans to take part in Dutch liberation celebrations, any journey there is especially poignant for veterans from the Glider Pilot Regiment Association; they took part in the airborne invasion of Holland in September 1944, flying in with thousands of other pilots and paratroopers. Seven glider pilots came on this trip, a real band of brothers. I really enjoyed talking to Joe Patient, 95 next birthday and Iain Bonner, 89, in lovely Trevor’s Black Cab on the way from the National Remembrance Service in Rhenen last Friday evening. So modest, they were keen to stress they’d just been ‘ordinary men doing extraordinary things’ when I asked them about their experiences. Many of their colleagues and friends are buried in Holland.
The morning of our departure – veterans and cabbies assembled in the hotel reception preparing for the return convoy – Iain called me over, saying he had something to give me ‘to remember them by’. Into my hand he pressed a wartime Army Flying Badge from a glider pilot’s shirt; they were given these wings on finishing training. I didn’t really need anything to remember them by, but I will really treasure this badge. Thank you Iain!