Tulips to bloom in honour of airborne forces
South Kesteven District Council funded 1,000 tulips from Holland to commemorate a unique chapter in the district’s military heritage.
It is part of a floral trail honouring men of the British 1st Airborne Division, many of whom trained locally and flew from airfields at Barkston Heath and Saltby for Operation Market Garden - the battle of Arnhem - in September 1944.
Tulips, colour-matching the distinctive beret worn by British airborne forces, will bloom next year to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Arnhem.
Coun Rhea Rayside, SKDC Cabinet Member for People and Communities, said: “What a wonderful tribute and a very touching way to remember the sacrifices made by so many.
“I cannot wait to see these beautiful flowers bloom next Spring and I am delighted that we have helped to spread this incredible memorial trail across South Kesteven.”
School council members from Caythorpe Primary School were joined by WO2 Ian Chick, of the 4th Battalion Parachute Regiment, to plant bulbs at St Vincent’s Church in Caythorpe, a shrine to airborne forces.
At Harlaxton Manor, SKDC Armed Forces Champion Coun Richard Dixon-Warren joined American students from the University of Evansville to plant tulips around the courtyard’s 1st Airborne Division commemorative roundel.
The symbolic gesture also recognised the United States Army Air Force Troop Carrier Command’s Second World War role in transporting troops to Europe.
Volunteers from the Wyndham Park Forum have planted bulbs in Grantham’s Heroes Commemorative Orchard.
Other sites were Easton Walled Gardens, where men of the 2nd Parachute Battalion who fought at Arnhem under Lt Col John Frost were billeted at Easton Hall, and St Andrew and Mary’s Church in Stoke Rochford where they worshipped.
Grimsthorpe Castle, wartime host to the 1st Parachute Battalion, has also joined the trail, together with former RAF Saltby, the departure airfield for thousands of troops.
Coun Dixon Warren said: “We have an amazing chapter in Second World War military heritage in the heart of our district and we should do all we can to recognise and celebrate that. These tulips will add their own colour to the story of airborne troops who will forever be linked to South Kesteven.”
Cheshire man Darren Key, whose grandfather fought at Arnhem, worked with gardener Caroline Frost, Col Frost’s daughter, to choose the Attila Graffiti tulip variety for its colour.
He started the memorial trail in the Netherlands last year at sites around Arnhem.
A limited number of bulbs also went to UK schools last year but this year’s expanded programme of 14,500 tulip bulbs included The Royal Chelsea Hospital, Merville Barracks, Colchester, Airborne Memorial, Colchester and
The National Arboretum.
Caroline Frost said: "It's been amazing to watch this living memorial getting larger and larger each year, to remember and commemorate such brave men. It’s a very special way to remember those that paid the ultimate price
and to those that returned but had to live with the horrors of their individual battles.”