A series of events to commemorate a Sleaford village’s links with the ill-fated Battle of Arnhem in the Second World War has been declared a great success.
Arnhem 70 - Heckington Remembers was organised by Heckington villagers over the last few months ahead of the 70th anniversary of the operation last month.
Men of the 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery (Royal Artillery) were stationed in Heckington during the Second World War and left from the village on that fateful mission in the Netherlands.
Various events were planned in the village last week building up to a commemoration weekend.
Andrew Key, chairman of the organising group, said: “This has been a truly remarkable weekend. Hundreds of people have visited the exhibitions and the other events that have been organised.
“The Sunday commemorations were especially well attended and we were delighted to welcome back two of the men who were stationed here in the war and who left for Arnhem.
“I was talking to one of them, Gunner A. B. Hubbard and he recognised all the photographs of the officers we had on display. They and all the other veterans and their families were very moved by the tributes paid.
“When the Dakota swooped in over the middle of the village to the sound of the Sleaford Brigades Band it was a very poignant moment. My thanks go to the huge team of volunteers who made this all possible.”
Shops and businesses dressed their windows with a wartime theme, while residents were encouraged to display a special poster in their window.
Thursday saw the opening of two exhibitions in the village – ‘Arnhem and World War Two’ in St Andrew’s Church and ‘Heckington Today’ over the road in the council chambers. There was also a talk on Arnhem by local historian Charles Raphael.
On Saturday, there was live musical entertainment in the church throughout the day, with performances by the Cubs and Scouts, the St Andrew’s Singers and more.
On Sunday afternoon, there were official commemorations at the war memorial on the Green, with a flypast by the Dakota from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, followed by the Act of Remembrance and a united service of commemoration in the church led by ministers from all the churches in the village and involving local children.
Seventy candles were lit by the children to commemorate the years that have passed since the battle.
Heckington Players put on a 1940s themed cabaret evening entitled ‘Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be’ prior to the weekend.
Vice-chairman of Heckington Parish Council, Coun Jan Palmer said it was an ‘excellent weekend with a fantastic atmosphere’.