From war to rabbits

Arnhem exhibition at St Vincent's Church, Caythorpe for heritage Open Days. EMN-191009-105446001
Arnhem exhibition at St Vincent's Church, Caythorpe for heritage Open Days. EMN-191009-105446001

A heritage exhibition at Caythorpe is commemorating the 75th anniversary of South Kesteven’s role in the legendary World War II battle for the bridges near Arnhem.

The Arnhem75 exhibition in St Vincent’s Church, opening on Friday and running until September 22, notes the bond forged between Airborne Divisional Signals and Caythorpe where the troops prepared and trained.

It also highlights how men who fought in Operation Market Garden were the inspiration for universally acclaimed novel, Watership Down.

In September 1944, units of the 1st Airborne Division flew into one of the bloodiest conflicts of the war, with the struggle to seize the bridge at Arnhem immortalised in the film ‘A Bridge Too Far’.

Artefacts loaned from Duxford’s Imperial War Museum will be on display as part of the county’s Heritage Open Days.

Extracts from the autobiography of Watership Down author Richard Adams, show his tale of a beleaguered band of rabbits was based on the characters and exploits of fellow officers of the Royal Army Service Corps 250th Company. Lt Richard Adams reported to 1st Airborne Division’s Fulbeck HQ early in 1944.

Maj John Gifford shaped the character of Hazel, the rabbits’ leader, while Capt Paddy Kavanagh inspired the character of brave Bigwig - a courageous fighter. Captain Kavanagh died holding off enemy fire while his platoon escaped.