Lottery-funded research project by school children on display this week as part of Battle of Arnhem commemorations in Caythorpe

The stained glass window dedicated to the 1st Airborne Signals Regiment in Caythorpe. EMN-160709-165045001
The stained glass window dedicated to the 1st Airborne Signals Regiment in Caythorpe. EMN-160709-165045001

A £189,700 Heritage Lottery Fund grant has helped fund a project by local school children to research the connections with a historic church.

St Vincent’s Church in Caythorpe received £189,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to undertake vital repair work to its nave roof porch, monuments and stained glass windows, as well as improving access with disability ramps and a toilet with disabled and baby changing facilities.

The academy students hear from present day paratroopers. EMN-160709-165113001

The academy students hear from present day paratroopers. EMN-160709-165113001

Year 9 students from the Sir William Robertson Academy at Welbourn have been researching the links between the village and church and the ill-fated Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem in the Second World War.

An exhibition of their findings is to be displayed in the church this week in the build-up to the village’s Arnhem weekend commemorative event and church service.

A very special Arnhem weekend will take place from tomorrow (Thursday) until Sunday, with a commemorative church service on Sunday at 10.30am.

Matthew Hollingworth, history teacher at the school has been leading the project and commented: “Professional artwork has been produced using a number of students’ work from school and this will be on display in Caythorpe Church on September 8-10. The project is an ongoing piece of research in school and the plan for this academic year is for Year 9 to create models of the Battle of Arnhem.”

St Vincent's Church, Caythorpe. EMN-160709-165032001

St Vincent's Church, Caythorpe. EMN-160709-165032001

The findings of the research will be exhibited in the church entitled ‘A bridge too far’ and will also be available to see on a new website.

St Vincent’s Church, Caythorpe has been adopted by the 216 Parachute Signals Regiment as its mother church.

Sally Kelway, parochial church council member and chairman of the Appeal Committee, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support and funding. The church has stood for over 700 years and it is wonderful to know that we are able to preserve this historic building for another century and that our modern facilities to allow greater use within the local community”.

○ On September 17, 1944 the 1st British Airborne Division began flying men to capture the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem. If theperation had been successful the Allied Ground Forces could have swept into the German industrial heartland and brought the war to an early end. The Ist Airborne Divisional Signals were billeted in Caythorpe prior to the operation; Holy Cross House (now Holy Cross Gardens) was the headquarters, the village hall served as a billet and workshops for the blacksmith and boot repairer and the NAAFI was in the upstairs room at the back. Officers and men were billeted in local houses and in Caythorpe Court. Of 348 men, 28 died, 149 were evacuated and 171 went missing (captured). More than twice as many men died at Arnhem as during the Battle of Britain.

Sir William Roberson Academy students undertaking their research project. EMN-160709-165057001

Sir William Roberson Academy students undertaking their research project. EMN-160709-165057001

After the war a few survivors of the operation started visiting Caythorpe on the anniversary of Arnhem, to visit the church and remember lost comrades. As time passed by the event became officially recognised and the 1st Airborne Signals Regiment modern day equivalent, 216 Signals Regiment, now visit annually and hold a memorial service for all comrades lost in Arnhem and other conflicts since.

During the Regiment’s service in Aden their camp was called St Vincent’s and this tradition has been carried on in other conflicts.

The Arnhem Exhibition will be open to view on Thursday 1-4.30pm, Friday 10.30am to 4.30pm and Saturday 10.30am to 1pm.

There will be a big service of celebration for the completed renovation and research project on November 14 with the Bishop of Lincoln attending.

○ In addition to this, work has also been funded for local parishioners and historical researchers to explore the lives of every Serviceman who was connected to this area and who died during the First and Second World Wars.

Information about each of the Servicemen includes their place of birth, their known connections to the local area, the regiment they served in and how they died in service.

All the relevant information gathered about the 28 servicemen will be available in booklet form which will be accessible to anyone who would like to know more about the names behind these men. Copies of this research will be in the church.

Learning more about these servicemen will become part of local history lessons in Caythorpe and Frieston Village School.

They will create Passports of Remembrance to include each Serviceman’s personal details and information from the little bible that each soldier was given in addition to copies of a prayer they could recite whenever they felt the need. The passports also contain a picture of ‘the dead man’s penny’ which was the bronze memorial plaque given to relatives of every man or woman who died in service during the First World War.

These passports will be taken to the War Memorial each year on November 11 by local school children as a sign of respect.