Classic film to be screened in Melton just yards from where Arnhem heroes were billeted

Melton veteran Cis Keightley lays the wreath with John Jefferies, who was based at Staveley Lodge, at the 156 Parachute Regiment reunion in October last year EMN-190819-170507001
Melton veteran Cis Keightley lays the wreath with John Jefferies, who was based at Staveley Lodge, at the 156 Parachute Regiment reunion in October last year EMN-190819-170507001
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A classic movie showing the bravery of dozens of Second World War paratroopers is to be shown in Melton exactly 75 years after they took part in the iconic Battle of Arnhem and on a big screen just yards from where they were billeted.

A Bridge Too Far, which came out in 1977 and boasts a stellar cast including Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine and Sean Connery, tells the story of Operation Market Garden and the Allies’ attempts to secure strategically important bridges in Holland to bolster their invasion of Europe.

Members of the 4th Parachute Brigade pictured  in Oosterbeek during the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944 EMN-190819-170938001

Members of the 4th Parachute Brigade pictured in Oosterbeek during the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944 EMN-190819-170938001

Central to the plot were members of 156 Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, who were stationed at Staveley Lodge, a building which still stands in the ground of Melton’s Pera Business Park, on Nottingham Road.

They left their billet and flew from Saltby Airfield before being dropped on to Ginkel Heath on September 18, 1944, with many of them killed or seriously injured in the fighting which ensued with the German forces on the ground.

And on the same date next month, a charity screening of the movie will be shown in the Tower Building at Pera, at 6.45pm, free of charge but with donations being invited for the Friends of the Tenth, an educational charity who perpetuate the memory of the 10th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, who were based nearby in Somerby and also fought at Arnhem.

Nigel Brown, managing director of Pera Business Park, who are facilitating the screening, said: “We are proud to host the screening of this classic film.

The plaque at Staveley Lodge, Melton, commemorating the service of 156 Parachute Regiment in the Second World War EMN-190819-170457001

The plaque at Staveley Lodge, Melton, commemorating the service of 156 Parachute Regiment in the Second World War EMN-190819-170457001

“It portrays an important battle of the Second World War in which paratroopers who were based at what is now Pera, took part.

“Many of these young men never made it back and so their story is forever associated with Melton and the Pera site.”

From February 1944, more than 1,500 men of the 10th, 11th and 156 Battalions, of the 4th Parachute Brigade, The Parachute Regiment, were based in and around Melton Mowbray.

Those billeted at Staveley Lodge and its ample stables enjoyed socialising in the town at pubs such as The Harboro, in Burton Street, and The Bell, in Nottingham Street, and several married local girls.

A Bridge Too Far - poster of Hollywood movie EMN-190819-171248001

A Bridge Too Far - poster of Hollywood movie EMN-190819-171248001

Of the 603 paratroopers who flew off to fight in Operation Market Garden that September day in 1944, only 26 returned to their billets in and around Melton.

All seats for the screening of A Bridge Too Far must be booked in advance, via www.eventbrite.co.uk (search for ‘A Bridge Too Far’) or by calling 01664 501501.

There will be free on-site parking, with refreshments available to purchase before the film, plus a short introductory talk explaining Melton’s connections to the Parachute Regiment and the Battle of Arnhem.

Staveley Lodge, on the Pera Business Park, which is now occupied by small businesses after acting as the billet for 156 Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, during the Second World War EMN-190819-173746001

Staveley Lodge, on the Pera Business Park, which is now occupied by small businesses after acting as the billet for 156 Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, during the Second World War EMN-190819-173746001

Staveley Lodge, on the Pera Business Park, which is now occupied by small businesses after acting as the billet for 156 Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, during the Second World War EMN-190819-173757001

Staveley Lodge, on the Pera Business Park, which is now occupied by small businesses after acting as the billet for 156 Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, during the Second World War EMN-190819-173757001