One of the most decorated British army officers in recent history has given his backing to a campaign to install a stone memorial at Somerby to Second World War paratroopers.
Friends of the Tenth aim to raise £75,000 to honour members of 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, who were based in and around the village.
General Sir Mike Jackson said: “I am delighted to know that their memory is being kept alive by the Friends of the Tenth and commend the Friends for ensuring the 10th Battalion’s rightful place in history, with the creation of this splendid memorial in Somerby, the village from where 582 men set out to join the action at the Battle of Arnhem, yet only 36 returned.”
As the highest-profile British Army officer since the Second World War, Sir Mike served as the Honorary Colonel of the 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment (Volunteers) 1994-1999.
His endorsement of the campaign is a further boost to the fund-raising after Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Jennifer, Lady Gretton DCVO JP recently accepted the invitation to become the President of the Friends of the Tenth group.
“I was honoured and privileged to serve as the Honorary Colonel of the 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment (Volunteers) from 1994 until its disbandment in 1999,” said Sir Mike.
“Every September in the Parachute Regiment, we commemorate the memory of those who fought bravely in Holland on Operation Market Garden in 1944, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice and never made it home. We pay tribute to these fine soldiers.”
Sir Mike transferred to the Parachute Regiment in 1970 after three years in the Army, rising to command its First Battalion between 1984 and 1986.
He was also commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Bosnia and later took charge of the Kosovo Force to bring an end to ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslav republic.
Alec Wilson, chairman of the Friends of the Tenth group, expressed his delight at Sir Mike’s support of the fund-raising campaign to create the lasting memorial.
“We feel truly honoured that the most distinguished army officer of recent times has given his endorsement to the campaign,” he said.
“It highlights once again the incredible level of backing we have received in the initial stages of our fund-raising, which fills us with confidence that we can achieve our aim of creating this legacy and memorial to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice at Arnhem.”
For more information about the Somerby memorial appeal, go to www.friendsofthetenth.co.uk