Services will mark special anniversary for iconic Melton war heroes

Eighty years ago a special band of Second World War paratroopers was formed with proud links to Melton.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 11:18 am
The commemorative brochure for this year's reunion services for the 151/156 Parachute Battalions EMN-210610-135208001

And family members of those who fought in the 151 Parachute Battalion will be among those attending services to commemorate them tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

The Battalion was formed in India in 1941 before moving to its new base in Melton three years later and redesignated as 156 Parachute Battalion.

Personnel flew from Saltby Airfield shortly afterwards to take part in Operation Market Garden in Holland.

Among those due to attend the upcoming reunion services are Danny and Lawrence Reynolds, whose father was one of the first to join the battalion in India.

There are many other family members of veterans still living in Melton, including Keith Harris - who is also attending - and whose father Frederick, arrived at the River Rhine as dawn was breaking after the Battle of Arhem to find that there were no boats left to take him across.

He decided to swim and, although swept away downriver by the strong current, he made it safely to the other side.

Friday’s reunion service will be at the airfield at the monument to commemorate the men who flew to Arnhem in 1944. It be will be taken by military chaplain, Brian McAvoy, followed by a speech by Lt Colonel John Boyd on behalf of the Parachute Regiment.

Talks will also be given by historians Niall Cherry and Rupert Hague-Holmes.

The annual dinner on the Friday night at Sysonby Knoll Hotel is a sell-out.

A piper will greet all those attending Saturday’s service, at St Mary’s Church in Melton, with the Regimental Mascot, Pegasus, and Pony Major Jamie Richards also in attendance. Again, Padre McAvoy will preside over the service using the bible of Lt Jeffrey Noble, which he received from the Red Cross whilst a prisoner of war. The Orston Choir will sing songs from World War Two.

John O’Reilly, whose father fought with 156 Battalion, said: “Many relationships and marriages were formed in Melton during this year and some of the children born to those couples will be attending this year’s reunion.

“Anyone with a connection or an interest in the 151/156 Parachute Battalion would be most welcome to join us at St Mary’s at 11am on Saturday.”