Several British armed forces veterans were denied entry into the Battle of Arnhem Airborne commemoration ceremony on Friday because they did not have an admission ticket.
“‘We have been coming since the early 1980s and we have never needed a pass. We thought our medals served as entry tickets,” 95-year-old British Market Garden veteran Leslie Reeves said in an interview to Omroep Gelderland. Reeves reportedly fought in Arnhem and Nijmegen during World War II and sustained serious injuries during his service. He was the only member of his unit to survive crossing the Rijn river.
Simeon Mayou, a 96-year-old British naval veteran, told Omroep Gelderland, “Every year we look forward to the celebration. We save all year round to collect the money for the trip to the Netherlands.”
Carlo van der Borgt, spokesperson for the municipality of Arnhem said the ceremony was bigger than in previous years because the event marked the 75th anniversary of the WWII battle. The municipality said the veterans were refused because the maximum capacity of the VIP room had already been reached.
Representatives of the event reportedly directed the veterans to another seating area but the men said that area, too, was full. “With great sorrow, we turned around and went back to our hotel,” said Mayou. “There were people who were not even born during the war, but we were not allowed inside. Our hearts broke. ”
On Sunday, Arnhem Mayor Ahmed Marcouch apologized to five of the refused veterans at a memorial service in Oosterbeek and offered them an unnamed gift.