WAR veteran Raymond Whitwell is preparing to mark Remembrance Sunday as the district remembers the people who have died in past and present conflicts.

The 94-year-old served with the Airborne Forces and the Parachute Regiment during the Second World War, taking part in the Battle of Arnhem – one of the most devastating and bloody battles of the war, later portrayed on screen in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far.

Mr Whitwell, of Greengate, Malton, served from 1939 when he posted to France.

The following year he found himself in the rearguard at Dunkirk and later at Cherbourg where, he recalls, he received a stroke of good luck.

The skipper of a Dutch fishing boat asked him and a fellow soldier where they were heading and they replied, “England”.

“He told us to jump on board because he was going to Southampton,” Mr Whitwell said.

But shortly after returning home, he was sent to North Africa, Sicily and Italy before going to fight in the Battle of Arnhem.

He escaped capture as he crossed the Rhine and eventually made his way to Norway, a month before the end of the war.

Mr Whitwell said he attended the Arnhem reunion this year and although the number of veterans was declining, the number of other visitors was on the increase.

“There seems to be more interest than ever with thousands of people going to Arnhem each year from all over Europe,” he said.

“Most of the people were not born at the time of the war, but there does seem to be a growing interest in what the Armed Forces do and how they helped to save this country.”

Ryedale will commemorate its servicemen and women at Remembrance Day events across the area. Towns and villages are holding services, parades and concerts, honouring those who fought in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts.

Shaun Brosnan, secretary of the Malton, Norton and District branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “Everyone’s attendance throughout the weekend will be very much appreciated.”

The Reverend Rachel Hirst, of St Peter’s Church, in Norton, said: “The church will be open from 2pm to 4pm for anyone who wishes to visit the chapel, which is Norton’s war memorial. Pop in for a few minutes or spend longer in quiet reflection. Everyone is welcome.”

The Pickering and Thornton-le-Dale branch of the Royal British Legion is also asking for help with their Poppy Appeal.

Poppy sellers are urgently needed for door-to-door visits or to help with the street collection. Phone 01751 474915 or 01751 474446.


Ryedale remembers

• A Festival of Remembrance concert will take place at Norton College, on Friday, from 7.15pm. Short service by the Reverend Peter Bowes and entertainment from The White Star Band, Kirkham Henry choir and the ATC Corps of Drums. There will also be a raffle, which will include a painting by local artist Alan Jones.

• On Sunday, a memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the war memorial in Malton, starting at 11am, followed by a parade through the town and refreshments at Suddaby’s Hotel.

• On Monday, the Last Post will be sounded at the “Museum Steps”, Malton.

• A service will be held at St Peter’s Church, in Norton, at 9.45am on Sunday, which will include the laying of wreaths and two minutes silence. At 3pm, there will be a peal of bells.

•Pickering will hold an afternoon service at the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, on Sunday, at 2pm, followed by a short service and wreath laying at the Memorial Hall at about 3.10pm.

• On Monday, a short service will be held at the top of the Market Place, near Burgate, Pickering, at 11am.

• Service will be held on Sunday, in St Mary’s Church, Acklam, at 10.30am.

• A Remembrance Sunday service at 2.30pm in St Mary’s Church, Farndale.

• In Thornton-le-Dale, the service will be held in the Parish Church on Sunday, followed by the laying of wreaths and a short service at the Hill Institute, Maltongate, at 10.55am for 11am.

• There will be two services in the Church of St Mary, in Westow, on Sunday. A Holy Communion with no sermon will be held at 9.30am, followed by a service with the reading of the names of the fallen at 10.30am.