Anniversary of largest WW2 airborne mission marked in East Anglia

Commemorating the anniversary of the largest airborne operation of the Second World War. Photo: Ministry of Defence

Soldiers past and present have joined together in Essex to commemorate the anniversary of the largest airborne operation of the Second World War.

Operation Varsity saw 40,000 British and American troops landed by glider and parachute in March 1945 to successfully secure a bridgehead across the River Rhine. The mission opened the way for the final advance into Germany.

Operation Varsity was launched from airfields in East Anglia in March 1945. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A service at Marks Hall, near Colchester, marked the 69th anniversary of the mission and particularly the Glider Pilot Regiment’s involvement.

The Regiment, which was disbanded in 1957 and absorbed into the Army Air Corps, had 98 pilots killed and 77 wounded on the operation. Of 416 British gliders that took part, only 88 were undamaged.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Victoria Lampard

The annual commemoration is organised by 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, which is based at Wattisham in Suffolk and flies the Apache attack helicopter, with the unit’s 664 Squadron currently deployed on operations in Afghanistan.