Kirkstone House School Choir performs at 156 Battalion Arnhem reunion

Veteran Lew Kemp from 156 Battalion The Parachute Regiment and re-enactor Gary Bainbridge with Kirkstone House School Choir including 'Alice O'Reilly, second from left, who is the granddaughter of one of those 36 men who came home safely from the Arnhem raid
Veteran Lew Kemp from 156 Battalion The Parachute Regiment and re-enactor Gary Bainbridge with Kirkstone House School Choir including 'Alice O'Reilly, second from left, who is the granddaughter of one of those 36 men who came home safely from the Arnhem raid
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The granddaughter of a Second World War veteran who took part in the fabled raid on Arnhem in 1944 joined pupils in performing at a reunion event to mark the occasion.

On Friday last week a reunion was held at Saltby Airfield near Melton Mowbray for 156 Battalion that flew to Arnhem from there on September 18, 1944.

Their sister battalion, the 10th, flew from Spanhoe near Wakerley.

The two battalions suffered the highest percentage casualties in the Arnhem battle with 200 killed and about 400 wounded.

They continued to fight for eight days with only 80 men out of 1,200 returning to their bases at Melton, Somerby and other villages in Rutland.

The survivors from 156 Battalion totalled just 36 when they returned to their base at Grimsthorpe Castle.

Singing in the school choir from Kirkstone House School, in Baston, on Friday was Alice O’Reilly, granddaughter of one of those 36 men who came home safely.

The choir performed at the Gliding School clubhouse to an audience of veterans and their families.

They were given a rendition of The White Cliffs of Dover and When a Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, amongst other wartime favourites.

Audience participation increased with Run Rabbit Run and on completion veteran Lew Kemp said: “We always sang that as we returned from manoeuvres to our Newport Lodge barracks in Melton Mowbray.”

Veteran Alan Staff said afterwards that while he listened to the children singing he was telling himself that he must not cry as, after all, he was a paratrooper.

The songs of the 1940s touched all those present but particularly those who remembered them from 70 years ago.

The bugler, Stuart McNair, played the last post at the memorial at Saltby and padre Brian McAvoy said a few words.