Final fling for 'Bridge Too Far' heroes

Veterans of the Second World War operation at the centre of the film A Bridge Too Far have staged their final reunion.

About 150 former soldiers from the UK and Holland who took part in Operation Market Garden met in Southport, Merseyside.

The mission, which began on 17 September, 1944, was an attempt by the Allies to take control of several bridges in the German-occupied Netherlands.

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Its aim was to enable Allied forces to enter the Ruhr, Germany's industrial heartland, and could have won the war almost a year earlier than it officially ended.

The youngest veterans are now in their eighties and the Market Garden Veterans' Association decided to hold one last reunion.

Among those attending were Ken McKernan, who served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

Mr McKernan, from Huyton, Merseyside, said: "The reunions are a chance to get together and talk about the war. This will be the last one because we are all getting too old now - I am 86 and am one of the youngest."

Mr McKernan was 19 when he helped capture the Nijmegen bridge in the Netherlands.

The mission inspired the book, A Bridge Too Far, by Cornelius Ryan. Richard Attenborough's film of the same name was released in 1977 featuring a legendary cast included Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine, Sean Connery and Laurence Olivier.

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