media release

Famous Bridge Reopens

Arnhem’s famous John Frost bridge—which has just been renovated with products supplied by Akzo Nobel—was officially reopened recently in a blaze of color.

Arnhem’s famous John Frost bridge—which has just been renovated with products supplied by Akzo Nobel—was officially reopened on September 15 in a blaze of color.

The world renowned bridge over the river Rhine, scene of one of the most heroic battles of the Second World War, has been completely renovated and now incorporates the regimental colors of the British Airborne Division, which fought there as part of the Allies' brave but ill-fated Market Garden operation.

Completion of renovation work on the bridge, which started two years ago, was set to coincide with this week's 60th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem.

Airborne veteran Bill Fulton reopened the bridge by ceremonially firing a canon shot into the night sky. He was the first Allied soldier to arrive on the bridge on September 17, 1944, after the airborne landing at Oosterbeek, near Arnhem.

Among the dignitaries present at the official opening were Jean Frost, widow of British commander John Frost—whose men held the bridge for three days and four nights against superior odds—and the Mayor of Arnhem. An emotional parade of 25 veterans over the bridge also took place.

Focal point
Arnhem bridge, later dubbed the John Frost bridge in honor of the British commander, became the focal point of the flawed attempt by the Allies in 1944 to capture key Dutch bridges over the lower Rhine and punch their way into Germany, thus forcing the war to an early conclusion.

The massive assault, staged on September 17, involved around 10,000 British 1st Airborne Division paratroopers and was the largest airborne military operation ever mounted. Unfortunately, the "paras" were dropped too far from the bridge and ran into two SS Panzer units which had somehow escaped Allied military intelligence.

In all, an estimated 1,130 paratroopers were killed and 6,450 were captured before the Allies withdrew. The battle for the bridge was immortalized in the Hollywood epic A Bridge Too Far, directed by Richard Attenborough.

Akzo Nobel, a company with considerable experience in coating bridges around the world, coated around 50,000 square meters of steel on the bridge, which includes the maroon red of the Airborne Division on the railings and lighting pylons, while the Pegasus blue of the regiment's insignia has been used as lighting to illuminate the concrete support pillars.

(Released: September 16, 2004)

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