By Alan Wooding
There was a special ceremony in London this week as a new ‘Liberation’ tulip was christened to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of The Netherlands by the Allied Forces.
Held on Wednesday at the Exhibition Road residence of the Ambassador of The Netherlands, Ms Laetitia van den Assum, I was honoured to be invited along with around 40 other guests to watch 97-year-old retired Major Kenneth George Mayhew RMWO, bearer of the highest Dutch Military Medal of Valour, pour a glass of champagne over the special red-yellow tulips to mark the first steps of the 1944 Operation Market Garden campaign.
Watched by representatives from the British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, Polish and US armed forces, also present as was Major General Hortink, Director of Operational Readiness on behalf of the Dutch Chief of Defence Staff.
The launch of the new tulip is the first milestone in a flower-themed commemoration project that will run until May 2015 when 70 years of freedom will be celebrated both here and in the Netherlands.
The ‘Tulips for Liberators’ project is a collaboration between Liberation Route Europe, Keukenhof Holland, JUB Holland and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the UK.
The next step of the project will be to plant two flower mosaics this autumn, one of which will be in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London and the other close to Lincoln Catherdral in Lincolnshire from where the RAF carried out Operation Manna.
Operation Manna was a food relief operation which began on April 29, 1945 and lasted until May 8 when countless sorties were flown by the RAF and hundreds of tonnes of supplies were dropped over the western part of the Netherlands as the Dutch people were left to starve by the German military’s occupation.
The actual Liberation tulip was cultivated by specialist Dutch bulb-grower JUB Holland and it has taken almost 18 years to perfect the special bloom and to allow for cultivation levels to reach the numbers required for a mass planting.
Having proudly received a Dutch Royal Warrant in 2010 to mark its own centenary, JUB (Jac Uittenbogaard & Zonen BV), is one of the largest exporters of flowers and bulbs (tulips, hyacinths and daffodils) to all corners of world from its 35 hectares nursery.
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>> On May 4, The Hague Historical Museum opened a special exhibition hall dedicated to the Second World War. The six year conflict left an indelible mark on the skyline of The Hague and traces are still visible, such as the Atlantikwall and bunkers in the dunes.
The Hague was home to the second largest Jewish community in Holland after Amsterdam and during this period, 11,000 Jews were deported from The Hague to concentration camps. These shocking events now have a permanent place in The Hague Historical Museum.
The Second World War hall focuses on several aspects of wartime in The Hague, including daily life, the Atlantikwall, the bombardment and the persecution of the Jews. Impressive personal items are also on display, such as a necklace and two vases plucked from the ashes after the bombing of the Bezuidenhout.
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