Canadians of the British second army during the battle of Arnhem (Image: Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
And as the world prepares to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the glorious failure of Arnhem, Private Ivor Rowberry's haunting words where he tells his loved ones they were "worth dying for" echo with true heroism. Ivor was only 22 when he sat down on September 16, 1944, to pen what was to be his farewell letter to his mother. It wouldn't have been easy to find a quiet space to compose a note, let alone a 700-word final dispatch. All around him RAF Broadwell was confusion as soldiers and glider pilots made final preparations for Operation Market Garden starting the next day.
The idea was to capture eight bridges over the Rhine, allowing entry into Germany and ending the war by Christmas. Ivor didn't live to see Christmas. In five days he was dead, blown up by a mortar grenade.
Using the American spelling for "Mom", as many in the West Midlands did, he wrote: "Tomorrow we go into action. As yet we do not know exactly what our job will be, but no doubt it will be a dangerous one in which many lives will be lost, mine may be one of those lives.
Well, Mom, I am not afraid to die."
His letter speaks to every soldier, past and present who, while swearing an oath to the Crown, risks their lives for the comrades next to them or loved ones at home.
"Don't get me wrong though, Mom, I am no flag-waving patriot, nor have I ever professed to be," he says. "England's a great little country - the best there is but I cannot honestly and sincerely say 'that it is worth fighting for.' Nor can I fancy myself in the role of a gallant crusader fighting for the liberation of Europe. It would be a nice thought but I would be kidding myself.
"No, Mom, my little world is centred around you and includes Dad, everyone at home, and my friends at Wolverhampton - That is worth fighting for - and if by doing so it strengthens your security and improves your lot in any way, then it is worth dying for too."
Private Ivor Rowberry (Image: Richard Pursehouse)
Ivor was no stranger to grief. His brother Gordon had