As a born "Arnhemmer" and raised "Oosterbeker", it's almost impossible to not know anything about the Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden).
The impressing stories told by my grandmother regarding the World War II occupation of The Netherlands always raised my interest. She always told how she traveled per bike from Amsterdam to Friesland (about 85 miles) for food and how she had met my grandfather, who was evacuated from Oosterbeek due to the Battle of Arnhem. She also told me about the damage and ravage when they turned back to Oosterbeek and how she was stunned by it.
Operation Market Garden always had my personal interest, mainly because it nearly happened in my own backyard. As a kid I was always playing outdoors and therefore you could find me in the woods or fields near and in Oosterbeek searching for any remaining evidence of Operation Market Garden. I must mention this was always without metal detector because using metal detectors is prohibited in the Oosterbeek area.
During these trips I relied on my investigation, patience and a lot of luck.
During the annual September Memorial on the Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek I used to lay down flowers as a primary school pupil. The text “Only Known To God” was one engraved in many of the headstones.
The meaning of this sentence started to intrigue me during the following years. “How many soldiers about my age died during the liberation of the Netherlands and how many are still missing?” These soldiers earn a proper, decent and respectful burial. It really does not matter if it’s a “friend” or “enemy”. I do think they all should have a ‘normal’ grave in stead of an “In The Heat Of The Action” quickly created isolated forgotten one.
Intrigued and full of question I found Stichting Missing In Action (MIA) after a search on the internet. I did not hesitate and contacted the Foundation to ask if I could help them with their search for Missing Soldiers. After a meeting with the chairman at the Oosterbeek Airborne Cemetery I work as a volunteer for the Foundation. I hope that I am able to help them with their search for missing soldiers.
~Lest Never Forget~
Jurgen Uffink, 2011
Volunteer Stichting Missing In Action (MIA), Netherlands