British Airways pulled out all the stops to create a heroes’ send-off as soon as it heard a group of World War Two veterans were travelling to the Netherlands for the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden.
The group returned to the Netherlands to retrace their personal journeys from World War Two. Amongst the group was Denis Hosgood – Queens Own Cameron Highlanders – who returned to Zig Canal for the ceremonial placing of a commemorative plaque.
This was one of the scenes of the fiercest fighting for his regiment during the war. Meanwhile, Joe Sealey – 129 Infantry Brigade, 43rd Wessex Division – returned to Driel to unveil a bench on the banks of the Neder Rijn in honour of Eric Warburton, the medic who saved his life during the war. Major James Corrigan – Durham Light Infantry – carried on to Geel in Belgium where he took part, as guest of honour, in a special anniversary memorial service for his regiment.
When the veterans arrived at London Gatwick, they were greeted by a dedicated British Airways team. Before boarding the flight, they were warmly welcomed by Gatwick Caledonian drum and pipe band. They had their own personalised check-in desk, a private area in British Airways’ business class lounge, a special afternoon tea and a personal announcement from the Captain on board their flight, among other unique touches.
Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO of British Airways, said “As an airline we have a long history of supporting the armed forces. There are many former serving members, reservists and cadet force instructors in the BA ranks, and we all feel it is an honour to have this group fly with us for such an important occasion.”
Denise Hunter, BA colleague and daughter of travelling veteran Denis Hosgood, also surprised her parents by secretly organising to be the Customer Service Manager on board the flight and escort them on their special journey.
Denise commented: “It was a privilege to be able to serve these ladies and gentlemen in our centenary year. Time spent with this generation is precious and seeing the look of joy on my parents’ faces when I surprised them on board was a magical moment.”
On top of the airline’s continued support of the armed forces, which includes supporting the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and holding the Silver Armed Forces Covenant*, this trip comes as part of British Airways’ #BAMagic100 campaign. The campaign sees the airline commit to 100 acts of kindness for customers in its centenary year.