A band of brothers reunited in the Midlands to mark the 70th anniversary of one of the turning points of the Second World War.
More than 16,000 Allied paratroopers were dropped on to German territory on March 24, 1945, as part of Operation Varsity , in what remains the largest single airborne assault in history.
Some of the brave men who took part in the drop on the banks of the Rhine stood with their heads held high at a service at Coventry War Memorial Park to mark the anniversary of the mission and to remember the thousands who lost their lives fighting for freedom.
Among them was 92-year-old Geoff Owen and Cecil Jeffcoate, 93, who laid wreaths during the poignant service.
Other wreaths were laid by 96-year-old Jim Smith, a founder member of the SAS, and Dougie Watson, 88, from the N Squadron Glider Pilot Regiment, who laid a wreath on behalf of the Gilder Pilots Association .
The midday service was led by the Reverend David Mayhew, who said: “We are here today to remember with thanksgiving all those that served their country as members of the airborne services.
“On the 70th anniversary of Operation Varsity, we especially remember the 16,000 paratroopers who took part on March 24, 1945. It was a day with a clear blue sky like today and I can’t help picture those thousands of men being shot at as they were coming down.
“It was the largest airborne operation in history to have taken place on one day in one location and was the last big Allied operation of World War Two. We give thanks also for the end of that war and all who fought and died in the cause of peace, justice and security.”
A total of 14 standard bearers helped conduct the service, which was also attended by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Coun Hazel Noonan, and also included the playing of the Last Post.
The heroes remembered their comrades during a minute’s silence, before the national anthem rang out among those present.