A 97-year-old Second World War veteran from Aberdeen today hopes to parachute again over the Dutch city he was dropped on to and captured in 75 years ago.
Former paratrooper Sandy Cortmann made an emotional return to Arnhem in the Netherlands on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden.
He was just 22 when he parachuted over the city in September 1944, where he was taken prisoner by the Germans.
Operation Market Garden, portrayed in the 1977 Hollywood film A Bridge Too Far, saw 35,000 British, American and Polish troops parachute or glide behind German lines in a bid to open up an attack route for allied forces.
The fighting around Arnhem saw more than 1,500 British soldiers killed and nearly 6,500 captured.
Today, if he passes medical checks, Mr Cortmann hopes to tandem parachute over Ginkel Heath and land on the same drop zone he jumped on to more than seven decades ago.
“When the fighting started we were just in amongst it,” he said.
“You can describe it as brave, you thought you were brave, but once you got down there, Jesus Christ, terrified, absolutely terrified. You just hear bangs and machine guns. I didn’t understand what that was all about.”
Allied soldiers had been parachuted in to secure bridges on the Dutch and German border, with the expectation of being relieved within 48 hours. Many ended up fighting for nine days.
Mr Cortmann remembered seeing treatment areas for the wounded “strewn with bodies” with “nobody complaining, nobody moaning, just lying still”.
He recalled one young solider calling out repeatedly for his mother and being told to help quieten him.
“I crawled out, I just touched his hand, grabbed it and he died,” he said.
Mr Cortmann said he felt “very emotional” when he earlier visited a cemetery where a fallen friend named Gordon is honoured.
His friend was killed instantly by a mortar shell during the operation.
Mr Cortmann was eventually captured and forced to endure a seven hour train ride in a packed wagon to Germany where he was held for a year.
He worked as a plumber and had two children with his wife, all three of whom have now passed away.
A humble Mr Cortmann said the welcome he had received in Arnhem was “overwhelming” and that he had felt “happiness”.
He admitted he was trying not to think about his potential jump on Saturday.
“I hope I get a cup of tea from somebody,” he joked.