Commando fliers help celebrate Dutch marines’ birthday
Banking over the plains and waterways of the Nieuwe Maas estuary, one of two Sea Kings from 848 Naval Air Squadron follows Dutch Cougar and NH90 helicopters for a flypast over Europe’s largest port.
Fliers from the Commando Helicopter Force helped their Dutch comrades celebrate the 350th birthday of their marine corps flying over the heart of Rotterdam.
The Dutch Korps Mariniers are just one year younger than Britain’s world-famous Royal Marines and the two corps enjoy a long bond of co-operation going all the way back to the storming of Gibraltar at the beginning of the 18th Century.
The links were formalised in the early 1970s to forge a combined amphibious assault force when needed.
To emphasise the bond of friendship between the two like-minded elite military units, CHF dispatched two veteran Sea Kings on one of their last overseas duties (the aircraft retire at the end of March after 47 years’ service).
The helicopters hopped across southern England and the Low Countries, stopping briefly in Lydd in Kent and Ostend in Belgium before touching down at Gilze-Rijen airbase near Breda.
From there it’s just 30 miles to Rotterdam. Following a 75-minute march past on Rotterdam’s main thoroughfare, Coolsingel, by around 2,000 Dutch marines, veterans and a small detachment of Royal Marines, the Anglo-Dutch fly-past brought the curtain down on celebrations.
From several hundred feet above the great port city, the fliers were unable to hear the cheers and approval of Rotterdammers, or the Netherlands’ Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert ask rhetorically:
“Where would we be without the marine corps? They are usually the first to enter the fray, deployed anywhere in the world, under any circumstances” – words which apply equally to the UK’s green berets.
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