A Battle of Arnhem veteran took a dram of whisky to the grave of his friend during an emotional first return to the Netherlands in 75 years.
Sandy Cortmann, from Aberdeen, paid tribute to his former comrade, Private Gordon Matthews of the Parachute Regiment, following a memorial service at the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery on Sunday.
The 97-year-old ex-paratrooper has become the star of a week of commemorative events marking the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden after he took part in a tandem parachute drop with the Red Devils.
Mr Cortmann, who was just 22 when he parachuted over Arnhem in September 1944, was congratulated after his jump on Saturday by the Prince of Wales.
During the bloody fighting at Arnhem, his friend Mr Matthews, aged just 20, was killed by a mortar, with Mr Cortmann later stumbling across his remains.
On Sunday, Mr Cortmann, who survived capture by the Germans, sipped from a small bottle of whisky while laying a wreath with a message to “my best pal Gordon”.
As the emotional veteran remembered his friend, he was approached by a man clutching a photo of a young Mr Matthews.
Allan Price, 52, a cobbler from Worcester, had discovered that Mr Matthews was from his home town and has been visiting his grave for the last four years to lay a cross.
He said: “For me, it’s just a little something for a chap from home and then to walk up when I normally walk and to see 30, 40 people surrounding it… I was just wondering what it was all about.”
“It was a bit overwhelming, it’s a surprise,” he said.
Sandy clutched the image to his chest as a crowd watched in tears.
Two British schools joined Dutch children to lay flowers.
The 31 pupils from Annan Academy, Dumfries and Galloway, each read a soldier’s story at his grave.
Also present were 20 pupils from Walhampton School, Lymington, Hants.
The cemetery holds 1,770 soldiers, 1,650 of them Brits.
During the service, Reverend Dr Jeff Cuttell said: “Cast your eyes around and see these white stones in this green field.
“This is the price of peace and why we salute those who were there.”