Soldiers past and present joined together to commemorate the anniversary of the largest airborne operation of the Second World War.

Operation Varsity saw 40,000 British and American troops landed by glider and parachute in March 1945 to successfully secure a bridgehead across the River Rhine, opening the way for the final advance into Germany.

Today a service at Marks Hall, near Colchester in Essex, marked the 69th anniversary of the mission and particularly the Glider Pilot Regiment’s involvement.

The Regiment, which was disbanded in 1957 and absorbed into the Army Air Corps, had 98 pilots killed and 77 wounded on the operation.

Of 416 British gliders that took part, only 88 were undamaged.

Wreaths were laid in memory of the troops and the Parachute Regimental Band performed at the ceremony before a fly past by two Apache attack helicopters.