Complaints about lack of gritting and icy roads may have made the headlines after January’s snowfalls.

But reader Andrew Armer, a member of the David Brown Tractor Club, recalls how the Meltham-based company’s machines rode to the rescue during the far more severe winter of 1947.

He said: “With all the recent concerns in the press and social media regarding a relatively small falling of snow and how it is dealt with, it’s interesting to look back to an event in the winter of 1947 as to how things were done differently.”

The David Brown Tractor Story by Stuart Gibbard recounts one dramatic incident – the rescue of an employee’s family stranded for three days in their isolated home at Castle Hill.

It says: “The David Brown tractor company had – during the war – supplied the War Office with various military equipment including tractor-based aircraft tugs and also some DB4 crawlers, an almost exact copy of the Caterpillar D4 built under licence.

“With the coming of peace, David Brown bought many of the surplus crawlers and aircraft tugs back to recondition and re-use for peace use and these came in very handy in the severe winter of 1947.

Jack Holland reunited with his family after driving a David Brown tractor equippd with caterpillar tracks through massive snowdrifts to reach them at their isolated home at Castle Hill. The image appears in The David Brown Tractor Story by Stuart Gibbard
 

“On the evening of Sunday, February 2, 1947, David Brown’s catering controller Jack Holland was returning to his home after supervising the arrangements for the night shift canteen at Meltham. “Very heavy snow had fallen, completely cutting off all the roads to his house at Castle Hill and he had to spend the night in a hotel. Further heavy snow and severe drifting prevented him from getting home on Monday or Tuesday and by Wednesday morning he was becoming very concerned that his wife and children were running out of food.

“Mr David Brown, hearing of his catering manager’s plight, immediately sent out two teams of DB4 crawlers, some fitted with bulldozers, to clear a way through to Mr Holland`s house. The two teams worked in a pincer movement from different directions. By late afternoon, the crawlers had succeeded in clearing a track to the house, much to the relief of Jack Holland.

“The crawlers had cut through four miles of drifts and while in the rescue of one of his employee’s family, Mr David Brown also helped out with local transport issues of the day, recovering three Huddersfield Corporation buses into the bargain!”

Mr Armer added: “I suppose things were just done differently in those days when we all had ‘proper’ snow!”