Our request for information about a Huddersfield soldier killed at Arnhem has triggered some more World War Two memories ... and also changed a family’s knowledge of what happened during those dark days of September 1944.

A Dutch historian searching for information about Pte Alfred Olds revealed that he died of his wounds during the fierce battle for control of a vital bridge at Arnhem.

But his relatives have now revealed they had always been told he had been shot dead days earlier while parachuting into the area.

The Dutch historian called Philip Reinders who is seeking the information for a new book said Alfred served in the 6th Platoon, B Company of the 7th Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

Philip said: “They came in by Horsa glider so they didn’t jump by parachute. They weren’t trained paratroopers.

“Most likely Alfred was wounded on the 18th or the 19th and brought to the Schoonoord Hotel at the Oosterbeek crossroads where he died of his wounds.”

And the King’s Own Scottish Borderers’ own history bears this out.

It states: “7th KOSB became glider-borne troops with the 1st Airborne Division and in September 1944 they were flown into the dropping zones at Arnhem where, surrounded by an enemy force superior in numbers and equipped with tanks, they fought a gallant but ultimately futile action. When the order to retreat was given on September 25, the 740-strong Battalion had been reduced to four officers and 72 men.”

As we revealed before Alfred – known as Long Alf as he was so tall and thin – worked at Globe Worsted mill in Slaithwaite before joining up.

Margaret Deane (nee Leech) said Alfred was her mother’s cousin – his mother was Margaret mother’s aunt.

Margaret Deane (nee Leech)

Margaret’s father, Edward Leech, also fought in the war and was also at Arnhem – but was one of the first across the bridge when it was finally captured in April 1945.

He was born in 1910 and worked in a mill in Huddersfield after leaving school. He married Annie (nee Hughes) in 1941/42 who became a Land Army girl. They had five children – three girls and two boys and Margaret was the oldest.

The family lived on Crow Lane Terrace in Milnsbridge and later moved to Meltham in the 1960s to be closer to Edward’s workplace which was David Brown Tractors. He was part of a team which picked fully assembled tractors off the assembly line and sorted out any minor snags. He also helped to prepare tractors for shows like the Smithfield Show in London.

When World War Two broke out Edward served as a part time auxiliary fireman in addition to his mill job but left both occupations to join up with the Royal Scots Greys regiment and became a wireless operator in a Sherman tank.

Margaret said: “My dad talked about crossing the bridge at Arnhem shortly after it was taken over and was then involved in the liberation of the town. Shortly afterwards in Arnhem he came across a Dutch boy hunting through the dustbins looking for food to feed the rest of his starving family. Dad took the boy back to the family’s house and gave the family his rations so they could eat. For years later he received calenders and Christmas cards from the grateful family.


“Moving later into Germany he received news over his radio that mum had given birth to a baby girl – me! It must have been a real boost to his morale!

“While in Germany he went into one of the concentration camps (believed to be Belsen) to help following the liberation. He would not talk much about this distressing episode although he mentioned going into a camp commandant’s house and seeing a lampshade made from human skin.”

Edward was still living in Meltham when he died in 1980 and Annie died in the mid 1990s.

Margaret has some more information on Alfred.

She said: “There were three of Alfred’s generation who were friends within the family. They all lived in Huddersfield were all christened together before joining up as it was uncertain if they would all return.

Alfred Olds as a child with his mother Annie.

“Besides Alfred there was Derek Ramsden and Lawrence Swift. My dad’s half sister was Nellie Ramsden and her son was Derek who did not survive the war. He went over a mine in his jeep. He served in the Seaforth Highlanders 7th battalion and is buried at Ryes War Cemetery at Bazenville in France. He was 21 when he died on July 11, 1944, and was an only child.

“I was very close to my Auntie Nellie and Uncle Percy who used to take me round in his lorry as a child, being a driver in the mill trade. They lived just up the road from where we lived. Uncle Percy rode his luck in World War One. He served with the Hussars and had his horse shot from under him twice while on campaign in Mesopotamia (now Iran). He rode the horses on the gun carriages.

“So Lawrence was the only survivor of the three boys. His mum was my great Aunt Minnie and Lawrence lived to a ripe old age in a nursing home.”