A soldier killed at Arnhem used to work in one of the Colne Valley’s biggest mills – and is fondly remembered by a man who used to work with him.
A Dutch author appealed for help in last week’s All Our Yesterdays for information about 20-year-old Pte Alfred Olds who died of his wounds while fighting at Arnhem in September 1944.
His former colleague, 87-year-old Arnold Quarmby, remembers him well from their days at the Globe Worsted mill in Slaithwaite.
Arnold said: “He was a very friendly and popular lad and we knew him as ‘Long Alf.’ This was because he was so tall and thin, like a beanpole.”
Alf worked in a general role in the mill whereas Arnold was an apprentice mechanical engineer which meant he was not allowed to volunteer for the armed forces.
“I wanted to join the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers,” he said. “But because my role was seen as important to keep the wheels of industry turning I was subject to a Government order which meant I couldn’t join up. This order was in force for 10 years.”
Arnold added that the tragic news of Alf’s death came via the company.
Arnold lived on Manchester Road at the time on the border of Linthwaite and Slaithwaite opposite an old pub The Bath Hotel which is long gone. He now lives in Taylor Hill.
At Arnhem allied commanders devised an ambitious plan under the codename Operation Market Garden to drop paratroopers into the Netherlands to capture key bridges to continue the rapid advance through France and Belgium towards Germany.
Troops from the 1st Airborne Division and the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade were landed by gliders and parachute at Arnhem to secure bridges across the river Nederrijn with supporting forces expected to reach them in just two to three days.
But the operation went badly wrong when they were landed some distance from their objective in Arnhem and came up against two SS Panzer divisions.
Only a small British force managed to reach the bridge where they held out for four days until they were overwhelmed
The information about Alf is being sought by Philip Reinders, who lives at Elburg in the Netherlands. He is gathering information and documentation about the Schoonoord Hotel during the battle and those who helped out there — military and civilians — and those who died of their wounds.
The battle for Arnhem centred around the Oosterbeek crossroads and both the Schoonoord Hotel and the Hotel Vreewijk opposite were both used a field hospitals by the British Airborne soldiers to nurse wounded soldiers — both British and German — and also Dutch civilians.
If anyone has any further information contact Andrew Hirst at the Examiner at email@example.com or phone 01484 437761.