Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Veterans return to wartime bases

This article in various forms appeared on several news websites yesterday. This version is from the Evening Times:

Two veterans have been able to return to the scenes of their wartime exploits in Egypt and the Netherlands with the help of lottery grants.

The pair benefited from the Big Lottery Fund's Heroes Return 2 scheme which provides funding to enable former servicemen to revisit locations of WW2 events.

Ben Yates, 88, from Dalmellington in Ayrshire, received £2,825 which helped him to return to Egypt, where he was based from 1941 to 1943, serving aboard the Royal Navy Destroyer, HMS Aldenham.

During this period the ship made 13 convoys to Malta to provide relief to the island, which was under attack, and struck a floating mine in December 1944, with the loss of 126 lives.

Mr Yates said: "The trip meant a lot to me as I have always wanted to go back but could never afford it before. Every year, for the last 12 years or so I have travelled to Aldenham, near Watford, to attend a memorial service.

"During the war people in the village used to knit the crew gloves and hats. Even though we couldn't use them in the Mediterranean we really appreciated that they wanted to do something to help us."

George Murray, 85, from Glasgow, was glad to have a chance to search for old friends when he travelled back to Holland after receiving an £875 grant. Towards the end of 1944 he was stationed for about eight weeks near Eindhoven preparing for the Rhine crossing.

He said: "We stayed in a town called Oisterwijk, it was a harsh winter and none of us wanted to sleep in the back of a truck. A local family put two of us up, they had eight or nine children, one was about 18, the same age as me, and I became very close to the family. After the war we lost touch and I've always wanted to go back and trace any members of the family who might still be alive.

"During my trip I wasn't able to trace anyone but I'm not giving up. I'm planning to write to the Burgermeister of the town to see if he can help me. I just know that I will go back to meet up with my friends again."

The Big Lottery Fund has committed over £1 million extra funding to the Heroes Return 2 scheme which will remain open until January 31, 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment