Can you help honour Fred?

Can you help honour Fred?

A DUTCHMAN is hoping to find out more about a Batley soldier who was killed in Holland 75 years ago.

Gunner Fred Crowther lost his life in a road accident just after the end of the Second World War and is buried in the town of Hilversum, 19 miles south-east of Amsterdam. 

Now researcher Meindert Tepper is appealing for information on the 32-year-old former Healey man.

Gunner Crowther, who was serving with the 115 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, was killed when a child ran in front of a column of army vehicles in Utrecht on May 30, 1945. 

The tractor in which he was travelling crashed into the trailer in front. He was buried with military honours the next day.

Gunner Crowther’s grave is alongside 15 other British soldiers’ memorials in Hilversum Northern Cemetery (pictured). 

Tragically all were killed after the end of hostilities, including 13 from the Royal Leicestershire Regiment who died in an explosion whilst disarming German troops. Mr Tepper is seeking to find out as much as he can about their backgrounds. 

He said: “In the Second World War hundreds of British soldiers went to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to fight for our freedom, but who they were, what they did and how they died is often unknown.

“I try to give them a face, a story and a past. Because of this I honour them and thank these men and their family for giving everything they had for my freedom. So we don’t forget.”

According to local news reports from June 1945, Fred was the youngest son of Keneely and the late Lilley Crowther and was married to Amy Crowther. 

He lived on Mortimer Avenue in Healey and worked at Henry Crowther and Co, on Wellington Street in Batley. 

Following the accident his wife received a letter from the unit’s commanding officer Major Daltry, which read: “It is with deepest regret that I have to inform you of the unfortunate accident which caused the death of your husband. 

“On May 30, in the course of his duties, your husband was driving his gun and tractor in a column of similar vehicles through the town of Utrecht. 

“A small child ran across the road and caused the tractor and trailer in front of your husband to stop suddenly. 

“Your husband applied his brakes but in the resultant skid, due to the wet road, his tractor crashed into the gun in front and he was killed instantly.

“It is a tragedy which has shocked the whole battery, where he was held in great esteem by officers and men alike, and our sympathy goes out to you and your child in your great loss.”

Historian Mr Tepper, a 68-year-old former banker and Hilversum resident, would like to hear from surviving relatives of Mr Crowther (or anyone with links to him) via email at m.e.tepper@gmail.com.

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