More revealed about soldier William’s story

Story: A Dutch newspaper reporting this summer the story that William's grave had at last been identified
Story: A Dutch newspaper reporting this summer the story that William's grave had at last been identified

News that a Dewsbury soldier who was buried in an unmarked grave in Holland was to be honoured with a special ceremony and a new headstone has made regional and national headlines.

And more information is being unveiled about former St Paulinus Church parishoner Lance Corporal William Loney, the 26-year-old paratrooper who died shortly after landing in the Battle of Arnhem, subject of the film A Bridge Too Far, in September 1944.

Historian Peter Bennett revealed in August that after years of research and co-operation between historians and the Dutch and British authorities, it had finally been announced that a grave at Ooosterbeek War Cemetary was William’s.

Peter has been trying to trace relatives - William had no surviving very close ones - ahead of the ceremony which he is attending at Oosterbreek to honour L/Cpl Loney by the Dutch authorities on September 13.

A special feature by Margaret Watson in last week’s edition showed Peter had some success in finding relatives who were still living in Dewsbury and our news team has been contacted by a Thornhill family whose relative was next to L/Cpl Loney when he was killed.

Mr Harry Kerfoot side his wife’s Margaret’s father Jack Oates had landed with William. One of the family surnames Peter was trying to trace was Oates but Harry said Margaret did not know if they were related - but they were certainly good friends. Jack, who was taken prisoner at the battle, only very, very rarely spoke about what he had been through, said Harry.

“They were in the same parachute regiment and Jack was by the side of William Loney when he was shot through the head. They were caught as they came down. Jack took off but was caught in German crossfire. He ended up upstairs in a house in Arnhem firing out of the top windows. Soldiers downstairs were killed, and the Germans came upstairs and kicked the door down. Jack was a prisoner of war for ten months in a camp in Germany.”

Several paratroopers were imprisoned in the same camp including his very good friend John Kane, said Harry.

“Jack was later in the military police. My father-in-law said the Germans had been tipped off. It was hell on earth,” he said.