Nostalgic return for a war hero

A SECOND World War hero, nicknamed Trapper because of his sniping skills, will return next week to the Dutch city he helped to liberate.
Former Sergeant Raymond Leeson, then of the 1st Manchester Regiment, was one of the machine-gunners who gave covering fire when the 53rd Welsh Division took 's-Hertogenbosch on 27 October 1944.
He and his wife Olga of Springfield Park Cottages, Rochdale, will join 950 visitors at a thanksgiving reunion from Wednesday to Sunday. They will be guests of a family in the Dutch city that is known as "Den Bosch."
On Thursday, Leeson will join a festive entrance-march, led by regimental bands and colour parties, along the battle route into the city.
Reprints of The Flying Dutchman, on leaflet dropped by the RAF over occupied Holland will be dropped again.
The march will be followed by a receptien and a performance by the 320-strong South Wales Male Voice Choir.
On Saturday there will be a service in St John's Cathedral to commemorate those who died in the battle. Father Leo Holleron, and Canon Geoffrey Rees, chaplains on duty at the battle, will officiate.
In February, 1945, a book recording the history of the Manchester Regiment from 1922 to 1948 outlines Sergeant Leeson's day.
"February 25-26. The Oxford and Buckinghamshires and the Highland Light Infantry moved out of Holst at first light; but they were stopped soon afterwards opposite an anti-tank ditch which the Germans held strongly.
"It was during this day's fighting that Sergeant Leeson of A Company distinguished himself by an act of extraordinary valour.
"After the two battalions had drawn back from the anti-tank ditch, Sergeant Leeson saw several wounded in front of his position. He left his gun pit, not once but several times, traversed the shell-swept zone before him, and brought the wounded in."

Rochdale Observer Saturday, saturday 19 october 1985