A wallet lost by a British soldier during the Second World War has been returned to his family more than 70 years later.
Kenneth Ashby lost the wallet while stationed in Haelen, a town in the south-eastern Netherlands, in 1945. It fell into the hands of an elderly resident, who passed it on to pensioner Frits van Horne some 25 years ago.
Grandfather Mr van Horne has now hand delivered the leather wallet to Mr Ashby’s son, Robin, in Surrey, after finding the family online.
British soldier Kenneth Ashby, left, lost the wallet while stationed in Haelen, a town in the south-eastern Netherlands, in 1945. It later fell into the hands of Frits van Horne, right
The leather wallet, pictured, has been returned to Mr Ashby’s family more than 70 years later
Robin Ashby, Kenneth’s son, with Mr van Horne’s granddaughters, Jasmijn, eight, and Myrthe, 11, who travelled from the Netherlands to hand deliver the wallet to the family
Robin Ashby, left, said the wallet was helping him learn more about his late father, right
He said: ‘I got it some twenty-five years ago from an old man in town. During the war Ashby was among a few British soldiers stationed in a house in our town.’
Using the name on the driving licence inside the wallet as his starting point, Mr van Horne set about tracing Mr Ashby.
With the help of granddaughters Myrthe, 11, and Jasmijn, eight, Mr van Horne followed a trail of online clues that led him to a cemetery in Godalming, Surrey, where Mr Ashby was buried following his death in 1968.
The family contacted local officials who advised they ask the local newspaper for help. The article was shared online by a friend of Robin Ashby.
Robin said he was ‘so happy’ and immediately phoned Mr van Horne to arrange a meeting. The Dutch family drove to England to return the wallet in person.
Inside the wallet are a number of Mr Ashby’s personal effects, including dozens of photographs, an embroidered handkerchief, a small Union flag and a rabbit’s foot.
Mr van Horne tracked down the Ashbys with the help of his two granddaughters, pictured
The wallet was filled with Mr Ashby’s personal effects, including dozens of photographs
Robin Ashby, who lost his father when he was 13, said the wallet has huge sentimental value
Robin is now hoping to identify the soldiers pictured in the photographs with his father, above
Robin, who lost his father when he was a teenager, said the wallet has ‘so much sentimental value’.
He said: ‘I never really had the chance to talk with him. It is a big loss in my life, but this helps tremendously. I am learning all kinds of new things about him which I did not know.’
He is now hoping to carry on the work of the van Horne family by identifying the other soldiers in the picture and is thinking of visiting the Netherlands next year.
Mr van Horne’s granddaughter Myrthe added: ‘I could see that Robin had tears in his eyes. I like it a lot that we could make him this happy.’