Tributes paid to a war hero who was a ‘true gentleman’

Eddie Holt, out collecting for the Poppy Appeal.
Eddie Holt, out collecting for the Poppy Appeal.
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The funeral of a Second World War veteran from Fleetwood who was also a tireless fund-raiser for the Poppy Appeal has taken place.

Edwin Holt, who lived on Pharos Street and was better known by the name of Eddie, died at the age of 93 on January 5 and was believed to be the town’s oldest war veteran.

His funeral was held at St Peter’s Church, Lord Street, on Wednesday, followed by a short ceremony at Carleton Crematorium.

In addition to collecting for the Poppy Appeal each year, ex-Prisoner of War Eddie used his experiences to enlighten youngsters and raise money for Fleetwood Museum. His vivid, first-hand accounts were related in his book, My War, which was sold at Fleetwood Museum and raised several thousand pounds for the museum.

During the war, Eddie served with the first battalion of the King’s Own Royal Regiment and at the age of just 18 in 1942, he became one of the famous “Desert Rats” fighting in the Western Desert of the Middle East. After intense fighting the battalion was captured by the Germans, however, on the Greek island of Leros and Eddie spent the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war at Stalag 8a in Munich.

He wasn’t liberated until 1945 and was later awarded a clutch of medals including the Africa Star and the Italian Star.

After the war Eddie returned to work at grocers Healds on North Albert Street, one of Fleetwood’s most prestigious stores.

He started there as an errand boy at 14 before the war, but gradually worked his way up to become store manager, clocking up more than 40 years as an employee.

Eddie, whose wife Betty died 10 years ago, leaves son Mark and two grandsons, Stuart and Andrew and great grand-daughter Claudia.

Michael Reaper, chairman of the King’s Own Old Comrades Club, on Adelaide Street, said: “Eddie was president of the King’s Own Old Comrades and he was a wonderful man. Even into his nineties he was collecting for the Poppy Appeal.”

Dick Gillingham, chairman of the Friends of Fleetwood Museum, said: “Eddie was also a very nice man, a true gentleman.”

A tribute was also paid in Fleetwood Town FC’s programme, acknowledging Eddie as a life-long supporter,