On 4 August WWII Veteran Walter Gordon Knight was presented with the Thank You Liberators Medal by Military and Air Attaché, Lieutenant Colonel Rob Arts
Walter Knight, 96, from Coventry, served in The Netherlands with the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders 51st (Highland) Division during WWII. His grandson, Colin Stew, contacted the Taxi Charity to find out if his grandfather was entitled to the Dutch Liberation and to ask for help in getting a medal presented to his beloved grandfather.
Dick Goodwin, Vice President of the Taxi Charity, sent details of Walter’s war service to the Dutch Embassy and was delighted to inform Colin that his grandfather was indeed entitled to the Thank You Liberators Medal and that that charity would liaise with the Embassy to arrange a formal presentation by the Military and Air Attaché at Walter’s home in Coventry.
Dick Goodwin, Vice President, Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said “The Taxi Charity was delighted to assist Colin and we are so pleased that Walter has been recognised by the people of The Netherlands for the part he played in their Liberation. Each May we take a group of WWII veterans back to The Netherlands to mark Dutch liberation and it so humbling to see the people come out in their thousands to thank these heroes. Although the pandemic has stopped these visits for the last two years, we hope to be able to visit once again next year and reunite the veterans with the families they liberated.”
Colin Stew, Walter’s grandson, said, “ I am over the moon that the Taxi Charity was able to help me to get this medal for my grandfather. It is just the good news he needed after year we have all had during the pandemic.”
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Arts, Military and Air Attaché, Dutch Embassy said, “After 77 years, the people of The Netherlands still daily celebrate their freedom, given to us by brave men and women like Mr. Walter Knight. We can’t thank them enough for the incredible sacrifices they made by fighting to liberate a country they hardly knew anything about. It did not only provide us with our freedom, but also resulted in the best British – Dutch relationship imaginable, which undoubtedly will be forwarded to the next generations.”
When asked for memories of his time in the Netherlands ,Walter said, “When we first got to Holland two Dutch girls walked past and invited both me and another soldier back to their house for some food. The family did not have much but still looked after us both well. They were very generous and very nice folk.”
Walter was shot in the war, and he explained how it happened, “I was in a trench in s-Hertogenbosch, it was dark and out of nowhere some German soldiers came within a few yards of us. The sergeant planned to sneak round the back and throw a grenade, which was the signal for me to start shooting. I heard ‘grenade’ so began shooting but unfortunately, I got caught by a German bullet which went through my hand into the rifle butt. I often wonder if I had thrown a grenade at the same time as my sergeant, we might have avoided the gunfire.”
To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers veterans visit www.taxicharity.org
About the Dutch Liberation Medal
The Dutch Thank You Liberators Medal is presented as a token of gratitude from the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to those men and women who contributed to the liberation of the Netherlands during WWII. LtCol Rob Arts who presented the Thank you Liberators Medal was accompanied by LtCol Richard Piso, who is his successor to the post of Military and Air Attaché at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
About the Taxi Charity
The Taxi Charity is run by volunteer London black taxi drivers and has been supporting thousands of veterans of all ages since 1948. The charity arranges free trips to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, for acts of commemoration and days out to museums, concerts, or fundraising events in the UK, to catch up with friends and comrades.
Pandemic restrictions meant events had to be cancelled and the Charity has worked tirelessly to ensure veterans received regular contact by sending out a greeting card each month, gifts to mark the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ day, stockings at Christmas and arranging Guards of Honour at veterans’ funerals. Volunteers have also helped with regular phone calls, food shopping, transport to hospital appointments, and more recently taking veterans for their Coronavirus injections.
The charity was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2021.
To fund and facilitate their work, the charity is reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses, and trusts.