Wigan soldier killed in World War Two receives honorary citizenship from Dutch town

A Wigan soldier killed in World War Two was honoured in the Netherlands as the country marked 75 years since it was liberated

Friday, 25th October 2019, 3:15 pm
William Maloney

William Maloney, of Poolstock Lane, was killed in action in December 1944 while fighting to liberate the province of Limburg in an anti-tank regiment of the Royal Artillery.

Other news: All change at Wigan care home after training courseTo mark three-quarters of a century since the country was freed from Nazi rule the town of Brunssum decided to make the 328 British servicemen in its war cemetery, including Mr Maloney, honorary citizens.

It meant a moving and poignant few days of remembrance for 10 members of his family who travelled across the Channel to attend.

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Vivien Haydock, whose husband David is Mr Maloney’s grandson, said: “It was brilliant but so emotional, an amazing experience.

“You could really feel the appreciation of that liberation 75 years ago, even now. The Dutch were oppressed in the war, it was terrible.

“The really sad part of it is that the Netherlands was liberated in September 1944 but there was still fighting with the Germans in December and unfortunately he was killed, when things were coming to an end.”

Among those who travelled were Mr Maloney’s daughter May Spicer, who is now in her 80s, and his son Derek who went up to receive the certificate on his father’s behalf.

She said: “I am glad I made the trip and feel some of the bitterness of losing my father so young has now been put into perspective. Even so, it has been a very emotional journey.”

An insight into Mr Maloney’s character comes from the fact that at Christmas 1944, just days before the telegram arrived bearing news of his death aged 32, he sent his chocolate ration back to Wigan for his six children.

He and his fellow servicemen were remembered in a special ceremony bestowing the honorary citizenship, with a military wives choir singing and a 100-year-old US veteran speaking.

There was also a military tattoo and graves were adorned with battery-operated lights and roses.