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Man who helped Jewish girl escape the Holocaust

Barbara Topham and Mavis Shaw with Bill Scrutons posthumously awarded medals and certificates and, inset below, Mr Scruton.

Barbara Topham and Mavis Shaw with Bill Scrutons posthumously awarded medals and certificates and, inset below, Mr Scruton.

A man who helped a Jewish girl escape the Nazis in the Second World War has had his heroism posthumously recognised.

Former Grantley and Kirkby Malzeard resident Bill “Buster” Scruton, who was a prisoner of war in Germany when the events unfolded, has been awarded a British Heroes of the Holocaust medal by the Government as well as being accorded Righteous Among Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority.

His awards were collected on his behalf by his nieces, Barbara Topham of Ripon and Mavis Shaw of Knaresborough.

Barbara said: “The recognition is well-deserved – we just wish it had been done a little sooner when he was still alive to receive it himself.”

Mr Scruton was among a group of British prisoners of war captured in France in 1940 and transferred to the east to work on German farms near the Baltic coast.

It was in the summer of 1944 when one of his fellow prisoners discovered Sarah, a 16-year-old Lithuanian, taking refuge in a barn after she managed to escape a “death march” of Jewish prisoners who were being moved from the Shavli ghetto to the Stutthof concentration camp as the Soviet army approached.

Mr Scruton’s group of soldiers smuggled Sarah into their own prisoner of war camp, Stalag 20B in Gross-Golmkau, where they hid her in a hay loft – a potentially dangerous move as it was very near a German police station and the barn housed the police’s horses.

Because of her fragile condition, the men took turns in caring for her – bringing her food, tending her frostbite, applying paraffin to her hair to ward off lice, bathing her and nursing her back to health.

Soon, however, the prisoners of war were to be moved and the men arranged for a local woman to take care of Sarah until the arrival of the Red Army.

She eventually moved to the United States where she has led a long and happy life into her eighties.

Mr Scruton died in 1987 at the age of 79.

 

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