Braham Myers, who has died three months after turning 100, was a war veteran who owned and ran the last flat cap factory in Yorkshire and was awarded an MBE for his lifelong work for the disabled ex-service charity, Blesma.
Born in Harrogate in 1921, he moved to Leeds at 13 and went on to Cambridge on a university scholarship. But his studies were interrupted by the Second World War, and he joined the Royal Artillery in 1941.
“I didn’t do very well, but it was an extraordinary experience,” he recalled. “I remember one famous exercise in Scotland when we were supposed to be training in snow warfare, as we thought we’d have an expedition to Norway. But typically Scotland had no snow and when it came to it, we were sent below sea level to Holland.
“That was so typical of the Army – we did exactly the opposite of what you expected.”
Once overseas, he was sent on to just north of Antwerp, with the intention of securing a supply route up the banks of the River Scheldt. Heavy German resistance was compounded by torrential rain which saw guns bogged down in mud. Eventually though, Mr Myers and his comrades advanced into Germany.
Sent on a reconnaissance mission, he discovered an abandoned German artillery dump, ringed with anti-personnel shoe mines. When he trod on one, it blew his right leg off, and four days later he was flown back to England, to a hospital in Worcester.
Having lost his leg just below the knee, he began a slow recovery on crutches until he was finally fitted with a prosthetic leg at
Chapel Allerton Hospital in Leeds.
After the war, he worked for the Ministry of Education, then completed a history degree at Cambridge. Eventually, he moved back to
Yorkshire and joined the family business, JW Myers Ltd of Holbeck, Leeds – the last flat cap factory in England, which supplied headwear to all the major men’s outfitters in the UK and worldwide. He spent the rest of his working career managing the business until it was sold and he retired in 1986.
At the same time, he played a key role on many charity committees, including chairing the Leeds branch of Blesma, which looked after ex-service men and women, and becoming honorary treasurer of its national executive. Every year, he helped deliver Christmas food parcels to veterans of the First World War in Leeds and Bradford.
Mr Myers was also on the board of governors at High Royds psychiatric hospital in Menston and was involved with its dismantling. Once retired, he was an active volunteer in collecting and classifying personal testimonies from the Second World War Experience Centre’s archive in Otley, where he also shared his own story.
He celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year at Mayfield View care home in Ilkley, where he lived with Lola, his wife of nearly 70 years. They had three daughters and three grandsons.