This coming weekend, the Pontypridd Mini, Junior & Youth Rugby Sections are retaining a long standing link with s-Hertogenbosch in Holland.
On October 25th, the club will be sending representatives to “den bosch” to mark the 60th Anniversary of the city's liberation from Nazi occupation by Welsh soldiers from the 53rd (Welsh) Divison, many of whom were from the Pontypridd area.
The section has a very close relationship with the city's rugby club “The Dukes”, with two previous tours by teams from the Pontypridd Juniors to s-Hertogenbosch in 2005 and 2007, and an unforgettable visit by the entire Dukes Junior section to Pontypridd in 2006.
As part of the weekend activities Pontypridd Juniors & Youth will take part in a rugby tournament on Sunday 25th October.
Also attending the commemoration will be Wales' First Minister Rhodri Morgan and British Ambassador Sir Colin Budd.
"He was a fresh-faced lad of 21 when he first set eyes
Now aged 86, Maurice Leslie is returning to the Dutch city of S’Hertogenbosch which he helped liberate from the Germans 65 years ago.
The former tank gunner attached to the 53rd Welsh Infantry Division fought for six long days to release S’Hertogenbosch – widely known as Den Bosch – from its Nazi stranglehold.
He will make his final pilgrimage to the city on October 24, for its annual Liberation Festival, an eight-day celebration and commemoration of those who lost their lives in the conflict.
“It will be wonderful to go back,” said Mr Leslie
“It was a remarkable day in history and one that has stayed very vividly with me all my life.”
S’Hertogenbosch marks the historic day every year by inviting its liberators back to meet its youngest citizens and enjoy celebrations held in their honour.
Mr Leslie plans to take 17-year-old grandson James to Kamp Vught concentration camp a few kilometres outside S’Hertogenbosch and home to 30,000 prisoners from January 1943 to September 1944.
“It still stands today as a memorial to all those imprisoned there,” said Mr Leslie.
“It was a truly horrific, awful place,” said Mr Leslie. “Children today don’t understand so I am hoping my grandson can see it for himself.”
Amidst its prisoners the camp, one of the few official Nazi concentration camp complexes in western Europe, held 12,000 Jews.
This year – the 65th anniversary of the liberation of S’Hertogenbosch – will be the last commemoration, as the number of veterans begins to dwindle and the city moves on to the next chapter in its history.
“They are a truly great people,” said Mr Leslie, who lost 300 to 400 comrades in Holland during the Second World War.
“Not only do they welcome old boys like me with open arms but they tend the graves of the fallen in our absence.
“It seems right that this is the last celebration of that day, there are only 44 of us soldiers around now and I am the last from this neck of the woods.”
Maurice Leslie is to visit S’Hertogenbosch for its Liberation Festival.