CAPTAIN Lawrence Edwin Arthur Holt-Kentwell MBE, a veteran of the North African and Italian campaigns in the Second World War, has died aged 97 following a short illness.

Larry Holt-Kentwell, the youngest of six children, and the only son of Lawrence Klindt Kentwell and his wife Anne Holt, was born on New Year’s Day, 1915, at 159 Woodstock Road.

The family had moved to Oxford from Honolulu via Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1908.

They were neighbours and friends of Ned Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia – and of Sarah Jane Cooper, the inventor of Frank Cooper’s Oxford marmalade.

Larry, like two of his sisters, went to The Dragon School and then to Sherborne School in Dorset as an exhibitioner. He read law at Oxford University ’s New College, graduating in 1937, and then joined the probation service.

He volunteered for the Royal Army Service Corps at the outbreak of war, but was not called to the colours until February 1940 because his training finished too late for him to be sent to France.

He then transferred to the RAF and qualified as an observer, but the job was abolished and he rejoined the Army.

Early in 1943, as part of Operation Torch, he led his unit, 30 ambulances manned by Service Corps drivers and medical staff, in support of 6 Armoured Division, from Algiers to Cap Bon in Tunisia, where Rommel’s Afrika Corps surrendered.

After a few weeks, they crossed to Taranto, Italy, and followed 6 Armoured Division up to the Austrian border, pausing in Rome during a lull in the fighting.

Mr Holt-Kentwell recalled passing Monte Cassino after its capture and seeing soldiers’ photos and letters strewn around.

After the war, he joined the Foreign Service and served in the embassy in Cairo, where he met his future wife, the late Joan Ratkens. He then transferred to the Colonial Service and moved to Uganda to start a probation service.

He then moved to Hong Kong, and retired as director of social welfare, before returning home to become an assistant director of social welfare in Cumbria.

He retired for the second time in about 1990 and moved to Norreys Road in Cumnor.

He is survived by two daughters, a son, three grandsons, a grand-daughter, a great-grandson, a nephew, two great-nieces, a great-nephew, a great-great-nephew and three great-great-nieces.

Mr Holt-Kentwell died on August 31.

His funeral will be held at Cumnor Parish Church at 12.30pm on Monday, September 17.

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