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Tributes paid to a musical great

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A well known musician who first came to England as a prisoner of war during the Second World War has died aged 89.

Robert Frettlohr achieved in his life what many others could barely imagine, and his daughter paid tribute to a “lovable” character.

Born in Duisberg, Germany, he joined the Luftwaffe as a paratrooper at 19, and fought in the famous battle of Monte Cassino in Italy. It was there he was captured by Polish troops and kept as a prisoner of war.

He was held in RAF Lindholme, where he met his future wife Sally, who was working for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) at the camp.

Their daughter Sue Doubell said: “He used to admire her from afar, as at the time the women working there were told not to talk to PoWs.

“But one day, he plucked up the courage to go up to her in the bar and say, in broken English, ‘I love you and want to marry you’. That was him all over, he had no fear.”

The two married in 1950 in Dewsbury Register Office.

During his time in Lindholme, Mr Frettlohr took to playing music, and learned the double bass.

He went on to play jazz, and performed with the famous White Eagle Band.

It was during his time with White Eagle he became the first musician to play one of the world’s most famous concert venues, and met a certain fab four-piece along the way.

Sue said: “They were picked to sound-test what would become the Cavern club in Liverpool, to see if it had the right acoustics. They went back to play there, and performed when the Beatles were further down the bill!”

Robert played with numerous other bands, and even helped set up the Yorkshire Post Jazz Band, which is still going to this day. After living in West Lee Crescent, West Ardsley, for 53 years, Robert moved to Leeds Road, Mirfield, to live with his daughter, Sue, and her husband in 2007.

Sue added: “He was a very gregarious and lovable person – he would walk into a room and everyone would know him.”

His funeral will be held at Christ the King in Battyeford at noon on Thursday January 16 followed by a wake at the Pear Tree in Mirfield.

 

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