The last time British soldier Alan King saw four-year-old Toos Kacken, she was being shepherded by her mother who stumbled and almost fell into the path of his 30-ton tank as it reversed in the Dutch town of s-Hertogenbosch while liberating it in October 1944.
If not for another radio operator who shouted “halt,” King, also a radio operator, would not have received a cream cake topped with chocolate Toos gave him at a recent reunion, almost 75 years later. He had been issued an invitation by the Dutch government to participate in the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem.
The former radio operator didn’t realize he had saved her mother until he saw a wartime photograph that recorded a different moment when her father was pulling or more like dragging her sister and her alongside a tank in Mr. King’s squadron in the town’s market square.
Only seconds after the picture was taken Toos’s mother stumbled and fell in its way with Toos in tow as King’s tank reversed almost running over them as the family ran from their home to a shelter and shells detonated around them.
King said when he saw Toos, she was not only grateful to see him but almost smothered him with affection. Seeing her was very emotional. He was happy he got his tank to stop, so it didn’t injure her mother, The Sun reported.
In recalling the incident, King said they had been involved in a large tank battle. They had crossed a bridge when it was blown up behind them.
The emotional meeting reminds us how the smallest of actions can change lives, for better or worse, forever.