St Albans Salvation Army stalwart dies in 90th year

Denis Lofthouse

Denis Lofthouse - Credit: Archant

ONE of the Salvation Army’s best-known local musicians and a Second World War hero, Denis Lofthouse, has died in his 90th year.

Mr Lofthouse (pictured), who lived in High Oaks, St Albans, played a prominent part in the manufacture of brass instruments at the former Salvation Army factory in Campfield Road before it was bought out by Boosey and Hawkes for whom he later worked as service manager at their Regent Street headquarters in London.

Following retirement, he repaired hundreds of instruments from a work bench in his garden shed. Some dated back over a hundred years, others were refurbished and sent to Salvation Army corps in countries as far afield as Kenya where brass bands were established for the first time.

Occasionally, schoolchildren would arrive at his front door with a broken cornet, euphonium or trombone which, for just a few shillings pocket money, he would give “a second wind.”

A former Royal Marine, Mr Lofthouse was mentioned in despatches for his outstanding bravery by clambering down the hatch and extinguishing a fire aboard two barges laden with high explosive shells, using nothing more than a bucket and the water lying in the bilges.

His courageous action took place on the Kiel Canal in Northern Germany on VE Day whilst everyone back home was celebrating the end of the war.

A year earlier, he set up vital radio equipment whilst under heavy German bombardment during the D Day landings on Normandy’s Gold Beach. He also served in Africa, Egypt, Libya, Sicily and the Far East.

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After the war Mr Lofthouse, who played in St Albans Salvation Army Band, taught scores of local youngsters how to play a brass instrument and was frequently asked to lay a wreath at the city’s war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

He had been married 65 years and is survived by his wife Thelma, two daughters, four grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.