During the filming of the popular U.K. TV show Motorway Cops, police officers came across 91-year-old Bill Mountfield. The nonagenarian was attempting to change a tire on his vehicle following a collision with a truck. When the cops heard about his story, though, they dropped everything to help him out.
On-duty officers Doug Lofthouse and Dale Anderson were called out to attend an accident on the M62 highway in northern England. When the pair arrived, they discovered that the driver of the car, Bill Mountfield, had been in a collision with a truck. Consequently, the old man’s car was badly damaged.
Mountfield was insistent that all he needed to do was change the tire on his car. He was carrying a spare with him, he explained. However, when the officers went to check the condition of his vehicle, they discovered that the situation was more serious than Mountfield realized. In fact, the side of his car was buckled and not fit to drive.
This wasn’t about to stop Mountfield, though, and he tried to reason with the officers as vehicles flew by on the highway. He told them that if he could just get his car moving, he would have it repaired once he reached Holland. Mountfield said he was headed to the ferry docks to travel across to mainland Europe.
However, this wasn’t enough to placate the officers. While sympathetic to the old man’s plight, they remained unmoved. Police Constable Anderson said, “He’s maybe from a generation which [thinks], ‘It’ll physically work, it’ll do.’ Unfortunately, we’ve got a responsibility to make sure that what he’s doing is going to be as safe as possible for everyone else.”
Yet Mountfield was clearly agitated and desperate to get moving again after his forced stoppage. He even refused the offer of a lift home, wanting to keep on going to the port of Hull instead. Aware of the need to get him away from the fast-moving traffic, the officers put Mountfield in the back of their vehicle while they tried to discuss his options with him.
PC Lofthouse called Mountfield’s insurance company to check if it could provide a courtesy car for the old man’s onward journey. But his plea fell on deaf ears. The company stated that it would arrange for Mountfield’s car to be recovered, but neither it, nor the recovery vehicle, could assist further in taking him to Holland.
While Lofthouse was on the phone, his partner PC Anderson chatted to Mountfield in the back of the police car. He tried to ascertain if the old man had any family who could pick him up. Mountfield explained that he had none; even his son had passed away six months previously.
Perturbed but impressed at the old man’s determination, the officers asked why Mountfield was traveling to Holland. As it turned out, the nonagenarian was headed to a special reunion. A veteran of the famous Battle of Arnhem in World War II, he was on his way to meet up with other surviving members of his regiment.
Recognizing that giving up and going home wasn’t an option for Mountfield, the two officers decided to help him make it to the ferry port. One possible solution, Anderson suggested, was getting a rental car. And Mountfield readily agreed to the idea.
Meanwhile, the more the two cops got involved with Mountfield’s story, the more their desire to help him grew. Explaining what it was about the war veteran that resonated with him, PC Lofthouse said, “His determination, his courage, his grit, really. He wanted to get to Hull, he had to get on that ferry. There was no other way around it really.”
However, there was a problem – and a difficult one at that. You see, there aren’t that many rental companies willing to loan a car to a 91-year-old traveling overseas for five weeks. And with Mountfield’s ferry departure fast approaching, there wasn’t much time to figure out if it was going to be possible.
Despite concerns over whether any companies would loan Mountfield a car, the officers decided to push on with the plan. The war vet’s car was full of supplies for his trip, so officers transferred his things to their patrol car. In fact, he was carrying so much stuff they needed to call in another vehicle.
Unfortunately, time was running out and the two policemen still hadn’t managed to find a rental company willing to loan Mountfield a car. In the end, they decided to take Mountfield with them and go in person to see if they could work something out. Perhaps if they explained the whole situation it could make a difference.
So the trio made their way to a hire-car company, where the cops explained their predicament to a staff member face-to-face, rather than through a call center. And their persistence paid off; moments later, the company agreed to loan Mountfield a vehicle. All that was left to do, then, was to transfer Mountfield’s considerable supplies from the patrol car to the hire car.
Moreover, thanks to the two policemen’s extensive efforts, Mountfield was able to make his ferry departure in time. And PC Anderson was delighted. “If we can’t do things for people who’ve given so much of themselves… when the opportunity presents itself just to help people… it was very little, what we did for Bill, but it made a difference to him,” he reflected.
Understandably, both officers were left with a great respect for Mountfield. The war vet had not veered from his plan to see his old comrades, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. In light of his service to his country, the officers were pleased they were able to help him fulfill his goal.
Tragically, the story has a bittersweet ending. Mountfield arrived in Holland and was able to attend the regimental reunion, but sadly he died during his stay. But although he passed away, at least he did so in the company of the only family he had left: his brothers-in-arms.
Unsurprisingly, Mountfield was well-loved by his old comrades. A blog post from one old colleague read, “Uncle Bill died in Arnhem last week. At the age of 91 he died in the city that remained central for the rest of his life… where he fought so hard and lost many comrades. Bill, I salute you.”
Funnily enough, the post also referenced another one of Mountfield’s common habits when he visited Arnhem. In essence, the war vet always brought plenty of British food with him, potato chips in particular. And it was these supplies that the officers had moved into his hire car back in England before he left his country for the very last time.