Death of former Scotland lock who dramatically fled Nazis

Frans ten Bos shakes hands with prime minister Harold MacMillan before a Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham.  Picture: Robert Perry

Frans ten Bos shakes hands with prime minister Harold MacMillan before a Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham. Picture: Robert Perry

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Frans ten Bos, one of Scotland’s best-known rugby internationals of the late 1950s and early ’60s, has died. He was 79.

Ten Bos won 17 caps at lock forward between 1959 and 1963 and was a key member of a team which slowly began to revive Scotland’s international rugby fortunes following a bleak decade in the 1950s.

Former Scotland rugby international Frans ten Bos who has died at the age of 79. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Former Scotland rugby international Frans ten Bos who has died at the age of 79. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Born in England to Dutch parents, Ten Bos returned to the Netherlands as a child before being involved in a dramatic escape back to the UK following the Nazi invasion of Holland.

The family made their way to Scotland and Ten Bos went on to attend Fettes College and Oxford University and played club rugby for London Scottish.

During his five seasons in the Scotland team he was twice within touching distance of the Triple Crown, England denying Scotland on both occasions. He was involved in famous wins in Paris and Cardiff which ended long losing runs in both cities. The 1962 win over Wales was Scotland’s first there for 35 years and Ten Bos scored a try and made another for Ron Glasgow. An SRU spokesperson said: “Scottish Rugby is saddened to hear of the death of Frans ten Bos and extends its condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.”

In an interview with The Scotsman last year, Ten Bos told of how his family fled the Netherlands for Britain at the outbreak of hostilities.

“My father had been dreading this moment and also planning for it, but the first shell to target the airport landed on his plane,” he explained. “So then he got his DKW – he always had enviable cars – and filled it with extra jerrycans, the basic essentials, three children and a wife and drove down the Belgian coast. The roads were crammed with refugees and we stopped at every port but couldn’t get out.

“We waited two weeks at Bordeaux, the last port in France, and finally there were three cocoa boats from west Africa heading to Britain. My mother knew they were only taking British subjects and she also knew that children had precedence.

“My sisters and I had all been born in Britain because our parents, who were great Anglophiles, had been sure Europe would erupt so our mother was flown across every time she was pregnant and about to pop. When we were handed over in Bordeaux the ship’s captain was horrified and allowed our parents to go, too.”

It later emerged that the other two boats didn’t make it, both being torpedoed.

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