Items belonging to Manchester United star killed in Munich air disaster to be auctioned

Duncan Edward's family photograph album is among the more than 40 items being auctioned off by his fiance's family. Credit: Graham Budd Auctions

Items belonging to a rising Manchester United star killed in the Munich air disaster are being auctioned by the family of his fiance.

Duncan Edwards was just 21-years-old when the plane carrying the team crashed on its third attempt to take off from the Munich-Riem airport runway in poor conditions on 6 February 1958.

The players and a number of supporters and sports reporters had been returning from a European Cup match in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, when the plane stopped in Munich to refuel.

Twenty people died at the scene, and although Edwards was pulled from the wreckage alive he died in hospital 15 days later.

A total of 23 people, including eight Manchester United players, died following the incident.

A photo of Duncan Edwards the rising Manchester United star killed in the Munich air disaster in 1958. Credit: Graham Budd Auctions

Edwards, who had 18 caps for England, was tipped as a future captain when he was killed.

His fiance Molly Leech, aged only 22, rushed to Germany to be at his side in hospital, and after his death was forced to return home with only his belongings.

Molly, who died in 2004 aged 68, never parted with the items but now her daughters have decided to sell the more than 40 items.

Among the collection are letters from well wishers, photographs, his overnight bag and football programmes.

Also included is Edwards’ family album with photos of his Manchester United and England football career, such as portraits, match shots, moments with his teammates, as well as some from his national service.

There are also two letters from Edwards to Molly during his national service where he refers to her as “Dear Molly” and “Dear Pet”.

A letter from Bobby Charlton to Duncan Edward's finacee Molly Leech dated 17 February 1958. Credit: Graham Budd Auctions

Molly’s daughters, who wish to remain anonymous, said: "Our mother, Molly, first met Duncan one Saturday evening at Ringway Airport, which is now Manchester Airport.

"In the 1950s, many people would go to the airport to watch the planes! She came from Manchester and worked in an office there, they were very much in love but very private and ordinary people.

"They enjoyed playing cards and tennis, he liked fishing – she always spoke about him with great affection."

They added: "I just can’t imagine what my mother must have gone through when she had to go to Munich, it was such a sad and awful part of her life – she was just 22.

“She died in 2004, at the age of 68, our father died three years ago, and although we did keep in touch with, and visited Mrs Edwards, Duncan’s mother, we are one step removed from the story and we would like his legacy to continue."

Letters written to Duncan Edwards are among the 40 items being auctioned. Credit: Graham Budd Auctions

The items will go on sale at Northamptonshire-based auction house Graham Budd’s sports memorabilia sale.

Graham Budd said: “The story of Duncan Edwards and Molly Leech is so poignant and sad, they had everything going for them – they were an elegant, smartly dressed, photogenic young couple.

“He was born in Dudley in the West Midlands but signed for Manchester United when he was 16, despite a brief interlude when he did National Service with his team mate Bobby Charlton, he had a magnificent career and many say that he would have been the captain of the 1966 World Cup England squad.

“The items in this sale are so personal and it is a privilege to have been asked by Molly’s daughters to sell them.”

The sale will be held online on 8 and 9 March.

Duncan Edward's overnight bag which was recovered from the wreck of the Munich air disaster. Credit: Graham Budd Auctions