Edmund Trebus was born in Ostrowo near Danzig (Gdańsk), in what was then Germany, on 11 November 1918 – the day of the Armistice.
When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 Trebus was conscripted into the Wehrmacht. He was then captured and served with the Allied forces in Italy, in an anti-tank unit of the II Corps of the Polish armed forces, which was under British command.
After moving to England just after the Second World War,Trebus married. He and his wife had five children. After Trebus’ wife died, his children seldom visited.
Trebus had been “a collector” all his life and he was often seen pushing a hand cart filled with his latest acquisitions, which he would carefully sort into separate piles in his garden and home.
One of Trebus’ major loves was Elvis Presley, and he managed to collect and store away almost every single record ever recorded by the artist.
In his eighties, living alone in a run-down house in Crouch End in north London, he was constantly in trouble with the environmental health department of the London Borough of Haringey, because of complaints about the rubbish surrounding his home. He lived in a tiny area on the ground floor in his house, surrounded by piles of rubbish, because he never threw anything away.
In the BBC documentary series A Life Of Grime, Trebus was repeatedly shown arguing with council workers who had been instructed to clear his house of the 515 cubic yards of rubbish it contained. He was eventually re-housed at the Trentfield Nursing Home in Southfield, Haringey, where he died at the age of 83. Following his death, the BBC broadcast this hour-long tribute.