Churchill's German Army

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Drew5233, May 5, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I watched a programme the other day that covered the story of some Germans who for predominately the same reason (Their Faith) found themselves in Great Britain before the outbreak of war and ended up fighting for Britain.

    During WW2 some 10,000 Germans joined the British Armed Forces and fought against the Nazi regime that had taken over their country.

    Whilst quickly taking notes on a fascinating programme I’ve outlined five stories of the 10,000 that took up arms against their homeland.

    Due to the source of infomation being a TV programme and I was scribling notes and the speed of a thousand Gazelles. I appologise for any inaccuracies in what are truely fantastic stories in a time of great human hardship.

    You have my upmost respect
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Helmuth Rosettenstein now Harry Rossney


    Called up for the German Army just before the outbreak of war, he was selected as the 198th person out of 200 to go on a work experience trip to England as a craftsman and missed joining the German Army.

    Harry helped to build Kitchener Camp near Sandwich in Kent that housed some of the refugees coming to Britain as circumstances in Europe deteriorated.

    When war broke out he changed his name to Harry Rossney to be more sociably acceptable and joined the British Army. Initially Germans could only join the Pioneer Corps doing unskilled labour work but as the war drew on it became obvious that German Refugees could make a bigger impact in other units.

    Harry Landed in Normandy and whilst at Bayeux he was asked to stay behind whilst his unit continued its advance towards Germany. Harry was a skilled sign writer before the war and there was a mass of bodies that needed to be buried and their crosses marked up. So with little say in the matter he was seconded to the Graves Registration Unit.

    By coincidence whilst he was marking crosses he stumbled on the grave of his best friend from school in Germany called Heinz Brunt.

    After the war Harry became a British Citizen in 1947.

    He has one Son and two Grandchildren.

    In 2009 Harry published a book containing Poems from his war time memories.

    Additional Info:
    Harry Rossney
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Horst Adolf Herzberg now William Howard


    Born in 1919.

    In 1944 William received call up papers and joined the Royal Navy and was posted to HMS Bologna. He was trained in Electronic Warfare and listened to German Radio Traffic in the English Channel.

    He took part in the D-Day landings on board the same ship.

    At the end of the war Bill was recommended for a commission in the Royal Navy but it was refused on the grounds of his place of birth.

    He became a British Citizen in 1946.

    Additional Info:
    Bill Howard
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Claus Leopold Octavio Ascher now Colin Anson


    Born 1922.

    Colin was having lunch with his father in Berlin before the outbreak of war when some Gestapo officers came to the table and arrested his father and took him away. Colin’s father was taken to Dachau concentration camp where he died. Colin managed to escape to London in February 1939 living all his family behind.

    In 1943 Colin was attached to the Royal Marines on special duties and landed on Sicily. He suffered a serious head wound which revealed his brain. Whilst being evacuated he was bunked on a ship next to a German Fallschirmjager that was also wounded but the German Paratrooper seemed rather happy at his current circumstances as he had someone to talk too.

    Colin had a metal plate put in his head and made a fast recovery to the point that just at the end of the war he was back with his parent unit and helping with the handling of all the surrendering Germans Soldiers.

    He asked to be stationed in Frankfurt after the war so he could look for his mother. He found his mother but he also managed to find a Gestapo file on his father which identified the man who denounced his father before the outbreak of war. Colin explained that it would have been easy to take the ‘lock maker’ for a walk into a nearby wood and return alone.

    In July 1949 after returning to London Colin met a fellow refugee Alice Cross in a cafe.

    They have 3 Children and 7 Grandchildren.

    Additional Info:
    Colin Anson
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Willy Hirschfeld now Willy Field


    Born 1920.

    Willy lived in Bonn before the outbreak of war and was arrested by the Gestapo for being Jewish and was taken to Dachau concentration camp and was given No. 28411.

    His old boss living in London paid for a work permit for him to immigrate to England and left all his family behind.

    A year after leaving Germany he was interned by the British Authorities and was deported to Australia on the notorious troopship Dunera.

    Willy returned to Britain and eventually joined C Squadron , 8th Hussars as a driver in a Cromwell Tank. During the Allied invasion of Europe he landed near Arromanches and moved on towards Germany through Belgium and Holland.

    In September 1944 his tank was knocked out by what he believes was a round from a German 88mm gun between Schindel and Weigel. He was heading for Nijmegen. The round went straight through the tanks turret and it killed all his crew apart from the Radio Operator. Willy picked him up and placed him to the rear of the tank when another round presumably from the same gun. The explosion threw Willy some 20 yards away from the tank and he was wounded in the leg. His Radio Operator died on the way to hospital.

    After recovering from his wounds he was back with C Squadron and was partnered with a high ranking officer in the Hussars.
    Seven years after being in Dachau he entered Berlin with the Hussars and drove his tank in the victory parade.

    Willy was de-mobbed in 1946 and met Judy his future wife and they were married in 1949.

    He has been a Arsenal F.C. season ticket holder since 1948.

    Additional Info:
    Willy Field
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Klaus Hugo Adam now Ken Adam


    Born in 1921.

    Ken lived in Berlin with his family before the war and his father took them all to Britain after being persecuted for being Jewish.

    Ken joined the RAF and flew Typhoons over Normandy after D-Day with 609 Squadron. Most of his flights were spent attacking ground targets in the Falaise area. On a day off his CO took him to Falaise to see the devastation and they found a VW Jeep and decided to take it back to their base. They scrubbed the plastic seats numerous times with disinfectant but could never remove the ‘sweet smell’ of death from the jeep.

    As the war came to an end he was put in charge of 1,000’s of Luftwaffe PoW’s and he insisted that all the high ranking officers were taken to see the horrors of Belsen.

    He is now considered one of the greatest living production designers and has worked on many James Bond Movies.

    Knighted in 2003 he is now Sir Ken Adam OBE.

    Sir Ken Adams Bio:
    Sir Ken Adam

    According to Wiki he was the only German to be a pilot in the RAF during WW2.
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive


    Geoffrey Perry, formerly Horst Pinchewer, pictured here at the TV Tower in Berlin, is one of many Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain during World War II.

    I missed this chaps details whilst scribbling away and was rather annoyed because he has a fantastic tale to tell and fortunately I have found his story:

    Geoffrey Perry
    Now 85, Geoffrey Perry fought in the wake of the D-Day landings and was among those who witnessed the horrors of Belsen concentration camp after it was liberated. He was born Horst Pinschewer and grew up in Berlin, before coming to Britain as a Jewish schoolboy evacuee.

    Perry was part of a special unit, called Tforce, whose brief in the closing stages of the war was to take Radio Hamburg. They did this in May 1945 and he read the first Allied boradcast from the same microphone which two days erlier Britain’s most wanted traitor and Fascist, William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) had used in his last message to the German people.

    It was Mr Perry who captured William Joyce – otherwise known as Lord Haw Haw. In May 1945, he and a British officer encountered an odd-looking figure in a forest near the German border with Denmark.

    “I shot him in the bum,” Mr Perry recalled gleefully. “It was one shot. I’d asked him if he was by any chance Lord Haw Haw. His hand went to his pocket as if to pull out a gun – so I fired.”

    Geoffrey Perry retired after the war at the rank of Major.

    Sourced from the National Geographic Channel

    Someone who was with him when they met Lord Haw Haw:
    BBC - WW2 People's War - The Capture of Lord Haw Haw
    dbf likes this.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks for posting these Andy.
    Fascinating stories.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive


    It's showing again 3 times this month (May)

    Tuesday 19th May at 3pm

    Thursday 28th May at 6pm

    Friday 29th May at 8am

    Showing on Sky Channel 526

    Churchill's German Army

    The bravery of our home-grown heroes during the Second World War is well documented, but less is known about those who fled Nazi-occupied Europe to take up the Allied cause. Over the course of the conflict, thousands of Germans and Austrians fled Nazi persecution and joined British forces to fight against Hitler. Now, this extraordinary band of brothers tell their stories in full for the first time, and how together they became Churchill’s German Army.

    Churchill’s German Army : Who were they?

    Millions of soldiers fought against Hitler’s Germany in WW2, but one group of men and women sacrificed everything in the battle against the Nazis. They knew they could be tortured and executed as traitors if captured but were still willing to die for their adopted country. Hear from the only known German fighter pilot in the RAF, a tank driver originally from Bonn who survived the Dachau concentration camp yet was among the first Allied troops to capture Hamburg, and the veteran who shot the infamous Lord Haw Haw in the buttocks.

    They were described as ‘suicide soldiers’ because of their German nationality and the fact that many of them were Jewish meant they would face torture and execution if they were ever captured. Yet all of them were volunteers – not conscripts like the majority of British forces. Over the decades that followed, they became so deeply assimilated into society that they became as British as the Brits.

    Churchill’s German Army : How many Germans and Austrians fought against the Nazis?

    As many as 10,000 Germans and Austrians fled Nazi persecution and joined British forces to fight against Hitler. Neighbours, colleagues and fellow soldiers all suspected they were traitors and double agents, so life in their adopted communities was hellish, and they had to fight doubly hard to prove their dedication to the war effort. But facing these challenges, these incredible volunteers played a key part in some of the most important events of the war.

    Featuring moving personal testimonies, Churchill’s German Army tells the compelling stories of these extraordinary heroes for the first time.

  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Good work Andy.
    The most well know, to me anyway, of Churchill's Germans was Herbert Sulzbach.
    Served as an Officer in German Army in WW1 & British Army in WW2, I think the only man to do that.
    I know I've mentioned him before.
    Scroll down this page to see his medal group not many like that.
    Royal Pioneer Corps & Royal Pioneer Association
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Many thanks for an excellent posting.

    Best regards

  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    More than 75,000 German and Austrian refugees arrived in Britain in the 1930’s to escape Nazism, most of them were Jewish, some were other political refugees. One in seven of them volunteered for, and enlisted in, the British Forces; a surprisingly high percentage. They took the unprecedented step of swearing allegiance to King George VI even though, with a few exceptions, they did not receive British nationality until after the war. They were Churchill's "secret" army.

    The majority began their army life in the non-combatant Pioneer Corps, the pick and shovel on their badge emblematic of hard physical labour. They became affectionately known as “the King’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens”. The vast majority were of Jewish origin, but there were also a significant number of other political refugees: Communists and ‘degenerate’ artists.

    British Local History | History Encyclopaedia | Churchill's German army
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Scroll down this page to see his medal group not many like that.
    Royal Pioneer Corps & Royal Pioneer Association

    You ain't kidding. Sulzbach's medals still make me wonder if he ever wore them as a set in the British Army...

    This all reminds me of Werner Volkner, from this thread.
    The German who served Adolf Hitler, Queen and Country - Telegraph
    Not quite 'served in Churchill's Army' as he apparently finally joined the right side in 1959 ;), but a heck of a history nonetheless... 'MacMillan's German Army' maybe?..
  15. Jakob Kjaersgaard

    Jakob Kjaersgaard Senior Member

    Thanks Andy. Very interesting.

  16. Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart

    Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart Senior Member

  17. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    BBC News - German soldier who fought for Britain in World War II

    Colin Anson was born in Berlin in 1922 as Claus Ascher. His father Curt Ascher was murdered in the Dachau concentration camp in 1937 for speaking out against the Nazi regime.

    With his life in danger, Colin escaped to safety in Britain, where he joined the British army. He became a Commando, training with 3-Troop, the only German-speaking Commando unit in the Army.

    Colin took part in the invasions of Italy and Sicily in 1943, surviving a near-fatal head wound.

    He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife Alice.

    Attached Files:

  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Chers Di,

    As I remember him and the others from the Doc. A very modest man
  19. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I know that some of us living overseas can't access BBC video, so here is a transcript of the very short clip:

    Colin Anson was born in Berlin in 1922 as Claus Ascher:
    I felt like many refugees that it was very much my own business and that I couldn't stand by and let other people sort it out. I felt very personally concerned and I was grateful for the opportunity for being allowed to join the British Forces.

    I always found the reaction from English - British - servicemen or civilians, very positive, very understanding - compassionate very often - and they were quite aware that refugees from Nazi Germany were opposed to Nazi Germany and were reliable allies and had very good reason to want to serve in the British Forces and fight against Nazism, and accepted us as British Servicemen.

    Finally in - well middle of 1942, it became possible to transfer to other units and applications to join fighting units were accepted and we erm, were interviewed and vetted, and finally those of us who passed the vetting process were accepted and only then were informed that we had been accepted for members of a commando in which a Troop was to be formed of us German speakers.

    I was a soldier we were in action - when we were in action - against what was to us enemy forces - in general I found that Germans I came into contact with - by that time, they would be prisoners - would be perfectly amenable er, except when interrogating er people and they would start asking me questions about "Why do you speak so, such good German?" I might then have to remind them that it was I who was asking the questions and they were here to answer please.

    I happened to be at the right age, at the right degree of physical fitness, to be able to train for er, special duties which made use of the fact of my language, that I was able to make a contribution, and I did not perform any great heroics that I can recall. [smiles]
    Drew5233 likes this.
  20. idler

    idler GeneralList

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