Impostor - 'One who assumes a false Character'.

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by von Poop, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. Jim Lankford

    Jim Lankford Member

    The most egregious case I’ve come across in recent years was the Czech colonel who claimed to have escaped a German POW camp, made it to England where he later joined an American division. With this division, he was supposed to have fought his way across France and Germany eventually reaching his homeland. This colonel became a highly respected hero and was eventually given one of his country’s highest military awards.

    A few years ago I was contacted by a Czech newspaper reporter who was in the process of verifying the colonel’s war stories. It turns out the American unit that he claimed to have joined in England was none other than the 14th Armored Division.

    Unfortunately for him, the 14th AD was never in England. And a careful review of the division’s combat roster did not show his name. Moreover, while it was possible for foreigners to serve in the American army (To my knowledge at least one young Englishman joined the US Army and served in combat with the 14th AD.) it would have been very unlikely that a Czech soldier could have joined up with the division after it came overseas without having gone through training in the states.

    Between us, the reporter and I disproved the colonel’s claim, and an article was published in a Prague newspaper exposing him for the fraud he was.

    To me the colonel's lies were an insult to the Czech soldiers who did join the division after being liberated at Creussen, Germany. To prove they were brave soldiers ready to fight the Nazis, they marched in formation in the town square while it was under sporadic artillery fire. Impressed, the American commander of the 94th Cavalry, who was dreadfully short of infantry and expecting an imminent German counterattack, accepted their offer to fight alongside his troops. Soon he had a couple of hundred trained Czec soldiers to sterengthen his weak defensive lines. After the battle, many of these "irregulars" refused to return home, and in one way or another managed to fight alongside the unit that had liberated them until near the end of the war. These men were true heroes, and the Czech colonel was a complete fraud.
  2. nifty

    nifty Junior Member

    This comment may be appropriate.

    I do not have time to check out the whys and wherefores of this case, I am ansering the OP

    I have to say that I have considered taking on the persona of my late stepfather in order to gain a access to a forum that he was once a member of Bi Ship in order to find out more about him.

    I must say I find the sort of 'closed shop' mentality that seems to operate on the forum a bit disturbing as it is a great barrier to genuine researchers
  3. Skip

    Skip Senior Member

    I was in my local with a mate who was ex 1 Para. We both looked fairly fit and with short haircuts. One of the regulars peeled over to us and after a few sips of his beer he butted into our conversation to announce that he was ex military:

    'Interesting, who were you with?'

    'The Parachute Regiment'. Having had a hard time with the reg my mate's ears pricked up ... Something was wrong and not many other ranks will use the full regimental title.

    Said Walter then proceeded to tell us that 'Between the years 1970 and 1980 I can't really tell you what I was doing.' Total lack of response from our end prompted the throw away ... 'I was in the SAS.'

    My mate had had enough and practically chewing his pint glass at this point but as its my local was on best behaviour. ... 'Oh, what para battalion were you with?'

    'Errr, Falklands Battalion ...'

    Queue suppressed choke on my Adnams and tensing of posture alongside me.

    Noting our lack of belief this was soon changed to 'The battalion wot did all the jumping ...'

    Queue slightly more aggressive action from my buddy ...

    Why do people do it? Be happy with who you are. Lots of people are lucky enough never to have to sense real fear, largely thanks to veterans on this forum ...
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Hi Nifty,
    I once joined a closed forum, not open to general public, a regtl one. Required fields for registration included Service no, and years to and from: something which I clearly did not earn.

    I contacted the admin explaining who I was and why i wanted to join. Door was opened, welcome mat rolled out. And, once in, I asked permission to post from the other members explaining that if they weren't comfortable having me around, I would clear off sharpish.

    What I did not do was register and post pretending to be a relative, posting personal opinions as that person - like the subject of the first post of this thread did. In so doing that individual invalidated any and all info previously posted about his relative's service.

    I can understand closed shop mentality, some chaps feel happier discussing matters amongst themselves in a private area. We need to remember such closed forums are not set up for the benefit of others.

    If registration isn't possible, then perhaps they'd be willing to either send you a copy of your stepfather's posts relevant to his experiences, or place an appeal with your contact details asking for those who knew him to get in touch. Did you try contacting the Admin and explaining?

    Having checked the site you linked to, I see it addresses registration of relatives:
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Bit of 'forum nostalgia'. (I may have been drinking. :unsure: )
    The above remains one of my favourite posts in the ¾M+ we've built up over the years.
    Wobbler and CL1 like this.
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    I have to say being a non drinker this has tickled me to laugh out loud
  7. Wobbler

    Wobbler Patron Patron

    I wonder if Ron would be up for recreating that “kidnap” photo :D
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    There is the interesting case of a one Pilot Alfred K Munnings,thought to be deceased who had an adventurous account depicted of serving in Fighter Command. Said to be shot down and captured in Normandy during 1941..... served with the resistance and had connections to the SOE.

    Despite research by members of the forum over some time,his reported background and exploits could not be validated.It therefore remains a mystery and information drawn points to a fictional account of a man whose RAF service record could not be traced.

    Info Pilot Alfred K Munnings's time in France.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
    Tony56, CL1 and Wobbler like this.
  9. Wobbler

    Wobbler Patron Patron

    Fascinating thread Harry.

    You made one very valid point (among the others, of course): would a former serviceman forget his service number? Seriously?

    I know my grandad’s off by heart and, of course, that’s not even mine!
    Owen and CL1 like this.
  10. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Sadly the ravages of age can make a man forget anything (as can the ravages of booze). However I fear that in this case we could have either a Walter Mitty or a con man.
    Back in the 50s a director of the company my dad worked for was arrested for fraud. As he was a former Major and a WW1 war hero this caused some shock but at the trial it was revealed that be had never been a major - he'd been a pay clerk who had never left Britain and had got away with a string of frauds over the years. Some of the details he had borrowed from a real man who had died in the flu epidemic in 1919 and much he had made up. He had been telling the story for so long that he probably believed it himself. It had got him into various positions of trust which he had then abused.
    Wobbler likes this.
  11. Wobbler

    Wobbler Patron Patron

    Quite right Robert, apologies, I should have qualified my statement with something like “health issues notwithstanding...” etc.

    Apologies too for the tardiness of my reply, I was a tad unwell yesterday, to put it mildly.

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