Taking Prisoners or not? 4th Recce War Diaries.

Discussion in 'Recce' started by Smudger Jnr, Jul 7, 2009.

  1. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I recently received a wonderful present from a friend, the present being many pages of War Diaries from the 4th Recce Regt.

    I came across a paragraph that related to a German vehicle stumbling into a British Patrol.

    I will let the forum members comment on the content, which I was surprised to see written down, even if it was marked secret at the time.

    Regards
    Tom
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Tom, Lucky fellas indeed.

    Cheers
    Paul
     
  3. SPERO56

    SPERO56 Member

    Tom

    Thanks for doing this. Talk about coincidence as yesterday I applied on line to the National Archives for all four 4 Recce diaries. Waiting to hear back about the cost - can you see any mention of my grandfather Major Bill Purvis? Enjoy the read!!
     
  4. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Spero,

    See your original link :).
    I have added on something that will interest you:D.

    Regards
    Tom

    Ps Have sent you a PM (Private Message)
     
  5. Shane Greer

    Shane Greer We're Doomed

    Lucky Jerries indeed but Im surprised to see it noted they were to be taken away and quietly shot... LMAO
     
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Shane,

    Exactly. One of the reasons I posted it was to see the reaction from members.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Tom

    I too was interested to see mention of this subject within official Regimental Diaries.

    I have already gone on record, as has Brian and others, that I never had any experience of witnessing or even knowing about episodes such as quoted but am not so naive as to think that in certain situations the order "no prisoners" may have been issued by the local COs.

    Whilst trying not to make my usual error of straying off thread I feel obliged to mention that scenes such as described in the Regimental Diary were of activities between two sides in the heat of battle and could be considered as part of the risks of battle.

    These episodes are worlds apart from the massacre of civilians that occured on a daily basis due to the machinations of the Third Reich.

    Ron
     
  8. Shane Greer

    Shane Greer We're Doomed

    Agreed Ron but it is all the more strange considering they are readily admitting to the summary execution of German POW's. We would be very naive to think it did not happen but to state in Regimental Diaries... well there must have been a severe error in judgement over that one.
     
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Shane

    Within weeks of the end of the war in Italy my Rgt was guarding an SS Division and I had the opportunity to discuss the taking of prisoners with one of the detainees.

    Regimental Diaries:
    15th May Verbal orders received from 78 Div to establish POW camp at FERNDORF for 500 POW.
    Wednesday 16th. May 1945
    At Ferndorf. Nothing to do but wait arrival of (German) prisoners. Griff is very confused. Am not on guard list. Billets crowded but quite O.K.

    Ferndorf
    The site for the camp was almost ideal. Situated in a valley it must originally have been a field for grazing and had the river on one side and railway embankment on the other. We quickly put up some barbed wire around the perimeter and bingo, we had a cage. Within a few days the first 2OOO prisoners arrived by train and eventually this number was to swell to 4OOO.
    Timber was requisitioned from far and wide, and after it was dumped in the cage, the Germans were told to get on with it and build their own accommodation, which they soon did in a most professional manner. One of the first buildings put up was a guard room for our own benefit and I, in company with the rest of "A" squadron, was to spend the next month doing 24 hours on, and 24 hours off guard without a break.
    At any one time there were only four men on actual guard around the perimeter, one patrolling the railway embankment, one the river bank, and the other two each other side of the cage. The Germans had their own internal guard to keep things in order within the cage itself and it was quite common for the British and German guards to patrol together, each on his own side of the wire.
    On one occasion, in the early hours of the morning, I was chatting in German to my counterpart on the other side. I told him I was Jewish, to which I got the almost automatic response: "Ich habe so viel Freunden Juden!", ( I have so many Jewish friends!) and I asked him as a matter of academic interest what would have happened if some weeks earlier I had the misfortune to be captured by his own unit and they discovered I was Jewish.
    He considered the matter for a moment and then told me that if I had been one of a large group of prisoners, then no attempt would have been made to segregate me, and I would have just been sent to the rear with the others. If, however, I had been captured separately and if his own officer said to him "shoot him" then he would simply have shot me, for as he quite cheerfully pointed out to me: "If I don't shoot you, then he shoots me!"
    At the time, it all seemed perfectly logical to both of us and I have often been glad that events had never put the matter to the test.
     
  10. Shane Greer

    Shane Greer We're Doomed

    Excellent story Ron... thanks for sharing!!
     
  11. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Ron,
    I was not wishing to be contentious with the post as I think that you know me by now.

    It just took me by surprise to read the diary entry and I am not too nieve to believe that these things did go on. As I say I have never come across anything like this before and wished to share it with other forum members.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  12. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    :unsure:
    I think I have related this before on the forum, but can't find it at the moment.
    For many years I worked with a wee Scottish fellow (I will call Jock), he was 84 still working and fit as a fiddle, he would take no nonsence and was still handy with his fists. He new I was into Military History and one day we got talking. He had been in the 51st (H) Div all through the war and aways went over to france with the Vets and would show us the pics , we got round to the subject of POWs and I told him of my dad's experiences with the taking of prisoners.
    He says to me " Look son! its simple if they were Heer we would round them up and send them back to the Cage. If they were SS we would take them round the back and shoot them".
    Believe it or not, but Jock was not a man to tell a lie.
    Rob
     
  13. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  14. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

  15. Stig O'Tracy

    Stig O'Tracy Senior Member

    I've read the statement in the diary and it seems to me that these fellows were not shot. It says "both were however on the verge of being led away and quietly shot," meaning that they avoided this fate. The reason they managed to avoid execution is that I think it was realized that their action was not a suicidal attack, which I suppose would have justified execution in some peoples mind at the time, but was actually an accidental encounter.
     
  16. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I've read the statement in the diary and it seems to me that these fellows were not shot. It says "both were however on the verge of being led away and quietly shot," meaning that they avoided this fate. The reason they managed to avoid execution is that I think it was realized that their action was not a suicidal attack, which I suppose would have justified execution in some peoples mind at the time, but was actually an accidental encounter.


    Stig,

    From reading the diary it was obvious the German POW's had a lucky escape.

    The fact is that the Officer in charge had an agenda for certain circumstances with regards to summary executions.

    The fact that it was written down in an official war diary I believe was a big mistake, which others have already agreed.

    Regards
    Tom
     
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  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers for posting Tom,

    Have some rep... makes one wonder how many more are out there openly documented in Unit Diaries and then how many were never reported at all.

    Reminds me of the fools that took photo's of themselves comitting war crimes in Iraq and then took the cameras to Boots to get the film processed.

    Andy
     
  18. Stig O'Tracy

    Stig O'Tracy Senior Member

    Stig,

    From reading the diary it was obvious the German POW's had a lucky escape.




    Sorry,my mistake, I mis-read another post and though it was implying that they were in fact shot. I've reread it now and can see my error.

    Perhaps the author though it was alright to write what he did given that they weren't executed. It obviously implies that other may well have been, even if it had never happened. Doesn't anyone proof read these things?

    Didn't the Germans usually use a euphemism like "special treatment" when they were documenting this sort of activity.
     
  19. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Stig,

    From reading the diaries I saw that one month had been destroyed together with the 'Copy' due to the HQ's receiving a direct hit by artillery.

    From that comment made you have to assume that a duplicate was always produced.

    The diaries were marked secret and had to be destroyed if there was any chance of them being captured. (Another reason why some records are lost for posterity.)

    A major problem would occur if the diaries were captured, lets say by a surprise attack, with valuable information being made available to the enemy.

    How would an enemy officer then react to seeing the quote in writing and what fate would await future POW's.

    These are just my thoughts on the subject that I realise is emotional for many.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  20. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Sorry,my mistake, I mis-read another post and though it was implying that they were in fact shot. I've reread it now and can see my error.

    Perhaps the author though it was alright to write what he did given that they weren't executed. It obviously implies that other may well have been, even if it had never happened. Doesn't anyone proof read these things?

    Didn't the Germans usually use a euphemism like "special treatment" when they were documenting this sort of activity.


    Stig,

    I see that Lt Col Preston has signed off the end of each months diaries.
    That appears to answer your query regarding who proof reads them.
    A copy attached.

    Also a letter from the same stating that the months diaries had been destroyed when a mine exploded in the Villa being used as HQ's and had been previously occuppied by the Germans.

    Just goes to show the ever present dangers of taking over captured properties.

    Regards
    Tom
     

    Attached Files:

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