Jack Nissenthall - The VC Hero Who Never Was

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by PE4rocks, Dec 13, 2010.

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  1. I was totally unaware of this story which I found through someone linking to it in another place.

    Source: BBC - WW2 Peoples War

    Balls of steel or what.
  2. I think I can see the problem, 1356 victoria crosses have been awarded in total, but a Victoria star of David has yet to be struck.

    The Germans are quite aware that their defeat in WW2 was largely aware to the superior electronic technology of the British - enigma - sonar - rdf - proximity fuses etc. etc. This did you no favours if you were an expert during the war. Technicians and listeners were locked in on ships and submarines and were expected to go down with them.
  3. Cernunnos,

    That is very unfair. There have been several Victoria Crosses awarded to Jews including:-
    Frank Alexander de Pass, Issy Smith, Jack White and John Kennally! (Though the latter was under an assumed name and religioin).

    You have a point about the dangers of expertise. It wasn't just technicians who were expected to risk their lives. linguists, especially German emigres found themselves at the sharp end. E.g. One of the first servicemen killed on what would become famous as "Omaha" Beach was a 45 year old German jewish pioneer, taken along as a linguist.

    Retire forthwith and write something more to satisfy the masses taste for your personal exploits on the island of Lesbos!
  4. Absolutely! What a guy!!
  5. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    I seem to have read that our Jewish soldiers were offered a change to an English name to reduce their chances of being singled out for bad treatment if they were captured. That must have been a very difficult decision for the Jewish individual.

    Some of the Admiralty's civilian radar boffins were indeed shovelled into a blue suit and sent to sea, purely to keep their new and somewhat fickle gismo working. Hence the naval phrase 'Not me, Chief, I'm radar' when detailed off for some undesirable job. The Director of the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment in 1971, Harry Pout, was one of these; made him a bit different from some of his more boffinly subordinates.
  6. You don't get much nailser than that - knowing that if it looks like you'll be captured, your own bodyguards will shoot you - and going anyway.

    There's a very good book on the story - Green Beach by James Leasor, though it's a good few years since I read it.
  7. I think you missed my point, I'm quite aware of the Jewish VCs, if his boss was one of Mosleys henchmen, obviously one of those who couldn't afford the high life of the bullet dodgers in Kenya, he was unlikely to get much of a write up now was he? Anti semitism was much more widespread then and was accepted, particularly amongst the classes who attracted the King's Commision. It was the Germans who were to make it unfashionable , but not until 1945.
  8. Read the book when it originally came out. Incredible story. Especially since some of those he went over with thought he'd been KIA and not until a reunion many years later did they find out he'd survived.
  9. European (many of them German) Jews serving with the British forces were, not British or Commonwealth Jewish servicemen. While the former could expect rough treatment at best, the latter two were simply lumped in by the Germans with everybody else. One of my grandfather's friends was captured at Tobruk with 2nd South African Division. Despite an obviously Jewish name and appearance he was never separated from the rest of the guys or singled out for "special" treatment. Neither were any of the other South African Jews captured. I would this applies to Commonwealth Jewish POWs in general though I'm sure there are a few exceptions.

    There is a whole thread on Jewish POWs here:

  10. Nails!

    Did Nissenthall ever get any decoration for his actions??
  11. Not that I can see.

    Source. Harry Palmer Gallery

    Somewhat strange, when you consider that the Security Section Sgt, Roy Hawkins, got an MiD.
    <dons foil hat>

    Source: SSR - Photos submitted by Roy Hawkins, who was with Jack Nissenthall and the SSR at Pourville, Aug 19, 1942.