TA was the British SS?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by polar, Dec 9, 2007.

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  1. Read a few Patrick Delaforce books and he makes a few references to 'TA' divisions committing war crimes in WW2.

    Soldiers wearing polar (49 West Riding Div) badges were told by Lord Haw Haw, they would be shot on capture because they executed SS soldiers in cold blood.

    43 (Wessex) Division also had a reputation for being ruthless, their GOC had a SS/German nickname. This was the division that got to Arnhem and was highly skilled/practiced at doing river crossings.
     
  2. They were probably a bit p*ssed off that their two week camp ended up lasting the best part of six years!
     
  3. The Allies were by no stretch whiter than white in this regard, and during the Caen breakout instances of prisoner slaying were common on both sides. The worst example on the British side was when the HCR captured a group of [largely wounded] Staff Officers of the 12th SS "Hitler Jugend" Div. They tied several guys to the front of their armoured cars, including a one-armed wounded officer, and basically drove around until most of them were dead. Unfortunately, the Germans re-captured the survivors who told them all about the HCR's atrocity. This just served to make the "tit-for-tat" situation worse.

    For all that, there were plenty of recorded truces to recover the dead and wounded between the Brits/Canadians and the Waffen SS, and many a "blind eye" taken on both sides.

    The Donkey Wallopers exploits take some beating though. You can't tar them all with the same brush, but FFS, that just wasn't cricket....
     
  4. LOL! :D
     
  5. DavetheApe, where did you see/read about the atrocity?
     
  6. I've read it several times; it was even mentioned in one of Delaforces' books IIRC. There is a detailed account of it in Meyers' "The 12th SS", volume 1. Hubert Meyer was, by the end of WW2, acting Div OC, and he wrote a two volume history of the 12th SS HJ Div, published by Stackpole. They are excellent, and very well balanced. He avoids hysteria or wild claims, and his account of the HCR actions to me read awfully true...

    I'll flick through later and scan the page if you are interested. PM me with your email address.

    Cheers, Dave
     
  7. ROFL :D
     
  8. The 43rd Division "SS" connection is not in the context of war crimes. A German prisoner is supposed to have said of the Division something to the effect that: "They are like the British SS. They are always found where the fighting is hardest".

    In 18 Platoon, Sydney Jary makes a point of saying that the only "war crime" he ever saw commited by the Division was when one of his NCOs put a German sniper over his knee and spanked him for being necky.
     
  9. Worthwhile pointing our that Delaforce was TA himself (HAC)
     
  10. GOC was Maj Gen Ivo Thomas - nicknamed "Von Thoma" by the troops due to his hard-driving/ ruthless approach to training & operations.

    The Germans certainly respected 43 (Wessex) Div - called them "Yellow Devils" on account of their tenacity (and, of course, the "Wessex Wyvern" badge), especially at the battles on the R Odon and for Hill 112 in Normandy, where it's also alleged the Waffen SS referred to them as their English counterparts. There have never, however, been any allegations of atrocities/ war crimes committed by any 43 Div units.

    A great uncle of mine was a CSM in the Somerset Light Infantry throughout the NW European Campaign. He always had great respect for Ivo Thomas, and felt that many other armies would have given him far more than a division to command.
     
  11. Dave, the story that you refer to is correct however it was the Inns of Court regiment that placed the POW on their armoured cars and were then subsequently accused of war crimes as I remember it.

    I used to see an old boy from that mob called Eric Knowles and when the story first appeared to my knowledge in `Panzers in Normandy`, After the Battle, I asked Eric what he knew about it.

    He told me that he was present in one of the recce cars and that the POW were placed, not tied, on top of the wagons. At least one of them was wounded and as he put it `where else would you put these people when space is limited?` he said that the accusation of war crimes was rubbish.

    My opinion is that Panzer Meyer was a lying, murdering bastard who would say anything to justify his own actions as the Abbey Ardenne.

    I had the good fortune last year to meet Jaques Vico, French resistance fighter who lived at the farm at the Abbey and witnessed the murder of the Canadians at that place. I also had the honour of meeting Mrs Florence Hughes of Canada at the same time and she explained how her husband was part of the group that were shot but that he had been hit in his BD breast pocket. Inside the pocket he had a rat pack which stopped the bullet from killing him. He feigned death , was bayoneted to test if he was really dead, but he survived the war. She said the wound took over ten years to heal properly. She is now 81 and a widow and makes that journey to Normandy every year to honour her husband and his mates who were murdered in cold blood by Meyer and his 12th SS Hitler Jugend.

    I was lucky to have just bumped into both of those two people at the same time with me Dad and brother and a few mates on a battlefield tour we undertook. I`ve got some photos of it somewhere on my pc, I`ll have a dig out.
     
  12. There were many allegations of War Crimes, before, during and after Normandy by BOTH Sides. Cornelius Ryan makes reference to Canadian activities on D-Day, in this book The Longest Day (omitted from the Film).

    My Grandfather prior to his death, alluded to me that he had "certain" knowledge of both the 6th Airborne and various SS divisions executing POW's. He wondered if perhaps the SS were "retaliating", in the same way he thought the Red Devil's were, when they killed out of hand SS troops captured upon occasion.

    Additionally, he told me of an event in Tunisia (Late 1942), which he himself was more than simple onlooker. At one point, early in the Campaign, German Paratroopers had been captured in Large numbers one day (My G/p recalled about 100 had been herded in to a small Wadi/gully). The Battalion CO, so he said, thought that they were "shamming surrender", so as to join from the rear, in a later attack upon the Paratroop position that evening. The order was given and fully complied with by the Coy OC, One Major John Profumo (Main character in the Film "Scandal"), that ALL were to be shoot at once. My Grandfather observed that this was not a "correct" action to have taken, but also that the German Para's did assault their positions that night, being repulsed in a VERY hard fight. Draw from that what you will.

    I make these points, not to say he , or they were wrong. Simply to show that reasonable men, such as my Grandfather was I feel, may do some very unreasonable actions in the heat of war.
    The SS were certainly "tough", but so too can we Brit's be when we want to be. A Faint Heart ne'er won a fair Maiden, nor won a war.
     
  13. Dagger -- good call -- it was the Inns of Court Regt as you say. you've got the info from the horses mouth [no pun intended] which is great. However, the Meyer I refer to isn't the infamous "Panzer" Meyer though, its Hubert Meyer, who was the regt adjt at the time I think.

    The view from the other side of that incident was very much the opposite to the Inns of Court trooper -- which shows how rumour and half truth can cloud events to both sides' discredit. No one can excuse the terrible, events at the Abbey, but my point, if it was that [!], was that despite the killings of PWs on both sides, there was some humanity also. The irony is that "victors justice" nearly always applies, and the Brit/Commonwealth view is that the 12th SS were "fanatics", prepared to fight to the death in a savage manner. Well, you could take that view, or maybe they were just professional, well trained young men who were, frankly, better motivated soldiers than we were at the time. The prevailing view at the time amongst the Allied armies seemed to be that every gun was an 88, every tank a Tiger, and every lone rifleman ordered to stand firm was a "sniper"!

    If you can get hold of it, the 2 part history of the 12 SS HJ by Hubert Meyer is well worth a read, if nothing else to get the view from the other side.

    A good thread started by Polar though -- makes a change from the usual "walt spotting" and "I'm outraged" $hite.... :lol:
     
  14. with me in a foul mood that brightened my day,
    " 'k me its gone four on a Sunday can I not go home now?"
     
  15. PoWs have been executed by other famous personages.

    When Robert Runcie became Archbishop of Canterbury, a story came out that as a SSG tank commander he had to go into action with no-one to look after his prisoner - and shot him/them on orders.

    Private Eye referred to him as Killer Runcie for some time, but recognised that it was a hard decision and perhaps contributed to his taking holy orders. Shame about his camp voice, a total affectation.