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Sword Beach to Bremen., A Veterans tale. Sapper

Discussion in 'Honor, Service and Valor' started by sapper, Sep 18, 2002.

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  1. Debden

    Debden recruit

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    Hi sapper.
    My father took part in the D-Day landings but his sons and dauthers only found out much much later as he felt unable to talk about.
    We knew later as teenages that he was later sent to Cyprus which must have been after the war had ended.
    He landed on Gold beach part of the 1st Battalion Dorset Regiment.
    And that is about all I know..apart from the fact that he lost many friends in the coming days.
    So reading this post of your experiencies I can only thank you for reminding us all of what happened on that day and the days that followed.
    Thanks again.
     
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  2. Lt Fox

    Lt Fox Member

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    Hi Sapper,
    I really enjoyed your stories that you experienced.
    But i have to ask you a question, did you ever fought with the Canadians?
    Or were you seperated?
     
  3. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    First let me apologise for not seeing these postings earlier. Yes we fought alongside the Canadians not amongst them. Great scrapers! Lots of respect!

    The Dorset's? A really great regiment and part of the 43 Wessex Division Infantry...

    If you ever get to Corfe Castle, next to the Village school, is an arch, and above is written in Dorset dialect (Translated) "Dorset men do not shame their kind" A very proud regiment with a long history of fighting men.
    Best regards to all from:
    Sapper
     
  4. Owen

    Owen O

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    That would be with 231 Bde , 50th Div.

    4th & 5th Dorsets in 130 Bde, 43 Wessex Division.

    I love that question, as there were some pitched battles in Swindon during the war between, Canucks, Yanks & Brits.
     
  5. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Who usually won? :D Was it dependent on more on who had fuller belly of ale?:hungover:
     
  6. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    The most poignant memory?

    What is the most poignant sight?

    Two things stand out for me. One. While passing through the terrible carnage of the Falaise pocket. We passed, in the corner of a destroyed Norman Village, a place where the people came to lay flowers, and to pray. Stood in the corner was a life sized figure of Christ, with a robe draped over his head and covered his figure, looking down with both arms held out in supplication. But with both hands blown off.

    That for me, in that fleeting look as we passed by, exemplified all the futility of war.

    The other poignant memory was that of a tank commander, still stood upright in the turret, but burned to death. This figure blackened by the fierce flames, still looked as though he would point the way or move.......

    We left him there, still with his hands on the side of the turret. Still stood upright.

    Again a picture that exposed the utter futility of war.

    Sapper
     
  7. cd13

    cd13 Member

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    sapper,

    Just popped in to revisit this thread after a several week hiatus...I just read your current post about poignant memories. Wow. Let me just say again – many, many thanks for sharing all of these vivid images and memories. We are all very grateful. Peace be with you, sir!:bow:
     
  8. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Hey sapper, :)

    I don' know if this question has been asked, but How did you view the German soldiers you faced? Did you hold hatred for them or did you just have a 'its their duty as well as mine" attitude to them?
     
  9. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    If I captured a German, and he was an ordinary soldier, I would light a cigarette stick it in his mouth, put his hands on his head, and point the way for him to go.
    One very happy German, puffing away merrily on his cigarette, wandering off down the track. If we captured the ordinary soldier there was a certain amount of " something shared" After the battle, there would often be a German on the end of stretcher and a British soldier on the other.

    There existed a great deal of respect between the British and the Germans.
    But The SS? NO way...They murdered our men in cold blood. They were treated like the evil bastards they were. We loathed and detested them.

    One of them pushed his arrogant luck a bit too far with an infantry Sgt. And paid the price. The right hook to the jaw lifted the SS man off his feet.
    We captured a German Para Doctor, he stayed with the company for some while, treating both sides.
    There you are! a quick reply
    Sapper
     
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  10. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Thankyou sapper, that is exactly what I had hoped for:). It is good to be able to converse with a veteran and ask these kind of questions without the answers being second hand.

    I have so many questions, but I am sure you have not only been asked them before, but you are probably getting sick of them comeing from all the members here.

    I can see that there is a look of hatred for the SS and I can understand that from what I have read. But do you think all of the soldiers of an SS division were "evil bastards", you having first hand experience in this were there any nice ones, or if not nice, at least respectable to both you and all the allies in general?

    I would assume that if they were nice enough to you, you would push them on there way roughly but in general leave them a lone, or was it always brutal between the two sides?
     
  11. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    No we never treated anyone brutally, not even the SS. In the main all prisoners were treated as they should be treated. There was no ill treatment, unless an SS prat pushed his luck a bit too far.
    It is not in the British armies remit to ill treat prisoners. Army discipline would prevent anything like that happening. The hatred for the SS was based on their killing our prisoners in cold blood. Murder! And several other tricks they pulled: like waving a white flag, then when someone got up to take them prisoner, up would pop a machine gunner and open fire. I never experienced that, but was told about it by, I think? An East Yorks Infantryman.

    There was also the case of the sniper that stayed behind though the front had moved on ..Still continuing to shoot from the rear. It still amazes me that they were taken prisoner alive....... For once that front had moved forward then snipers are shooting men in the back. Specially as some of them were young and cocky.

    I do think the SS paid a savage price for the shooting of our men in the long run.
    Sapper
     
  12. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    When I wrote brutally, I didn't mean torture, but maybe a bit of a prod with the bayonet or the shove here and there. I have heard stories about the snipers staying as the line advances and shooting people in the back, It was a blurb in a book from another ww2 veteran and he had the same views as you do, and it is understandable. I have never heard of the waving of the white flag one, that is just cold, although I have heard that the SS have used allied prisioners in an advance to screen there troops like a shield, now that is cold.

    Did you ever get to talk to a German POW about his experience's in his war or anything like that?
     
  13. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    My mate Spud and myself captured an American in the German army. He stayed behind in a hay loft. He claimed his dad was German his mum was an American. They were on holiday in Germany and he got called up because his dad was a German national.
    His Mum told him when you get to the front give yourself up to the Americans. Ho could have been telling us a load of rubbish, but I believe him.
    He was about a mile out!
    When I think of the men i met. I sometimes wonder if they recall a nineteen year old on a warm summers night in August....1944?
    Sapper
     
  14. Halldin

    Halldin Member

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    Dear Sapper.
    I just spent last night and this afternoon reading all the 24 pages about your story. I would just like to thank you for sharing this amazing story, it is very well written and detailed. People like you should live forever!
    Thank you!

    Erik
     
  15. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Halldin
    Pleased you enjoyed it. As for living for ever? I am trying my very best.
    Best wishes...Sapper
     
  16. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

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    The white flag trick was used in the Norwegian campaign in 1940. A group of germans retreated to a farm house. After some fighting they waved a white cloth. The norwegian captain advanced with a squad and were cut down by heavy fire.
     
  17. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    I was talking about this with a very dear, but late friend of mine Ted. He fought in the Desert, into Sicily, into Italy, and returned for the Normandy battles.
    Being an infantry man he knew all the tricks. (Must have to have lived that long!) When prisoners offered surrender, he would make them come to him while he stay under cove.
    He said that was the difference between experience!

    Sapper
     
  18. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

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    Thank you sapper.

    After the war we constituted our TA/Home Guard units. The early commanders were all from the Commandoes and SOE units. They coloured the mentality and training from day one. The standing units were trained by officers with no real battle experience and it showed. Not until the mid 50ies did the Army catch on with the small tricks that would mean the difference between a military cross or a wooden cross.

    I think it is a fine tribute to you and the other veterans that much of your hard fought experience is now SOP's in the armed services. We were always taught to stay in cover and let POW come to us.

    PS. I hope that Spring is coming along nicely in England. (here the snow is just starting to melt)

    Jaeger
     
  19. Hawkerace

    Hawkerace Member

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    I don't know if this is in your long and epic story. (must have missed my memory) but have you ever fought with free forces (Poles, French, etc)?

    Good stuff Sapper. Truly a honor to meet veterans, if not hear from them.
     
  20. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

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    Hi Friends Spring is sprung here in England. And its April. What we are getting is absolutely typical of this time of the year. Sunshine and April showers, and the chilly winds of April.
    Did we see action with other national forces? NO we never did. We were mixed in with the Americans round Vire prior to us hammering at the back of the Falaise pocket Great friends and Comrades in arms..

    What is odd, looking back, is how little we ever managed to talk to men in other units. Men in action DO NOT TALK! Then when we got back to our "Harbour " area, we were usual too damned tired to do anything but dig our hole and flake out.

    Lots of accented ideas of how to deal with mines and booby traps went out the window. I think I wrote about the "Garden Roller Man" earlier That was carried out in front of Monty's 2IC under battle conditions. For Air Marshall Tedder.

    We lifted thousand of mines where they had to be lifted. BUT we never lost the opportunity to "Pull" the odd one with a rope from a distance. Germans love booby traps! The also Zeroed their artillery in on their minefields as they retreated.
    Knowing full well that the field would have to be lifted. Usually with a sprinkling of Schu and S mines in amongst the field.

    Not nice, as you will have read I got caught with S mine and still have the steel ball buried in my skull (Half a ball actually!)

    Being what is described as an "exceptionally severe injuries" war pensioner. It is odd how little I know about how other nations treat their war wounded?
    Sapper
     

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