First impressions of Allied occupied Germany

A Sherman tank of 8th Armoured Brigade in Kevelaer, Germany, 4 March 1945.

Sometimes our car got stuck in the mud. At a word the Germans ran to push it out. Once a German came up to my driver and said: ‘The Russian prisoners of war are looting my shop. Will the English soldiers please come and see they do it in an orderly manner?’ It never occurred to him to contest the right of the Russians to loot. He was simply anxious to avoid the needless smashing of his windows as well.We lived in farmhouses and small hotels, most of them filled with refugees from the bombed-out towns. We said: ‘We will require this room and that room in an hour’s time.’ At once the German families rose and left—to live in the cellar probably. They cleaned the rooms, washed our clothes, did our cooking.




Norwegian Resistance sinks troopship with timed mines

British deception plans had forced Hitler to keep many troops in Norway, waiting for an invasion that never came.

Eleven limpet mines were care fully loaded in to the dingy along with two Sten guns, ammunition and grenades in case they had to fight their way out of any trouble. The two men removed their boiler suits and stepped into the dingy in preparation to pushing off. However, a German patrol boat pulled up alongside the wharf and began a searching amongst the timbers. Manus and Nielsen laid low in their boat daring not to breathe, but the Germans were not the most observant and soon left. After a suitable period waiting for the all clear the intrepid duo pushed off.




British troops begin to intervene in Greece

The ELAS communist group of Greek resistance fighters had been the best organised during the occupation - but were now being asked to disarm.

One didn’t know at all what to do, we really had no rules of engagement or anything like that. I determined the only way to deal with it was by a show of strength. So I fell in my platoon, very conspicuously in the street, went into open order and ordered them to fix bayonets. Then we marched briskly down the street to where this mob was and of course everybody just melted into the side lines. Then there were people there weeping and wailing over a man who’d been shot through the head — it was obviously an assassination of some sort.




SS and Wehrmacht struggle over Polish prisoners

Warsaw - The End of the Rebellion (original Nazi caption):
"This is the end of an uprising, which was instigated by men who allowed themselves guided by false national pride and the deceptive promises of Soviet and British "friends": a gray misery army of ragged and mutilated prisoners. "

Inside the compound stood rows of long wooden huts which were filthy inside; there were no beds, only dirty straw on the floor. This was obviously a concentration camp, not one suitable for wounded soldiers. I was stunned, as were my comrades. So much for honorable surrender and treatment in accordance with the Geneva Convention.




Warsaw combatants treated as prisoners of war

Even if they had not been wounded most surviving members of the home Army were in a bad way.

We arrived at a transit camp, where we were taken on stretchers into a large barracks and laid with other wounded men in rows on the floor. It was there that we learned for the first time that both the northern suburb of Zoliborz and the city centre had surrendered, and the Uprising was over. I don’t think any of us expected it to end like this, and I remember none of us wanted to talk about it. I think we were quite numbed by the news: all that effort, all that sacrifice.




Warsaw Uprising – surrender ends the bitter struggle

Polish POWs on Opaczewska Street at the intersection with Grójecka Street. Judging by the uniforms the prisoners are likely to be from one of the units of General Berling Army which crossed the Vistula river and joined the Uprising.

I took a position in the ruins opposite a large Tiger tank, and my first missile hit the right tread of the tank, immobilizing it. I saw the huge gun slowly turning, finally pointing straight at me. I knew I had to get him this time. The second shell blew a large hole in the center, and flames shot from the tank. The hatch opened, and a black-uniformed crew started to jump out. The first man was cut down by our machine-gun fire. The second was killed as he was at-tempting to leave through the hatch. As he fell back, he grabbed the open hatch door, closing it. Nobody else left the steel trap.




Polish Home Army trapped in the Warsaw sewers

Exhausted soldier of the Polish Home Army emerging from a sewer after escaping from German encirclement. One of his fellow soldiers pulls out his submachine gun of the sewer hatch.

The gas was affecting our eyes more and more the whole time. I felt just as if I had sand under my eyelids; my head, too, was rolling to one side in a queer way. The mass of people all round were still arguing how to save themselves. From time to time a hideous bubbling was heard, as one more person whose strength had gone slipped into the foul liquid. But even more unbearable would be the voice of some woman pulling him out: “Look, he’s alive, he’s smiling! My darling, you’ll soon be on top again!” Oh God, not to see it, not to hear it!




Red Army Poles join the Warsaw Uprising

Armia Krajowa soldiers fighting during the Warsaw Uprising. One man is armed with Błyskawica machine pistol.

We knew for certain that there had been some Germans in a house on a slight rise about 400 metres away, perhaps closer. It was a difficult rifle shot but easily within range of their Maxim. I pointed the house out to him. He crouched behind the gun and started to fire long and, in that confined space, enormously noisy bursts. Whatever his other merits as a machine-gunner, conserving ammunition was not one of them.




Free French mop up last German opposition

A member of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) uses a truck for cover during gun battles with German snipers in Dreux. During this period several French towns were liberated by the FFI in advance of Allied forces.

Prisoners testify that they have to account for every litre and one told us that they have plenty of fighters in Germany but they have no petrol for them. Most prisoners seem to have reconciled themselves to the fact that they have lost the war, but blame their officers for deserting them, and the FFI stabbing them in the back, but some of the young ones still think they will win, on what other grounds than Goebbels they base their assumption, I don’t know.




Warsaw Uprising – women and children suffer

Warsaw Uprisng - Stuka dive bombers over the Old town, August 1944

After an hour, we succeeded in digging out a middle-aged woman whose legs were smashed and twisted. Before she lost consciousness, she whispered through pale, blood-covered lips that about ten other people had been with her before the bombs fell. Now we began to notice a head, a leg, or an arm under the debris — a sign that we were coming to more bodies.