The first recruits to the Corps came from a group of prisoners of war (POWs) at a “holiday camp” set up by the Germans in Genshagen, a suburb of Berlin, in August 1943.
During World War II numerous Waffen SS volunteer units were formed from the Nordic countries. This strategy was encouraged by the Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler who stated, “We must attract all the Nordic blood in the world to us, and so deprive our enemies of it so that never again will Nordic or Germanic blood fight against us.” Over half the Waffen SS was made up of non-German nationality. Waffen SS volunteers came from Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Croatia, Ukraine, Latvia, Hungary, Spain, and Sweden and from Russians and Cossacks. One force was formed into Der Britisches Freikorps otherwise known as The British Free Corps (BFC).
The BFC was the brainchild of John Amery, eldest son of Secretary for India of the British Government, the Rt. Hon. Leopold Stennett Amery, MP. His son, John Amery, had fought against Communism in the Spanish Civil War where he gained Spanish citizenship. In 1939 Amery moved to France and subsequently to Germany in 1942. From Germany, he broadcast radio messages to Britain calling for peace between Britain and Germany.
Amery founded The League of St. George. The unit was intended to be a non-combat unit made up of British prisoners of war prepared to spread the National Socialist message to fellow prisoners of war. The Wehrmacht High Command insisted on the Legion being a combat unit. On January 1, 1944, the BFC was officially formed. Volunteers signed a pledge, which read:
“I, (name of the volunteer) being a British subject, consider it my duty to offer my services in the common European struggle against Communism, and hereby apply to enlist in the British Free Corps.”
Interestingly, before the BFC came into being, a number of British volunteers had fought in some Totenkopf units. In May 1940, a Waffen SS manpower report mentions British volunteers serving in the SS Totenkopf Division and Standarten units.
Amery soon resigned from the Corps as he wanted the volunteers to wear British uniforms. However, the SS insisted on the wearing of the SS uniforms with British insignia (Union Flag arm shields and the Three Lions collar patches). Amery moved to Italy where he became an advisor to Italian leader Benito Mussolini.
SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Hans Roebke then took command of the British Free Corps. The Hauptsturmfuhrer was replaced in November 1944 by Obersturmfuhrer Dr. Kuehlich. By 1945 Captain Webster, a British Army Officer was also involved in the leadership of the British Free Corps.
By spring 1945 the British Free Corps was sent to Steinhoefel where the III SS Panzer Corps (Germanic) Headquarters was situated under the leadership of Ogrusturmfuhrer Felix Steiner. The British volunteers were assigned to the Nordland Division. It was within this Division that many of them saw action in the defence of Berlin although many Britons otherwise saw service with the Leibstandarte SS.
Palace writers hostile to the BFC claim its members never saw active service; this is not the case. Reproduced is a letter from Anthony Byers of Effingham, Surrey that was printed in the Daily Express.
Antony Beevor (Inside Hitler’s Concrete Tomb, last week) mentions the foreign SS troops who helped to defend Berlin. Among them were soldiers of the British Free Corps, who were released from a prisoner of war camps in return for donning German SS uniforms, with the understanding that they would not be asked to fight their own countrymen. As a National Serviceman stationed in Berlin, I met a Russian Red Army officer who was impressed by the fighting spirit of eight misguided British soldiers.
“They (British troops) held up an entire Russian regiment for almost two days until they ran out of ammunition. Only two survived to surrender and were promptly shot by the understandably irritated Russians, who had lost almost 100 men and three tanks.”
“The Russian officer said that had SS Unterscharfuher Cornfield and a soldier identified as Pleed been fighting the Germans; they would have deserved the Victoria Cross (VC). He told me: “I hope the British invented a good story for their families, for a brave soldier is still a brave soldier even when a traitor to his country.”
Siegrunen 63 has this to say of Reginald Leslie Cornfield. “Reginald Cornfield is thought to be the only British Free Corps member to be killed in action. On 27 April 1945, during the battle for Berlin, Cornfield disabled a Soviet tank with a Panzerfaust. The tank crew then tracked him down and shot him. Due to his unusual BFC uniform, his Soldbuch (Identity Book) was taken and kept by the Russian officer. Nothing is recorded of Pleed.
John Amery’s book England and Europe were distributed to British prisoners of war from April 21, 1943, in the hope that they would join the Legion of St. George. The book is vehemently anti-Communist. The unique work details such things as what happens to the general population of countries when Communism (Bolshevism) takes over; who instigated the war and who was likely to profit from such a war. England and Europe also warn that Britain would lose her empire to the benefit of both Russia and the USA.
One of the first to volunteer was ‘Frank Wood’ (many members used pseudonyms) who drafted a recruitment leaflet for the BFC, which was dropped by the Luftwaffe to British front-line troops fighting in Italy.
Fellow Countrymen! We of the BRITISH FREE CORPS are fighting for you. We are fighting with the best of Europe’s youth to preserve our European civilisation and our common cultural heritage from the menace of Jewish Communism. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT! Europe includes England. Should Soviet Russia overcome Germany and other European countries fighting with her, nothing on this earth would save the Continent from Communism, and our own country sooner or later would eventually succumb. We are British. We love England and all it stands for. Most of us have fought on the battlefields of France, of Libya, Greece, and Italy, and many of our best comrades-in-arms are lying there ~ sacrificed in this war of Jewish revenge. We felt then that we were being lied to and betrayed. Now we know it for certain. This conflict between England and Germany is racial SUICIDE. We must UNITE and take up arms against the common enemy. We ask you to join us in our struggle. We ask you to come into our ranks and fight shoulder to shoulder with us for Europe and for England. ~ Published by the British Free Corp.
John Amery was arrested in Italy. Despite having taken Spanish citizenship prior to World War Two the martyr for a free Europe was hanged at Wandsworth Prison on December 9, 1945.
A similar fate also befell Irish-American William Joyce. He had implored British prisoners of war to enlist in the British Free Corps. Despite being born in New York in 1906 and being of Irish parentage Joyce was controversially found guilty of treason.
The problem British Free Corp volunteers was that, unlike the other European volunteers, Britain was still at war with Germany. Other European countries had surrendered to Germany or were allies of Germany. The legality of the British Free Corp was something that concerned the German High Command right.
That these volunteers were found guilty of treason despite never having taken up arms against their fellow countrymen is surely a travesty of justice.
As early as 1941, after Japan entered the war, the Fuhrer told Walter Hewel, one of his staff members,
“Strange, that we are destroying the positions of the White Race in East Asia with the help of Japan, while Britain has joined the Bolshevik swine in the fight against Europe.”
800,000 Russians were fighting on the German side during WW2. English.
“This isn’t the Britain We Fought for,” Say the “Unknown Warriors” of WWII
“Our British culture is draining away at an ever increasing pace, and we are almost forbidden to make any comment.”
Sarah Robinson was just a teenager when World War II broke out. She endured the Blitz, watching for fires during Luftwaffe air raids armed with a bucket of sand. Often she would walk ten miles home from work in the blackout, with bombs falling around her. As soon as she turned 18, she joined the Royal Navy to do her bit for the war effort.
Hers was a small part in a huge, history-making enterprise, and her contribution epitomises her generation’s sense of service and sacrifice. Nearly 400,000 Britons died. Millions more were scarred by the experience, physically and mentally. But was it worth it? Her answer – and the answer of many of her contemporaries, now in their 80s and 90s – is a resounding No. They despise what has become of the Britain they once fought to save. It’s not our country any more, they say, in sorrow and anger.
Sarah harks back to the days when ‘people kept the laws and were polite and courteous. We didn’t have much money, but we were contented and happy.
Sarah Robinson, who joined the Royal Navy when she was 18, says the Britain she once knew no longer exists
‘People whistled and sang. There was still the United Kingdom, our country, which we had fought for, our freedom, democracy. But where is it now?!’
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.html?screen_name=Daily_Archives&show_screen_name=true&show_count=false&size=lThe feelings of Sarah and others from this most selfless generation about the modern world have been recorded by a Tyneside writer, 33-year-old Nicholas Pringle.
Curious about his grandmother’s generation and what they did in the war, he decided three years ago to send letters to local newspapers across the country asking for those who lived through the war to write to him with their experiences.
He rounded off his request with this question: ‘Are you happy with how your country has turned out? What do you think your fallen comrades would have made of life in 21st-century Britain?’ What is extraordinary about the 150 replies he received, which he has now published as a book, is their vehement insistence that those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war would now be turning in their graves. There is the occasional bright spot – one veteran describes Britain as ‘still the best country in the world’ – but the overall tone is one of profound disillusionment.
‘I sing no song for the once-proud country that spawned me,’ wrote a sailor who fought the Japanese in the Far East, ‘and I wonder why I ever tried. My patriotism has gone out of the window,’ said another ex-serviceman.
They feel, in a word that leaps out time and time again, ‘betrayed’.
New Labour, said one ex-commando who took part in the disastrous Dieppe raid in which 4,000 men were lost, was ‘more of a shambles than some of the actions I was in during the war, and that’s saying something!’
He added: ‘Those comrades of mine who never made it back would be appalled if they could see the world as it is today. They would wonder what happened to the Brave New World they fought so damned hard for.’
His ‘hug a hoodie’ advice was scorned by a generation of brave men and women now too scared, they say, to leave their homes at night.
Immigration tops the list of complaints.
‘This Land of Hope and Glory is just a land of yobs and drunks’
‘People come here, get everything they ask, for free, laughing at our expense,’ was a typical observation. We old people struggle on pensions, not knowing how to make ends meet. If I had my time again, would we fight as before? Need you ask?’
Many writers are bewildered and overwhelmed by a multicultural Britain that, they say bitterly, they were never consulted about nor feel comfortable with.
‘Our country has been given away to foreigners while we, the generation who fought for freedom, are having to sell our homes for care and are being refused medical services because incomers come first.’
Sarah Robinson defiantly states: ‘We are affronted by the appearance of Muslim and Sikh costumes on our streets.’
But then political correctness is another thing they take strong issue with, along with politicians generally – ‘liars, incompetents and self-aggrandising charlatans’ (with the revealing exception of Enoch Powell).
The loss of British sovereignty to the European Union caused almost as much distress. ‘Nearly all veterans want Britain to leave the EU,’ wrote one.
‘Our culture is draining away and we are forbidden to say anything’
As a group, they feel furious at not being able to speak their minds. They see the lack of debate and the damning of dissenters as racists or Little Englanders as deeply upsetting affronts to freedom of speech.
‘Our British culture is draining away at an ever increasing pace,’ wrote an ex-Durham Light Infantryman, ‘and we are almost forbidden to make any comment.’
A widow from Solihull blamed the Thatcher years ‘when we started to lose all our industry and profit became the only aim in life’.
Her husband, a veteran of Dunkirk and Burma, died a disappointed man, believing that his seven years in the Army were wasted.
‘It is 18 years since I lost him and as I look around parts of Birmingham today you would never know you were in England,’ she wrote.
‘He would have hated it. He also disliked the immoral way things are going. I don’t think people are really happy now, for all the modern, easy-living conveniences. I disagree with same-sex marriages, schoolgirl mothers, rubbish TV programmes, so-called celebrities and, most of all, unlimited immigration. I am very unhappy about the way this country is being transformed. I go nowhere after dark. I don’t even answer my doorbell then.’
A Desert Rat who battled his way through El Alamein, Sicily, Italy and Greece was in despair.
‘This is not the country I fought for. Political correctness, lack of discipline, compensation madness, uncontrolled immigration – the “do-gooders” have a lot to answer for. If you see youngsters doing something they shouldn’t and you say anything, you just get a mouthful of foul language.’
Undoubtedly, some of the complaints are ‘grumpy old man’ gripes, as the veterans themselves recognise – from chewing gum on pavements and motorists using mobile phones to the march of computerisation (‘why can’t I just go to the station and buy a railway ticket?’) and the dearth of pop music tunes you can hum. But it is the fundamental change in society’s values which they find hardest to come to terms with. Bring back birching and hanging, the sanctions they grew up with, they say. Put more bobbies back on the beat.
‘We were rigidly taught good manners and respect for older people,’ said a wartime WAAF, ‘but the nanny state has ruined all that. Television programmes are full of violence and obscene language.
This Land of Hope and Glory is in reality a land of yobs, drug addicts, drunkard youths and teenage mothers who think they are owed all for nothing.’
Aged 85, she has little wish to go on living. For others, the strength of character that got them through the war is still helping them to survive the disappointments of peacetime. A crofter’s son from Scotland who served on the Arctic convoys taking supplies to Russia found the immediate post-war years hard.
‘In those days we had no welfare support from any source. It was as though we had served our country to the full and were then forgotten. However, we were very resilient and determined to make a go of it, and many of us, including myself, succeeded. How times have changed now, with the countless many clamouring to get welfare benefits for the asking.’
A medic who made it through Dunkirk and D-Day thought the fallen would be appalled by the lack of manners in modern life and the worship of celebrities, plus ‘the patent dishonesty of politicians’.
Another common issue was their bemusement at the idea anyone could live in constant debt.
‘We were brought up to believe that if you hadn’t the money, you waited till you had!’ one wrote.
However, this particular man was unusual among the 150 respondents in believing that there were many pluses to modern life. He even had a good word to say about the European Union and felt it would appeal to the fallen ‘if only for maintaining the peace in Europe over the past 60 years or so’. He praised the breaking down of class barriers in Britain compared with the years when he was young and ‘infinitely’ increased prosperity.
‘More clothes, cars, holidays abroad, home ownership. As a young teacher in the Fifties I had one suit (Army issue) and the luxury of a sports jacket and flannels at the weekend. Education has made vast progress. In my early days I taught classes of 50. Only five per cent of children went on to further education compared with over 40 per cent today. The emancipation of women has also been a huge plus, with the introduction of the Pill a large contributor. Before the war, women teachers were dismissed as soon as they married.’
A Land Girl who laboured on farms in Devon during the war agreed that ‘we have so much to be grateful for.
‘So much progress has been made to transform the standard of living since the war.’
But she could not help asking whether people were any happier. She bemoaned the advent of the Pill and the collapse of sexual morality.
‘In my day, drugs were unknown, families remained together, divorce was a rarity and children felt secure. Were our sacrifices made so hooligans may run wild? And aggressive behaviour be accepted as the norm by TV interviewers and society in general?’
A captain with a Military Cross for valour under fire thought Britain was still the best country in the world. The ‘occasional’ sight of parents and nicely dressed children gave an otherwise gloomy veteran of the Italian campaign a sense that ‘what we did all those years ago was not for nothing’. A grandmother, the widow of a Royal Marine who took part in the D-Day landings, felt the National Health Service had descended into chaos but was grateful for a pensioner’s free television licence, ‘which brings art, travel and animals into my home’, and being able to text her grandchildren.
Just being alive was a bonus. ‘Although I hate what is happening to our country, I am so happy to be here, grumbling, but remembering better, happier days,’ she wrote.
But one of the bitterest complaints of the veterans was that their trenchant views on many of the matters aired here were constantly ignored by those in authority. Their letters of complaint to councillors and MPs went unanswered. It was as if they didn’t matter, except when wheeled out for the rituals of Remembrance Day.
‘Why do so many of the British public confuse sentimentality with genuine concern for others?’ asked one letter-writer.
But this was the generation honoured in Remembrance services last weekend, showered with gratitude and teary-eyed sentiments as their dwindling ranks marched unsteadily past the Cenotaph and other war memorials throughout the UK. The overall impression any reader of the letters gets is that this generation feel unheard, unwanted and unimportant. This remarkable collection of their thoughts should give us pause for reflection.
They may be deemed beyond their sell-by date (and many of their views may seem unacceptable, flouting every sort of ‘ism’ imaginable) but, by their deeds of 60-plus years ago, they have won the right to be listened to and their disillusionment noted with respect.
In one letter in this collection, an RAF mechanic quoted a poem about comrades who fell in battle: ‘I mourned them then, But now surviving in a world, Indifferent to their hopes and dreams, I grieve more for the living.’
Putin; 80-85% Bolsheviks Revolution were Jews.