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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:33 am 
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Location: Grossbritannien
It was the same with the BFC, apparantly they were to swear loyalty
to Hitler but their enlistment papers state they were not to take up arms
against Great Briatain only Russia, then it goes on about the soviet menace and
Jewish peril etc.

Regards Peiper. :D

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:00 am 
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The British Free Corps had its origins in 1943, but did not go into "action" until 1945. How did it come about that the Germans were able to form a British volunteer unit? What is really known about the BFC and what is myth or fact?

Legion of St. George

The "Legion of St. George" was the idea of John Amery, the son of an English Cabinet Minister in Churchills Government. Amery found himself in Paris after the fall of France. He was inspired by the formation of the Vichy Legion des Volontaires Francais, and often took part in pro-fascist public meetings, where he gave speeches in French. In 1943 he wrote "England and Europe", and went to the Germans with the idea of a brigade of 1500 fighting men. The Wehrmacht did not think these numbers realistic and had the intention to form a smaller unit for a propaganda role.
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John Amery wrote a pamphlet called "Why die for Stalin, Why die for the Jews?" but the average English soldier in the POW camps were not political motivated and when he went on his recruiting drive it netted just one man! The German Army Department that dealt with foreign volunteers were not too happy about the unit name suggested by Amery. St. George did nothing to the German mind, and anyway sounded too religious, and the name was dropped, in fact Amery was dropped too, and the project remained still-born. It had produced one volunteer (who stayed with the unit until the end of the war), and a recruiting poster with fantasy insignia.
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What remains of the "Legion of St. George" today?

A comment in "Manual of the Waffen-SS" by Bellona Publications (1976) is worth quoting; "In 1945 the British Army occupied Spiedelberg Kaserne at Lemgo. British personnel cleaning out the attic found several uniforms, one of them had a Union Jack arm shield on the left arm and standard Wehrmacht insignia". Was this tunic designed for the Wehrmacht and used in Amerys recruiting drive, and later forgotten?

On the poster is a triangle with the words "The Legion of Saint George" written around the edge of a Union Jack, above the shield is a gold or yellow badge of St. George killing the dragon. Could this have been on the tunic found at Lemgo? or was it the later Waffen-SS production? Interesting to note that the helmet in the poster carries a Union Jack shield, although this was never adopted when the unit went over to the Waffen-SS.

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Tommy helmet with German decal. Was this helmet shown to Wehrmacht officials when Amery failed to get them interested in the British Renagade project? Or was it used by a Flakhelfer unit?

British Free Corps- Unit strength

It seems likely that the BFC was only at platoon strength, that is to say about 30 men strong. Some BFC men only stayed a few months before moving to another unit or returning to POW camps as rejects. A trickle of new recruits kept the number however in the high twenties throughout the first year of the BFC. Actual numbers that passed through the unit as full members at one time or another numbered about 60 ( Waffen-SS sources say 70).

I talked to a sergeant Buschmann from Nordland Division, the unit that the BFC served with, and he said that he had never heard of the unit! I then met with a soldier from Handschar Division who said he firmly believed that the British Free Corps numbered over 300 men and was in an active fighting role! Which is clearly not true, but interesting to note what the Waffen-SS told their own soldiers at the time. The high number that Friedhelm quoted was more likely the figure that went through selection and was returned to the POW camps as rejects and never even made it to the unit. This figure is quoted between 150 and 300.

Although the unit was small, it was very much self contained, with its own tailor, pysical fitness instructor and medic, amongst others.

British Free Corps- Command and Control

It has been said that the British Free Corps were a out of control and that they were a bunch of cowards, drunkards and womanizers. Perhaps this is true for a few, but I do not think it was any worse than other foreign volunteer units in German service. Post-war propaganda has made them into misfits and morons, even though there were a few very dedicated members, who would have liked to have made the unit a viable fighting formation, if they had had the correct leadership.

The commander of the BFC was a German SS-Hauptsturmführer called Hans Werner Roepke who commanded the unit for the first year. Roepke had served on the eastern front in 5.Wiking Division and was made commander of the BFC because he was known to have "pro-British" feelings and had lived in the USA before the war and spoke English fluently. He sounded like the best man for the job, but as a commander for the BFC, I am not too sure. Roepke seemed to be happy with a quiet existence and made no real effort to get the BFC operational.

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The men did no real training, parade drill remained British, why take the effort and teach them German drill? The men went on recruiting drives and Roepke seemed happy to fill a purely propaganda role. The soldiers morale sank due to the lack of a proper training programme and total inaction.

It came as no surprise that the soldiers took it easy and never pressed their commander about becoming a fighting on the frontline. This could not go on forever, and Roepke was replaced in November 1944 by SS-Obersturmführer Dr. Walter Kühlich, but it was too late, the damage had been done and a year had been lost.

One of the most important members of the BFC was without a doubt Thomas Cooper, an englishman with a German mother who had was a former London member of the British Union of Fascists and who had since 1938 served in the Waffen-SS, being wounded on the eastern front. Cooper tried hard to turn the BFC into fighting shape, and wanted to introduce German drill and salutes, but he met resistance from all sides, including his commanding officer. Rebecca West in her book "The meaning of treason" published in 1946, paints a very bad picture of Cooper and hints at his mother weaving a spell on him, making him what he was. Perhaps the post-war British establishment are unkind to him because he was a real danger, that he was the one man who could have turned the BFC into an operational unit? Did this fact make him into the REAL traitor?

My opinion is that Cooper was the most motivated and important members of the British Free Corps, who would have trained the unit, if he had been given a free hand, into a fighting unit, if he had been allowed the chance.

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British Free Corps- uniforms and insignia

On arriving at the baracks and completing selection, new members of the BFC continued to wear British uniforms until the Field Gray German ones were issued. Even then the German uniforms had a British feel about them, gaiters with ankle boots,open necked tunics with grey shirt and black tie. Has anyone ever seen pictures of the BFC wearing camouflage uniforms, perhaps in Stettin 1945?

interesting to note that all Waffen-SS uniforms and some equipment were produced in Concentration Camps or one of the SS run factories. Camouflage material for example was made into SS smocks in KZ Dachau.

300 full sets of insignia were produced and issued to the BFC in April 1944, the insignia being shown off at a birthday parade for Hitler on the 20th April 1944. German post-war sources state that before this date the unit wore normal SS runes or a black blank patch. The new insignia consisted of the three lions collar patch, the Union Jack arm shield and the cuff-title "British Free Corps" in the English language only. ( A cuff-title with the text "Britisches Freikorps" is a post-war fantasy product).

There has been a lot of talk about the Britons arrogance about demanding that the arm shield be moved from the lower arm to a position above the SS eagle and that this had to do with British pride. But was it really for this reason at all? British formation patches and divisional shields were worn on the arm near the shoulder, and I think it was for this reason alone that the change was demanded.

The story goes that a member of the BFC made a joke saying that "look the eagle is shiting on the flag!" The joke got out of hand and caused a riot within the unit, which reached the attention of Heinrich Himmler himself! The story was told by Eric Pleasants, who probably started the joke himself.

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Engraved "Britisches Freikorps", a post-war fake?

British Free Corps- going to the front 1945

The BFC had been moved to Dresden where they began Sturmpionier training, and learned about modern weapons including the MP44 and the Panzerfaust. During the RAF bombing raid in February 1945 two members of the BFC unit were killed. The remaining members of the BFC took part in clearing the bomb damage until anti-British feelings in the population forced them to move to Stettin.

SS-Obersturmführer Kühlich allowed members of the unit the chance to opt out of frontline service, the remaining eight men were given a Schwimmwagen and a 251/1 halftrack and sent to the 3rd Company of the Recon Batt. Nordland Division. The men spent ten days digging trenches on the banks of the river Elbe, they were in full view of the Russians and came several times under mortar fire. The BFC were taken out of the frontline trenches and given the task of evacuating German civilians, controlling traffic and driving jobs.

When the Soviet offensive broke through the frontline, the BFC under their new commander, a Waffen-SS officer named Dolezalek, retreated west with the remnants of the other German formations. There was a story about an Englishman called Reg Cornfield who fought in Berlin knocking out a tank with a panzerfaust, which German post-war sources quotes as being fact, turns out to be a post-war myth.

The only member of the BFC who fought in full BFC uniform in Berlin turns out to be "Bob" Rössler, a German who was an interpreter with the unit.

Slowly the soldiers of the BFC were captured, some had removed their insignia, they fell into Allied hands and photos reached Winston Churchill, who is reported to have flown into a rage upon hearing the news about the existence of the British Free Corps. Although British Police and MI knew about the unit as early as 1943, did they keep the information away from Churchill?

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Kenneth Berry and Alfred Minchin in the uniform of the British Free Corps during a recruitment drive at Milag. Minchin could not remember the exact date, but thought in was April 1944.

LIST OF VOLUNTEERS WHO SERVED IN THE BFC

The list of British Volunteers that served in the BFC seems large when one considers that they never got above 30 members at any one time in the unit. It should be noted that not all the named persons served at the same time, and some of them stayed with the unit only a short time before joining another unit or returning to a POW camp because they were deemed unreliable.

It should be noted that some names appear in more than one list due to the fact that they served in several units.

Legion of St. George

John Amery

Kenneth Edward Berry

British Free Corps

SS-Mann William Alexander

SS-Mann Frank Axon

SS-Mann Harry Batchelor

SS-Mann Ronald Barker (Australian)

SS-Mann Kenneth Edward Berry

Blackman

SS-Rottenführer William Charles Britten

Alfred Browning

Chapman

SS-Mann Robert Chipchase (Australian)

William Clarke

SS-Oberscharführer Thomas Haller Cooper

SS-Unterscharführer Roy Nicholas Courlander (New Zealander)

SS-Unterscharführer Hugh Wilson Cowie

SS-Mann Frederick Croft

SS-Mann George Croft

Arthur James Cryderman (Canadian)

Clifford Dowden

SS-Mann Ellsmore

SS Oberscharführer Thomas Freeman

SS-Mann Roy Ralph Futcher

Cyril Haines

SS-Mann Robert Reginald Heighes

SS-Mann William How

SS-Mann Edward Jackson

Thomas Blake Kipling

SS-Mann Pieter Labuschagne ( South African)

SS-Mann Robert Henry Lane

John Leigh

SS-Mann Dennis John Leister

Frederick Lewis

SS-Mann Alexander MacKinnon

SS-Unterscharführer Douglas Mardon (South African)

SS-Rottenführer Edwin Barnard Martin (Canadian)

SS-Unterscharführer Francis Paul Maton

SS-Unterscharführer Francis George MacLardy

SS-Mann William John Miller

SS-Sturmmann Alfred Vivian Minchin

SS-Mann Charles Munns

SS-Mann Ernest Nicholls

SS-Mann Harry Nightingale

SS-Mann Thomas Perkins

SS-Mann Eric Reginald Pleasants

SS-Sturmmann Norman Rose

SS-Mann Herbert Rowlands

SS-Untersturmführer William Shearer

SS-Mann John Somerville

SS-Mann Albert Stokes (Australian)

SS-Sturmmann Henry Symonds

Van Heerden (South African)

SS-Mann Viljoen (South African)

John Wilson

SS-Oberscharführer John Eric Wilson

SS-Mann Lionel Wood (Australian)

German members of the BFC


SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Werner Roepke ( BFC CO. Nov.43-Nov.44)

SS-Obersturmführer Dr. Walther Kühlich (BFC CO. Nov.44-Apr.45)

SS-Hauptsturmführer Alexander Dolezalek (Last BFC CO? Apr.-May 1945. During a discussion on a well known history forum, it was decided that Dolezalek may well have been the last commander, he was known to have been involved with the unit).

Wilhelm August "Bob" Rössler (Interpreter)


Other British Empire subjects that served in non-BFC units.

There was a least a dozen Englishmen ( I have used the term to mean anyone from the British Empire) in various Waffen-SS formations, Waffen-SS sorces quote 7 in Totenkopf units, 1 in Das Reich, 2 in LSSAH, at least 2 in "Kurt Eggers" Standarte, 1 in a Waffen-SS Medical unit and 1 in Azad Hind (Indian Legion). It is difficult to identify British subjects who served outside of the BFC, but not impossible. I intend at a later date to go through back copies of veterans magazines to see what I can discover. (Some BFC members served in other units as well).

Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler

Hiwi James Conen

Hiwi William Celliers (South African)

SS-PK Standarte "Kurt Eggers"

SS-Untersturmführer Railton Freeman

Roy Walter Purdy (interpreter)

SS Medical Department

Doctor Patrick O´Neill (Irish)

Azad Hind (Free Indian Legion)

Sonderführer Frank Becker (interpreter)

SS-Jagdverbande "Mitte"

SS-Unterscharführer James Brady (Irish)

SS-Mann Frank Stringer (Irish)

Propaganda Department München

SS-Sturmbannführer Vivian Stranders

Unit unknown

SS-Hauptsturmführer Douglas Berneville-Claye

Berneville-Claye visited the BFC in March 1945 in a Panzer uniform with the full BFC insignia, but only stayed a few hours. A former SAS officer, he only served in the Waffen-SS for two months.

Uniforms and Insignia

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:01 am 
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My bad. I copied and pasted it twice.

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Last edited by Chorlitz|12.SS| on Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:44 pm
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Location: Britain
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... vered.html


mmmmm!?? Don't we just love the press? especially the Nazi loving daily mail which is now run by who? :shock: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:34 pm 
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Newspapers are rarely accurate purveyors of history.


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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:33 pm 
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Rarely yes, I'll grant you that one although last week there were a lot of things in the media about some punters that had a bit of a jolly to France a few years back which ringed quite true.
Apparently a few lads went over the channel and upset the throngs of people on the beaches but they charged up into the towns anyway, there were a few septics along the coast who got a bit of a slap mind you, I think they may have been mouthing off a bit. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:38 pm 
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Would be nice if your going to copy a mans website to post up a credit note to go along with it Chorlitz

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:33 pm 
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Bill medland on here is a little bit of an expert on this and i agree with Tanaka if you copy info from a web site please post the details its only polite to say the least.


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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:51 pm 
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Especially when its Bill's site that appears to have been copied :wink: http://www.bills-bunker.privat.t-online.de/64090.html

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:55 pm 
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Well i did not say i wrote it did i?

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:28 pm 
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Chorlitz|12.SS| wrote:
Well i did not say i wrote it did i?


Hi Chorlitz, I am the one who`s website you copied :wink:

@ALL,

Anyway, I have returned to my BFC impression after a two year break (in which I did Volkssturm),
the reasons for returning to the BFC were several, some of them I will list here.

These reasons may not be at first realised by reenactors who live only in the UK

1. Living in Germany no matter how many years, I will never lose my UK accent regardless how fluent my German is.
In Germany it must be remembered that everyone who wears Feldgrau is a REAL German, with a REAL German
accent, reenacting BFC allows me to fit in, with an impression that I feel comfortable with.

2. Attending events in other parts of Europe, I meet Danes wearing "Legion Dänemark", Norwegians wearing "Legion Norge"
Dutch wearing "Nordland" and so the list goes on. Around the campfire everyone is recognised by their national shield on their arm
and for this reason I am comfortable wearing BFC at international events.

3. Waffen-SS reenactment is not "banned" in Germany, it comes under the same restrictions as Wehrmacht within the
German laws regarding forbidden symbols, film work and educational requirements etc. However, because a lot of reenactors
within Germany do not wish to see it, even if done by German nationals in the UK may I add, it has not been without
problems.
I found myself isolated within the German scene due to my involvement with W-SS groups in the UK, about 2006.
I then did Volkssturm for two years hoping I would be accepted back into the German scene, but it is not to be, and so,
if I have been convicted of a "crime", I may as well do what I have been convicted of! I have nothing to lose at all.

4. I have never had a problem reenacting BFC at any event, international or in the UK, Beltring, Waltham Abbey etc.
Many people ask me about it, and the poor sods have to stand there an hour and listen to my lecture about the research
and history of the unit! The subject is only offensive if not done properly, it is how one brings it over and it can be
educational. The Belgians at Bon Secours were really fascinated by it all, I stayed up all night at the local hotel dinner.

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Mit Kameradengruß

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:06 pm 
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Hello Bill sorry it didnt work out mate, nice to have you back though mate. 8)

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:32 pm 
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Great website Bill! It's a fascinating subject, and I wish there were more books on it. I've got a couple of decent books on the Danish SS volunteers too. Is there much about them available in English?

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:37 am 
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It really is good to have you back Bill, you are one of the more knowledgable rogues I know :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: British Free Corps ?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:48 pm 
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Crazy Feldgendarme wrote:
Hello Bill sorry it didnt work out mate, nice to have you back though mate. 8)


I never really left, it just looked that way :wink:

KB Martinsen wrote:
Great website Bill! It's a fascinating subject, and I wish there were more books on it. I've got a couple of decent books on the Danish SS volunteers too. Is there much about them available in English?


Do you mean books in English about Danish volunteers or the British volunteers?

I do have "Nordic Warriors" signed by a soldier of "Legion Dänemark" (Andre Buschmann 24.Regt. 1941-1945)
he lost both legs in Berlin on 2nd May 1945.

I also have "Renegades- Hitlers Englishmen" signed by Adrian Weale.

John Wilson wrote:
It really is good to have you back Bill, you are one of the more knowledgable rogues I know :wink:


Yes, I am just one of those old sods who just keeps going...30 years in the hobby and still only half way! :wink:


Thanks to everyone for the welcome kind words, mit Kameradengruß, Willi (Bill).

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