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    British Free Corps

    The History of the British Free Corps



    The German Waffen-SS "British Free Corps" ( hereafter shortened to BFC ), was the brainchild of John Amery. Amery, whose father was a Conservative MP in the English Parliament, found himself living within the shadow of his successful political parent and as such, he strove to excess to prove himself capable of making it on his own. With failures in these endeavors, it only drove him to more and he joined Franco's Nationalists in Spain in 1936, being awarded a medal of honor while serving as a combat officer with Italian "volunteer" forces. Amery was a staunch anti-Communist and with all of his failings and money problems, he accepted the fascist doctrines of Germany. Following his tour in Spain, he resided in France, under Vichy rule. He ran afoul of the Vichy government ( Amery was displeased with their mind set anyhow ) and made several attempts to leave the area but was rebuffed. It was German armistice commissioner Graf Ceschi who offered Amery the chance to leave France and come to Germany to work in the political arena. Ceschi wasn't able to get Amery out of France but later, in September of 1942, Hauptmann Werner Plack got Amery what he wanted and in October, Plack and Amery went to Berlin to speak to the German English Committee. It was at this time that Amery made the suggestion that the Germans consider forming a British anti-Bolshevik legion. So much so was Amery's suggestions ( in addition to the unit ) taken that Adolf Hitler himself made the motions for Amery to remain in Germany as a guest of the Reich and that Hitler thought highly of the idea of a British force to fight the Communists. The idea languished until Amery met up with two Frenchmen, friends of his, who were part of the LVF ( Legion des Volontaires Francais ) in January of 1943. The two LVF men lamented about the poor situation on the Eastern Front but that they saw that only Germany was battling the Russians and thus, despite all, they should still lend support with their LVF service. Amery rekindled his British unit concept, wanting to form a 50 to 100 man unit for propaganda uses and also to seek out a core base of men with which to gain additional members from British POW camps. He also suggested that such a unit would also provide more recruits for the other military units made up of other nationals. It seemed that the Germans were already ahead of Amery and had already undertaken some consideration, a military order saying "The Fuhrer is in agreement with the establishment of an English legion...The only personnel who should come into the framework should be former members of the English fascist party or those with similar ideology - also quality, not quantity." As it is to be seen, this last bit would prove to be very difficult to obtain.

    With the go-ahead, Amery set down write two works which covered his German radio talks ( which were allowed to be broadcast but with a disclaimer which stated his comments were not those of the German government ) and that he suggested the unit be called "The British Legion of St. George". Amery's first recruiting drive took him to the St. Denis POW camp outside Paris. 40 to 50 inmates from various British Commonwealth countries were assembled. Amery addressed them, handing out recruiting material. The end result was failure. Still, efforts continued at St. Denis and finally bore some fruit. Professor Logio ( an old academic man ), Maurice Tanner , Oswald Job, and Kenneth Berry ( a 17 year old deck boy on the SS Cymbeline which was sunk at sea ) came forward. Logio was released while Job was recruited away by the German intelligence, trained as a spy, and ended up being caught while trying to get into England and hung in March of 1944. Thus, Amery ended up with two men, of which only Berry would actually join what was later called the BFC. Amery's link to what would become the BFC ended in October of 1943 when the Waffen-SS decided Amery's services were no longer needed and it was officially renamed the British Free Corps.

    With Amery's initial recruiting methods being seen as a failure, another idea was to be tried in an attempt to woo POWs to join the BFC. Given the harsh conditions of POW camps in Germany and the occupied areas, it was decided to form a "holiday camp" for likely recruits from POW camps. Two holiday camps were set up, Special Detachment 999 and Special Detachment 517, both under the umbrella of Stalag IIId in the Berlin locale. These camps were overseen by Arnold Hillen-Ziegfeld of the English Committee. English speaking guards were used, overseen by a German intelligence officer, who would use the guards as information gatherers. But a Englishman was needed as possible conduit for volunteers and in this, Battery Quartermaster Sergeant John Henry Owen Brown of the Royal Artillery was selected. Brown was a interesting character. He was a member of the British Union of Fascists ( BUF ) but also a devout Christian. His ability to play both sides would serve him well. Captured on the beaches of Dunkirk in May of 1940, Brown eventually ended up in a camp at Blechhammer. Given his rank, he was made a foreman of a work detail and he also began to work into the confidence of the Germans. What Brown was doing, in reality, was setting up a black market scheme, smuggling in contraband and using it to give to his men and also to buy off the guards. Later, Brown was taught POW message codes created by MI9 of the British intelligence service and he began to operate as a "self-made spy" as he called himself. With his status, he was called to be the camp leader of Special Detachment 517. At this time, another Englishmen, Thomas Cooper ( who used the German version of Cooper, Bottcher, as his last name ), arrived at the camp. Cooper, unable to obtain public service employ in England due to his mother being German, joined the British Union ( the shortened name of the BUF ) and eventually left England on the promise that he could get work in German with the Reichs Arbeits Dienst ( RAD ). As it turned out, this was not to be in the end and finally, he joined the Waffen-SS ( who, unlike the Army, would take British nationalities ). He was posted to the famous SS "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" ( LAH ), underwent basic training, then was placed into artillery training. This did not last for long and he was transferred to the infamous SS "Totenkopf" infantry training battalion. Trained all over again in infantry tactics, he was moved to the position of machinegun trainer with the 5th. Totenkopf Regiment and made an NCO, staying there until February of 1941 until moved to the Wachbattaillon Oranienburg unit outside Krakow, Poland. During this time, Cooper was reported ( by post-war BFC men ) to have participated in atrocities against Russian and Polish POWs and civilians, including the Jewish. In January of 1943, Cooper was transferred to the SS-Polizei-Division as a transport driver. The unit was posted to the Leningrad front and once in a Russian town called Schablinov, they were told they'd be put into the line to replace the mangled forces of the Spanish Blue Division. By February 13, 1943, the Russians went on the attack again and broke through the SS-Polizei lines. Cooper was wounded in the legs by shell splinters, evacuated out, and was awarded the Wound Badge in Silver, the only Englishman to obtain a combat decoration. During his recovery, Cooper came into contact with the camp and upon learning about the purpose, was given orders to join the project.

    Brown, being a crafty and streetwise person, saw the real deal behind the camp and he correctly came to the conclusion that he was in a very unique position to both hinder the formation of the unit as well as obtain intelligence ( and he also would make sure the men who came to the camp actually got a holiday ). Brown set about winning the confidence of his German handlers and surround himself with trustworthy POWs and when the first batch of 200 POWs rolled into the camp, things did not turn out for the better. Brown and his men were doing their best to entertain the prisoners while Cooper and other pro-Nazi men worked the crowd, seeking ex-BUF members or other ex-Fascist group members as well as finding out attitudes about the Communists. However, this resulted in displeasure and many of the POWs wanted to be sent back to their camps. To try and qualm this, it was asked of the most senior British POW, one Major-General Fortune, to send a representative to the camp to inspect it and assure the men it was on the up-and-up. Brigadier Leonard Parrington was selected and was sent to the camp. He gave a speech, had a look at the facilities, and said it was indeed a holiday camp and not to worry. He did not know the real truth and took it for what it looked like. Brown did not feel safe in informing Parrington of the purpose of the camp. This visit was successful in calming the situation but when the POWs were sent back to their respective camps, only one confirmed recruit was gained, Alfred Vivian Minchin, a merchant seamen whose ship, the SS Empire Ranger, was sunk off Norway by German bombers. Others kept the BFC in mind as they were sent off. Brown, following the first batch, learned of the full scope of the project from Carl Britten. Britten said he'd been forced into the BFC by Cooper and Leonard Courlander. Brown was unable to persuade Britten to quit the BFC, but MI9 got a very revealing transmission from Brown.

    A bombing raid against Berlin damaged a good portion of the camp prior to a second batch of POWs being brought in. It was decided to move the campmen to a requisitioned cafe in the Pankow district of Berlin, overseen by Wilhelm "Bob" Rossler, a Germany Army interpreter. Prior to the move, the BFC gained two members, Francis George MacLardy of the Royal Army Medical Corps ( he was captured in Belgium ) and Edwin Barnard Martin of the Canadian Essex Scottish Regiment ( Martin was captured at Dieppe in 1942 ). At this time, the BFC numbered seven. POWs continued to roll into the camp once repaired until December of 1944, when it was called to a halt. The reasoning was that the handling of the camp, as stated by Brown, was counter-productive to getting recruits for the BFC since the way the camp was run, fostered distrust. The reality was they had Brown as their front man, who was out for himself but also loyal to the Crown to continue his dangerous game of intelligence gathering and also deterring recruits from joining, which gained him, post-war, the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

    Oskar Lange, who was overseeing the camps, hit upon another idea to gain recruits, and, it was hoped give him more stature. The earlier holiday camps only entertained long term POWs. Lange's idea, however, was to take newly captured prisoners, who were still in a state of confusion, and work on them while they were vulnerable. This new camp was in Luckenwalde. The camp was headed up by Hauptmann Hellmerich of the German intelligence and his chief interrogator was Feldwebel Scharper. Scharper was not above using blackmail to get what he wanted and his tactics included fear, intimidation, and threats to coerce prisoners into joining.

    The first group of POWs to be taken to Luckenwalde were mainly from the Italian theater. One such case of Trooper John Eric Wilson of No.3 Commando illustrated the techniques used by the camp. Upon arrival, he was stripped, made to watch his uniform get ripped to bits, then was given a blanket to cover up with. Placed in a cell with only the blanket and fed 250 grams of bread and a pint of cabbage soup, he was only allowed out to empty the waste bucket. After two days like this, he was taken before a "American", who was in fact Scharper. Wilson was asked his rank, name, number, and date of birth ( to which Wilson lied about his rank, saying he was a staff sergeant ) then returned to his cell. Left alone, a "British POW" would come in from time to time, offer smokes and conduct idle chit-chat. The end result was that the isolation and the mistreatment led to him holding on to the "POW" who showed kindness to him and when dragged before Scharper some days later and offered the choice of joining the BFC or staying in solitary, it can be understood that Wilson chose the BFC. With this initial success, it was deemed this method would be the gateway to expanding the BFC and in turn, 14 men were made to join, including men from such esteemed units as the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Long Range Desert Group.

    However, things fell apart when these men, told they would be joining a unit of thousands, ended up in the billets of the cafe and the unit amounted to a handful of men who were more out for the opportunity of freedom or Fascist in leaning. At this time, Edwin Martin attempted to take advantage of the discord ( perhaps to atone for his role in the camp ) to disrupt the BFC but it did not have the desired effect. Two of the men broke away from the cafe and get into the holiday camp 517 to report to Brown who then complained to Cooper. Cooper then addressed the men at the cafe billet and in turn, those who did not want to remain could leave ( though, to prevent the truth about the BFC reaching the general POW population, these men were isolated in a special camp ) and by December of 1943, the BFC had only 8 men.

    In spite of the tiny size of the unit, the Waffen-SS continued to work on the BFC. The first step was to appoint an officer. Because of the nature of the BFC, the candidate had to be trustworthy, have a good understanding of english, and also be a skilled leader and have excellent administrative. This job fell to SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Hans Werner Roepke. A very educated man, Roepke's grasp of english came from his time as an exchange student prior to the war. His military service included being a private in the Reichswehr, then as a law man with the Allgemeine-SS, before being called up to duty as a flak officer with the SS-Wiking division. He was made the commander of the BFC in November of 1943. Roepke's first order of business was to determine just what goal of the BFC was and its principles. The first order of business was the name. "The Legion of St. George" was tossed out as being too religious and the "British Legion" was rejected as well since it was in use by a UK World War 1 veterans group. It was Alfred Minchin who suggested "British Free Corps" after reading about the "Freikorps Danmark" in the english version of Signal magazine. Thus, it was accepted ( though, in correspondence, the unit was sometimes called the "Britisches Freikorps" ) officially as the "British Free Corps". That settled, Roepke moved on the purpose of the unit. All the current members told Roepke they wanted to fight the Russians ( as you will see, this was more of telling the Germans what they wanted to hear ) and so, with that settled, it was ordered that the BFC must swell to create at least a single infantry platoon, or 30 men. It was also decreed that no BFC member could be part of any action against British and British Commonwealth forces nor could any BFC member be used to intelligence-gathering. The BFC would be, until a suitable British officer joined the unit, under German command. Other things worked out included the fact that the BFC members would not have to get the German blood tattoo, they did not have to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler, nor were they subject to German military law. They would receive the pay equal of the German soldiers for their rank. Finally, it was decided to equip the unit with standard SS uniforms with appropriate insignia.

    Roepke put in the order for the BFC to be moved to the St. Michaeli Kloster in Hildesheim and also he put in the order for 800 sets of the special BFC insignia to the SS clothing department. Officially, the BFC came into existence on January 1, 1944. By February of 1944, the BFC made the move to Hildesheim and the Kloster, which was a converted monastery, now the SS Nordic Study Center and also the barracks for foreign workers laboring for the SS. Prior to the move, things for the BFC men were pretty idle but after the move, recruiting was to be stepped up. Of the group who left the BFC in December, the rumor that they would be sent to a SS run stalag, caused some of them to rethink their decision and three of them returned. Two new recruits were gained, including Private Thomas Freeman of the 7 Commando of Layforce. Freeman was to be the only BFC man who did not receive any punishment post-war for his membership, as MI5 stated his only purpose for joining the BFC was to escape and also to sabotage the unit. At this time, Roepke ordered all of the BFC men to assume a false names for official documents but some did not do so. The BFC were also issued their first SS field uniforms, but without any insignia. Tasks were now assigned to the BFC members as well, which lead to some factionalism. Despite having duties, the majority of the time was spent being idle once simple chores such as cleaning the billets and such were done.

    This idleness was to Freeman a chance to ruin the BFC by going after those who weren't Fascist or strong anti-Communist. By gaining them to his side, especially since the main pro-Nazi BFC men were often away from the barracks, Freeman sought to form a rift in the unit. He was able to go on one of the recruiting drives ( which were still being carried out ) and even get ahead of the line to being made the senior NCO of the BFC. Freeman's purpose for going on the recruiting drive was to gain men for his own ends. It netted three men, though one left soon after, being returned to his camp.

    In April of 1944, the BFC was issued its distinctive insignia, the three lion passant collar tab, the Union Jack arm shield, and the cuff title bearing "British Free Corps" in Gothic-script. Britten, who had been tasked as the unit tailor, spent most of a day sewing all the items onto the BFC members tunics. On the morning of April 20, 1944 ( which was Hitler's birthday ), the BFC was paraded in full uniform and addressed by Roepke who said that now that the BFC was full-fledged ( by being issued uniforms, weapons, and pay books ), recruiting can begin in earnest. Promotions were also handed out at this time, with Freeman getting his NCO slot. Following the parade, the BFC members went off to various camps throughout Germany and Austria. The idea was to send the men to camps which they had been formally interned in. The idea, however, was very flawed and did not help recruiting in the slightest. All told, this recruiting drive netted six new members. During one such drive, Berry confided in a camp leader about his predicament, the leader saying he should seek out the Swiss embassy in Berlin, which Berry did not follow up on. Two of these recruits, John Leister and Eric Pleasants, both not wanting to get involved with the war, got caught up in it when the Germans took over the Channel Islands and put them both the camps since they were of military age. While not initially taking up the BFC offer, they talked it out and if the BFC should return, they'd join up. Why? Because the both of them were tired of slim food rations, did not like being away from the company of women, disliked the camp life, and also because the both of them hated being deprived of their freedom for a war they wanted no part in. In fact, Pleasants even admitted to Minchin and Berry that he "was in it to have a good time."

    All of the drives found the BFC numbering 23 men. This worried Freeman because if the unit reached 30, then the BFC would be incorporated into the SS-"Wiking" division and sent into action. To prevent this, Freeman took it upon himself to stop it. He drafted a letter, signed by him and 14 other BFC men ( mostly the newcomers ), requesting they be returned to their camps. This threw the BFC into chaos and it took pressure from Cooper and Roepke to just have Freeman and one other instigator tossed out and into a penal stalag, both being charged with mutiny on June 20, 1944. Freeman escaped the stalag in November of 1944, making it to Russian lines where he was repatriated in March of 1945. Still, the BFC was rattled and tensions between members were evident, made worse by Cooper seeking to instill SS-style discipline and methods, which was alien to the Englishmen whose experience with the British army was more lenient. With Freeman gone, Wilson was made senior NCO, which was a mistake given Wilson had lied upon his capture about his rank, and thus had little experience leading men and had a large appetite for women, which only being with the BFC could provide him with the freedom to partake of the female virtues.

    In August of 1944, four more recruits joined on with the BFC. However, three of the four had done so not because they wanted to, but because they were blackmailed into doing it. Two of them were made to join as they had relationships with local area women. One of them was pregnant by one of the men and this was an offense punishable by death while the other man's liaison with a woman was discovered by the Gestapo. The results of men forced to join the BFC did nothing for morale, in fact, it made it worse. This touched off lack-luster recruiting drives and a flap over the wearing of the Union Jack arm shield flared up. The flap concerned the wearing of the shield below the German eagle. By this time, many other units wore their national flag on the right sleeve and some of the BFC men thought the original position of the shield took a shot at England. It took a direct order from Heinrich Himmler to quell it by allowing the shield to be worn on the right sleeve if desired. Another downturn was Lieutenant William Shearer, who joined the BFC, and was their first, and only British officer to accept a position in the unit. Hoping that, at the least, Shearer would provide a token officer presence, but Shearer was a schizophrenic and wouldn't put on his BFC uniform or even leave his room to which end he was removed and sent to the mental asylum from whence he came, to be sent back to England on medical grounds. Another sour on the BFC camp was the successful invasion of France by the allies.

    With the success of the D-Day landings, some of the BFC men saw the writing on the wall and began to look for ways out. A flash in the pan involving the arrest of BFC man Tom Perkins for theft of a pistol caused a full blown fire within the BFC which culminated in eight men, including Pleasants, refusing to work to set up a football field and all of them were dismissed and sent to SS punishment camps. This incident led to an investigation as to why the BFC was floundering and the upshot was that recruiting had to be stepped up, assemble as many volunteers as possible, and get them trained for combat and sent off to the front lines, whether as a unit or just as replacements for other units. It was here that Vivian Stranders, a SS-Sturmbannfuhrer, sought to make his bid for power by making a move against Cooper and Roepke, so as to position himself for possible monopolization of the British recruiting and perhaps assuming command of the BFC. Stranders, originally a English citizen, joined the Nazi party in 1932 and became naturalized and later, after the war began, was posted in the Waffen-SS as an expert in British affairs. Stranders, however, may not have had a unit to go to as two new problems rocked the boat.

    MacLardy abandoned the BFC, volunteering to join a Waffen-SS medical service unit. Two other men, one of them Courlander, could read the tea leaves and sought out of the BFC. They, however, took another tact and volunteered for service with the war correspondent unit "Kurt Eggers", which was operating on the Western Front. The ultimate goal for these men was to run for the lines when the first chance arose. Britten removed all of the BFC insignia from their uniforms, replacing them with the standard SS patches and rank then the the two men hopped a train for Brussels in the company of a Flemish Waffen-SS unit. Once there, they ultimately turned themselves over to the British, being the first two BFC men to return to England. Still, problems reigned. Two more recruits were gained, again by being forced into it as they had sexual contact with German women and the new quartermaster found a ready source of things to sell to those barracked at the monastery. With all these problems, the barrack commander went to Roepke to request the BFC be sent elsewhere. As it turned out, the BFC were indeed going to be moved.

    On October 11, 1944, the BFC arrived at Dresden, to begin training as assault pioneers at the Waffen-SS Pioneer school at the Wildermann Kaserne. Here, they would receive instruction in clearing obstacles, removing minefields, usage of heavy weapons, demolition, and other tasks required of such combat engineers. SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Hugo Eichhorn reviewed the now 13 man BFC unit ( not counting the support staff of four ) and despite what, to him, might have been a pretty unfearsome lot, greeted them and introduced their two training officers. The BFC was now working up into shape. They were issued with rifles, steel helmets, camouflage uniforms, and gas masks then set about getting back into physical shape and taking courses in the use of machineguns, flamethrowers, and explosives. Picket and guard duty were assigned to the BFC as well. All this came crashing down when news of Roepke's dismissal came through.

    Stranders had been successful in outing Roepke, replacing him with SS-Obersturmfuhrer Dr. Walther Kuhlich, who was wounded so bad during his stint with SS-"Das Reich", that he was unfit for active frontline duty. This only added another nail to the BFC coffin. Freeman, following the war, said he had seen a list of over 1,100 British who applied to fight against the Soviets. Why did the BFC remain rife with problems and could never get any recruits? Freeman summed it up that the core base of the BFC were "poor types" and that this contributed to lack of any respect for the BFC from the get-go. And by this time, POWs were hip to the propaganda, especially the BFC.

    Cooper, seeing that he needed to bow out of the BFC, asked Wilson, who said he was of a similar frame of mind, to meet in Berlin to request a return to the stalags. The gig was up when Wilson, whose sole reason for going to Berlin was to go womanizing, left Cooper high and dry and under arrest, the charge being sabotage of the BFC. Brought before Stranders and Kuhlich, Cooper was shown signed statements by several BFC men accusing him of anti-Nazi acts. A day later, he was formally charged by a SS prosecutor and sent to the LAH, working as a military policeman. Wilson, now in charge of recruiting, had no real intention of working hard to get new blood. Instead, he set about getting ex-BFC men who'd been kicked out, back into the fold, notably Pleasants. In this, Wilson was successful. In the winter of 1944 and 1945, several new BFC recruits arrived, and the BFC returned to its training, all the while trying to put up a front to the other soldiers who felt the BFC led a soft life. Pleasants even managed to woo the secretary who worked for Kuhlich, marrying her in February of 1945.

    Plans were afoot, however, to use the BFC in a last-ditch propaganda ploy. An attempt was made to form a rift between Iosef Stalin and the allied leadership, namely Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt. The main effort, called "Operation Koniggratz", attempted to sway British POWs being evacuated from the Polish stalags as the Soviets advanced. The plan was an abject failure and it was pondered how the BFC might be used to play a role in the effort, especially as they were training for combat on the Eastern Front. Again, this came to naught and the whole idea, which even included faking Communist acts within Germany, crumbled.

    The BFC, meanwhile, found its morale taking a nose dive once more, thanks in part to Wilson's lack of leadership and with Kuhlich almost always in Berlin. Still, recruits for the BFC arrived, near the close of 1944, including two South Africans. Of these five, three turned out to be genuinely anti-Communist, one of them being swayed by BFC literature, the other two having wanted to initially join the SS-"Totenkopf" division until they were talked into joining the BFC by Kuhlich. By January of 1945, the BFC was up to 27 men, three shy of the magic 30. But by this time, it was seen the whole BFC idea was a total and complete failure and many began to concoct ways to get out. Hugh Cowie, a Gordon Highlander from Scotland, was in the middle of several scandals, including the refusal to accept six Maoris into the BFC on the grounds it was a "white only" unit and having to deal with drunkards and AWOL BFC men, notably one man who kept sneaking away to be with his girl. With Wilson away, Cowie hatched a plan to use his temporary position to get access to travel documentation for him and five others, hop a train to the Eastern Front, and lay low somewhere and let the Soviets overtake them, using the pretext of going on a recruiting drive. Once on the train, all the men ( save one who didn't show ) removed their BFC insignia and it went downhill from there, the end result being all of them were picked up by the Gestapo. After harsh tongue lashings by their armed escort and Kuhlich, half of the escapees were sent off to isolation camps while the other three agreed to remain with the BFC. The major hammer fell when the allies bombed Dresden on February 12, 1945, killing some 40,000 people and some took advantage of it all to make an escape but one man, who thought he could confide in his Norwegian nurse girlfriend, found out otherwise and she informed the Gestapo of his plans and the entire BFC was arrested but not before two BFC men managed to sift into the POWs being sent west and were never to return to the BFC.

    This was the straw which broke the camel's back. After the BFC men were sprung from jail, it was time to make some use out of the unit. The BFC was taken to Berlin and barracked in a school on the Schonhauser Allee, to wait there until the required steps were taken to put them into the line. It was here that the last "volunteer" came forward, Frank Axon who was captured in Greece in 1941. Accused of hitting a cow which caused it to give birth to its calf too early, he could either join the BFC or be severely punished and so, he chose the BFC. With the prospects of combat looming for a lost cause, the BFC men sought ways out once more. Three men were provided British army uniforms by a sympathetic officer who sent them off to escape. Another man, who had a girlfriend with connections to the "Kurt Eggers" Regiment, managed to get transferred there while Pleasants went to the "Peace Camp", doing exhibition boxing bouts with Max Schmeling for the delight of German officers. On March 8, 1945, the remaining BFC men were brought before Kuhlich who gave each of them a choice: fight on the front or be sent to an isolation camp. All of them chose to fight. Wilson, in no hurry to go to battle, managed to get himself a slot as liaison between the BFC and the Berlin office of Kuhlich. This put Douglas Mardon in charge of the unit and in shaping up what he had, he was left with eight men in all ( two men he refused to take and Minchin had scabies ). Mardon had to move the unit to a training camp in Niemeck, to get a crash course in anti-tank, close-combat tactics. Here, the BFC men were given training in the use of the Panzerfaust and other tank killing methods. They were also issued the StG44 ( MP44 ) assault rifle and given training in its use. The unit strength was cut down to seven when one member smoked aspirin until he became ill, being able to get transferred out. With the hurried training done, the BFC was given two days leave before moving out to the front lines.

    On March 15, 1945, a truck was loaded up with the tiny BFC and it moved out to meet up with the headquarters of III. ( Germanisches ) SS-Panzer-Korps. During the ride, most members removed their BFC insignia. Upon arrival, the HQ staff was rather shocked at getting a British unit and so they put the BFC up in billets on the western edge of Stettin pending orders on what to do with them. While waiting, the BFC came under some brief Soviet mortar and artillery fire but no injuries were reported. However, the manpower was again reduced by one when one man came down with a severe case of gonorrhea and was sent away to a military hospital.

    On March 22, 1945, orders came in from the HQ that the BFC should move to the headquarters portion of the SS-"Nordland" division, located at Angermunde. From there, they would be placed with the divisional armored reconnaissance battalion ( 11.SS-Panzer-Aufklarungs-Abteilung ) which was stationed in Grussow. The commander there was Sturmbannfuhrer Rudolf Saalbach and when the BFC arrived, he gave them a quick welcome and assigned them to the 3rd. Company, commanded by the Swede Obersturmfuhrer Hano-Goesta Perrson. Perrson issued the BFC with a single Sd.Kfz.251 half-track and a "Schwimmwagen", giving them orders to prepare trench lines within the company's perimeter. The "Nordland" division was currently being held in reserve but the BFC, from their positions, could clearly see the Soviets. The BFC remained in the line for a month but the notion that they could be attacked by the Russians, failed to unify them and discord was rampant, so much so that Mardon was pressured into seeing if the BFC could be pulled out. During this time, Cooper was to return to the fold. After being told he was being transferred to the Germanic Panzer Corps, Cooper burned his SS papers and packed a suitcase with civilian clothing and went to the Corps HQ located in Steinhoffl on the Oder. He learned, to his surprise, that "ten [ Englishmen were ] somewhere near the front." He was then informed his presence was requested by Obergruppenfuhrer Felix Steiner and during this time, Steiner ordered Cooper to accompany him to the front to inspect the BFC troops. Cooper, on the ride there, informed Steiner about the BFC and that it was unwise to have them at the front, to which Steiner agreed, but more because Steiner was concerned about post-war legalities of his usage of such men on the front. After inspecting the BFC, Steiner gave a short speech and ordered that the BFC be used as medical orderlies. Cooper, after catching up on the news, spoke with Mardon and then the two of them approached Brigadefuhrer Ziegler at his Nordland headquarters. They gave Ziegler a rundown on the unit, pointing out that many were forced into joining the BFC and thus, were of dubious combat value, to which Ziegler agreed. Ziegler set in motion the process by sending Cooper and Mardon to Steiner and upon meeting with him, discussed the points they made to Ziegler. The upshot was that Steiner issued the orders to pull the BFC out of the line and utilize them as truck drivers in the rear lines.

    The next day, the BFC left the front lines and reported to the Corps headquarters and from there, they were issued with travel orders, rations, and were to go to Templin, to join the transport company of Steiner's headquarter staff. They arrived there on April 16, 1945. In the meantime, Wilson, who was supposed to be sending the BFC men their Red Cross parcels ( for all intensive purposes, the BFC were still classified as POWs and thus still got the parcels ), chose to horde them and ultimately, he deserted into Berlin on April 9, 1945. To calm the rumblings, Cooper and four BFC men rode into Berlin to try and locate the parcels on the 17th. and upon returning on the 19th., they found a Hauptsturmfuhrer, in full SS panzer uniform, sporting BFC insignia, waiting to take them back to the front.

    The tanker was Douglas Berneville-Claye who had a pension for embellishment, fraud and theft, and the ability to pass himself off as something he wasn't. Having been booted out of the RAF, he ended up as a commander with the SAS in the Middle East where he was branded as "useless" and "dangerous" by his comrades, to the point they'd refuse to conduct operations with him. He was captured in 1942 by DAK units and taken to an Italian POW camp, to which he claimed to have broken out of four times. He was then sent to Oflag 79 in Brunswick until removed from there for his own safety since the POWs saw him as, and correctly so, as a German informer. From the time of his removal to his appearance in Templin in March of 1945, no record is known. As he stood with the BFC, he launched into a speech saying he was a earl's son, a captain in the Coldstream Guards, and would collect two armored cars to take the BFC into battle with, even making the claim that the BFC would have no problems with the British authorities and that England was going to declare war on Russian in a few days. Cooper called Berneville-Claye's bluff and Berneville-Claye turned away, taking one of the BFC men with him as a driver, and drove away ( Berneville-Claye eventually changed into a full SAS uniform while the driver took up farmers clothing and they turned themselves in ). "Bob" Rossler remained with the Nordland division when it went into battle in Berlin, fighting alongside the Volkssturm, Hitlerjugend, and all the other mixed bag units which remained to fight it out.

    The BFC, however, remained true to their orders, following Steiner's headquarter unit to Neustrelitz. They drove trucks, directed traffic, and assisted the evacuations of civilians from the Neustrelitz and Reinershagen area until, on April 29, 1945, Steiner ordered his forces to break contact with the Russians and make for the western combat lines to surrender to the US and British. From this point on, the BFC men sought ways to get to the western lines and avoid capture by the Soviets. Those who fell into or were turned over to the British, among other British traitors, stood trial. Amery was hung, Cooper went to jail ( being released in 1953 ), Britten got ten years ( reduced to two months when he was released for medical reasons ), Wilson got ten years, Freeman got ten years, and other members got from 15 years to even no punishment at all.

    And so ended the British Free Corps service to Germany.

    Source: http://hometown.aol.com/sturmpnzr/BFC.html?f=fs

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    Re: British Free Corps

    The BFC soldiers was IMO heroes of the European Idea!
    ME NE FREGO

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    Re: British Free Corps

    While the BFC didn't see action during the war many British NS (some BFC members) did.

    Good site:

    http://www.guywalters.com/BFC%20main%20page.html

    ----

    Article by the supposedly part Jewish (yet very honourable) John Amery, who was later murdered by Judeo Traitors.






    Recruitment flier:




    British Free Corps 1943-1945

    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?

    When did my interest start about the British Free Corps?

    I first discovered the BFC 25 years ago, in a Bellona Publication, "Manual of the Waffen-SS" printed in 1976 and long since out of print. It covered badges, uniforms and equipment. Although by todays standards of research it is inacurate to say the least! But what else did we have in those days? The book refered to the unit as the "Legion of St.George", and illustrated the Union Jack armshield, the collar patch with the three lions passant guardant, and a reference about a cuff-title wrongly called "Britisches Freikorps".

    In fact the cuff-title only produced in the English language form "British Free Corps". The name suggested by Himmler, the "British Legion" was dropped when it was pointed out that a servicemans organization in the UK used the same name. Be that as it may, the book was the first written evidence that indeed a British volunteer unit in the Waffen-SS existed! As a young hobby historian interested in the Third Reich it was an exciting discovery!

    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.

    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.

    What remains of the "Legion of St. George" today?

    A comment in British war records 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.

    My "British Renagade" reenactment impression is based on this "Unit", because I wanted to keep my uniform Wehrmacht. It should be noted that in Germany, unlike the USA or the UK, Waffen-SS uniforms are banned by law.


    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.

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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)

    Post-War British Free Corps Footnote

    Those of you wishing to find out more about the British Free Corps should take a look at Ed Dyer´s BFC reenactment site, or for further reading obtain a copy Adrian Weale´s book "Renegades- Hitler´s Englishmen". There is also a TV documentary about the subject which is interesting in the fact that it interviews several members of the BFC. But I felt Thomas Cooper was painted too black and not given the credit where I felt it was due. The documentary was rushed into production, and because of this the BFC soldier interviewed in Australia was said to be the last member left alive, but is this true? No attempt was made to contact the possible living BFC soldiers in South Africa. Other than that the TV documentary covered the general story, and brought it to the attention of the British public, who otherwise would have not been informed about the subject.

    It should be noted that Wilhelm "Bob" Rössler and his wife both talked freely about the time with the BFC, and Bob was in contact with Francis MacLardy when he returned to take up civilian work in Germany after the war in the Rhineland. Herr Rössler died April 2004.

    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.

    Chart of volunteers


    The History of the British Free Corps

    Forward:

    For those who have visited this site before and have read the unit history, you may be in for a bit of a surprise. I first became aware of the British Free Corps in Osprey's "Men-At-Arms #34: The Waffen-SS". In this book, they had a color plate of a BFC man and passed off the unit as being "near morons...[and] contemptible traitors...and never saw combat." This seemed to be quite harsh and when I searched online for more information, I found for sale at a bookstore Richard Landwehr's booklet "Britisches Freikorps" and purchased it. In this telling of the unit, Landwehr went into much more depth on the unit and showed it to be a fairly workable unit, not without trouble, of course, but also that it saw battle against the Russians. Recently, however, it has come to light that Landwehr's work is unreliable and filled with untruths and embellishments. To this end, I obtained a copy of Adrian Weale's "Renegades:Hitler's Englishmen" and finally, an objective and very detailed account of the BFC was to be had. And it was rather eye-opening. Weale's book gets into fascist movements in England and the main leaders of them prior to World War Two, setting the stage for how some of them became involved with Germany and what led to the BFC. I will only touch on the BFC as a unit and I recommend tracking down Weale's book to get the full depth of information.


    The German Waffen-SS "British Free Corps" ( hereafter shortened to BFC ), was the brainchild of John Amery. Amery, whose father was a Conservative MP in the English Parliament, found himself living within the shadow of his successful political parent and as such, he strove to excess to prove himself capable of making it on his own. With failures in these endeavors, it only drove him to more and he joined Franco's Nationalists in Spain in 1936, being awarded a medal of honor while serving as a combat officer with Italian "volunteer" forces. Amery was a staunch anti-Communist and with all of his failings and money problems, he accepted the fascist doctrines of Germany. Following his tour in Spain, he resided in France, under Vichy rule. He ran afoul of the Vichy government ( Amery was displeased with their mind set anyhow ) and made several attempts to leave the area but was rebuffed. It was German armistice commissioner Graf Ceschi who offered Amery the chance to leave France and come to Germany to work in the political arena. Ceschi wasn't able to get Amery out of France but later, in September of 1942, Hauptmann Werner Plack got Amery what he wanted and in October, Plack and Amery went to Berlin to speak to the German English Committee. It was at this time that Amery made the suggestion that the Germans consider forming a British anti-Bolshevik legion. So much so was Amery's suggestions ( in addition to the unit ) taken that Adolf Hitler himself made the motions for Amery to remain in Germany as a guest of the Reich and that Hitler thought highly of the idea of a British force to fight the Communists. The idea languished until Amery met up with two Frenchmen, friends of his, who were part of the LVF ( Legion des Volontaires Francais ) in January of 1943. The two LVF men lamented about the poor situation on the Eastern Front but that they saw that only Germany was battling the Russians and thus, despite all, they should still lend support with their LVF service. Amery rekindled his British unit concept, wanting to form a 50 to 100 man unit for propaganda uses and also to seek out a core base of men with which to gain additional members from British POW camps. He also suggested that such a unit would also provide more recruits for the other military units made up of other nationals. It seemed that the Germans were already ahead of Amery and had already undertaken some consideration, a military order saying "The Fuhrer is in agreement with the establishment of an English legion...The only personnel who should come into the framework should be former members of the English fascist party or those with similar ideology - also quality, not quantity." As it is to be seen, this last bit would prove to be very difficult to obtain.

    With the go-ahead, Amery set down write two works which covered his German radio talks ( which were allowed to be broadcast but with a disclaimer which stated his comments were not those of the German government ) and that he suggested the unit be called "The British Legion of St. George". Amery's first recruiting drive took him to the St. Denis POW camp outside Paris. 40 to 50 inmates from various British Commonwealth countries were assembled. Amery addressed them, handing out recruiting material. The end result was failure. Still, efforts continued at St. Denis and finally bore some fruit. Professor Logio ( an old academic man ), Maurice Tanner , Oswald Job, and Kenneth Berry ( a 17 year old deck boy on the SS Cymbeline which was sunk at sea ) came forward. Logio was released while Job was recruited away by the German intelligence, trained as a spy, and ended up being caught while trying to get into England and hung in March of 1944. Thus, Amery ended up with two men, of which only Berry would actually join what was later called the BFC. Amery's link to what would become the BFC ended in October of 1943 when the Waffen-SS decided Amery's services were no longer needed and it was officially renamed the British Free Corps.

    With Amery's initial recruiting methods being seen as a failure, another idea was to be tried in an attempt to woo POWs to join the BFC. Given the harsh conditions of POW camps in Germany and the occupied areas, it was decided to form a "holiday camp" for likely recruits from POW camps. Two holiday camps were set up, Special Detachment 999 and Special Detachment 517, both under the umbrella of Stalag IIId in the Berlin locale. These camps were overseen by Arnold Hillen-Ziegfeld of the English Committee. English speaking guards were used, overseen by a German intelligence officer, who would use the guards as information gatherers. But a Englishman was needed as possible conduit for volunteers and in this, Battery Quartermaster Sergeant John Henry Owen Brown of the Royal Artillery was selected. Brown was a interesting character. He was a member of the British Union of Fascists ( BUF ) but also a devout Christian. His ability to play both sides would serve him well. Captured on the beaches of Dunkirk in May of 1940, Brown eventually ended up in a camp at Blechhammer. Given his rank, he was made a foreman of a work detail and he also began to work into the confidence of the Germans. What Brown was doing, in reality, was setting up a black market scheme, smuggling in contraband and using it to give to his men and also to buy off the guards. Later, Brown was taught POW message codes created by MI9 of the British intelligence service and he began to operate as a "self-made spy" as he called himself. With his status, he was called to be the camp leader of Special Detachment 517. At this time, another Englishmen, Thomas Cooper ( who used the German version of Cooper, Bottcher, as his last name ), arrived at the camp. Cooper, unable to obtain public service employ in England due to his mother being German, joined the British Union ( the shortened name of the BUF ) and eventually left England on the promise that he could get work in German with the Reichs Arbeits Dienst ( RAD ). As it turned out, this was not to be in the end and finally, he joined the Waffen-SS ( who, unlike the Army, would take British nationalities ). He was posted to the famous SS "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" ( LAH ), underwent basic training, then was placed into artillery training. This did not last for long and he was transferred to the infamous SS "Totenkopf" infantry training battalion. Trained all over again in infantry tactics, he was moved to the position of machinegun trainer with the 5th. Totenkopf Regiment and made an NCO, staying there until February of 1941 until moved to the Wachbattaillon Oranienburg unit outside Krakow, Poland. During this time, Cooper was reported ( by post-war BFC men ) to have participated in atrocities against Russian and Polish POWs and civilians, including the Jewish. In January of 1943, Cooper was transferred to the SS-Polizei-Division as a transport driver. The unit was posted to the Leningrad front and once in a Russian town called Schablinov, they were told they'd be put into the line to replace the mangled forces of the Spanish Blue Division. By February 13, 1943, the Russians went on the attack again and broke through the SS-Polizei lines. Cooper was wounded in the legs by shell splinters, evacuated out, and was awarded the Wound Badge in Silver, the only Englishman to obtain a combat decoration. During his recovery, Cooper came into contact with the camp and upon learning about the purpose, was given orders to join the project.

    Brown, being a crafty and streetwise person, saw the real deal behind the camp and he correctly came to the conclusion that he was in a very unique position to both hinder the formation of the unit as well as obtain intelligence ( and he also would make sure the men who came to the camp actually got a holiday ). Brown set about winning the confidence of his German handlers and surround himself with trustworthy POWs and when the first batch of 200 POWs rolled into the camp, things did not turn out for the better. Brown and his men were doing their best to entertain the prisoners while Cooper and other pro-Nazi men worked the crowd, seeking ex-BUF members or other ex-Fascist group members as well as finding out attitudes about the Communists. However, this resulted in displeasure and many of the POWs wanted to be sent back to their camps. To try and qualm this, it was asked of the most senior British POW, one Major-General Fortune, to send a representative to the camp to inspect it and assure the men it was on the up-and-up. Brigadier Leonard Parrington was selected and was sent to the camp. He gave a speech, had a look at the facilities, and said it was indeed a holiday camp and not to worry. He did not know the real truth and took it for what it looked like. Brown did not feel safe in informing Parrington of the purpose of the camp. This visit was successful in calming the situation but when the POWs were sent back to their respective camps, only one confirmed recruit was gained, Alfred Vivian Minchin, a merchant seamen whose ship, the SS Empire Ranger, was sunk off Norway by German bombers. Others kept the BFC in mind as they were sent off. Brown, following the first batch, learned of the full scope of the project from Carl Britten. Britten said he'd been forced into the BFC by Cooper and Leonard Courlander. Brown was unable to persuade Britten to quit the BFC, but MI9 got a very revealing transmission from Brown.

    A bombing raid against Berlin damaged a good portion of the camp prior to a second batch of POWs being brought in. It was decided to move the campmen to a requisitioned cafe in the Pankow district of Berlin, overseen by Wilhelm "Bob" Rossler, a Germany Army interpreter. Prior to the move, the BFC gained two members, Francis George MacLardy of the Royal Army Medical Corps ( he was captured in Belgium ) and Edwin Barnard Martin of the Canadian Essex Scottish Regiment ( Martin was captured at Dieppe in 1942 ). At this time, the BFC numbered seven. POWs continued to roll into the camp once repaired until December of 1944, when it was called to a halt. The reasoning was that the handling of the camp, as stated by Brown, was counter-productive to getting recruits for the BFC since the way the camp was run, fostered distrust. The reality was they had Brown as their front man, who was out for himself but also loyal to the Crown to continue his dangerous game of intelligence gathering and also deterring recruits from joining, which gained him, post-war, the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

    Oskar Lange, who was overseeing the camps, hit upon another idea to gain recruits, and, it was hoped give him more stature. The earlier holiday camps only entertained long term POWs. Lange's idea, however, was to take newly captured prisoners, who were still in a state of confusion, and work on them while they were vulnerable. This new camp was in Luckenwalde. The camp was headed up by Hauptmann Hellmerich of the German intelligence and his chief interrogator was Feldwebel Scharper. Scharper was not above using blackmail to get what he wanted and his tactics included fear, intimidation, and threats to coerce prisoners into joining.

    The first group of POWs to be taken to Luckenwalde were mainly from the Italian theater. One such case of Trooper John Eric Wilson of No.3 Commando illustrated the techniques used by the camp. Upon arrival, he was stripped, made to watch his uniform get ripped to bits, then was given a blanket to cover up with. Placed in a cell with only the blanket and fed 250 grams of bread and a pint of cabbage soup, he was only allowed out to empty the waste bucket. After two days like this, he was taken before a "American", who was in fact Scharper. Wilson was asked his rank, name, number, and date of birth ( to which Wilson lied about his rank, saying he was a staff sergeant ) then returned to his cell. Left alone, a "British POW" would come in from time to time, offer smokes and conduct idle chit-chat. The end result was that the isolation and the mistreatment led to him holding on to the "POW" who showed kindness to him and when dragged before Scharper some days later and offered the choice of joining the BFC or staying in solitary, it can be understood that Wilson chose the BFC. With this initial success, it was deemed this method would be the gateway to expanding the BFC and in turn, 14 men were made to join, including men from such esteemed units as the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Long Range Desert Group.

    However, things fell apart when these men, told they would be joining a unit of thousands, ended up in the billets of the cafe and the unit amounted to a handful of men who were more out for the opportunity of freedom or Fascist in leaning. At this time, Edwin Martin attempted to take advantage of the discord ( perhaps to atone for his role in the camp ) to disrupt the BFC but it did not have the desired effect. Two of the men broke away from the cafe and get into the holiday camp 517 to report to Brown who then complained to Cooper. Cooper then addressed the men at the cafe billet and in turn, those who did not want to remain could leave ( though, to prevent the truth about the BFC reaching the general POW population, these men were isolated in a special camp ) and by December of 1943, the BFC had only 8 men.

    In spite of the tiny size of the unit, the Waffen-SS continued to work on the BFC. The first step was to appoint an officer. Because of the nature of the BFC, the candidate had to be trustworthy, have a good understanding of english, and also be a skilled leader and have excellent administrative. This job fell to SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Hans Werner Roepke. A very educated man, Roepke's grasp of english came from his time as an exchange student prior to the war. His military service included being a private in the Reichswehr, then as a law man with the Allgemeine-SS, before being called up to duty as a flak officer with the SS-Wiking division. He was made the commander of the BFC in November of 1943. Roepke's first order of business was to determine just what goal of the BFC was and its principles. The first order of business was the name. "The Legion of St. George" was tossed out as being too religious and the "British Legion" was rejected as well since it was in use by a UK World War 1 veterans group. It was Alfred Minchin who suggested "British Free Corps" after reading about the "Freikorps Danmark" in the english version of Signal magazine. Thus, it was accepted ( though, in correspondence, the unit was sometimes called the "Britisches Freikorps" ) officially as the "British Free Corps". That settled, Roepke moved on the purpose of the unit. All the current members told Roepke they wanted to fight the Russians ( as you will see, this was more of telling the Germans what they wanted to hear ) and so, with that settled, it was ordered that the BFC must swell to create at least a single infantry platoon, or 30 men. It was also decreed that no BFC member could be part of any action against British and British Commonwealth forces nor could any BFC member be used to intelligence-gathering. The BFC would be, until a suitable British officer joined the unit, under German command. Other things worked out included the fact that the BFC members would not have to get the German blood tattoo, they did not have to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler, nor were they subject to German military law. They would receive the pay equal of the German soldiers for their rank. Finally, it was decided to equip the unit with standard SS uniforms with appropriate insignia.

    Roepke put in the order for the BFC to be moved to the St. Michaeli Kloster in Hildesheim and also he put in the order for 800 sets of the special BFC insignia to the SS clothing department. Officially, the BFC came into existence on January 1, 1944. By February of 1944, the BFC made the move to Hildesheim and the Kloster, which was a converted monastery, now the SS Nordic Study Center and also the barracks for foreign workers laboring for the SS. Prior to the move, things for the BFC men were pretty idle but after the move, recruiting was to be stepped up. Of the group who left the BFC in December, the rumor that they would be sent to a SS run stalag, caused some of them to rethink their decision and three of them returned. Two new recruits were gained, including Private Thomas Freeman of the 7 Commando of Layforce. Freeman was to be the only BFC man who did not receive any punishment post-war for his membership, as MI5 stated his only purpose for joining the BFC was to escape and also to sabotage the unit. At this time, Roepke ordered all of the BFC men to assume a false names for official documents but some did not do so. The BFC were also issued their first SS field uniforms, but without any insignia. Tasks were now assigned to the BFC members as well, which lead to some factionalism. Despite having duties, the majority of the time was spent being idle once simple chores such as cleaning the billets and such were done.

    This idleness was to Freeman a chance to ruin the BFC by going after those who weren't Fascist or strong anti-Communist. By gaining them to his side, especially since the main pro-Nazi BFC men were often away from the barracks, Freeman sought to form a rift in the unit. He was able to go on one of the recruiting drives ( which were still being carried out ) and even get ahead of the line to being made the senior NCO of the BFC. Freeman's purpose for going on the recruiting drive was to gain men for his own ends. It netted three men, though one left soon after, being returned to his camp.

    In April of 1944, the BFC was issued its distinctive insignia, the three lion passant collar tab, the Union Jack arm shield, and the cuff title bearing "British Free Corps" in Gothic-script. Britten, who had been tasked as the unit tailor, spent most of a day sewing all the items onto the BFC members tunics. On the morning of April 20, 1944 ( which was Hitler's birthday ), the BFC was paraded in full uniform and addressed by Roepke who said that now that the BFC was full-fledged ( by being issued uniforms, weapons, and pay books ), recruiting can begin in earnest. Promotions were also handed out at this time, with Freeman getting his NCO slot. Following the parade, the BFC members went off to various camps throughout Germany and Austria. The idea was to send the men to camps which they had been formally interned in. The idea, however, was very flawed and did not help recruiting in the slightest. All told, this recruiting drive netted six new members. During one such drive, Berry confided in a camp leader about his predicament, the leader saying he should seek out the Swiss embassy in Berlin, which Berry did not follow up on. Two of these recruits, John Leister and Eric Pleasants, both not wanting to get involved with the war, got caught up in it when the Germans took over the Channel Islands and put them both the camps since they were of military age. While not initially taking up the BFC offer, they talked it out and if the BFC should return, they'd join up. Why? Because the both of them were tired of slim food rations, did not like being away from the company of women, disliked the camp life, and also because the both of them hated being deprived of their freedom for a war they wanted no part in. In fact, Pleasants even admitted to Minchin and Berry that he "was in it to have a good time."

    All of the drives found the BFC numbering 23 men. This worried Freeman because if the unit reached 30, then the BFC would be incorporated into the SS-"Wiking" division and sent into action. To prevent this, Freeman took it upon himself to stop it. He drafted a letter, signed by him and 14 other BFC men ( mostly the newcomers ), requesting they be returned to their camps. This threw the BFC into chaos and it took pressure from Cooper and Roepke to just have Freeman and one other instigator tossed out and into a penal stalag, both being charged with mutiny on June 20, 1944. Freeman escaped the stalag in November of 1944, making it to Russian lines where he was repatriated in March of 1945. Still, the BFC was rattled and tensions between members were evident, made worse by Cooper seeking to instill SS-style discipline and methods, which was alien to the Englishmen whose experience with the British army was more lenient. With Freeman gone, Wilson was made senior NCO, which was a mistake given Wilson had lied upon his capture about his rank, and thus had little experience leading men and had a large appetite for women, which only being with the BFC could provide him with the freedom to partake of the female virtues.

    In August of 1944, four more recruits joined on with the BFC. However, three of the four had done so not because they wanted to, but because they were blackmailed into doing it. Two of them were made to join as they had relationships with local area women. One of them was pregnant by one of the men and this was an offense punishable by death while the other man's liaison with a woman was discovered by the Gestapo. The results of men forced to join the BFC did nothing for morale, in fact, it made it worse. This touched off lack-luster recruiting drives and a flap over the wearing of the Union Jack arm shield flared up. The flap concerned the wearing of the shield below the German eagle. By this time, many other units wore their national flag on the right sleeve and some of the BFC men thought the original position of the shield took a shot at England. It took a direct order from Heinrich Himmler to quell it by allowing the shield to be worn on the right sleeve if desired. Another downturn was Lieutenant William Shearer, who joined the BFC, and was their first, and only British officer to accept a position in the unit. Hoping that, at the least, Shearer would provide a token officer presence, but Shearer was a schizophrenic and wouldn't put on his BFC uniform or even leave his room to which end he was removed and sent to the mental asylum from whence he came, to be sent back to England on medical grounds. Another sour on the BFC camp was the successful invasion of France by the allies.

    With the success of the D-Day landings, some of the BFC men saw the writing on the wall and began to look for ways out. A flash in the pan involving the arrest of BFC man Tom Perkins for theft of a pistol caused a full blown fire within the BFC which culminated in eight men, including Pleasants, refusing to work to set up a football field and all of them were dismissed and sent to SS punishment camps. This incident led to an investigation as to why the BFC was floundering and the upshot was that recruiting had to be stepped up, assemble as many volunteers as possible, and get them trained for combat and sent off to the front lines, whether as a unit or just as replacements for other units. It was here that Vivian Stranders, a SS-Sturmbannfuhrer, sought to make his bid for power by making a move against Cooper and Roepke, so as to position himself for possible monopolization of the British recruiting and perhaps assuming command of the BFC. Stranders, originally a English citizen, joined the Nazi party in 1932 and became naturalized and later, after the war began, was posted in the Waffen-SS as an expert in British affairs. Stranders, however, may not have had a unit to go to as two new problems rocked the boat.

    MacLardy abandoned the BFC, volunteering to join a Waffen-SS medical service unit. Two other men, one of them Courlander, could read the tea leaves and sought out of the BFC. They, however, took another tact and volunteered for service with the war correspondent unit "Kurt Eggers", which was operating on the Western Front. The ultimate goal for these men was to run for the lines when the first chance arose. Britten removed all of the BFC insignia from their uniforms, replacing them with the standard SS patches and rank then the the two men hopped a train for Brussels in the company of a Flemish Waffen-SS unit. Once there, they ultimately turned themselves over to the British, being the first two BFC men to return to England. Still, problems reigned. Two more recruits were gained, again by being forced into it as they had sexual contact with German women and the new quartermaster found a ready source of things to sell to those barracked at the monastery. With all these problems, the barrack commander went to Roepke to request the BFC be sent elsewhere. As it turned out, the BFC were indeed going to be moved.

    On October 11, 1944, the BFC arrived at Dresden, to begin training as assault pioneers at the Waffen-SS Pioneer school at the Wildermann Kaserne. Here, they would receive instruction in clearing obstacles, removing minefields, usage of heavy weapons, demolition, and other tasks required of such combat engineers. SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Hugo Eichhorn reviewed the now 13 man BFC unit ( not counting the support staff of four ) and despite what, to him, might have been a pretty unfearsome lot, greeted them and introduced their two training officers. The BFC was now working up into shape. They were issued with rifles, steel helmets, camouflage uniforms, and gas masks then set about getting back into physical shape and taking courses in the use of machineguns, flamethrowers, and explosives. Picket and guard duty were assigned to the BFC as well. All this came crashing down when news of Roepke's dismissal came through.

    Stranders had been successful in outing Roepke, replacing him with SS-Obersturmfuhrer Dr. Walther Kuhlich, who was wounded so bad during his stint with SS-"Das Reich", that he was unfit for active frontline duty. This only added another nail to the BFC coffin. Freeman, following the war, said he had seen a list of over 1,100 British who applied to fight against the Soviets. Why did the BFC remain rife with problems and could never get any recruits? Freeman summed it up that the core base of the BFC were "poor types" and that this contributed to lack of any respect for the BFC from the get-go. And by this time, POWs were hip to the propaganda, especially the BFC.

    Cooper, seeing that he needed to bow out of the BFC, asked Wilson, who said he was of a similar frame of mind, to meet in Berlin to request a return to the stalags. The gig was up when Wilson, whose sole reason for going to Berlin was to go womanizing, left Cooper high and dry and under arrest, the charge being sabotage of the BFC. Brought before Stranders and Kuhlich, Cooper was shown signed statements by several BFC men accusing him of anti-Nazi acts. A day later, he was formally charged by a SS prosecutor and sent to the LAH, working as a military policeman. Wilson, now in charge of recruiting, had no real intention of working hard to get new blood. Instead, he set about getting ex-BFC men who'd been kicked out, back into the fold, notably Pleasants. In this, Wilson was successful. In the winter of 1944 and 1945, several new BFC recruits arrived, and the BFC returned to its training, all the while trying to put up a front to the other soldiers who felt the BFC led a soft life. Pleasants even managed to woo the secretary who worked for Kuhlich, marrying her in February of 1945.

    Plans were afoot, however, to use the BFC in a last-ditch propaganda ploy. An attempt was made to form a rift between Iosef Stalin and the allied leadership, namely Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt. The main effort, called "Operation Koniggratz", attempted to sway British POWs being evacuated from the Polish stalags as the Soviets advanced. The plan was an abject failure and it was pondered how the BFC might be used to play a role in the effort, especially as they were training for combat on the Eastern Front. Again, this came to naught and the whole idea, which even included faking Communist acts within Germany, crumbled.

    The BFC, meanwhile, found its morale taking a nose dive once more, thanks in part to Wilson's lack of leadership and with Kuhlich almost always in Berlin. Still, recruits for the BFC arrived, near the close of 1944, including two South Africans. Of these five, three turned out to be genuinely anti-Communist, one of them being swayed by BFC literature, the other two having wanted to initially join the SS-"Totenkopf" division until they were talked into joining the BFC by Kuhlich. By January of 1945, the BFC was up to 27 men, three shy of the magic 30. But by this time, it was seen the whole BFC idea was a total and complete failure and many began to concoct ways to get out. Hugh Cowie, a Gordon Highlander from Scotland, was in the middle of several scandals, including the refusal to accept six Maoris into the BFC on the grounds it was a "white only" unit and having to deal with drunkards and AWOL BFC men, notably one man who kept sneaking away to be with his girl. With Wilson away, Cowie hatched a plan to use his temporary position to get access to travel documentation for him and five others, hop a train to the Eastern Front, and lay low somewhere and let the Soviets overtake them, using the pretext of going on a recruiting drive. Once on the train, all the men ( save one who didn't show ) removed their BFC insignia and it went downhill from there, the end result being all of them were picked up by the Gestapo. After harsh tongue lashings by their armed escort and Kuhlich, half of the escapees were sent off to isolation camps while the other three agreed to remain with the BFC. The major hammer fell when the allies bombed Dresden on February 12, 1945, killing some 40,000 people and some took advantage of it all to make an escape but one man, who thought he could confide in his Norwegian nurse girlfriend, found out otherwise and she informed the Gestapo of his plans and the entire BFC was arrested but not before two BFC men managed to sift into the POWs being sent west and were never to return to the BFC.

    This was the straw which broke the camel's back. After the BFC men were sprung from jail, it was time to make some use out of the unit. The BFC was taken to Berlin and barracked in a school on the Schonhauser Allee, to wait there until the required steps were taken to put them into the line. It was here that the last "volunteer" came forward, Frank Axon who was captured in Greece in 1941. Accused of hitting a cow which caused it to give birth to its calf too early, he could either join the BFC or be severely punished and so, he chose the BFC. With the prospects of combat looming for a lost cause, the BFC men sought ways out once more. Three men were provided British army uniforms by a sympathetic officer who sent them off to escape. Another man, who had a girlfriend with connections to the "Kurt Eggers" Regiment, managed to get transferred there while Pleasants went to the "Peace Camp", doing exhibition boxing bouts with Max Schmeling for the delight of German officers. On March 8, 1945, the remaining BFC men were brought before Kuhlich who gave each of them a choice: fight on the front or be sent to an isolation camp. All of them chose to fight. Wilson, in no hurry to go to battle, managed to get himself a slot as liaison between the BFC and the Berlin office of Kuhlich. This put Douglas Mardon in charge of the unit and in shaping up what he had, he was left with eight men in all ( two men he refused to take and Minchin had scabies ). Mardon had to move the unit to a training camp in Niemeck, to get a crash course in anti-tank, close-combat tactics. Here, the BFC men were given training in the use of the Panzerfaust and other tank killing methods. They were also issued the StG44 ( MP44 ) assault rifle and given training in its use. The unit strength was cut down to seven when one member smoked aspirin until he became ill, being able to get transferred out. With the hurried training done, the BFC was given two days leave before moving out to the front lines.

    On March 15, 1945, a truck was loaded up with the tiny BFC and it moved out to meet up with the headquarters of III. ( Germanisches ) SS-Panzer-Korps. During the ride, most members removed their BFC insignia. Upon arrival, the HQ staff was rather shocked at getting a British unit and so they put the BFC up in billets on the western edge of Stettin pending orders on what to do with them. While waiting, the BFC came under some brief Soviet mortar and artillery fire but no injuries were reported. However, the manpower was again reduced by one when one man came down with a severe case of gonorrhea and was sent away to a military hospital.

    On March 22, 1945, orders came in from the HQ that the BFC should move to the headquarters portion of the SS-"Nordland" division, located at Angermunde. From there, they would be placed with the divisional armored reconnaissance battalion ( 11.SS-Panzer-Aufklarungs-Abteilung ) which was stationed in Grussow. The commander there was Sturmbannfuhrer Rudolf Saalbach and when the BFC arrived, he gave them a quick welcome and assigned them to the 3rd. Company, commanded by the Swede Obersturmfuhrer Hano-Goesta Perrson. Perrson issued the BFC with a single Sd.Kfz.251 half-track and a "Schwimmwagen", giving them orders to prepare trench lines within the company's perimeter. The "Nordland" division was currently being held in reserve but the BFC, from their positions, could clearly see the Soviets. The BFC remained in the line for a month but the notion that they could be attacked by the Russians, failed to unify them and discord was rampant, so much so that Mardon was pressured into seeing if the BFC could be pulled out. During this time, Cooper was to return to the fold. After being told he was being transferred to the Germanic Panzer Corps, Cooper burned his SS papers and packed a suitcase with civilian clothing and went to the Corps HQ located in Steinhoffl on the Oder. He learned, to his surprise, that "ten [ Englishmen were ] somewhere near the front." He was then informed his presence was requested by Obergruppenfuhrer Felix Steiner and during this time, Steiner ordered Cooper to accompany him to the front to inspect the BFC troops. Cooper, on the ride there, informed Steiner about the BFC and that it was unwise to have them at the front, to which Steiner agreed, but more because Steiner was concerned about post-war legalities of his usage of such men on the front. After inspecting the BFC, Steiner gave a short speech and ordered that the BFC be used as medical orderlies. Cooper, after catching up on the news, spoke with Mardon and then the two of them approached Brigadefuhrer Ziegler at his Nordland headquarters. They gave Ziegler a rundown on the unit, pointing out that many were forced into joining the BFC and thus, were of dubious combat value, to which Ziegler agreed. Ziegler set in motion the process by sending Cooper and Mardon to Steiner and upon meeting with him, discussed the points they made to Ziegler. The upshot was that Steiner issued the orders to pull the BFC out of the line and utilize them as truck drivers in the rear lines.

    The next day, the BFC left the front lines and reported to the Corps headquarters and from there, they were issued with travel orders, rations, and were to go to Templin, to join the transport company of Steiner's headquarter staff. They arrived there on April 16, 1945. In the meantime, Wilson, who was supposed to be sending the BFC men their Red Cross parcels ( for all intensive purposes, the BFC were still classified as POWs and thus still got the parcels ), chose to horde them and ultimately, he deserted into Berlin on April 9, 1945. To calm the rumblings, Cooper and four BFC men rode into Berlin to try and locate the parcels on the 17th. and upon returning on the 19th., they found a Hauptsturmfuhrer, in full SS panzer uniform, sporting BFC insignia, waiting to take them back to the front.

    The tanker was Douglas Berneville-Claye who had a pension for embellishment, fraud and theft, and the ability to pass himself off as something he wasn't. Having been booted out of the RAF, he ended up as a commander with the SAS in the Middle East where he was branded as "useless" and "dangerous" by his comrades, to the point they'd refuse to conduct operations with him. He was captured in 1942 by DAK units and taken to an Italian POW camp, to which he claimed to have broken out of four times. He was then sent to Oflag 79 in Brunswick until removed from there for his own safety since the POWs saw him as, and correctly so, as a German informer. From the time of his removal to his appearance in Templin in March of 1945, no record is known. As he stood with the BFC, he launched into a speech saying he was a earl's son, a captain in the Coldstream Guards, and would collect two armored cars to take the BFC into battle with, even making the claim that the BFC would have no problems with the British authorities and that England was going to declare war on Russian in a few days. Cooper called Berneville-Claye's bluff and Berneville-Claye turned away, taking one of the BFC men with him as a driver, and drove away ( Berneville-Claye eventually changed into a full SAS uniform while the driver took up farmers clothing and they turned themselves in ). "Bob" Rossler remained with the Nordland division when it went into battle in Berlin, fighting alongside the Volkssturm, Hitlerjugend, and all the other mixed bag units which remained to fight it out.

    The BFC, however, remained true to their orders, following Steiner's headquarter unit to Neustrelitz. They drove trucks, directed traffic, and assisted the evacuations of civilians from the Neustrelitz and Reinershagen area until, on April 29, 1945, Steiner ordered his forces to break contact with the Russians and make for the western combat lines to surrender to the US and British. From this point on, the BFC men sought ways to get to the western lines and avoid capture by the Soviets. Those who fell into or were turned over to the British, among other British traitors, stood trial. Amery was hung, Cooper went to jail ( being released in 1953 ), Britten got ten years ( reduced to two months when he was released for medical reasons ), Wilson got ten years, Freeman got ten years, and other members got from 15 years to even no punishment at all.

    And so ended the British Free Corps service to Germany.

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    The british who fought for hitler


    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.”


    ------------------------



    europeansworldwide.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/the-british-who-fought-for-hitler/
    THE BRITISH WHO FOUGHT FOR HITLER | THE ETHNIC-EUROPEAN
    europeansworldwide.wordpress.com
    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…




    09 Jun 2019.

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    That these volunteers were found guilty of treason despite never having taken up arms against their fellow countrymen is surely a travesty of justice.
    The same fate befell members of the Charlemagne Division. They only fought against the Bosheviks on the Eastern Front, rather than their French compatriots, but this did them no good because many of the (rare) survivors were executed after the war.

    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.
    Now this is interesting. Although I greatly admire John Amery, his claim to have fought in the Spanish Civil War is disputed and it was determined in 1945 that he was not a Spanish citizen. Had he been, he could not have been hanged for treason in Britain, but was there a deal done with Franco's government? Who knows after all this time? I certainly don't take the 'official' version as gospel by any means.

    As for his father Leo, he was a Zionist Jew and - according to a lot of sources I've read - it was he who wrote the final draft of the Balfour Declaration!

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    Edward VIII



    Edward Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was born in Richmond, Surrey, on 23rd June, 1894. Edward was the great-grandson of Queen Victoria and his father was George V, who became king of the United Kingdom in 1910. As the king's eldest son, Edward therefore became heir to the throne.



    His biographer, Colin Matthew, has pointed out: "The future king was given the forenames Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, the innovatory use of the four patron saints being intended to emphasize the representative character of the monarchy. Within the family he was always known as David.... David grew up in a middle-brow context—not deliberately hostile to culture, but also not sensitive to it. He was an intelligent child, with something of his father's prodigious memory and an innate, wide-ranging curiosity which his parents failed to harness. He was bullied by his nanny and, as the eldest child, was the first target of his father's often violently expressed wrath. He himself, in his later autobiographical volumes, stated that he felt unloved, and he never seems to have wished for children of his own."



    Paul Foot has argued: "The Prince was proud of his German origins, spoke German fluently, and felt an emotional, racial and intellectual solidarity with the Nazi leaders... Such sympathies were of course common, at least for a while, in London society, but when others began to waver, the Prince of Wales remained steadfast. He asked the Germans to fix up a special dinner for him at the German Embassy, as a special mark of his solidarity with their government. The Germans, on instructions from Berlin, invited Mrs Simpson, who was then his paramour." Robert Bruce-Lockhart has reported the conversation that took place between Prince of Wales and the grandson of the former Kaiser, Prince Louis-Ferdinand: "The Prince of Wales was quite pro-Hitler and said it was no business of ours to interfere in Germany’s internal affairs either re Jews or anything else, and added that the dictators are very popular these days, and that we might want one in England before long."


    George Vdied on 20th January, 1936. Edward now became king and his relationship with Wallis Simpson was now being reported in the foreign press. The government instructed the British press not to refer to the relationship. Wallis divorced Ernest Simpson in 1936. He told his friends that he believed the new king wished to marry his wife. The prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, urged the king to consider the constitutional problems of marrying a divorced woman. Although the king received the political support from Winston Churchill and Lord Beaverbrook, he was aware that his decision to marry Wallis Simpson would be unpopular with the British public. Cosmo Gordon Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury also made it clear he was strongly opposed to the king's relationship. Ribbentrop described him as "a kind of English national socialist".


    King Edward VIII did receive support from Oswald Mosley. He attacked those criticised his relationship with Mrs. Simpson: "He who insults the British Crown thus insults the history and achievements of the British race... The King has been loyal and true to him." Mosley went on to state that “the king deserved, after many years' faithful service as Prince of Wales, the right to live in private happiness with the woman he loved."


    On 10th December, 1936, the king signed a document that stated he he had renounced "the throne for myself and my descendants." The following day he made a radio broadcast where he told the nation that he had abdicated because he found he could not "discharge the duties of king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." On the night of his abdication, 500 Blackshirts shouting support and giving the Fascist salute gathered outside Buckingham Palace chanting, "We Want Edward". The following day, Oswald Mosley demanded the question of the abdication be put to the British people in a referendum.



    Edward moved to Austria and stayed with friends until Wallis Simpson obtained her divorce from her former husband. On 3rd June, 1937, the couple were married at the Château de Candé in France, owned by Charles Eugene Bedaux. The new king, his younger brother, George VI, granted him the title, the Duke of Windsor. However, under pressure from the British government, the king refused to extend to the new duchess of Windsor the rank of "royal highness".


    In October 1937 the couple decided to visit Nazi Germany. It was billed as a study trip to look at the country's social institutions. But behind this there was another agenda. After the humiliating treatment his wife had received from the British, the duke wanted to show her a country that would extend her a truly royal welcome. The men in power in Berlin expected that in the not too distant future the former king of England would return to the throne under their patronage.


    The couple were the official guests of Robert Ley, the head of the German Labour Front. They also met Joseph Goebbels, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Hermann Goering. Goebbels recorded in his diary that he found the Duke of Windsor was a "nice, friendly young man, clearly equipped with sound common sense" and became "really fond of him". He added: "His wife is unassuming, but distinguished and elegant; though without any side, a real lady." On 22nd October, the Windsors visited Adolf Hitler in his mountain-top retreat, the Berghof.




    Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson meet Adolf Hitler in October 1937.



    The Duke of Windsor later recalled: "Hitler was then at the zenith of his power. His eyes were piercing and magnetic. I believed him when he said that he sought no war with England... I thought that the rest of us could be fence sitters while the Nazis and the Reds slogged it out." As the couple left the Berghof, Hitler gave them a formal Nazi salute, and the duke in turn extended his arm to salute the Führer."


    Oswald Mosley and his wife took up residence in France, only a few miles from the Windsors' home and all four became close companions, dining together twice a week. As Charles Higham, the author of Mrs Simpson: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor (1988): "They became very close to Sir Oswald and Lady Mosley, who lived at the Temple de la Gloire, only a few miles from the Mill... It was unwise for the Windsors to associate with the Mosleys at this particular juncture. The Mosleys not only were persona non grata in London but were not to be received by British diplomatic representatives in Europe. One would have thought that, in the wake of all they had been through, the Windsors would have wished to associate only with those who were apolitical, or who by no stretch of the imagination could recall the disastrous commitment to a vanquished and deceased Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. Instead, they chose to enjoy a public friendship with the man most clearly associated with Nazism in the minds of thinking Britons."



    Diana Mosley
    later recalled: "The Windsors agreed with me, and the Duchess was certainly politically sophisticated and knew exactly what she was doing and saying, that World War I had been a total failure, that it was a disaster the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been broken up, that the Versailles Treaty was grossly unfair, and that Germany should never have been encircled in the i930s. If Hitler had been given a free hand to destroy Communism, and if he had been allowed to deport the Jews, if Britain and America had accepted them, there would have been no need for a purge. There was of course no room in Palestine for them. Hitler felt the Jews behaved abominably in Germany after World War I, and all he wanted to do was be rid of them. And one mustn't forget that anti-Semitism was endemic everywhere in Central Europe: the Poles hated them, the Czechs hated them, everyone did. Of course, my husband and the Windsors and I felt that we could not exonerate Hitler for being impatient and provoking World War II. With two egos like Churchill and Hitler, there was little chance for peace in the world. But still, if the right people had been in power in England, particularly Lloyd George, there could have been a negotiated peace."



    Edward VIII | Spartacus Educational10 Jun 2019.


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