LE PARADIS MASSACRE: confirmation required

Discussion in '1940' started by Greg Bloomfield, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. Greg Bloomfield

    Greg Bloomfield Junior Member

    Hi Fellas

    My first post on this Forum as I've only just stumbled over it!

    I'm researching my village war dead and have drawn a blank on 5770286 Cpl Horatio Pretty, 2 Royal Norfolk. He was killed between 10th May and 2nd October 1940. The massacre occured on 27th May and he is buried in Le Paradis War Cemetery as are all the victims of that atrocity. However I beleive that there are a few others also buried there from other actions and was wondering if anybody has a comprehensive list of the victims so I can have a final confirmation as to whether he was involved or not.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Greg
     
  2. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Greg, welcome aboard!

    I believe there are some sites that specialize in the Le Paradis incident. Also, try the Royal Norfolks reunion group and the Army Museum.

    Thanks for your interest in us. Do tell us about yourself!
     
  3. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Welcome Greg and good luck with your quest.
     
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Ayup,
    Knoechlein was tried In Germany in 1948, is it possible that the trial documents could be obtained (if you haven't already that is!) A great deal of trial material seems to have been collected by American Universities, they could be a good place to start asking without having to learn German! Whether the Documents survive or the victims are named is another thing.
    Good luck,
    Adam
     
  5. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Welcome aboard and i hope you the information you are seeking
     
  6. Greg Bloomfield

    Greg Bloomfield Junior Member

    Thanks for the welcome lads

    I do know a fair bit of the incident and the beat up to it and also the movement of the battalion and its part in the withdrawal. I just can't seem to get any final confirmation that my lad was indeed one of the victims or was killed in a different action that occured locally and was buried in the cemetery. Kiwi, do you have any web addresses for those suggested sites? I work abroad for long periods and am unable to phone or write to them from here, everything has to be done by email, and I'm not too good at it!

    Greg
     
  7. Herroberst

    Herroberst Senior Member

    Cheers to the Basil Fawlty look alike from the Michael Palin wannabe:lol:
     
  8. Arthur

    Arthur Senior Member

  9. Greg Bloomfield

    Greg Bloomfield Junior Member

    Arthur

    I've been on the site before. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, it doesn't have a roll of honour of those victims. I've even tried to email Mr Raybould a few times but have never received an answer. I find it hard to believe that such a roll does not exist somewhere. But thanks anyway.

    Greg
     
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    That site seems to be the 'official' one on the Massacre, after hours hunting about on the internet I too am amazed that there isn't any sort of roll of honour specifically related to Le Paradis, so many other 'incidents' are very well covered, it's either 'fog of war' or noone has collated the information yet (surprising), Have you got any of the books listed 'cos a few seem to have involved survivors who may be more likely to mention names. Make sure you tell us if you do confirm a list of victims.
    cheers,
     
  11. Arthur

    Arthur Senior Member

    Hi Greg,
    Just as an after thought. Try getting in touch with the Royal Norfolk Regt's Museum in Norwich and see if they can throw any further light onto the subject.

    Regards
    Arthur
     
  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Hi Fellas

    My first post on this Forum as I've only just stumbled over it!

    I'm researching my village war dead and have drawn a blank on 5770286 Cpl Horatio Pretty, 2 Royal Norfolk. He was killed between 10th May and 2nd October 1940. The massacre occured on 27th May and he is buried in Le Paradis War Cemetery as are all the victims of that atrocity. However I beleive that there are a few others also buried there from other actions and was wondering if anybody has a comprehensive list of the victims so I can have a final confirmation as to whether he was involved or not.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Greg

    Greg

    Cpl Pretty is most likely to have been lost in action on 10 May 1940 which was the date of the start of the Blitzkrieg Wehrmacht assault in the West which saw the fall of France within a matter of 6 weeks.

    Cpl Pretty would have been posted missing on this date but his body was not found until 2 October 1940 when he would be notifed as being found by the German authorities to the British Government via the Protecting Power,namely Switzerland or via the International Red Cross.Hence it was impossible to determine the exact date of death but it was assumed by the Britsh authorities that he had died between the two dates given and this period is recorded on his grave by the CWGC as the period in which death took place.

    There are a number of casualties from the German opening offense on 10 May 1940 buried at Le Paradis.Others are the dead from the engagements prior to the surrender on 27 May 1940 and the subsequent murder of those who surrendered.

    Buried also in Le Paradis churchyard is a four man crew of a RAF No 44 Squadron Hampden operating out of Waddington which was lost on 12 June 1940.Its operation was to bomb the battle field area at night in the vicinity of Le Paradis but crashed near to the village.(I would say that at the time we did not possess a day ground attack aircraft to take on the air element of the Blitzkrieg)

    Regarding the events of 27 May 1940,there were two survivors, who although terribily wounded during the cold blooded execution of their fellow comrades were able to feint death and were hidden by the local French farming family on whose land the murders took place until they were able to surrender to non SS troops.Both gave evidence at Hamburg against Knoechlein in 1948.Surprisingly,Private Reg Pooley,one of the two was repatriated in 1943 due to the extreme seriousness of his wounds.He reported the atrocity to the British authorities on his return to Britain but was not believed.It was not until post war when the likes of Col Scotland of the "London Cage" were looking into war crimes was the hunt for Knoechlein mounted and he was found to have survived the war.

    Reg Pooley gave an account of his ordeal with his own publication entitled,"The Revenge of Private Pooley".The publication,however is hard to find and at the time of publication,Reg Pooley lived near Norwich.It might be that in the publication there is a list of those who were murdered from the two units on that day.
     
  13. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    Greg,
    If you PM Chris Basey on the forum he may be able to help as he has access to the Royal Norfolk's Regtl. museum, though not this week.
    Lionboxer
     
  14. Greg Bloomfield

    Greg Bloomfield Junior Member

    Harry

    Thanks for your reply, makes perfect sense. The battalion were at Orchies, not too far from Le Paradis on the 10th and that location was bombed on that day. The Norfolks moved out that night into Belgium before taking an almost exact route back to LP. It is entirely possible that our lad could have been an early casualty.
    Lionboxer, haven't we met in an earlier war? I'll certainly give Chris an email later, probably next weekend. Thanks for the steer mate.

    Regards

    Greg
     
  15. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The SS claimed that the British were using "dum dum" bullets and that under the rules of war their actions were justified.
    I have heard that the SS carried out an "investigation" ointo the shootings - has anoyone heard of it , whoc arried it out , to what stnadard and what the conclusions were ?

    I have to be a "Doubting Thomas" about the use of "dum dum" bullets and the nature of an SS investigation.

    Would anyone have any info on this ?

    File refernce number *BAMA, III SS, 42/1 KTB No.1 page 25-26 and 46/1 KTB No. 2 pp 10-11 ( Linked to text on page 112 of Syndors "Soldiers of Destruction" which notes that Hoepner was obliged to award Eicke an EK1 for his service in France and how the Army had attempted to block all awards to Totenkopf pending a review of Le Paradis - a review which it seems they never got - it would seem that the Army did not read it as having been a reasonable course of action.
    * Bundesacrchiv-Militarchiv, Freiburg im Bresiga

    If found this in Sydnors "Soldiers of Destruction" , the more recent "Like a Cliff in the Ocean -The History of the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf" (Karl Ulrich) deals with the incident in a very complete and full manner - it is completely ignored as if it never happened.
    (No claim - No blame!)


    Thanks in advance.
    js
     
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    James from Wiki:

    On the day after the massacre, 28 May, Gunter d'Alquen, a journalist in the Waffen-SS, arrived at the scene with Dr Thum, the SS-Totenkopf deputy legal advisor. d'Alquen made a report of what he saw:
    It was possible to look into the back yard from the road...the corpses in British uniform were lying in the yard near the buildings. They were lying in such a position that one can assume they were killed by machine-gun bursts. It struck me at once that the dead soldiers were not wearing helmets, nor did they have any equipment on them...I took pictures of the dead bodies, and the whole farm. At Thum's request these were to be placed at the disposal of the division...I believe I was already sitting there in the vehicle when Thum...told me that in the field which he had returned the equipment...the shot British soldiers were lying in a heap, from which he had come to the conclusion that a summary trial had taken place.

    Major Friedkerr von Riedner, who was also at the scene of the massacre on that day, reported that

    "These people had almost all suffered head wounds from shots that must have been fired at close range. Some had their whole skull smashed in, an injury that can almost only be caused by a blow from a gun butt or similar means."


    News of the massacre spread to neighbouring German divisions, eventually reaching General Hoepner, commander of the German forces in France. He disliked the SS, especially Eicke, and was determined to have him dismissed if charges of mistreatment or murdering of prisoners could be brought. However none of these investigations were ever successful, possibly because Knöchlein stated that the British had been using dumdum bullets, thus violating the Hague Convention of 1899. Regardless, many SS officers were appalled by the massacre; some reportedly challenged Knöchlein to a duel, although none was ever fought.

    I doubt the last part is true.

    Cheers
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Greg,

    I believe your man is in the TA. He has a TD (which is a TA award). I reckon you can contact him via the RHQ, Britannia House, TA Centre, 325 Aylsham Rd, Norwich, NR3 2AB, Tel 01603 400290.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  18. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    There was considerable bad feeling from the Army on the issue - Hoepner demanded and inquiry and demanded that awards due to members of the SS be withheld.

    ATB's book onthe fall of France gives coverage of the disquiet in Army circles as does Synodrs Soldiers of Destruction.

    Does anyone know of any internal enquiries made by the SS themselves ?
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    James,

    It does seem as though there was some form of a SS inquiry as these two chaps Gunter d'Alquen, a journalist in the Waffen-SS, arrived at the scene with Dr Thum, the SS-Totenkopf deputy legal advisor
    appear to have submitted a report.

    Cheers
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It appears the SS unit refused to take the surrender of some 200 non white French Moroccan troops and shot them too around the same time.

    A bit more info here: Le Paradis Massacre and some from The Waffen SS by George H. Stein

    Cheers
     

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