POW Atrocity - No 51 Squadron Crew - Dreierwalde Airfield - March 1945

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Tullybrone, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    I just came across the attached documents in the Welsh Guards POW Liberation Questionnaires collection posted by Diane (dbf) in her photo gallery.

    A very disturbing tale - but not unusual in 1945.

    Berick was the only survivor of the atrocity his crew mates perished -

    PO Paradise
    PO Greenwood
    F/Sgt Armstrong
    Sgt Gunn

    I haven't done any further research on the documents.

    Steve Y

    Attached Files:

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  2. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2017
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  3. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Hi Steve,

    The service files of P/O 424584 Bruce Frederick Greenwood is online at the NAA https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/Sea...eports/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=1069388&isAv=N

    This is a rather grim case which is covered extensively in Oliver Clutton-Brock's "Footprints on the Sands of Time".

    What is particularly grating is that F/O Berick was more than happy to return to the UK/Germany to give evidence at the trials of the guilty but neither the RAAF or RAF would pay his way.
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  4. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the heads up. I'll have a look at his papers.

    Thanks for the PM. Enjoy the weekend celebrations.

  5. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    That would be F/O Jack Paradise's crew of No 51 Squadron, Halifax MX 348 out of RAF Snaith, still remembered by those who knew them on the squadron and who have regular Squadron Association meetings

    The reason why F/S Les Hart survived was that he was taken to hospital with injuries sustained in his jump and I would think that Sgt Val Hood (initial appears to be V not W) also was subject to injury since it is recorded that he landed on a roof and rolled to the ground on to snow.

    The group of five were shot while they were being prepared to be transported to Oberursel en route for a POW Camp.Their's was bad luck as they had landed near to the Luftwaffe airfield (JG 27 Fighter Unit) at Dreierwalde airfield which had just been bombed and 40 workers had been killed.

    The perpetrator was Oberfeldwebel Karl Ambeger who was a senior NCO of a Junior NCO's training unit on the airfield and who volunteered as escort for the prisoners along with two of his men.Surprisingly he was ex aircrew who had been shot down during the Battle of Britain and repatriated as being medically unfit and unfit for flying.It appears that there were other cases of captured airmen being shot by Germans from Dreierwalde. Through F/O Berwick's evidence Ambeger was hanged at Hamelin Prison Hanover on 16 May 1946......one of many war criminals executed at Hamelin.

    (As extracted from Snaith Days.Life with No 51 Squadron 1942-1945)....will fully post the coverage of this incident later. F/O Berwick was able to run for it after hearing Schmeissers being cocked,then looking round but sustained two wounds in the left thigh.Hunted by dogs and vehicles,he was on the run until 1 April when he gave himself up and was treated as a POW... I think Ambeger might be Amberger which seems to be more German than Ambeger

    Jack Paradise and his crew are remembered by a plaque in the RAF Snath (Pollington) Memorial Garden which as far as I can see is on the site of the wartime temporary hutting of the Station HQ.

    As for Les Hart he told his story in the Castleford and Pontefract Express almost 30 years ago...an interesting story...he was an underground worker at Wheldale Colliery when he volunteered for the RAF.His posting to Pollington (RAF Snaith) on No 51 Squadron was within 10 miles of his home.

    He relates that he knew nothing of the murder of his crew until he was liberated from a POW Camp as at the time he was in a German hospital receiving treatment for his injury on landing by parachute...it probably saved his life.
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  6. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Thanks for the additional info Harry.

    The account from Diane's gallery by FO Berick is very detailed and harrowing to read.

    The Australian Archive link to PO Greenwoods papers - provided by Dave - does contain some JAG papers reporting that 7 men were charged with these murders - the escort party plus officers on the airfield who - whilst not present - give "tacit" agreement for a series of executions of captured allied airmen in late March 1945.

    The JAG papers state all were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging - subject to confirmation by higher authorities - but there is no update that the death sentence was confirmed. Do your sources confirm that all 7 sentences were confirmed and carried out?

    Steve Y
  7. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member


    I think I cannot add to it without seeing the official papers but as all such cases others involved probably had their sentences commuted to prison sentences.In many cases these were not fully served as with many other significant war criminals.This was was the era when relationships with the Russians started to deteriorate and there were many instances of war criminals being released early.
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

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  9. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Thanks Harry.

    A very interesting link. I see it also includes details of executions of persons responsible for murdering Great Escape participants..

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  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Albert Pierrepont was the man who dispatched the lot....saw a report where it was claimed that he was more proficient in executing than the US hangmen in that he weighed the condemned to ascertain the drop and avoiding strangulation.

    The article certainly contains many cases with well known backgrounds.

    While these executions were carried out in the privacy of Hamlin prison,quite a number of executions of Germans in Poland and the Baltic countries were carried out in public.
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  11. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

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  12. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    berick affadavit a.jpg berick affadavit b.jpg berick affadavit c.jpg berick affadavit d.jpg

    Keith Berick's affadavit dated 20 August 1945.

    keith berick.png

    Berick standing at the spot where the atrocity took place.

    greenwood crew german grave.png

    Original grave of the four murdered airmen.
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  13. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    From the photograph of the common grave...perhaps the grave was not in the R.C. Cemetery at Dreierwalde but elsewhere.The murdered then were buried as "unknown English aircrew" who died on the 21st rather than the 22nd in order to conceal the murderous deed.

    Per Ardua ad Astra
  14. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    All of the accused were sentenced to death by being hanged.
    The sentence on Karl Rauer ( formerly Major) was commuted to one of life imprisonment, and the other sentences confirmed.

    All the accused were defended by Allied lawyers. There are a number of files at Kew which appear to relate to the case: TS/26/626, WP309/1499, WO309/1500, WO311/251, WO309/1846, WO 309/1624, plus the trial proceedings are in WO235. I have not seen any of the files. The case made it into the United Nations War Crimes Law Reports because of the issues raised concerning command responsibility.

    It is an early minor war crimes case ( February 1946 ) , with a King's Counsel present as Judge Advocate General.
  15. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Thanks to everyone for their contributions to this topic over the past 24 hours.

    As a result of the original papers and links posted by various members I am certainly far better informed on this ghastly atrocity.

    Steve Y
  16. jimbop

    jimbop Banned

    wow, albert sure was a busy boy at hamlin. dropping them 2 at a time!
  17. Kauko

    Kauko New Member

    Two at a time was routine at Hameln. And although it did not happen quite as often, it was still allowed in UK prisons to hang two culprits in a double execution.
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