The first British fighting soldiers in Paris since the occupation 27th August

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hello all,

    Slightly "fun fact"...

    There's a nice anecdote about a "reconnaissance" by a small group of B squadron SRY (in a jeep) led by Michael Gold being "the first British fighting soldiers in Paris since the occupation (on 27th August 1944)...

    An Englishman at War: The Wartime Diaries of Stanley Christopherson DSO MC & Bar 1939-1945 "An Englishman at War" - the Wartime Diaries of Sanley Christopherson (ed. by James Holland) -

    As this "trip" was not apparently "officially sanctioned" it sadly doesn't seem to get a mention or any fanfare in the SRY WD though


    Sqn Ldrs Conference at R.H.Q. Regt at 24 hrs notice to move, but orders were received at 1230 to move at 1315 – to an unknown destination by a then unknown route. We eventually moved 65 miles and arrived at the Seine at VERNON at 2015. We got a tremendous reception from the inhabitants of all the places through which we passed. C.O. met Cmdr 43 Inf Div at 2200hrs . The plan has now been altered slightly and the whole of 8 Armd Bde Grp is u/c 43 div. We support 214 Bde and 4/7 D.G. 130 Bde – back these Bdes having established bridgeheads over the SEINE at VERNON when Sappers have constructed bridges.

    But then they don't deign to mention Paris (liberation etc.) in the SRY WD at all, as they were actually "racing" by it at the time.

    Does anyone know of any other British units that officially/unofficially also "claim/claimed" to have "got there" first??? especially since "Paris fell" on the 25th...

    All the best,

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
    Dave55 likes this.
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Lord Carrington, MC, 2nd Armoured Battalion Grenadier Guards was there in August, on 48hr leave, no specific date given in his IWM interview

    General Sir David Fraser also mentions the trip in his book Wars and Shadows, pgs 215-19.
    The group included himself, Carrington, Teddy Denny and Neville Berry. As they drove into Paris, they learned that Leclerc's FF armd div "were parked under the trees of the Champs-Elysees." When they arrived at the Ritz Fraser states that they met Richard Powell, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards who had a rifle slung over his shoulder. He had escaped the Germans after having been taken POW in Normandy (missing 4/8/1944 according to War Diary) and had managed to evade recapture with the help of the Maquis.

    From 1WG war diary:
    Ramiles likes this.
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks dbf,

    That's fascinating. The "Englishman at War" text on p430 says that Major Michael Gold saw a sign to Paris whilst on his recognisance and decided on a whim to give it a go and see what might be there. Apparently he drove straight to the Ritz, outside of which was a brewed up Tiger tank and was then "mobbed" by a crowd of hysterical Frenchmen. Apparently they were then led into the hotel and plied with champagne for the rest of that day and night, finally tearing themselves away in the early hours of the morning in order to return from his "recce" to his squadron area.

    Given that 'the Grenadier Guards - might actually have nearly seen the German Army Generals going out the back door as they drove up and booked in'...

    I'd assume that they were there prior to the SRY.

    Perhaps though since the Guards were "officially" on leave (i.e. and not "fighting") and "Gold" was in theory at least officially on a "recce"

    "the first British fighting soldiers in Paris since the occupation"

    Was a bit of "apt" or clever phrasing on his part? Especially if - as I guess there was a chance - he met the Guards and heard that they were there on leave?

    Quite intriguing... especially since Paris is such a big place (i.e. that they both went straight to the Ritz!) and that there most probably (perhaps?) were some other British troops / official British representatives operating in the general area or even on leave there abouts. Between the 25th and the 27th. I'm assuming also that there was some British army liaison on secondment with the free French and US army etc. during some part of the liberation... Or else they really were told that Paris was "off-limits" to the British army in some sense. So that De Gaulle etal. could effect its liberation with the free French.

    Paris liberation 'myth' erases Allies

    All very complex (naturally!)

    All the best,

  4. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    One of my uncles was serving with the RAMC in France in 1944. Part of his section visited Paris the same day as De Gaulle arrived (26 August). The rest of the section visited the following day (see link below).

    The BBC news had erroneously reported that Paris had been liberated on 22 August 1944. Because it was given out on the BBC many people actually believed it! What actually happened was that an American war correspondent, Charles Collingwood, was anticipating the liberation and did not want to miss filing such an important report back to London at the time it happened. So he made a recording on what was then an experimental tape recorder and sent this back so it was ready to broadcast when it did happen.When the report arrived in London, nobody checked to verify the report and so it was read out. It is a commonly known story of the time and is mentioned in the definitive account of the liberation of Paris, "Is Paris Burning?" by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    some photos of British troops in Paris 26th August on this thread.

    Paris 1940 & 1944
    Ramiles likes this.
  6. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Great thread Owen,

    And many thanks for the link.

    I think I'll try to dig out some pics of Michael Gold but I don't know if his "recce" included taking snap shots of all the "action" in Paris! to take back to the SRY.

  7. karlmcd

    karlmcd Junior Member

    Ramiles.....did you ever come across a picture of Michael Gold?
  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Michael Gold...



    "Brother's in Arms" - James Holland p237...

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2022
  10. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Turn the page

    Not unlike the Liberation of Rome but on an altogether larger scale. More Very Senior Officers in Very Senior Regiments vying for glory, having seemingly been officially held back for political purposes.
    Pity Alan Whicker wasn't there to welcome De Gaulle or whoever, then tell us what actually happened, in Report, Photo and Film. Hew was obviously too busy elsewhere!
  11. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY


    A70 135-1 - Description : A wildly-excited crowd of people greets a small team of British AFPU cameramen sent to cover the liberation of Paris as they arrive near the centre of the city.

    Production date : 1944-08-26

    Notes: Note: See with A70 136-1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, 137-1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 140-9 for footage taken during the liberation of Paris. Remarks: A brief insight into the mad-house atmosphere in Paris in the wake of its liberation by the Allies. Documentation/associated material: for a journalistic account of the events that led up to the liberation of Paris and the fighting in the city, read 'Is Paris Burning?' by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. See also the film 'Journal de la Resistance' based on film footage taken by the FFI.

    ---- x ----- x ----


    Production date : 1944-08-23
    Collins (Sergeant) (Production individual) : ARMY FILM UNIT CAMERAMEN IN B.L.A.

    A70 135-2 - Description: Units of General Leclerc's 2nd French Armoured Division are seen outside Chartres during a pause in their eastwards advance. A team of British AFPU cameramen is enthusiastically greeted by the people of Chartres. Half-tracks and jeeps belonging to Leclerc's division wind their way through the city past crowds of cheering inhabitants held back on the pavements by French troops acting as crowd controllers. A Guard of Honour from the French armoured division and members of the local FFI hold a brief ceremony in honour of the Resistance movement's dead and departed members. A 19 year-old armed with a captured MP 40 talks to a fellow FFI volunteer. Flanked by two of his ministers, Andre Le Troquer and Michel Debre, and local Resistance chiefs and police, General de Gaulle marches through Chartres, acknowledging the applause of its inhabitants. Arriving at the Préfecture, he pays his respects to a party of war-veterans before he goes inside with a group of local officials.


    Last edited: Oct 27, 2022

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