The Savagery of WAR

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by sapper, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    And *I can also say. Had we nicked private house items ?The army would come down on us like a ton of bricks. Each place we captured was handed back immediately to the local people. We kept control of nothing that was not essential at the time . Then we moved on and control reverted to the local population.

    There seems to be a lot of files at the National Archives that would disagree with you about looting. Here's a few that are taken from the North West European Campaign that you fought in. I bolded some of the more interesting ones.

    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: General
    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: Control of looting in Germany
    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: Conditions in the Third Military Region
    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: Summary of relations of army personnel with civilians
    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: German-speaking French citizens
    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: Desecration of sacred property
    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: Relations between American Military Authorities
    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: Investigation of alleged looting in vicinity of Nijmegen, Netherlands
    Looting by Troops and Relations with Civilian Population: Individual cases

    I'm bowing out now and leave you all to it. I'm obviously wasting my time.

  2. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member


    Off the rails is a good description.
    Sapper's orginal thread was describing the events after a heated battle with the enemy.
    Andy turns it in to war crime.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  3. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Looting by etc etc

    But that's exactly the point, Andrew. It did happen and was disapproved by authorities, that's why it had to be reported. If the matter would be unworthy of attention then a) nothing of the sort happened - hardly likely; or b) it was not deemed to be criminal behaviour therefore no reason for concern.
  4. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    For us it was beneath our dignity to take anything. Why in heavens name would you want to take anything from these people? They were our allies..... Lord knows they had enough to put up with . Their homes and villages razed to the ground..... Who would want to take anything from the poor devils?

    Obviously there are exceptions. But for the average soldier. Who would want to load themselves up with household stuff, Its ridiculous. Now if you talk about trying to get hold of fancy Nazi Dagger or a decent automatic? Sure.... I would have liked to have a Smeizer (Never could spell that) light MC gun, and I had one. Trouble was the sound was so distinctive that using it would bring a burst of Bren fire in your direction.

    What puzzles me is the constant search for facts to call our troops into disrepute. WHY? Me? Oh I Am always looking to reveal the courage and bravery of our men. For those I served with were the very best. Great friends and comrades in arms.

    What happens is that these postings are giving an impression that all army men were robbers and thieves It Just is not so. Saints we were not, but civilian looters NO
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  6. WhiskeyGolf

    WhiskeyGolf Senior Member

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
  7. La-de-da-Gunner Graham

    La-de-da-Gunner Graham Senior Member

    What happens is that these postings are giving an impression that all army men were robbers and thieves It Just is not so. Saints we were not, but civilian looters NO

    Seems that Kipling would agree with you, Brian.

    "We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;"

  8. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    What puzzles me is the constant search for facts to call our troops into disrepute. WHY? Me?

    What happens is that these postings are giving an impression that all army men were robbers and thieves It Just is not so. Saints we were not, but civilian looters NO
    Brian what puzzles me is that when anyone mentions something which may throw a negative light on the British Army you come out with statements like that - no -one is trying to say that the British Army behaved abysmally but they werent saints. we're not trying to besmirch the memory of your comrades BUT you know what its no Bad thing that issues are brought to light. If Germans prisoners were shot by the British or indeed the Americans it doesnt mean that they are comparable to the SS or Wehrmacht, but the incidents may have still happened and crying that there is a "constant search for facts to call our troops into disrepute" doesnt do anyone any good. There's nothing wrong in calling a spade a spade.
    I'm not trying to twist history, I'm not into perpetrating lies and I have no agenda. I can admit to wrongdoings by my country and I can fully accept that individuals from my country were both heroes and villains. But can you?
    Heimbrent likes this.
  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    What puzzles me is that the people who bring the British forces into disrepute are apparently those who acknowledge (not "constantly search for") some wrong-doings but amazingly, not the perpetrators. The people I know who acknowledge such things include veterans too.

    No one here said "all army men were robbers..." Sapper, surely no need to exaggerate esp when Drew who has responded on this thread, has posted so many excellent threads highlighting massacres, as well you know. I am perfectly willing to believe you saw nothing of the sort, ever, except that thing about the wounded man, and looting the odd pistol. I think I'd be less likely to comment at all if you simply said "I" and not "We" - or at least qualified if we means you and the mates you talked to about this particular issue. You don't say the same things eg my father does in these respects, not at all, and he couldn't be prouder of the men he served with. (By the way, just to clarify as you seem to think we are, neither my Dad, nor I, are of Irish nationality.)

    Brian I hope you are getting the debate you said you wanted but you could please perhaps engage a little more with those who have taken the time to politely make counter points? I am not even sure who you are directing the above highlighted accusations towards. I've read just about all you have said already on the subject here on the forum, but to my mind you haven't really accepted that the experiences of other veterans could in any way be different from yours. Would you please clarify that for me, as it'd certainly settle my mind?
    Rich Payne and Heimbrent like this.
  10. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Nearby were three infantry men. All of a sudden, one of them leaped to his feet screaming and got hold of the Germans scarf and throttled him with it. While his two mate tried to pull him off. I do not know if the German died or not.

    The point of Brian's first post was to describe the emotions of intense close quarter fighting, day after day. This brief anecdote, to which Brian added the context of the battle exhausted perpetrator, was meant to paint a picture for us non-veterans of the conditions they fought in.
    In this case, we don't know if the man died or if, in fact, he was even injured.
    From that, the thread degenerated into a "discussion" of Allied atrocities. I won't begin to speak for Brian. He is clearly quite articulate and highly capable of communicating his own thoughts. But, in his shoes, I would not be anxious to 'engage' with those who distort the intent of the message to advance their own obvious agendas.
    I appreciate those detailed description of events from our veterans which paint vivid images of the circumstances. Far more valuable than rampant speculation long after the fact.
    WhiskeyGolf likes this.
  11. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

    Well stated.

    I am looking at a paragraph written from " And No Birds Sang " written by a Canadian, Farley Mowat. Mowat, a DDay Dodger, was a lieutenant with the Hastings and Prince Regiment. The following is a passage in which describes how his Captain completely lost it. I think Sapper's original post describes one of his mates that 'lost it'.

    " Alex had sent what was left of Seven Platoon to launch the initial attack, and Seven had almost immediately been caught by enfilading fire from three machine guns, with the loss of several killed and wounded. The logical course would then have been for Alex to send one of the other platoons to outflank these guns ( something that was successfully done later in the day ) but he did not choose to do this. Instead he did the unexpected and the inexplicable.

    Seizing a Tommy gun he levered his great bulk to its full height, gave an inarticulate bellow, and charged straight at the enemy.
    He could have gone no more than three or four paces before he was riddled by scores of bullets. Crashing into the mud like a falling colossus, he lay there, his body jerking spasmodically until the dead flesh at last lay still. During that timeless interval, both his own men and the Germans were so stunned by his action that not a further shot was fired by either side.

    Sapper, please keep your stories coming.

    WhiskeyGolf likes this.
  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I was about to defend Brian's tales as being like it was - and it truly was at times- but then I had another thought that MOST of the people with alternate thoughts of Brian's tales
    weren't anywhere near any battlefield - BUT - they had done the research- WOW - in peace - with no one even arguing with them.

    THIS takes me back to that period after the war when the subject of war came up in any conversation - it was shut down by the same people calling that "here we go again swinging the lamp" - I thought we had gone past that as we have now had two cases this week of "ganging" up on an innocent poster......

    All I have to say is this - Sapper - ron - Gerry - and many others including myself spent our youth and in too many cases our blood in order to ensure your FrEEDOM to criticize
    us for some aspect of those far off days - now Sapper - let me remind you has spent almost 68 years of pain and disability making my injuries petty by comparison - i too have spent an equal time with a disability which the surgeon will have another attempt to
    alleviate to-morrow to which I do not look forward for one moment - and would rather that sarcastic bastard who called into question Sappers story took my place - but I have an idea that he would need his underwear replacing
    WhiskeyGolf likes this.
  13. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    The amount of times I visited Hadrian's Wall as a schoolboy and I still couldn't imagine what it was like to be a Roman soldier on that frontier posting.

    Those of us who have never been to war can only read about it or visit a long reclaimed battlefield. We did not see, hear, smell, taste, feel or fear the battle(s) as it was happening. However, Brian's stories are atmospheric, in that he describes how things were; not if they were right or wrong, just how they were. It gives the 'events' I read about a different feel, namely, they are not about numbers being moved around a map, but people just like me and sometimes in extremis. He gives the events a very human perspective.

    Then the thread gets pulled in a different direction...

    Anyway, I appreciate Brian's stories. Keep them coming Sapper!


  14. sebfrench76

    sebfrench76 Senior Member

    I'm just a 44 yo frog,without an once of your knowledges,but i have an advantage:my greatparents had been looted by Allied troops,hehe..
    It was in Totes,surely August 44.My greatfather was a grocerist\tobbacocist/bartender.
    A night,the grocery's door was blown up by Canadian soldiers(i believe..),they wanted the WINE!!My greatfagher had no hope to defeat them due to his 5 feet tall,but he tried.Obviously,he failed to cause he had after this incident some resting days...
    My great parents always said when telling this story"you know they were drunk cause it was so hard for them,they were no bugglars,they just wanted to have some sacktime"
    They ,in spite of the hurts of my granpapa,had no anger against the Allied .I have no accounts of the Canadian authorities ,but since they were no combats in Totes,my gran's surely received an "excuse" or at least ,an ear from the authorities,if you know what i mean..
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Just in case others are also thinking the same -

    Please see here for Brian's thoughts on not being able to discuss this matter on a thread dealing with a specific matter

    Also I didn't post some posts on this thread, (post 11) so I assume they have been moved in the interim for his benefit - to have them in one place. See post 16 here and replies which were def. on another unrelated thread.

    So, I don't think this thread was pulled in another direction. Have long thought that Sapper needs no one to fight his corner for him, wouldn't dare to presume.

    Again Tom to raise a point from my previous post, if I quote you:

    I quoted matters either said to me personally by someone who 'was there', or written at the time by someone who 'was there'. (I don't go looking for them either, they just happen to be in the places I am looking for information - like my 5 very long threads about gallantry awards for British soldiers in Gds section.) Are these men's experiences are less valid - surely not.

  16. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I have constantly posted that there were instances of troops not behaving themselves. But I am sure when I say I never saw atrocities. by our men. Why? Well I put it down to the discipline of the units we served with.

    There has been a move towards the idea here that All troops were the same .That is what annoys me, the comparison between The British Army and the SS.

    That is not only completely wrong, it is an insult to those that gave this country their freedom..Thus no matter what... I will always spring to the defence of those that gave everything for their country...many of them knowing full well, that their courage and deeds would never be known.

    So it is down to this. The idea that all troops acted the same. That the British were no different to the Enemy.....If that is the view then that does our men a terrible disservice and besmirches their memory, and that friends..... is why I get on my high horse....
  17. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Elsewhere on this forum Diane made a statement that Brian (AKA Sapper) didn’t need anyone to defend himself and I completely concur with her observation.

    Brian, thank G-d, is more than capable at seeing off anyone who would, for whatever reason, seek to deny either the validity of his remarks or his memory of events

    Having said that, it has never stopped me from adding my own comment to postings that would seek to belittle Brian’s often pert comments by making patronising remarks implying “it’s only that old bloke’s whinging on again about how the British troops always behaved themselves”.

    Despite previous postings of mine that might suggest I was seeking to make a cartel of veterans to promote a war of “us” against “them” I honestly feel that as veterans we are still all individuals and as such we all experienced the war strictly from our own viewpoint.

    With this in mind, may I make my own viewpoint crystal clear regarding comparisons between British troops in particular and their German counterparts when it came to what might be referred to as acting beyond the pale.

    I served just short of five years in the Forces and during that time had ample opportunity to witness both the behaviour of my own fellow servicemen and the actions of the “gentlemen” of the Third Reich.

    To even suggest that in the interest of historical accuracy we were both in the same camp is completely abhorrent to me and, like Brian, I bitterly resent this implication.

    Gerard likes this.
  18. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I would like to know where these attempts to tar all with the same brush are. For the life of me I can't find any, the assurances and clarification repeatedly given and the nature of the majority of the posts by the same posters surely speak for themselves. :confused:

    I fully agree with points made about 'not all but some', that is frankly my own viewpoint all along, but my sincere wish for clarification remains:

    Are the accounts of other veterans whose experiences differ, any less valid?

    I do not go looking for "dirt", I am told things by those who were also there, I stumble upon instances that are not in any way hidden, so should these be swept away as irrelevant to the nasty business that we have been repeatedly told that war is?

    I really hope that my earlier posts are being read by more than Ron, getting a bit tired of repeating myself and having to explain where I am coming from. I eagerly await clarification on the one point above, but if it's not forthcoming, I shall leave this requested discussion at that gentlemen. :)

  19. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    That is what annoys me, the comparison between The British Army and the SS.


    Where is the post that compares the British Army to the SS? I'd be interested to know who wrote that!


  20. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Simple. It is the assertion on many postings that all service men are the same. That implies that our men were the same as the enemy..No direct accusation, but if you read the postings carefully, the implication is there.

    If I am a bit "Touchy" about what our men did.. So be it, someone has to defend their memory..... And if I have my way...(debatable:)) I will do just that. Even bigger grin:)

    For I recall my comrades with great pride,And Think myself fortunate to have seen service with men of such stature. AS I suspect all the Veteran no matter where they served will agree... For there was a great deal of respect amongst the different mobs.

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