First British trooper or "troops" into Germany ?

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi all, Beek a recce troop of the SRY were "amongst the first British troops to enter Germany".

    i.e. : http://en.wikipedia....United_Kingdom)

    "The 13/18 H were involved in operations against the village of Elst with the 4th Wiltshire Regiment, and also in the clearing of ground to the West with 130th Infantry Brigade. To the southeast of Nijmegen, the SRY made history, in company with the US 82nd Airborne Division, by capturing the village of Beek and established themselves as the first British troops to enter Germany."

    By the way is this "controversial" now ;) ???

    I've seen a number of such claims by a number of differing regimental sources* and I am intrigued by the history behind the "validity/veracity" now of this "claim". Bearing in mind that this is naturally subject to a dispute about it's overall importance in the war (as for example is sometimes the case with the US flag(s) at Iwo Jima**), I believe at the time it was an "important" story for "allied morale" and was possibly a part of a news reel film about such?

    Also an interesting note:
    Beek ([​IMG] pronunciation (help·info)) (Limburgish: Baek) is a town and municipality in the southeastern Netherlands, in the province of Limburg. As of 2012, Beek has a population of about 16,400, of which about 8,800 live in the town of Beek.


    It took me ages to find anything about the "German village of Beek"

    And when I did start to find leads I found that it is actually not all that uncommon a name for a small German village in that "part of the world"

    This means that I am confused which Beek it means, but obviously the nearest to the Dutch border (and Nijmegen) seems to make most sense?

    I'm still looking to see if there is an extant film or pics of the "triumphant" SRY recce crew and whilst I think that this "Beek" is in the Netherlands (there might "just" be a conjoined "Beek" village just over the border in Germany also too though?)

    And whilst there is a Beek (now almost a suburb of north-east Xanten) This "seems" too "far" behind German lines for a "recce" even for the SRY ;)

    I imagine wherever it is though there is probably a plaque there of some kind? :salut:

    (Nb. according to "Stolpi" sadly no plaque :( )

    The Beek in question is shown in Post #29 below and here's a list of some important sites in Beek:

    The crossing into Germany by the recce troop of the SRY was near the "Vriendschapswegwijzer" post

    All the best,


    Ps. * so see for example: http://www.telegraph...brey-Beaty.html
    Also "Beek" nr. Nijmegen but no mention there of the SRY?

    Though perhaps there, whilst it's still all "fact", it's just all in the use of the exact "words" or "phrase" :pipe:

    ** for example:

    Other WW2talk threads:
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  2. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Hallo Ramiles,

    It is Beek, between Nijmegen and Wyler. There is footage (made after the event). You could also say that the Americans were the first, because during Market Garden, some landed in Germany and then returned to their units.
    Ramiles likes this.
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Nijmegan,

    It's intriguing all this!!! It often "seems" that those of the "SRY" on the whole tended to be a bit more "circumspect" or fulsome with their "qualifiers" and after all they had been through they perhaps now just saw this as another step on the road?

    An Englishman at War: The Wartime Diaries of Stanley Christopherson DSO MC & Bar 1939-1945

    I imagine that the "first" escaped allied PoW could say much the same thing? ;) , or a "serving British soldier" simply with the "bad luck" to be "on holiday" in Germany at the very start of WW2?

    Than some later accounts:
    “Months later, the Rangers became the first British troops into Germany.”

    And I'm not sure if at the time when the footage was being made (after the event) those asked to "take part" in the filming were completely "happy" to "play-along". It's not as if they didn't have other things to do ;)

    It seems like, (the whole thing) I imagine it might have been taken "back home" as more of "an event" - particularly after/during Market Garden?

    I know though that like Iwo, the troops at the time, facing the Siegfried line knew that this wasn't the end of the war... but that the end was now firmly well in sight... but there was still a lot of fighting and risk to see through...

    In terms of forces morale though I kind of wonder what this does for the troops - as "quote" no soldier wants to be "the last one to die in a war" and if it is coming to an end it has a tendency to take people's minds of the ball. The case is particularly acute for example for the British army in Burma: and in the case of Iwo which was well covered in :

    All the best,

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I posted a thread on here a few years ago with pictures of the first troops entering Germany-I can't remember who they are now or for that matter find the thread :(
  5. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Andy, I did "look" / do a search - I'd love it if this (SRY) were true, but I think it's a bit about how the "words" are phrased.

    A trooper is a cavalry / tank crew member,

    So there might have been a good few British "soldiers" hopping back and forwards before the SRY recce were even there?

    Love the "whole question" though it is a bit "mind bending" now....

    All the best,


    Ps. The First British Soldiers into Germany
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  6. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    In "A Bridge Too Far" (the book) it suggests that Lt-Gen Browning, who landed with his headquarters on the Groesbeek Heights (right next to the German border), along with the US 82nd Airborne, might have been the first person from the British Army to enter Germany. It states: "Brigadier Gordon Walch saw Browning running across the landing zone towards the Reichswald. When he returned a few minutes later, he explained "I wanted to be the first British officer to pee in Germany".

    If it wasn't Browning, it would probably have been someone else from his headquarters - long before anyone from XXX Corps crossed the border.
  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks "smdarby"

    Do you have a date for Lt-Gen Browning's pee :)
    Some date between the 17th September and the 25th?

    I think that the SRY's hop into Beek was on something like the 21st September?
    "21st September – Captain McKay and his Recce troop crossed the German frontier and claim to be the first British troops to do so." WD SRY

    And this - mentions a mention for them on the BBC (I know, Aunty might not know best ;) )
    MontyÕs Marauders

    I found this: British Troops Cross German Frontiers

    And this - which actually runs - and with commentary/sound and doesn't look "staged" (honestly :eek: ) in the least.... :)

    Perhaps it was just that "Browning" wasn't a trooper???
    trooper - Google Search

    (Google just thinks this is a "car" or a Star Wars storm trooper :D hillarious!!!)

    All the best,

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  8. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron


    September 17 was the date.
  9. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I thought you'd be arguing that the BEF (well, some of them) were the first, albeit as POWs.
  10. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    I guess this is why it risks being even remotely "problematic" ;)

    And it's not like it's essential now that we should care (?) or that it anyhow makes any sense to split hairs.

    Trooper (abbr. Tpr) from the French "troupier" is the equivalent rank to private in a regiment with a cavalry tradition in the British Army and many other Commonwealth armies, including those of Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.

    As long as " Beek a recce troop of the SRY were "amongst the first British troops to enter Germany".

    ....doesn't become: “Months later, the Rangers became the first British troops into Germany.” (But then maybe this isn't actually wrong either? If Lt-Gen Browning went for his "pee" on his own?) ;)

    I think that there are examples out there though of actual groups of British troops going into Germany also at or around this date.
    But the BBC had to film something and "get that story out there"....

    (If Clint Eastward were to make this into a film... I bet though that the US 82nd Airborne Division at least wouldn't have been the only allies there :) Flag's of Our Fathers felt like an honest attempt to show war as war and even that there could be two sides to any affair)

    I thought perhaps Browning went there in a glider?
    soldiers, marines, and others trained in parachuting into an operation and usually functioning as part of an airborne force.

    But paratrooper's don't have to parachute to paratroop.... I guess. And a recreation of his "epic WW2 pee" - might make a nice Dutch statue now? - to properly commemorate the event ;) Though I can't imagine the BBC of that time being quite so willing to film him "recreating" the event - just for the folks back home :D

    All the best,

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  11. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Browning would not have moved an inch towards the Reichswald, where 1000 tanks supposedly were concentrated (as thought by the Americans).
    Actual position of landed gliders.
  12. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Either way it's a nice story, and we all need a few of those ;)
  13. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Not my cup of tea.
    stolpi likes this.
  14. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    'fair enough, just water under a bridge too far ;)

    I'm intrigued though about the roots of all such stuff. There's a lot of these stories now out there and I suspect as people write any tale inevitably even more come about.

    There's no one it seems that knows just the "facts" anymore.

    I sometimes think I'd like to know - just in case a point in some hypothetical future pub quiz is at stake - but other times I get into the mindset that I find i am in when I am watching QI, don't say what you think - as you know already that whatever you think you'll think wrong.

    It's more complicated than you could ever believe :pipe: and next season (on QI ;-) ) they'll probably tell you that now someone has had a "better idea"...


    So question from QI.... How many moons does the earth have? :hydrogen:

    qi question how many moons does the earth have - Google Search
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I'm just adding these. I doubt anyone really knew exactly where they were or if they were 'first'.
    5 Coldstream Guards veteran:
    5CG War Diary
    From the same war diary:
    From The Coldstream Guards, Howard & Sparrow, pages 293-4
    From 1Armd CG War Diary
    Ramiles likes this.
  16. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD
    smdarby and Ramiles like this.
  17. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Ah! But I've seen the film now and heard it from the BBC ;)

    How many of them can say that?

    Got to say that I am glad that they were all "happy" to have done their bit - and I mean it. I imagine that there's a good chance that the first "one" over anywhere near there, stood a pretty high chance of just getting shot.

    :poppy: :poppy: :poppy:

    Bailing out from an RAF plane during the war or as an SOE onto occupied Europe all add to a fascinating mix.

    Nothing detracts - it only adds to an amazing tale that is continually being told....

    Even duff WW2 films that sometimes seem to get everything wrong can serve to raise an interesting debate...

    (I don't think Tarantino did too bad a job! It just wasn't that "accurate" historically is all)

    All the best,

  18. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    Never knew about Tripsrath - very interesting.

    Nevertheless, I'd still put my money on a member of Browning's HQ being the first person from the British Army to enter Germany (even if it might not have been Browning himself). Comparing Nijmegen's map of glider landings with google maps, some were within a few yards of the border, if not within Germany itself. I'd suggest the first Brit in Germany might not even have known they were in Germany at the time. The border east of Groesbeek is far from straight and it is possible to go between the countries without even knowing - I know as I've done the same thing trying to find the National Liberation Museum.
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Well there was Troops on the SAAR Front in 1939....Lets just face it. The BEF were first to do everything in NW Europe during WW2 :lol:
  20. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    I'm not sure if this was "officially" an infringement of "German" sovereign territory (i.e. for the ship) or of "Norwegian" (i.e. coastal waters)

    Another big "morale" boost though for the allied cause (?)

    Anyone know if the German embassy in London was "invaded" by British troops at the start of WW2???

    BTW - I tried to find some info on "Frank Williams" (BBC war correspondent during WW2 who apparently also visited the SRY nr Beek around then) and saw lists and lists of names but couldn't pick his one out. Just the F1 guy?

    Does any one know what happened to him? (The war correspondent that is ;) )

    I think part of the "Pathe" newsreel report said that this was the first report from "allied" war correspondents of their being with combatant British troops in Germany in WW2, and actually spent a lot of time rightfully praising the US * :)

    Clarification all of a sort. I think it was "B" squad SRY with the recce troop at Beek and "B" squad or "C" SRY were protecting the reporter/camera crew/BBC :salut: (!)


    * http://en.wikipedia....(United_States)
    508th PIR, "Red Devils" or "Fury from the Sky"
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016

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