Gunner Brian Fahey, Wormhout Massacre Survivor.

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Excerts from an interview with Brian Fahey, survivor of the massacre at Wormhout, 28th May 1940

    I was a gunner in the Royal Artillery when I was captured at Wormhout after being seriously wounded in the left leg. I received this wound as I tried to climb aboard a retreating British vehicle as it went past. It was a three tonner. It was full of soldiers. I was trying to haul myself up somehow on to this moving vehicle when it was hit by a burst of fire and I was wounded in my leg. On board the damaged vehicle , there were several dead and wounded, and the lorry caught fire. The ammunition we were carrying exploded. I took refuge in the ditch with the other survivors who were from the Royal Warwickshires.

    The Germans arrived in no time; they had with them prisoners which they must have captured in the village. Those that were escorting us to the rear were SS, but I did not realise it at the time.

    They made us run for more than a kilometre across the fields towards Esquelbecq killing those who were to weak to go further. Wounded as I was, I was helped by two other British, who supported me shoulder to shoulder to stop me falling.

    It was begining to rain; it was the first rain to fall since May 10th. I was so naive at that point that when I saw the barn, I thought the Germans were taking us there to shelter.

    With about a hundred of us squeezed together as we were in this dilapidated barn, the Germans lost no time and threw i stick grenades. It was pretty clear that they were trying to wipe us out.

    Then I remember a German NCO shouting "Five men outside!" and every one of us knew what was going to happen. Outside the barn we could hear the SS counting the prisoners: One,Two, Three, Four, Five.

    There was a shot after each of the numbers and I saw my countrymen falling one by one.......

    Then the SS came back to the barn and ordered five more to come out to die.

    I volunteered, because I knew we would all have to go through it, and it was no use prolonging our last moments of life. I thought at that time this was what happened when you were taken prisoner: the lad next to me who was very young shook my hand and spoke to me, saying, "I don't know who you are, but I need to shake hands with you." That was when I thought about my mother and I was so sorry for her. As I marched along to the spot they chose, I also thought that the war would soon be over for me......

    The Nazi NCO lined us up facing his men. There were five of them, each one with a rifle. Facing the executioners, I was number five, and I heard the first four members called out, the shot followed, and my comrades falling, one by one beside me. I began to think about the futility of war, and to wonder why this was happening to young men like us, for no reason.....

    The SS shouted "Five!" and I heard the shot, felt the bullet strike, pierce my back and pass through my chest. I fell down instantly and felt my blood spouting; then I passed out.

    When I came to, the SS had gone. I had terrible pain in my leg and realised I was not dead. I felt around for my glasses. My tunic and shirt soaked with blood, I began to crawl towards the barn, using the limbs that were not injured: My left knee and my right arm. It took me a good three hours to do the twenty or so yards between me and the barn where the dead lay with the dying. With my head propped on a lifeless body, I finally fainted.

    All this happened on Tuesday evening. We stayed there all Wednesday, all Thursday. During all this time, the wounded were continuing to die. I remember one of them who had managed to sit up against the wall of the barn and had found two cartridges in his jacket. He was trying to kill himself by holding one against his forehead and trying to trigger it with the other. I think that by then we all wanted to die. One of the worst things I can remember was the first which tormented us. For me it was worse even than my wounds......

    On Friday morning we heard sounds and thought the Germans who were coming were there to finish us off. Instead, they spoke to us, but we could not understand. One of them spoke in French, and summoning up memories from my schooldays, I was able to manage a conversation.

    He was dumbfounded!

    "Why are there no weapons, or helmets or guns here?" He asked as he looked at the number of dead. Then he gave his own answer:

    "You were captured by the SS: They don't take prisoners!"

    They moved us out of the barn, took of their jackets and put them under our heads. In my case one of them took off his shirt and made a compress to put on my chest. I was given morphine at Camiers near to le Touquet, and spent the whole of the war in a POW camp making two attempts to escape.

    What the SS committed here was an atrocity. We were docile prisoners; they massacred frightened young men, for no good reason, in cold blood.

    I have no feelings of hate for the SS who comitted these crimes. Their commanding officer should be quite simply ashamed of giving the order, for it was a shameful thing......

    If I were to meet this man, I would do nothing more today than show him my six children and my nine grandchildren.

    I would play him the music that I have composed, and ask him: "Just imagine all the possibilities you destroyed when you killed those ninety youngsters" I think if I were to say all that he would surely feel remorse......

    ..... Future generations ought to know what happened, so that such a thing could never happen again."

    Brian Fahey, Musician, Composer and Retired Orchestral Conductor.

    I posted this in another thread to do with forgiveness but feel this remarkable account deserves its own thread too.

    Incredibledisc and AB64 like this.

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    I ... ... feel this remarkable account deserves its own thread too.

    Certainly does. Thanks for posting it Andy.
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks for posting this Andy, a remarkable man. When did he give this interview, do you know?
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The excerts are from an interview with the French author of The Forgotten Massacre - Guy Rommelaere. The unbold text reads pretty much the same as his affidavite given to the the War Crimes Investigation Unit just after the war and is probably a French version translated back into English as there is a lot in the book that is not correct regarding pronunciation-even so it is an excellent book.

    The bold text is not in any of the files I have from PRO so I suspect its taken from the interview with the author. The book is not clear as to when it took place but I reckon it was around September 2001.
  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Well I never, that's a name that I remember from the radio when I was young.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Posted this over 2 1/2 years ago - I thought it worth a bump. I do find his account quite humbling.
    Incredibledisc likes this.
  7. MichaelFahey

    MichaelFahey Junior Member

    He was indeed a remarkable man, he was my Father , I am his oldest Son.
  8. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    I've read this account in the other thread but once again find myself humbled by the dignity with which he faced what he assumed to be certain death and also by the way he did not allow hate to rule his heart in the years that followed his experience.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Michael - Nice to see you are still looking in now and then :)
  10. Davies

    Davies Junior Member

    Hello Michael. I am writing an article on your father's experience at Wormhoudt based on a recorded interview he did in 2001 with Dr Peter Liddle for the Second World War Experience Centre. The article will appear in the centre's journal Everyone's War.
    Sadly, we have no images of your father to compliment the article. Could you possibly help? Amanda Herbert-Davies, Editor.

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