Discussion in '1940' started by Greg Bloomfield, Mar 24, 2006.
The next destination was some what harder to find (We went to the wrong Paradis) and put a four hour wasted trip into our itenary. We eventually made our way to the right place and on asking a chap if he could point us in the right direction of the massacre site he told me that his Grandmother and father helped the two sole survivors escape.
He kindly gave me a copy of their picture to post on here for you all to see.
Madame Duquenne and her son who helped Pooley and O'Callaghan escape.
After speaking to a very helpful grandson we then went and walked around the area to get a feel for what happened on the 27th May 1940. He incidently lives in Duries Farm below.
After fighting numerous fierce battles in the advance on Le Paradis the SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2 had suffered many casualties and were now in the small town of Le Paradis. 2nd Battalion,The Norfolks too had suffered many casualties and were down to around a 100 men of all ranks in the town and making a last stand at battalion HQ in Duries farm.
Major Lisle Ryder positioned his men in and around the farm and attempted to call in artillery support by radio-none was forth coming.
With ammunition running low the order was given for the survivors to converge on a cowshed to the rear of the farm. The CO informed his men that they were surrounded and with little or no hope of escape. A vote was taken and the decision to surrender was taken.
A white flag was displayed and the first attempt by the Norfolks to surrender was met with a hail of machine gun fire. The second attempt to surrender was more successful and SS troops from 3. Kompanie came forward to take the men prisoner.
The Norfolks were then marched along the road to a nearby field opposite Creton Farm where the men were searched. At this point the SS started to hold a summary court accusing the Norfolks of using 'Dum Dum' bullets against them which was against the rules of war.
The Norfolks (99 in total) were then marched back up the lane on to Chemin du Paradis outside the front of Creton Farm.
They were then taken into the yard of Creton Farm where two machine guns had been set up and were waiting for them. As the Norfolks drew level with the end of the building the machine guns opened up on them.
Two pictures of the mass grave at Creton Farm shortly after the massacre. Note the helmet on the left with what appears to be a bullet hole in the top -This could possibly tie in with what was said of the SS shooting any survivors after the massacre.
After the machine guns stopped firing the SS went through the bodies finishing off any survivors. Remarkably two men survived, Privates Bill O'Callaghan and Bert Pooley although wounded but still conscious they fained death until the SS left and escaped around the read off the farm to what now is the Duquenne Transport Company where Madam Duquenne and her son helped them. Unfortunately they were later captured by another German unit. Thinking they were ordinary soldiers their wounds were from fighting they were treated in a nearby hospital and sent to a POW camp.
Both men survived the war and through their evidence, SS-Hauptstrumfuhrer Knochlein was found guilty in a British War Crime Court. He was executed on January 28th, 1949.
The transport Yard where O'Callaghan and Pooley escaped to from Creton Farm.
Aerial Map of the area.
Le Paradis Memorial and War Cemetery
On 28th May 1940 a Major Riederer who was an officer with XVI. Armeekorps's General Staff spotted the pile of dead bodies in the yard. Examination showed that many of them had be shot at close range in the head and some of the bodies had their skulls smashed in, a wound typically sustained by blows from a rifle butt. Riederer submitted a report of his findings and a medical officer was dispatched to the area. He arrived at 5.00pm on 29th May to find an SS Medical company burying the bodies in a pit. Enquiries were directed to the SS-Totenkopf-Division for an explanation but they soon left the corps command area and the matter was never pursued.
The local French Populus looked after the mass grave until 1942 when the remains were finally exhumed from Creton Farm (Above) and were buried in a special spot behind the local churchyard.
By 1942 sadly only 50 bodies could be positively identified, a fact sadly evident on many of the headstones which bears the inscription 'Known unto God'
The man found responsible for this War Crime was Obersturmbannfuhrer Fritz Knoechlein
The page below is the 297th from a 297 page official document on the investigation to the massacre at Paradis and the trial of those thought to be responsible. Thanks to Brian (ADM199) I think it is fair to say that justice was served after the war.
Posts 42 to 51 are taking from the following thread:
WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE BEF
My first post on this Forum as I've only just stumbled over it!
I'm researching my village war dead and have drawn a blank on 5770286 Cpl Horatio Pretty, 2 Royal Norfolk. He was killed between 10th May and 2nd October 1940. The massacre occured on 27th May and he is buried in Le Paradis War Cemetery as are all the victims of that atrocity. However I beleive that there are a few others also buried there from other actions and was wondering if anybody has a comprehensive list of the victims so I can have a final confirmation as to whether he was involved or not.
Many thanks in advance.
Going back to the original question of 5770286 Corporal Horatio Herbert Pretty HQ Company, 2nd Bn. Royal Norfolks. He was listed in a missing file as being part of HQ Company and was found in the mass grave and listed as No.42 in the document I posted (See post 39).
Am I correct in suspecting this should be enough evidence to have his date of death amended on CWGC?
CWGC :: Certificate
Thank Gibbo. its strange it was made by an east german production, like I said it was many years ago I saw it but it always stuck in my mind
Drew do you have any information about my Uncle, Frederick Arthur Bradley, ie, what company he was in at the time of his murder etc? I would be most grateful for any information you could give me.
I have quite a bit on 2 Norfolks that I've collected over the years as I plan to do a proper piece on the fighting and massacre one day. I've got a BEF Norfolks missing men file, I'll see if he's listed in that if I get time today.
Had a look at the obvious sections and couldn't see him listed. It's my understanding they were in the main HQ Company if not all of them.
Thank you Drew,
I was delighted to see the list of the mens names and a list their personal effects and injuries that you posted onto this site. The names set out on the list are in exactly the same order as the list of identified victims given to the allied authorities by the mayor of Bethune in October 1944, the only exception being that of my Uncle who was on the first list between the names Hornsby and Nicholls but not on your list. I assume he must have then been one of the five unidentified victims listed between those two name but must have been identified later.
You probably know that not all of the victims were from H.Q. company, Pooley is a case in point, he was with 'A' Company. There were also men from the Royal Scots, Royal Artillery, Manchester Regiment and even one French soldier.
I was also surprised when I read the copy of the letter you posted from Bert Pooley dated April 1944. The accepted story is that Pooley and O'Callaghan never mentioned the massacre to the French villagers who assisted them and that the villagers never mentioned the massacre to them as it would have detered them from surrendering to the German Wermacht thereby placing the villagers in danger for aiding the two men. The story goes that Pooley, did not know how the victims bodies were disposed of until Madame Creton told him on his return to France in 1946. It seems strange, therefore, that Pooley clearly states in his letter, written two months before D day, that the victims were buried in the field by French villagers. Any information on that would be of great interest to me.
I have written a book about the massacre, but I wrote it for family members only and it will not be published as that would be too much hassle what with copyright rules from the national archives etc.
Thanks once again for your efforts. If anything further should come to light regarding my Uncle please let me know.
This site might answer some of your queries!
Sorry, for some reason my norfolkbc site can no longer be updated by me nor accessed since 17 Apr 11. A nuisance as I reckon surfers are sending me e-mails to the address on the site but I cannot access them!
John hello and welcome. Such a pity about your website.
This is a link to the cached version of one page at least.
Le Paradis - 27 May 1940
Separate names with a comma.