The Battle and Massacre of Wormhout - 28th May 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Parry was one of the last prisoners forced into the barn, once inside he pushed his way to the back where he found a friend. Evans could not force his way through the crowd so decided to sat at the side of his officer, Captain Lynn-Allen. Everyone now was wondering what was going to happen next. Were they being held he before being taken to camps in the rear? The weather was deteriorating so was it to afford them some degree of protection from the eliments or worse as some thought-They were going to be killed.

    Outside the barn the SS soldiers postioned themselves around the barn. Four soldiers from Baum's 7th Company-SS Rottenfuhrers Oskar, Senf, Ruger, Dorth and Schallwig were on the left handside of the barn. The others belonging to 8th Company were SS Scharfuhrers Dreschler, Sorowka and SS Rottenfuhrers Dutschman, Friedhof, Gunther, Konieczka, Moebius and Liekenheil covering the entrance.

    A rather good diagram showing the layout at the barn
    87.jpg

    Captain Lynn-Allen was the only officer in the barn and not satisfied with the condition the men, especially the wounded, were being held stepped forward to demonstrate his concerns to the nearest soldier and was told in no uncertain terms by the soldier who spoke with an American accent, 'English pig, there will be lots of room where you are going.' Lynn-Allen must have assumed they were referring to a PW camp and replied, 'I am not satisfied with your reply.' The SS soldier then reached down a pulled a stick grenade from his jack boot. Lynn-Allen begged him not to use it but the soldier came nearer and tossed the grenade into the barn and it exploded amongst the prisoners. Burt Evans was hit in the arm by fragments from the grenade and badly wounded.

    After running to the rear of the barn Lynn-Allen and Evans ran for their lives
    88.jpg

    The edge of the Poplars where Lynn-Allen and Evans ran to the pond. The barn is to the left of this shot.
    89.jpg

    Lynn-Allen noticed the guards take cover from the grenade and shouted to Evans to follow him. Lynn-Allen then pulling Evans for all his worth. Having left by the open entrance they ran around the barn to the rear and at this point the SS soldiers at the front of the barn opned fire on Lynn-Allen and Evans and succeeded in only hitting Ruger, one of the SS soldiers from 7th Company, in the face and chest (As a result of these wounds Senf, Dorth and Ruger left the area in search of medical attention. One of the excuses later used for the mass murder was that a PW had shot Ruger and the other PW's panicked and started running resulting in them all being shot in the confusion). At the rear of the barn Lynn-Allen and Evan ran along the line of Poplars and hedges using them as cover. At the end of the line of trees they came to a pond and got into it and submerged themselves upto their heads. A few seconds later they heard someone running towards them.

    The pond in 2008
    90.jpg

    The two men saw a head come into view and as he drew nearer Evans could see he was carrying a pistol. The SS soldier believed to be Drescher aimed at Lynn-Allen who cried 'Oh my God' and two shots rung out. One struck Lynn-Allen in the head and he died instantly. Drescher then pointed his pistol at Evans who was on the far side of the pond by a poplar. He fired twice at Evans and one of the bullets ricocheted off the tree and hit Evans in the neck. Evans slumped forward into the pond and Drescher left for the barn believing his work at the pond was done.

    The pond as it was in 1940. The tree on the right was where the bullet(s) ricocheted off into Evans neck.
    91.jpg

    Evans frantically searched for Lynn-Allen after the German had left for around twenty minutes before giving up. Lynn-Allens body was never found and he is remembered on the Dunkirk Memorial. Evans could hear lots of automatic fire coming from the barn and screams of his friends being murdered. Totally exhausted he began to weep and decided to crawled with two wounds out of the pond to find some cover amongst the poplars and hedges bordering the pasture when he was hit for a third time from a stray bullet but he continued to crawl away from the slaughter.

    Captain James Frazer Lynn-Allen, Company Commander, D Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
    92.jpg
    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    :poppy: RIP :poppy:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2017
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Two voices that were heard among all the screams and shouting after the first grenade exploded were those of Sergeant Major Augustus Jennings and Sergeant Stanley Moore who were giving orders to the men to try and install one can only assume so order of calm. As the men quitened down and all that could be heard were the moans and groans of the wounded. This prompted another reaction from the Germans and they threw two more grenades into the barn. There was a backward rush of men and without hesitation Jennings and Moore threw themselves onto the grenades and sacrificed their own lives to to save those of their men (Sadly neither man received any recognition for this act of gallantry by way of a medal).

    Company Segeant Major Augustus Jennings, D Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
    Seen here as a pre-war Corporal
    93.jpg
    CWGC :: Casualty Details
    :poppy: RIP :poppy:

    Three more stick grenades followed in close succession killing yet more men Alf Tombs fell to the ground and two of his friends fell dead on top of him, hardly able to move and thinking the barn had caught fire due to the amount of smoke he buried himself as best he could into the mud and cow-dung. Rchard Parry counted six explosions in total and one of the later blew him through a part of the barn (Due to what he witnessed later I believe it was the door the other men had escaped through earlier). Most of his body was now outside and all that remained inside was his lower legs. Parry along with a Private Lavelle gave a eye witness account of what happened next outside in their affidavits after the war.

    To the right of this shot is where the first five were shot
    94.jpg

    The SS soldiers most likely out of stick grenades ordered five soldiers to come outside. At first no one wanted to go and then Tombs heard someone say, 'If we have to go outside, then lets go.' This soldier was followed by another four. All five men marched outside with their heads held high and formed a line about twenty metres to the right of the barn entrance. Five SS soldiers with rifles took their place behind each man. A deadly silence fell across the barn and two of the men asked their executioners for one last cigarette, this last request was denied and they were forced to turn round. Then one by one each man was shot under the order of 'Ein, Zwei, Drei, Vier, Funf!' Miracously one of the men was not dead and was later taken a PW. His name was Johnson and was in the 2nd Bn. Royal Warwicks.

    Again to the right of this shot is where the second five were shot
    95.jpg

    The SS came back to the barn for the next five. Amongst the five was Gunner Fahey who's account of what happend is given in the next post. Private Garside was also recognised as being in the group by some of the survivors. The men were taken round to the left handside of the barn, again in the line of sight of Parry. The five men were ordered to turn round with their backs to the executioners, however this time in one last defiant stance the men refused to turn their backs looked them in the face as they pulled their triggers, again to the count of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

    For the next two shots I laid down roughly where Parry was blown threw the door to get the correct angle and line of where the two groups of executions took place. I kept the edge of the barn in both shots to give it perspective.

    1st Execution site.
    96.jpg

    2nd Execution site.
    97.jpg


    Whilst these five men were being shot a soldier by the name of Cyril Harbour and one other made a break for freedom through a hole in the rear of the barn. They were seen and received a burst of MG fire for their troubles and Harbour was left for dead. He did however survive the war.

    The survivors now refused to come outside, most couldn't due to the injuries they had sustained and were pretty much unable to move. The SS soldiers were heard to be talking after no one would leave the relative safety of the barn. The time now was around 1700 hrs and there was a sudden down pour of rain and the SS soldiers entered the barn firing their weapons into the dead and wounded. Daley already wounded was shot again in the arm and leg and passed out. Tombs who was already wounded too heard a man shouting. 'Kill me, kill me.' Several shots rang out and his cries were heard no more.

    George Hall recalls a chap next to him reciting the Lords Prayer but he died before he finished it so he and others continued the prayer for hi. He also remembers who many pulled pictures of loved ones from their person that they had hidden from the SS when they were searched and died looking at memories of home.

    Parry who had been blown through the barn kept lingering in and out of consciousness and came around to see a German standing over him with a rifle pointing at him. He was shot again and the bullet entered his mouth and passed through his teeth leaving his face through his cheek, understandably fell unconscious again. The SS left the area a short while later believing everyone was dead. George Merry was still in the hedge and couldn't believe what he had just witnessed. Merry cursed his luck as he then saw the SS soldiers walking towards him, Merry closed his eyes and under his breath he whispered, 'Help me God.' He opened his eyes to see a German standing over him with his rifle pointing at his face. The German ordered him to put his hands up but Merry collapsed. The German pushed him over with his boot and assuming he was dead walked away towards Le Fort Rose Farm, the HQ of LSSAH.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2017
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    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.
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    CHESIRE REGIMENT:

    001 FALCONER A C 4124591 4TH BN 21/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 CHESHIRE REGIMENT
    98.jpg

    001 LOCKETT C 4127464 4TH BN 28/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 CHESHIRE REGIMENT
    99.jpg


    001 MASON J 4125178 4TH BN 21/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 CHESHIRE REGIMENT
    100.jpg


    001 THOMPSON E 4384647 4TH BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 CHESHIRE REGIMENT
    101.jpg


    :poppy::poppy::poppy::poppy:

    ROYAL ARTILLERY:

    001 BOWNS H J 1514887 210 BTY, 53 THE WORCESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY ANTI TANK REGT 28/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    102.jpg


    001 GRINDROD W A G 1493763 210 BTY, 53 THE WORCESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY ANTI TANK REGT 28/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL ARTILLERY
    103.jpg


    :poppy::poppy::poppy::poppy:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2017
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT

    001 ARNOLD H R 5110254 2ND BN 22/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    104.jpg

    001 ASHMORE T 5107559 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    105.jpg


    001 BECKETT W R 5101888 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    106.jpg

    001 BIRD H 5102238 2ND BN 20/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    107.jpg


    001 DARBY G H 5113017 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    108.jpg


    001 GARSIDE W J R 5110617 2ND BN 11/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    108.jpg


    001 GEORGE T E 5105880 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    110.jpg


    001 GISBOURNE A 5104970 2ND BN 25/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    111.jpg


    001 GOULD G D S 5112300 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    112.jpg


    001 HOLMES C S 5179972 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    113.jpg


    001 JENNINGS A 5099997 2ND BN 29/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    114.jpg
    Jennings dived onto one of the first grenades tossed into the barn and sacrificed himself so his men might live.

    001 KELLY B P 5110606 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    115.jpg
    Kelly survived the slaughter in the barn but died a short time after of the wounds he sustained from th emassacre

    001 MANDERS W T 5107418 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    116.jpg


    001 MOORE S 5108000 2ND BN 11/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    116.jpg
    Moore dived onto one of the first grenades tossed into the barn and sacrificed himself so his men might live.

    001 MORGAN J F 5110751 2ND BN 28/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    118.jpg

    001 NAGLE G D 5110640 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    119.jpg

    001 PHILLIPS J F 5105249 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    120.jpg

    001 PORTER H 4912619 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    121.jpg

    001 SHORT J 5110639 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    122.jpg

    001 SOUTHAM J N 5380431 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    123.jpg


    001 STOKES W H 5107404 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    124.jpg

    001 TOWNSEND W 5102185 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 23/06/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    125.jpg
    Townsend survived the slaughter in the barn but died a short time after of wounds he sustained from the Massacre

    001 WILLIAMS A J 808408 2ND BN 27/05/1940 - - 30/05/1940 ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
    126.jpg
    :poppy::poppy::poppy::poppy:
     

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  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Somewhere on La Paine au Bois.

    127.jpg
    It's not clear if these men were killed before or after the massacre at the barn.

    What happened after the massacre is not very clear. It is believed the bodies from the barn were buried by the Germans two days later in several mass graves in the field next to the barn. As you can see from the list above there are only 29 bodies that were formerly identified when they were exhumed and transfered to the Esquelbecq Cemetery. There are a few unidentified graves in Esquelbecq but the two figures together fall short of the 100 or so men witnesses say were in the barn. Guy Rommelaere still believes at the time of his book, 'The Forgotten Massacre', being published that there are many more soldiers still buried undiscovered in the field 'La Paine au Bois' next to the barn. French witnesses after the war recal lots of bodies being thrown onto a vehicle and unceremoniously dumped into deep pits in the field. It is now known that there was atleast six men from D Company 8th Worcesters in the barn but there bodies were never found and there was also many more Royal Artillery in the barn than the two that were identified.

    The number of British soldiers found dead in Wormhout after the battle is recorded as 157. The bodies by order of the Germans were left out on the streets in some cases for as much as ten days and some bodies were left in the Peene Becque River too. The two casualty lists in earlier posts fall far short of this figure and if the figure is to be believed it begs the question where are all the other bodies that were not buried in Wormhout Cemetery? There are 111 men buried in the Wormhout Cemetery who's death is recorded as being in 1940. That leaves 46 men unaccounted.

    One has to draw his or her own conclusions as to where they are but I wonder now nearly 70 years on if they will ever be found. Sadly the answer is most likely to be no.

    'La Paine au Bois'
    128.jpg

    :poppy: How many souls still lay undiscovered in this field for nearly 70 years :poppy:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2017
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Eventually the Germans left the area and those still alive, and able to move, in the barn started to take stock of what had happened. Alf Tombs who was hidden under two bodies pulled himself out from under them. His front was covered in mud and his back with blood from his fallen comrades. He had a look around in the barn as he got up and saw his friend Sergeant Moore, cut to pieces by the stick grenade he dived on. Tombs left through the side door, he couldn't get out the front due to the large number of lifeless bodies infront of him, with four other men with him they made for the road along a ditch when they were seen by a German patrol. One of the men not wanted to be captured, made a break for it and was shot and killed. The others were quickly surrounded by Germans. They were taken to Ledringhem Road where German troops passing them threw them biscuits and the like. After a brief interrogation at a HQ near the barn (most likely the Chateau in Esquelbecq) they spent the night in a church (I assumed it was the chateau where the men were interrogated as the Church across the square was used to hold prisoners of war taken in the area). After a nights rest Tombs and his comrades spent the next three weeks marching into Germany.

    Eight men were able to leave the barn, some nursing wounds with another seven or eight left behind in the barn that were more seriously wounded and unable to move any great distance. The plan was to find help for the seriuosly wounded, but would anyone help?

    Burt Evans who escaped via the pond with Captain Lynn-Allen, who was not so fortunate, remembers what happened to him after the Germans left the are of La Paine au Bois:

    I was just at the outskirts of the farm when I saw a motorbike and sidecar with a German officer standing near, while a man was working on the machine, which looked as if it was out of action. When he saw me the officer took hold of me and laid me down on the ground. He made a tourniquet for my arm with a piece of womens clothing. Then he covered me with his raincoat, and put me on the back of the sidecar. I think he was a Doctor. When we arrived at the German Hospital there was a German Intelligence officer who took off the raincoat and remonstrated with the doctor; but when he saw the wound and the state I was in, he spoke to me in English and apologised .... They cleaned up the wound. A whole section of bone had disappeared. He said to me, 'I'm afraid your arm cannot be saved'. Gas Gangrene had set in, and all the right side of the arm was turning green. From there I was taken care of in a hospital in Boulogne, where they amputated my arm straight away.


    After staying in or near the barn for what is thought to be around two days the men left behind that could hardly move were discovered by some German stretcher bearers that were looking for German casualties. Within an hour all the survivors in the barn were receiving medical attention. Richard Parry, who had crawled a short distance from the barn into some long grass, was worried that the stretcher bearers would miss him. He couldn't call for help due to the gun shot wound to his face and all he could do was raise his arm. Fortunately he was seen and he to received medical attention. Parry recalls the moment he was spotted:
    Fortunately the Germans saw my arm and what I remember they were ever so gentle with me. There were six or seven of us taken from the bar, but we were alive, thank God! When I was put in the ambulance I was happy and fell asleep.

    I woke up in a farmhouse and found that a French farmer and his wife were looking after me. She was trying to feed me some milk. I remembered I had a 100 franc note in my pocket, and to thank her I offered it to her. But she would not take it. When she saw that I was becoming upset, she took it.


    By now all the men that had survived the massacre were in German captivity in one shape or another except two. George Hall was on the run for six days before he was captured by Germans. He was fed and watered. Captivity didn't seem all that bad to him after what had happened to him over the last week.

    Reginald West was on the run for some five months. He dressed as a civilian and worked his way across France helping farmers and the like with their crops. Heading south in the hope of reaching Gibraltar he eventually made it to Marseilles where after a monumentous effort he was captured by the Vichy and spent the rest of the war in PW camps.
     
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    In short, after the war no one was ever brought before a court to face a judge and jury for these murders. In my mind it is clear that Dietrich was lying in his affidavits, claiming he was in a ditch all day and knew nothing of these murders. Infact at one point he tries to blame the PW's themselves for their deaths saying that one of them shot Ruger leading to the panic. Mohnke was captured by the Russians at the end of the war and spent ten years in Russia out of site and knowledge of the Allies. The Russians would not confirm if he was alive or not. When he returned to Germany the War Crimes Investigation Unit had closed down and all prosecutions were now the responsibility of Germany herself. In later years a case was put to the German government but they refused to prosecute Mohnke. I suspect he is now long dead but what is known, is that he lived to an old age on a rather good military pension, far more than that, that was given to Burt Evans and his comrades.

    Much has been said of the massacre after the war in Esquelbecq but what surprised me even more when I started to dig into this subject was all the indiscriminate killings that happened to British soldiers that had surrendered in Wormhout before the massacre. As Brian Fahey said many years after the war, you can't help wonder what would have become of all those young men if they had been treated properly and they had survived the war.


    In 1947 the barn on La Paine au Bois was knocked down.

    On 20th May 1973 a memorial was unveiled on the Esquelbecq-Wormhout road.
    129.jpg

    On the left: Burt Evans and John Lavelle. On the right: Alf Tombs and Charles Daley

    1982
    130.jpg
    On the left is Bill Cordrey, a regular visitor to La Paine au Bois, he was the first of many to place crosses on the poplar seen in this picture.

    On 7th December 2000 La Paine au Bois was purchased.

    In September 2001 the construction of a replica barn was started.
    131.jpg
    It was completed and officially opened on 9th November 2001. Alf Tombs and Burt Evans were amongst the VIP's.

    Everytime I have visited the site, until this year, was in the summer months and the grass was green, trees were with leaves and flowers, including rather aptly Poppies, were growing at various spots in the field, the site really was a place for quiet reflection. Sadly on my last (to date) trip in February this year the site was suffering the effects of either a harsh winter or neglect. Many of the trees, English Oaks, were planted, one for each of the men murdered and bears a plaque with his name are now looking as though they are dead if not dying. Some of the trees have been dug up and left on the floor. As you approach the barn there is a Poplar on the left that was named the 'sacred tree' and was smoothered in poppies and crosses (first done by Bill Cordrey back in 1972). Sadly that has seen its last days and now all that remains is a tall stump that appears to be dead. All the crosses and poppies have been removed. Inside the barn many tributes lay on the floor in tatters some of the pictures placed in the barn have smashed frames with broken glass on the floor. Even the milk urn has been replaced looking at my photographs.

    One can only hope the current condition of this site is part of a ongoing clearing/tidying up operation in preparation for this years 70th Anniversary. If that is the case they have a lot of work to do in a short period of time.

    Five Survivors
    132.jpg
    From L to R:
    Brain Fahey, Alf Tombs, Bert Evans, Charles Daley and Reginald West.
    I couldn't help but notice how smart they all are.


    Some general shots of the site I've taken over the years when it was in better condition and two of the memorial on then Esquelbecq - Wormhout Road.

    The barn with the 'Scared Tree' on the left before it died.
    135.jpg

    Inside the barn
    136.jpg

    The Memorial on the Esquelbecq-Wormhout Road
    133.jpg

    134.jpg

    Some of the oak trees grown in England and planted in the site in 2004
    137.jpg

    More of the oak trees
    138.jpg


    As time goes on I will add more pictures to this thread - For example I am planning to attend the 70th memorial service in May this year. Also if anyone has any information or old pictures that will fit into this thread I would be happy to include them with credit given in the first post and or under any pictures supplied.
     
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  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I couldn't think of a better way to finish this thread than with a picture I took on my first trip to the site in 2005

    139.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2017
  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Lots of hard work ther emate only thing is alot of the images aren't showing properly.
    I can only see bits of a lot of them.
    :(
     
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Andy, well done, and thank you.
    :poppy:

    Photos all fine for me.
     
  12. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    Thanks very much for all that work.
     
  13. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Brilliant work mate. You've definately done them justice with this thread.

    Spot on!!
     
    BarbaraWT likes this.
  14. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    :poppy: Fantastic effort Andy. Lest We Forget.:poppy:

    Cheers
    Paul
     
    BarbaraWT likes this.
  15. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Well done Andy.

    :peepwalla:
     
  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Well done Andy
    Excellent work
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers all, Ref the pictures its probably best to leave them for a while to upload and come back to it. Maybe open another page and search the rest of the forum while these pictures upload.

    Regards
    Andy
     
  18. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Phenomenal work Andy and very compelling reading.

    It is utterly disgusting that Wilhelm Mohnke lived to the ripe old age of 90 and escaped prosecution not only for Wormhout but also murders committed while he commanded the 26th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment in 1944.
    Dietrich, Mohnke and Meyer, amongst others, swore affidavits which now seem transparently false.
     
  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Really odd, pictures still don't show properly even after leaving page open for 15 minutes, BUT if I click the part formed image or blank space where one should be the image pops up in a window straight away.
    Good work, Andy.
     
  20. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Most interesting Drew. Not a subject that I had read in detail and I was interested to see it put in the context of the other SS atrocities at the time.

    Are you going to 'do' the Norfolks at Le Paradis next year ?:)

    One thing that niggles slightly is your reference to Butcher Dietrich as "Sepp" a shortening that makes him sound like someone's favourite uncle. I'm not sure that he even deserves the respect of a 'Christian' name to be honest.
     

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