First impressions of Allied occupied Germany

A Sherman tank of 8th Armoured Brigade in Kevelaer, Germany, 4 March 1945.

Sometimes our car got stuck in the mud. At a word the Germans ran to push it out. Once a German came up to my driver and said: ‘The Russian prisoners of war are looting my shop. Will the English soldiers please come and see they do it in an orderly manner?’ It never occurred to him to contest the right of the Russians to loot. He was simply anxious to avoid the needless smashing of his windows as well.We lived in farmhouses and small hotels, most of them filled with refugees from the bombed-out towns. We said: ‘We will require this room and that room in an hour’s time.’ At once the German families rose and left—to live in the cellar probably. They cleaned the rooms, washed our clothes, did our cooking.


British troops begin to intervene in Greece

The ELAS communist group of Greek resistance fighters had been the best organised during the occupation - but were now being asked to disarm.

One didn’t know at all what to do, we really had no rules of engagement or anything like that. I determined the only way to deal with it was by a show of strength. So I fell in my platoon, very conspicuously in the street, went into open order and ordered them to fix bayonets. Then we marched briskly down the street to where this mob was and of course everybody just melted into the side lines. Then there were people there weeping and wailing over a man who’d been shot through the head — it was obviously an assassination of some sort.


Warsaw combatants treated as prisoners of war

Even if they had not been wounded most surviving members of the home Army were in a bad way.

We arrived at a transit camp, where we were taken on stretchers into a large barracks and laid with other wounded men in rows on the floor. It was there that we learned for the first time that both the northern suburb of Zoliborz and the city centre had surrendered, and the Uprising was over. I don’t think any of us expected it to end like this, and I remember none of us wanted to talk about it. I think we were quite numbed by the news: all that effort, all that sacrifice.


Polish Home Army trapped in the Warsaw sewers

The gas was affecting our eyes more and more the whole time. I felt just as if I had sand under my eyelids; my head, too, was rolling to one side in a queer way. The mass of people all round were still arguing how to save themselves. From time to time a hideous bubbling was heard, as one more person whose strength had gone slipped into the foul liquid. But even more unbearable would be the voice of some woman pulling him out: “Look, he’s alive, he’s smiling! My darling, you’ll soon be on top again!” Oh God, not to see it, not to hear it!


Free French mop up last German opposition

A member of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) uses a truck for cover during gun battles with German snipers in Dreux. During this period several French towns were liberated by the FFI in advance of Allied forces.

Prisoners testify that they have to account for every litre and one told us that they have plenty of fighters in Germany but they have no petrol for them. Most prisoners seem to have reconciled themselves to the fact that they have lost the war, but blame their officers for deserting them, and the FFI stabbing them in the back, but some of the young ones still think they will win, on what other grounds than Goebbels they base their assumption, I don’t know.