Jump to content


Remembered Today:

Photo

Atrocity Story from Hooge, 1915


77 replies to this topic

#1 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 10 November 2005 - 06:29 AM

While looking through the correspondence of a Bury Grammar School boy killed in November 1915, I have come across a remarkable atrocity story from a letter written on 2nd August 1915, immediately after the Hooge flamethrower attack. The writer is a corporal in 7th KRRC , Philip Holmes, writing to his parents and he is describing an officer of his own battalion:
'other officers killed are (name crossed out by censor, see below) , the Germans got his body, stuck it on bayonets and held it over the prapet with the label "One of Kitchener's ********". These are the sort of devils we're fighting and even if I don't see you all for years I hope we stay and really wipe them out'.
The censoring officer, J.M. Roe has added a remarkable postscript :
'I have scratched out the name of the officer on page 3 as his family must on no account hear of it and by some strange means it might leak out'. He has also 'blue pencilled' an estimated casualty figure given by the corporal.
What do Pals make of this?

#2 armourersergeant

armourersergeant

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,720 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:warks
  • Interests:Generals of the Great War.
    Lt-General Sir T D 'O Snow
    Major-General G T Forestier-Walker.
    21st Division 1914-18
    WFA
    Salonika Campaign Society.
    Ice Hockey
    Rugby- Union of course!
    General Military History of all ages

Posted 10 November 2005 - 07:17 AM

Mark,

I suppose it could be true. It could also have been some sort of Dummy mock up that was made to look like an officer and they took it to be the 'missing' officer.

I would say some sort of War Diary search may be needed to ascertain if an officer appropriate to the 'story' went missing around this time.

The censor officer may have not validated the story but just took precausions to hide identities. I guess also it would be interesting to know if he saw this himself or got the story second hand?

Regardless a fascinating story.

Any chance of posting images of the letter in full

regards
Arm

#3 Tom Morgan

Tom Morgan

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,766 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 November 2005 - 08:28 AM

Like Arm, I think this story is well worth some further research. Although the censoring officer won't pass the officer's name, he does pass the story itself, rather than supressing the whole thing.

All very interesting. There were lots of atrocity stories appearing in the local press, many supposedly taken from soldiers' letters home. But this is the first time I've seen any "official" comment on such a story so close to its origin - i.e. added by an officer to the original letter itself.

Tom

#4 Bert Heyvaert

Bert Heyvaert

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 468 posts

Posted 10 November 2005 - 09:50 AM

Officer casualties of the 7th KRRC for July 30th and July 31st (killed):
- Capt. G.C. Dowling
- Lt. F. Seymour
- Lt. S.H. Snelgrove
- Lt. A.B. Findlay
- 2nd lt. R.B. Arnell
- 2nd lt. R.F. Robinson
- 2nd lt. R. Longbottom

source: Major-general Sir Steuart, The Annals of The King's Royal Rifle Corps, Volume V (The Great war); london 1932.

#5 Bert Heyvaert

Bert Heyvaert

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 468 posts

Posted 10 November 2005 - 10:35 AM

There are two more who died on 30/7/1915:

- G.F. Carter, 2nd lt.
- John Douglas Henderson Radcliffe, capt.

(source CWGC d-base)

All officers have no known grave and are commemmorated on the Menin Gate

#6 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 10 November 2005 - 05:32 PM

Thanks for your replies. It is possible to narrow down the possible identity of the officer. In the letter Philip Holmes records that Capt Dowling, Mr Robinson and Mr Findlay of his own 'C' Company have been killed and that Mr Arnell and two others have also died. That leaves Seymour, Snelgrove and Longbottom. Sadly I no longer have the original letter to peruse, but my photocopy has a line sticking out from under the censor mark, which could be Philip Holmes's 'Y' or 'G'. It could be Seymour or I think more likely Longbottom from the length of the word and the fact that the last letter looks like an 'M'
I will scan the relevant section and post it when I have the chance.

#7 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 11 November 2005 - 06:17 AM

This is a summary of Longbottom's CWGC entry:
LONGBOTTOM, ROBERT

Rank: Second Lieutenant
Regiment: King's Royal Rifle Corps
Unit Text: "D" Coy. 7th Bn.
Age: 19
Date of Death: 30/07/1915
Additional information: Son of William Henry and Ethel Longbottom, of Wingfield, Bournemouth.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 51 and 53.
Cemetery: YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL

He was in 'D' Company whereas Philip Holmes was in 'C'. Nevertheless, it's a bit different to the usual 'I heard it from a friend of a friend in the Royal Scots' type story and written immediately after the events it describes. Plus it has apparent, although slightly ambiguous confirmation from the censoring officer-he doesn't actually say whether he believes that the story is true, just that he doesn't want it to reach the family. All very intriguing.

#8 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 11 November 2005 - 07:05 AM

Here is the relevant extract from the letter:

Attached Files



#9 bob lembke

bob lembke

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,985 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Interests:The Great War - Mostly the land war - Mostly the German side - Mostly the Western Front Especially: Flame throwers, Special formations; Pioniere Sturm=Truppen Jaeger, usw.

Posted 11 November 2005 - 08:45 AM

Mark;

Does the letter discuss the flame attack? Was the described event supposedly related to the attack?

You might be interested of a snippet out of a source written by a ranking officer of the flame unit, almost unknown in the English-speaking world; I have only found two copies cataloged anywhere in the world. (My translation.)

- “Attack of Company Beck against the Hooge Position in Flanders on July 30, 1915 with nine large flame-throwers and 11 small flame-throwers. After shocking the forward positions the ones behind were occupied without much resistance. Many prisoners.”

As far as published materials are concerned, having read hundreds of sources in the last four years, I have come across a great number of clearly engineered atrocity stories (clearly false as the physical situation, medical situation, etc. is simply impossible), a lot of which seem to have had American public opinion as the target audience. The generation of this stuff was sometimes generated in quite an organized fashion. I have also come across, in the post-war memoirs of generals, the discussion of "hate German" programs that they organized during the war for their troops.

But this account is something new to me. My instinct is to doubt such accounts (possibly influenced by my Hunnish instincts) but the nature of the source is curious and on the face of it more believable. The incident itself seems odd and without purpose, and physically difficult.

My father served in the German Army 1915-18 and came to the US in 1926. The Hollywood movies were still full of that stuff. He described it to me as having two levels of sophistication.

At one level, the German trench would be seen, there would be a whistle blast or a bugle call, and the German infantry would rise up and charge. Each soldier had a Belgian baby on his bayonet. (Had to be Belgian, no substitutes.)

At the second, higher level of sophistication, the scene is someone interviewing a monocled Prussian officer. (Here the monocle, not the Belgian baby, is mandatory.) The officer is asked: "Is it true that your men always charge with a Belgian baby on their bayonet?" Answer: "Of course not! That story is rediculous. What military advantage would that provide?"


To return to my own selfish interests; does the letter have any information about the flame attack itself? (I am currently writing a book on German flame troops of WW I.) Most German sources of the period do not mention the weapon or its use; it was considered secret.

I'm not especially interested in the topic of propaganda, but I sure have seen a lot of raw material for such a study.

Anyone with info on the Hooge flame attack, which was, I think, the third flame attack in WW I?

Bob Lembke

#10 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 11 November 2005 - 05:19 PM

Bob-The letter describes the action fought by 7th Kings Royal Rifle Corps on 31st July 1915, i.e.the Hooge flamethrower attack. Holmes was in a reserve trench and reports the front line going up in a 'mass of flame' before his unit is ordered to counter-attack.

#11 bob lembke

bob lembke

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,985 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Interests:The Great War - Mostly the land war - Mostly the German side - Mostly the Western Front Especially: Flame throwers, Special formations; Pioniere Sturm=Truppen Jaeger, usw.

Posted 11 November 2005 - 06:14 PM

QUOTE (Mark Hone @ Nov 11 2005, 01:19 PM)
Bob-The letter describes the action fought by 7th Kings Royal Rifle Corps on 31st July 1915, i.e.the Hooge flamethrower attack. Holmes was in a reserve trench and reports the front line going up in a 'mass of flame' before his unit is ordered to counter-attack.


Mark;

Very interesting. I am attempting to write my book as much as possibly from primary sources, and have little or nothing of this kind of source from the British side. I would love to cite the letter in my book, with a proper citation, which would also help preserve the memory of the brave men who were struck with this terrible weapon. Is it at all possible to receive a scan of the entire letter? I would be happy to meet any requirement as to handing it, releasing it to others (or not), etc., and meet costs, if any. I certainly would want a complete description of the lad who penned the letter, to give him his due. I do not plan to use anything without a full scholarly citation.

I do not know too much about the German side of the attack, yet, but I assure you that the brief citation I posted is completely authorative. I have to be coy about the exact source until my book is out. The German Highest Army Command's daily communique for August first mentions the attack, cites booty, but of course does not mention Flammenwerfer.

I have the complete death roll of the German flame units, and the flame troops themselves did not lose a single man in this attack. Here, as often happened, the shock of such an attack simply collapsed the defense, at least the first line. In the largest flame attack 154 flame throwers were used, their advance directed from the air. The opening barrage was often two minutes, just to get the defenders' heads down and give the attackers a few more seconds, or sometimes there was no barrage. There was an extensive effort to obscure the effectiveness of this weapon, which was actively pursued till at least 1934 by an American and a British general, and which really obscured and distorted the history of this weapon till the present day.

Many thanks for any help.

I hope you guys don't mind my frequent self-annointed pronouncements as a Hunnish "Devil's Advocate". Happily, in this miserable war I think outright brutality was the exception rather than the rule, and the "tales" were more common than the actual events. There was a lot of fabrication. I have a book by a Canadian disabled soldier, an actor, who after returning to Canada was hired by the English to write the book (If he did it himself), tour the US to give lectures, and even make a Hollywood movie. Much of the material was obviously physically impossible, as well as historically improbable, and was clearly intended to inflame US public opinion, get them further into the war, and bolster Canadian/UK solidarity.

My own father got shot on Hill 304 at Verdun attempting to save the life of a French officer on a pre-dawn raid. ("No good deed goes unpunished.")

Bob Lembke

#12 truthergw

truthergw

    Lieut-General

  • R.I.P.
  • 10,178 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling

Posted 11 November 2005 - 07:08 PM

QUOTE (bob lembke @ Nov 11 2005, 06:14 PM)
.......

I hope you guys don't mind my frequent self-annointed pronouncements as a Hunnish "Devil's Advocate". Happily, in this miserable war I think outright brutality was the exception rather than the rule, and the "tales" were more common than the actual events. There was a lot of fabrication
.............
Bob Lembke

I for one welcome a different viewpoint. With regard to propaganda,it gave rise to some of the myths which are still trotted out today and because it was 'official' is very hard to refute.
The other trap to watch out for when trying to get to the truth of something is anecdotes. In my first job, I was fortunate to work with a WW1 RHA driver. He was a driver and I was his assistant. He regaled me daily with tales of his wartime experience. Every week, we visited a social club for Old Contemps. We spent about half an hour there 'having the crack'. I believe I was privileged to gain an understanding of just what it was like to serve at the front. I also learned that old soldiers love to tell tall tales. It was an art form which was appreciated greatly by their fellows. At the time I drank it all in and believed every word. As I learned more about the war, I became more discriminating. I would always seek corroboration for any important piece of information. I am not talking about deliberate untruth. Rather, guilding the lily. Borrowing an episode and embellishing it. Everybody likes a good story and that's what grandads are for.

#13 paul guthrie

paul guthrie

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,733 posts

Posted 11 November 2005 - 07:10 PM

Bob what were the circumstances of your father's action? I assume he was US Army.

#14 bob lembke

bob lembke

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,985 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Interests:The Great War - Mostly the land war - Mostly the German side - Mostly the Western Front Especially: Flame throwers, Special formations; Pioniere Sturm=Truppen Jaeger, usw.

Posted 11 November 2005 - 11:13 PM

QUOTE (paul guthrie @ Nov 11 2005, 03:10 PM)
Bob what were the circumstances of your father's action? I assume he was US Army.


Paul;

My father was first sworn into Pionier Bataillon Nr. 3 (von Rauch), and was sent to Gallipoli to serve in the volunteer pioneer company there. He was not wounded, but contracted malaria.

On return, he joined Garde=Reserve=Pionier=Regiment (Flammenwerfer). He was wounded four times, and probably survived the war by spending so much time in hospitals or being held at Berlin as unfit for flame thrower service. His left arm spit bone fragments for over ten years. When the war was over he was robbed and partially stripped at gunpoint by a patrol of Red sailors in Hamburg, and, very "pissed", went back to Berlin, joined a Freikorps, used the FW in burning their way in the back of the Voerwarts building. They took 26 prisoners out of the 300 they took who were wearing sailors' uniforms and shot them, ample payback for the boots and greatcoat lost in Hamburg.

After the second round of fighting in Berlin he left the Freikorps, and later joined the Schwartze Reichswehr. He moved to the US in 1926.

He was a great, gentle Dad, but was obviously a bit of a hothead and ruffian when younger. He was one of that 2% who loved the war, despite a lot of hardship and being as much at war with the command of his company as he was with the French, shooting and killing the company CO on the manuver ground, and in another incident shooting a sergeant in the butt on manuvers.

My grand-father was the "Id" of the III. Reservekorps, being the head of the "d" Section of the Operations Branch of the corps' Generalkommando. Although he had been a professional Prussian officer and former NCO, he hated the war from day one, unlike his son.

Bob Lembke

#15 stiletto_33853

stiletto_33853

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweat
  • 11,879 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:South of England
  • Interests:The Rifle Brigade,The 8th Rifle Brigade & 14th (Light) Division.

Posted 12 November 2005 - 12:44 AM

Mark, Bob,
If it is of any interest to you I have some good accounts of the flamethrower attack at Hooge by some 7th & 8th Rifle Brigade Officers.

Andy

#16 bob lembke

bob lembke

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,985 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Interests:The Great War - Mostly the land war - Mostly the German side - Mostly the Western Front Especially: Flame throwers, Special formations; Pioniere Sturm=Truppen Jaeger, usw.

Posted 12 November 2005 - 05:40 AM

QUOTE (stiletto_33853 @ Nov 11 2005, 08:44 PM)
Mark, Bob,
If it is of any interest to you I have some good accounts of the flamethrower attack at Hooge by some 7th & 8th Rifle Brigade Officers.

Andy


Andy;

Such accounts would be of great interest to me, and would allow me to flesh out a more complete description of the engagement, hopefully to appear in print.

I have access to a set of the official British histories, which I do not know well, but being on this side of the Big Pond I do not have access to most materials of this sort. I did pop up in London a couple of years ago and did some research at the IWM and the British Library. But I can't just pop in the Tube and emerge at Kew.

I would of course, as mentioned above, want to provide a proper complete citation. As convenient as the Internet is, it leads to a plague of disembodied snippets and quotes without pagination and with sketchy attribution, leading to dubious scholarship.

So, any guidance to such accounts would be gratefully received.

As a quid pro quo, please feel free to ask me for guidance on the Hunnish side of the fence; I have a fair accumulation of references, such as Ranglisten (Official rank lists of officers) and other resources.

Thanks.

Bob Lembke

#17 stiletto_33853

stiletto_33853

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweat
  • 11,879 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:South of England
  • Interests:The Rifle Brigade,The 8th Rifle Brigade & 14th (Light) Division.

Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:33 AM

Hi Bob,
The flamethrower attack is something I have done a lot of research on as the attack fell on the Regiment I have collected too and researched for years. If you go to the 90th anniversary section you will find something I placed there to mark the 90th. I also have in my library the memorial book to Edward James Kay-Shuttleworth, an officer of the 7th Rifle Brigade who was involved in the attack which gives his personal account of the battle, an article from the Rifle Brigade Chronicles on 3 officers of the 8th Rifle Brigade concerning the friendship of these officers and the Hooge flamethrower attack with the end of this friendship due to fatalities. Also from the chronicles the last letter of Sydney Woodroffe who won the V.C. at Hooge and the account of his last action. The 7th & 8th Rifle Brigades War Diaries for the whole war and the Regimental account of this action.
Hence I think you will find sufficient and accurate quotes from people that were actually there as I have to agree with you regarding some of the pieces appearing on the Internet.

Andy

#18 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 12 November 2005 - 08:21 PM

This is the first part of the letter, describing the actual flamethrower attack and its aftermath:

Attached Files



#19 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 12 November 2005 - 08:29 PM

let me know if you need help with transcribing it. I'm hoping to transcribe all the letters eventually.
Here is a photo of the author. Philip Lawton Holmes was a doctor's son from Whitefield, Bury, Lancashire. He married in 1912 and had a young son, but volunteered for service in 1914. He was killed on trench duty north of Ypres on 22nd November 1915 aged 32. He is buried at La Brique No 2 Cemetery. His son , then in his 80's, allowed me to photocopy the letters a few years ago.

Attached Files



#20 Ralph J. Whitehead

Ralph J. Whitehead

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,674 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fayetteville, New York

Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:16 PM

While the source is allegedly an original letter from the front I seriously doubt the story is true. I have been studying the German Army, especially the individual soldiers for many decades now and from what I can see the only difference between the German and British soldier is the language and place of birth.

They had the same interests, the same occupations, some were good, some not, they had families, friends, hopes for the future and a sense of patriotism.

I have seen or heard of so many similar stories including one book on a trench raid involving Australian troops in 1917 I believe. The tone of the book was a dastardly German plot to murder Australian soldiers and cover up the crime. Considering the type of fighting in Flanders at that time, the difficulties in keeping records and track of men, etc. the idea of a complicated plot is improbable as well as impractical.

Without additional supporting evidence as well as additional details on the original source it simply has to be taken as a fabrication. If one man saw this others did as well. Why no post-war discussion, investigation, etc.? Let's see some more evidence before jumping to conclusions.

Ralph

#21 Desmond7

Desmond7

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 7,515 posts
  • Location:The town
  • Interests:12th Royal irish Rifles; Central Antrim; Irish Regts in general.

Posted 12 November 2005 - 10:38 PM

Mark - can you post the diary in larger format? I would love to read that entry before making any comment.
Des

#22 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 13 November 2005 - 10:06 AM

I am a professionally-trained historian who has handled a lot of documents. This was part of an original and extensive cache of communications which had been in the hands of the author's wife and latterly son for 80 years when I was shown them 9 years ago. The son who showed them to me was an old man with virtually no knowledge of the First World War-he was under the impression that his father had been killed at Mons and I was unable to persuade him otherwise. Unfortunately I was only allowed to borrow the letters briefly to make photocopies. I have lost touch with the old man since and suspect that he has subsequently died. There are several dozen letters in total. The author was undoubtedly who he says he was-I have been to his grave on several occasions, have seen his photograph and newspaper obituary etc etc. All the incidental details I have researched from the letters have checked out. He died only three months after the letter was written and it is in the same hand as the other letters, postcards etc. I know that you don't know me personally Ralph, but I would hope that you would realise that I have been a member of this forum for several years, I have been a WFA member since 1984 and I have absolutely no motive for or interest in fabricating Great War letters, I can assure you! This is the first occasion that my bona fides as an historian or researcher have ever been questioned, which is rather a novel experience. I fully acknowledge that the story may be a 'trench legend' but it is nevertheless an interesting example of the genre having been written so close to the purported events it describes and naming an individual involved. I have no doubt in my mind that the letter itself is genuine.
I had to reduce the images to post them. I can e-mail larger versions to you, Des.

#23 Ralph J. Whitehead

Ralph J. Whitehead

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,674 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fayetteville, New York

Posted 13 November 2005 - 02:20 PM

QUOTE (Mark Hone @ Nov 13 2005, 05:06 AM)
I am a professionally-trained historian who has handled a lot of documents. This was part of an original and extensive cache of communications which had been in the hands of the author's wife and latterly  son for 80 years when I was shown them 9 years ago. The son who showed them to me was an old man with virtually no knowledge of the First World War-he was under the impression that his father had been killed at Mons and I was unable to persuade him otherwise. Unfortunately I was only allowed to borrow the letters briefly to make photocopies. I have lost touch with the old man since and suspect that he has subsequently died. There are several dozen letters in total. The author was undoubtedly who he says he was-I have been to his grave on several occasions, have seen his photograph and newspaper obituary etc etc.  All the incidental details I have researched from the letters have checked out. He died only three months after the letter was written and it is in the same hand as the other letters, postcards etc. I know that you don't know me personally Ralph, but I would hope that you would realise that I have been a member of this forum for several years, I have been a WFA member since 1984 and  I have absolutely no motive for or interest in fabricating Great War letters, I can assure you! This is the first occasion that my bona fides as an historian or researcher have ever been questioned, which is rather a novel experience. I fully acknowledge that the story may be a 'trench legend' but it is nevertheless an interesting example of the genre having been written so close to the purported events it describes and naming an individual involved. I have no doubt in my mind that the letter itself is genuine.
I had to reduce the images to post them. I can e-mail larger versions to you, Des.


Mark,

I believe you have misread my meaning. I do not doubt your involvement, honesty, etc. as a researcher or otherwise. I believe the letter(s) are true and original but I doubt the story. Something along these lines would have drawn a great deal more attention at the time.

I am a trained investigator, been a member of the WFA since the 1980's and a member of the forum as well and there is no way to establish the authenticity of an event on a single letter. In my occupation we require certain facts or allegations to be corroborated by additional competent evidence. All I am saying is that if this incident did occur there would have been additional evidence to support the story from either British or German sources during the war or afterward.

Regardless of the other supporting evidence of the individuals involved we still need to see something other than a single letter in my opinion. I cannot state the story is true or otherwise unless I can prove it one way or another.

I do not attack the integrity of anyone on the forum nor do I acuse anyone of fabricating the evidence. My response only stated that I feel the original materials were a fabrication of some sort from the author of the documents, mistaken or otherwise. This is based upon the years of research I have done on the 'evil hun' who eats babies and burns soldiers for soap. I have heard far too many stories, seen too many 'authentic' photos and then discovered the truth to be completely different.

I am open to further evidence to verify the story in the original documents and look forward to seeing if the truth can be uncovered. After all, we are all looking for the truth, no matter where it takes us.

Ralph

#24 Mark Hone

Mark Hone

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 4,051 posts

Posted 13 November 2005 - 03:12 PM

I thought that was what you meant, Ralph, and couldn't really believe that you suspected me of forging the thing. The last thing I want to do is fall out with a fellow Pal, it's not my style. As I said I also have severe doubts that the incident actually occurred although Holmes, who is quite clearly from his letters an intelligent man, obviously believes that it did. There are other references in the letters to the 'Huns' bayonetting prisoners etc and he does refer to the Germans as 'devils' on a few occasions in connection with their supposed bad behaviour. I'd be interested to find out how common this opinion of the Germans, obviously tied in with the 'Belgian babies being bayonetted' stories of British propaganda, was amongst front line troops in this early war period. What I find particularly interesting is that Holmes is recounting a story which supposedly happened to a named officer of his own battalion only 3 days before he wrote the letter, not the usual 'bloke I got talking to in the estaminet from the Manchesters who said it happened to a mate of his in the Warwicks' type story. There is also the very unusual detail of the officer's postscript which appears to indicate (albeit rather ambiguously) that the officer gives some sort of credence to the story himself.

#25 AOK4

AOK4

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,037 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Flugplatz Bisseghem

Posted 13 November 2005 - 06:57 PM

I think the remark of a forum member that the officer was probably a kind of dummy doll is most plausible. No German officer would allow his men to treat an adversary (even being the corpse of one) in such a manner...