They fought for us

Today is the 100th anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme. Here is EBF’s tribute to the brave men and women of all races and religions who fought alongside Britain over the years. This PDF download was originally posted as a series of articles on the EBF blog throughout Armistice Day 2015.

EBF They fought for us PDF cover armistice remembrance ww1 ww2 war hero poppy

From WW2 to the modern world

So far we’ve posted blogs about historical wars and the heroic men and women who fought and died to preserve our freedoms. In the last blog we commented upon those brave soldiers, sailors and aircrew who continue to face dangers across the globe. And throughout it all we’ve hardly mentioned Britain First or the perils of modern Nazism. That’s not like us, is it?

In this final Armistice Day blog we’d like to invite you to think – really to think about what this country fought against during World War II. What would the world be like, what would Britain be like if Hitler’s jackbooted bully boys of the SS and the Gestapo were in charge?

If you’re at all unsure of the answer to that just think about what happened in occupied Europe when the Nazis were in power. Think of the enslaved Slavs, the murdered children, the euthanised disabled, the dispossessed non-Aryans and the imprisoned, tortured and executed politicians whose ‘crime’ was to disagree with fascism.

Think of the religious faithful, not just Jews but many Christians too who, unwilling to swear allegiance to Hitler were persecuted and exiled.

BF EBF FB WW2 Islam freedom of conscience and religious expression

Think of the gas chambers and the labour camps.

Think of the brutal regime that saw twins, mainly children tortured to death in the name of Nazi ‘science’.

Think of the Jews forced to endure extreme cold until they died of hypothermia to help develop warm flying jackets for the Luftwaffe.

Think of the horror that is Nazism and then, think about Britain First, its threats to all who disagree with Nazi ideology, its incitement to murder Muslims (just as Hitler incited murder of the Jews), its contempt for law and order and its open hostility to human rights. Think of the Biffers’ hatred of Islam and the way they deceive to make Muslims look like a threat.

Then ask yourself this…

How can anyone support Britain First and still respect the men and women who fought and died to defeat the Nazis in World War II?

Our ancestors most certainly did not fight World War II so that we could hand power to British Nazis 70 years later!

BF EBF Exterminate gypsy Muslim undermenschen Nazi Roma

Download the full collection of today’s blog posts  EBF They fought for us

Post WW2 conflicts

Since the end of World War 2 the British military continues to be involved in conflicts across the globe. Some of these operations are easier to justify than others. The British support of America in the first and second Gulf wars for example attracts a great deal of criticism and condemnation. But that’s not the point of this series of Armistice Day blogs. Politicians start wars but servicemen and women are the ones who fight them.

Today we honour the individuals who find themselves under fire, regardless of the political process that placed them there. Those arguments are for another day.

Falkland Islands para route marchFrom Belfast to Iraq, from The Falkland Islands to Afghanistan, British and Commonwealth fighters have risked their lives in the name of Queen and country every day and they continue to do so.

Armistice Day on the eleventh day of the eleventh month recalls the end of the Great War but remembrance must encompass more than that.

Here at Exposing Britain First we’d like to say thankyou to all those who serve in defence of our country and its freedoms.

It’s true that sometimes we wish there might be a better way to deal with the world’s problems but that doesn’t detract from the courage individual military personnel show or from the fact that they deserve our respect and our thanks for having the courage to do what most (but not all) of us in Team EBF can only imagine.

To the men and women of the British army, the Royal navy and the Royal air force… we salute you!

When you buy your poppy this year, wear it with pride to honour the men and women who continue to face the dangers of war across the globe.

Download the full collection of today’s blog posts  EBF They fought for us

Abdol-Hossein Sardari: Islam’s Oskar Schindler

Yes, it’s true. We promised not to mention the Biffers at all on the EBF blog today but some things just need to be said. Britain First regularly publishes false information about Muslims persecuting other religious groups, especially Jews and Christians and they often point to the weakest of historical events to try to prove it. In truth the record of history tells a very different story that our next hero illustrates so well.

Abdol Hussain Sardari Islam ww2 paris iran ambassadorAbdol-Hossein Sardari was the Iranian ambassador in Paris when the occupying Nazis began rounding up the country’s Jews for forced labour or liquidation. As we have already seen they did this because of an ideological assumption that was based not upon observable science but on blind faith. The Nazis did try to evidence their claims about racial purity, even financing extensive but fruitless archaeological expeditions in the attempt but they could not. There was no evidence to be found because the cultural construct of race makes no significant sense anyway in any reasonable context.

Abdol used this lack of evidence to his advantage. If there was no real evidence to support the Nazi claims about racial purity, there was no need to worry about finding any. All he’d need then would be an emotive argument, persuasively delivered. That was all the Nazis had needed to consign central European Jews to their labour and death camps so presumably it would work in reverse too.

Speaking first on behalf of his own nationals, Sardari was able to convince the German authorities that Iranian Jews were genetically different from the rest of Jewry. They were descended from a different blood line and therefore not ‘tainted’ by the genealogical deficiencies of other Jews. He invented an entirely fictitious collection of research that ‘proved’ that Persian and Iranian Jews weren’t Semitic at all. He actually convinced the Nazis that ‘his’ Jews were really pure Aryan’s, like themselves! In other words, Iranian Jews were most definitely not ‘Untermenschen’. Having nothing beyond a perverse sense of their own ‘righteousness’ and ‘purity’ to guide them the Nazis fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Iranian Jews were spared the holocaust.

But Sardari didn’t stop there. Since there was no objective geneological evidence underlying the policy, all a Jew needed to be saved was an Iranian passport. Provide the illusion of citizenship and the Nazis, like the Angel of Death at passover, would simply move on.

holocaust-executionActually there was nothing ‘simple’ about it. Abdol-Hossein Sardari ran considerable personal risks, arranging Iranian passports and documents of citizenship for countless Jews. He had no authorisation from Iran to do this. Sardari was actually recalled by the Iranian government but he refused to comply. He remained in Paris, using his own considerable fortune to fund the elaborate deception and escape plan. Estimates vary but the lives he saved certainly ran well into the thousands if not the tens of thousands.

Had Sardari been discovered in his clandestine mission of mercy he would almost certainly have died. Yet his faith in Jihad, in the Islamic struggle to be righteous drove him, as it has so many others to protect the weak, the helpless and the non-combatant. Taking his inspiration from the Koran he held so dear Abdol had no option but to follow the demands of his religious conviction and risk everything in the name of peace and justice.

So the next time you read about the alleged hostility of Islam, remember Abdol-Hossein Sardari and the many like him who’s personal Jihad, what Muslims know as the ‘greater’ Jihad, was to be the best, most compassionate and most honourable person he could be, even in Nazi occupied France.

When you buy your poppy this year, wear it with pride in honour of Muslim men and women like Abdol-Hossein Sardari. It’s their poppy too!

 

Download the full collection of today’s blog posts  EBF They fought for us

Fighting for Poland and for Britain too

My grandparents were immigrants. But just as the vast majority of modern immigrants, they were more than worthy of their place in our society.

As with most of our grandparents, they didn’t talk too much of their trials during WWII but this is their tale, as accurate as I can make it.

Dziadek (Polish for grandad) was a young man from Postawy in Eastern Poland.

ww2 warsaw occupation polandHe joined the army and fled along with thousands of compatriots when Germany annexed the country.

Why did they run? Why didn’t they stop and fight? Sounds familiar huh?

Imagine charging Panzer Divisions on horseback or trying to shoot down Stukas with antiquated rifles…..Damn right you’d run!

Anyway, he eventually made his way across Europe and ended up in Scotland, where the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade was formed.

They were formed intending to drop into Poland and assist in the liberation of their homeland but the British government pressured them into joining Operation Market Garden.

On September 18th 1944 they were due to drop, alongside the gliders of the 1st British Airborne at Arnhem in Holland in an attempt to push German forces south, toward France and the allies advancing from that direction.

Bad weather meant the British gliders were able to deploy but it was too bad to parachute in so the Poles followed three days later, out of position, on the wrong side of the Rhine and where the Germans were waiting.

The battle of Arnhem is widely regarded as one of the biggest mistakes in military history, massive casualties were inflicted on both sides, Dziadek was extremely lucky to survive as many of his countrymen died alongside him and the whole thing ended up in a stalemate over THAT bridge, made famous in A Bridge Too Far

ww2 warsawMeanwhile, in Warsaw, Babcia (grandmother) was fighting her own battle alongside the Polish Resistance.

On August 1st 1944 the Russians were advancing from the east and liberation was imminent.

The sound of Chopins Polonaise rang through the streets of Warsaw, signalling the start of what was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The Russians halted outside the city so the Poles were left to battle against a far superior army, with spontaneous help from allied air forces. Over the course of two months around 20,000 Poles were killed, wounded or went missing in action compared with nearly 23,000 German troops. Nearly 200,000 civilians were killed and a further 700,000 were displaced due to the near-total destruction of the city.

15,000 Polish freedom fighters were also captured, Babcia one of them. She took a piece of shrapnel to the leg and spent the rest of the war in the hellhole known as Belsen. After the war she was in a demobilisation camp. One day she was struggling to get her hairdryer to work when a dashing young paratrooper happened to pass and fixed it for her, the rest is history

They spent a brief couple of years in Germany where my father was born and then decided to move to Britain as many Poles who’d fought alongside British forces did. They didn’t have much choice anyway, Dziadek’s hometown was now part of Belarus after the allies carved up much of Poland and Warsaw was all but levelled.

Looking back now I wish I’d questioned them more on their experiences but they were proud, strong people and it didn’t seem right to drag up their past and memories they might not want to recall.

We found out that Dziadek was younger than we thought after he passed, like many of his generation he’d lied about his age to join up (can’t imagine a proud biffer doing that, somehow! )

During one of our family get-togethers, alcohol fuelled, as Poles tend to do, Babcia came into the room with four bottles of homebrew held between the fingers of each of her hands. My brother and I jumped up to help but she shooed us away with, “this is how we carried the petrol bombs in Warsaw!”

A pair of awe inspiring heroes, much loved and sadly missed. I oppose Nazism in honour of their memory xxx

When you buy your poppy this year, wear it proudly and remember those brave poles who sacrificed so much for all of our freedom.

Download the full collection of today’s blog posts  EBF They fought for us

302 and 303 squadrons – The Free Polish Air Force in Britain

On September 1st 1939 the German army invaded Poland. The successful Blitzkrieg (lightning war) tactic of swift invasion supported by armoured artillery, rapidly moving infantry and massive air support got them to Warsaw with remarkable speed and the city fell, effectively signalling the collapse of Poland itself on September 17th.

Unable to continue the defence of their homeland, many Polish pilots and air crew fled to France where they joined the French air force and returned to the fray as the Germans continued their advance there. Once again however they were defeated. Undeterred, the surviving Polish pilots and air crew made their way to Britain and the Royal Air Force.

ww2 polish 303 squadron raf302 Squadron was formed on July 13th 1940 with 303 Squadron close on its heels coming into existence on August 2nd. Both squadrons fought in the Battle of Britain, the gallant action that drove back the Luftwaffe, prevented Germany from establishing air superiority across the channel from France and thus forced Hitler to abandon Operation Sea Lion (AKA the invasion of Britain). These two squadrons, although late to the Battle of Britain were responsible for one fifth of all German planes shot down over Britain. Without the aid of these 139 Polish airmen (303 squadron shot down more German planes than any other RAF Hurricane squadron) it is doubtful that the German invasion would have been halted. Britain may well have been occupied. That in turn could easily have resulted in a quick victory for Germany and for Nazism throughout Europe with no effective opposition to launch a counter-attack.

Without Britain’s continued resistance to the German war machine there would have been little or no commonwealth involvement and the Americans would have ignored Europe completely, concentrating all their forces upon the Pacific war with Japan instead. To put it another way, without the Polish airmen of 302 and 303 squadrons Germany would almost certainly have won the Second World War. And it wasn’t just the Polish pilots we need to be grateful for. In total around 17,000 Polish nationals fought for Britain. They represented their country (and ours) over air, land and sea and bled just as deeply as any Brit in the defence of freedom from Nazi totalitarianism.

When you buy your poppy this year, wear it with pride in honour of the Polish flyers who fought and died in defence of Britain. It’s their poppy too.

Download the full collection of today’s blog posts  EBF They fought for us

Remembrance, what it means to me, by a supporter

On every Remembrance Day there is one person in particular I remember – my grandfather. I had a very close relationship with him, or so I thought but it was actually after his death that I learned the most about him.

Way back when I was a child, my grandfather lived with us after he was widowed. He was actually a fairly quiet and private man but he had a lot of patience for ‘little me’ who followed him round constantly.

When I was about 10, he remarried and went to live with his new wife but I always went round to visit him. I never, ever thought at the time, that he was just listening to me and didn’t actually speak about his life before he first married.

When I was 13, I was took my first school trip to Belgium to see all the WW1 sights. Excited, I told him everything about my visit and he just listened intently. My step grandmother fought in both world wars and she was happy to talk me through her experiences but not my grandfather. He just listened to me, nodding and agreeing in all the right places. I have to make a brief mention that I was lucky enough to visit the Menin gate during a remembrance parade with WW1 veterans. It is something that will never leave me. I feel so honoured to have been able to do that and even at a young age it had a lifelong effect on me.

When I was 15, I got the opportunity to go to France to visit all the WW2 sites in Normandy. Again, I sat and told my grandfather about the trip and again, he listened while I spoke. I remember so vividly, that rather naively, I asked him what the air raids were like. He just said ‘frightening’ but not much more. He reached for a tin which had an old brass pencil sharpener in it and he told me I could have it. ‘It’s seen two world wars’ he said. I treasure it.

My grandfather died when I was in my late teens. It tortured my mother. That’s when she changed. She started to tell me that her father was a very difficult man when she was growing up. He became rather dependant on alcohol when my grandmother was ill and he could be abusive at times. She said she resented him and his relationship with me because I could see the good in him but she couldn’t. She struggled to see past the alcohol abuse when she was losing her mother.

As the years went on, time heals as they say and slowly my mother realised that she knew nothing of her father, his family or his past. He meant so much to me, I thought there must be more to his life to explain his difficult past and why he never spoke of it. I started doing a family tree.

My grandfather was born in 1910. His father, was a leading boatman for the coastguard so that meant moving about. In 1916 my great grandfather was seriously injured defending the north coast and died shortly after. I located his grave but it was unmarked – a paupers grave. It took several years for my great grandmother to get his war gratuity so I’m guessing it left them poor. They also lost their house because it was provided by the coastguard. My grandfather started work when he was 14 as a butcher boy. My grandfather, losing his father at such a young age was bound to have had an impact but it may not explain everything so with the help of my mother, I requested my grandfather’s war record.

Nothing could have prepared me or my mother for what was in that record. We had no idea. For the ten years previous to WW2 my grandfather had lived and served in India. In 1939 at the outbreak of WW2 he lost his mother. This explained why he didn’t ever speak of his parents, he’d lost them both so long ago.

ww2 burmaMy grandfather started the war in Africa, then in 1942 he served in Burma. He was part of the first wave as a driver/mechanic in the second royal tank regiment. It was hell. There is no doubt about that. The Japanese were brutal and the troops couldn’t do anything but leave. My grandfather was responsible for destroying tanks and cars to stop them falling into enemy hands and he had a long, long walk, a very dangerous walk, to India. It took around two months. Having read the book ‘Exodus Burma’ I got a sense of the horror he faced.

My grandfather had experienced the most horrific conditions, in a battle the troops were completely unprepared for. Dropping supplies was risky for allied forces because the Japanese also benefited from the drops and going out in the open was dangerous so food and supplies were very scarce. The Japanese were experts at jungle warfare and were beyond brutal, They used humans strapped to vehicles, setting traps to draw men out to shoot them. The roads were lined with rotting corpses and dying/injured men, women and children. The troops faced horrendous weather conditions and dangerous rivers to cross. Many drowned, became injured or too weak to make the journey. My grandfather was one of the lucky ones. He made it. He was emaciated and suffering from Dysentery but he made it. He earned the Burma star. But the war didn’t end there. He was given a few weeks to recover and then he was off to Iraq. Then he was stationed in Italy to end the war and earned his Italy star.

So there we had the facts and it went such a long way in explaining my grandfather’s past. I initially felt very sad that I was not able to listen to his story, in his own words but he must have made a decision to never revisit the horrors of war. I’ve since learned that many who served in Burma kept the horror to themselves including my father in-law. It’s a miracle that he manged a full working life after and he raised four children. He really was an incredible man and my mother sees that now as well. War clearly had an impact on him and it defined him – we just didn’t know it. So now, every remembrance day I think of my grandfather. An amazing man who served in, what has been named as, the forgotten war.

When you buy your poppy this year, wear it with pride in honour of those who fought and died in ‘the forgotten war’

Download the full collection of today’s blog posts  EBF They fought for us

Noor Inayat Khan

Have you ever been afraid? Not just a bit scared or worried but really, really afraid? Terrified perhaps? What about the deep, instinctive fear that comes from being surrounded by strangers who, even though they don’t know you at all wish only to do you harm?

How many of us can honestly say they know what that feels like? How many of us would willingly choose to put themselves in such a situation?

Our next hero wasn’t a uniformed soldier giving her all on some battle-scarred battlefield surrounded by flashing artillery and the unburied corpses of fallen comrades. She was an altogether different kind of warrior with an altogether different method of operation.

EBF Hero Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan was a courageous young Muslim woman who despite her light brown skin (a considerable handicap in Nazi occupied Europe) chose willingly to serve undercover in occupied France on behalf of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). With full knowledge of the horrors that would await her if captured she trained as a radio operator and worked alongside the French resistance. She operated right under the noses of both the German army and the universally dreaded Gestapo, Hitler’s sadistic secret police force. The dangers were immense and the likelihood of survival once discovered were microscopically small.

Without the remarkable contribution of special agents such as Noor Inayat Khan and her comrades and the information they channelled both to and from the Allies and the French it is likely that the war in Europe would have cost many more innocent lives and the Germans would have been able to divert more resources to other theatres of war. The constant harassment of occupying forces by resistance fighters and saboteurs, supplied and orchestrated from London was a vital part of the war effort but it wasn’t without cost. Noor was captured, tortured and abused before being shipped off to Dachau concentration camp where, brutalised and starved she was finally executed in 1944. Her sacrifice, though not as dramatic as the battlefield exploits of decorated commandos or battle-scarred Brigadiers was every bit as tragic and every bit as altruistic as theirs.

When you buy your poppy this year, wear it proudly in memory of Noor Inayat Khan

Download the full collection of today’s blog posts  EBF They fought for us

A wartime childhood

I was born in 1937 so by the time the second world war began I was not old enough to understand what was happening.

I suppose I must have been about four or five years old before I was able to begin to understand that life was not necessarily the same as it had always been. However my parents and those of my friends made a very good job of hiding the realities of war from us.

My father had his own Joiner’s business and began to find it difficult to obtain timber so of course our income was greatly reduced. Food began to be in short supply but everyone was in the same situation so we made the best of it. It was made more difficult when the local butcher decided that because we were a small family we did not have enough coupons to buy meat, so obtaining enough nourishment was difficult. Week after week my mother would go to the butchers shop and stand in the queue only to be told “There is no meat for YOU this week Mrs H.” We have often wondered where it went! Perhaps the man and his wife who used to visit certain houses after dark with bulging overcoats could have told us.

WW2 childrenMany families had very little to eat for Christmas Dinner. My friend’s family were going to sit down to egg and chips one year. Fortunately my Father was able to help them out. He happened to be a very good chess player and every Christmas the local Chess Club held a competition with a Turkey as first prize. So that was Christmas Dinner taken care of!

One night there was a knock on the door and a neighbour was standing there. He was home on leave and had managed to get hold of a bunch of grapes. He had carefully cut the bunch into smaller parts enough to give one little ‘bunch’ to every child in the street. I had never seen a grape before. Fruit has never tasted so sweet. Thank you Bob for your kindness.

Toys were in short supply so every Christmas my dad would make sets of bricks for all the neighbours’ children and distribute them on Christmas Eve.

My schooldays were happy ones. The teachers appealed to parents and the general public to let them have any spare paper for us to work on, but I was blissfully unaware that it wasn’t usual to write on squares of wallpaper. It doesn’t seem to have done my education any harm though!

We had few evacuees in our area, but I remember one shy little girl arriving at our school and not receiving a very kind welcome from some of the local children. She was a Londoner and they had never heard her accent before so several of them decided to bully her. However a number of us decided to befriend this child and as we outnumbered the bullies they soon slunk away. ‘Twas ever thus!!

Living in a fairly quiet part of the North we didn’t have the horror of the bombings taking place in cities all over the country. I vividly remember my mother taking me to visit her cousin in Manchester in about 1942 and being taken by my half cousins to their favourite playground. A heap of rubble opposite their house which had once been someone’s home.

Dark nights were the norm. No street lights, absolutely no lights shining from windows and only the tiniest amount of light allowed from hand torches which had paper stuck over them with only a tiny slit for the light to shine through.

We would sometimes go to the Cinema with some neighbours and their daughter. Coming home in the pitch dark seemed a great adventure to us as we happily skipped along singing ‘Who’s afraid of the dark?” One night we left the cinema to discover it had been snowing and the ground and rooftops were white. There was a full moon which made everything look as bright as day………..We couldn’t understand why we were shepherded home as fast as possible. We would have loved to play snowballs.

In common with every town in the land there was a possibility of air raids. My mother decided that the safest place to shelter from any bombs was in the understairs pantry, where she provided cushions to sit on. As she also left all the tins, glass jars and bottles on the shelves, it was probably not the safest choice!

None of these things had much impact upon me as I grew up until at the end of the war I was taken to the cinema by my parents. There they showed a newsreel of the first soldiers entering Belsen and finding people in the late stages of starvation, literally living skeletons waiting to die and heaps of bodies piled up to rot. The result of Nazi hatred and inhumanity. I can remember it still.

I pray that the present threat of Fascism in defeated so that never again will people be persecuted because they are perceived to be ‘different’.

Let us embrace and rejoice in our differences and stand firm against such oppressors. For then our world will be a richer and more peaceful place.

When you buy your poppy this year, wear it proudly in honour of all those parents who never made it back to help their children grow up.

 

Download the full collection of today’s blog posts  EBF They fought for us