British Troops In Finland 1940

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by CanKiwi2 » 09 Apr 2012 19:50

A bit more information on Karl Nurk, an Estonian who was with the British Volunteers (one of the other threads has some info on him but I think this provides a bit more detail and background.

Lieutenant Karl Nurk was an Estonian, born in Tartu on 24 June 1904, died in South Africa 28 July 1976. As a 13 year old volunteer, he had been one of the youngest soldiers in the Estonian War of Independence. After Estonia had secured its independence, he had taken part in the fighting against the Russians in Eastern Karelia as a volunteer. He then attended the H. Treffneri Gümnaasium (in Tartu, Eesti) from which he graduated in 1923. He then served in the Estonian War Ministry but in 1924, he decided to embark on adventurous journey into the wider world beyond Estonia. He travelled to France, where he met a fellow Estonian, Evald Marks, who had an unusual plan - to "walk" across the Sahara desert. The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website mentions that in 1925, two young men from Tartu, Evald Marks and Karl Nurk, spent some time in Tunisia and that in November of the same year they set off from the city of Gafsa on their 7 month hike through the Sahara Desert. They apparently started out with camels but ended the journey on foot after their camels died (there were also rumors that the two had deserted from the French Foreign Legion but this seems to be fictional rather than factual).

After their successful desert crossing, they spent some time in the French corner of Central Africa as professional elephant hunters (hunting for ivory was fairly lucrative in the inter-war years if you were up to the challenge of successfully shooting enough elephants to make it worthwhile). Later the two continued on to British East Africa, they are recorded in 1928 as having been Estate Managers for the Earl of Lovelace in the area around Babati, Kenya, where the Earl owned coffee estates. In 1934 Nurk once again began to hunt elephants in Tanganyika. At some stage it appears he married an Englishwoman who owned a sizable plantation and thus became somewhat wealthy himself. Back in the UK at the outbreak of WW2, when the Winter War broke out, Karl Nurk visited the Finnish Embassy in London and expressed the wish to go for help in the fight of the Finns against the Russians. The Finnish Embassy referred him to the British Volunteer unit being set up, where Nurk successfully presented himself as a military veteran with experience fighting in Karelia as well as a successful citizen of British East Africa.

Nurk was promptly signed up and commissioned as a Lieutenant and served as a Platoon Commander with the British Volunteers in Finland. He managed to escape through Petsamo by ship to New York, after which he returned to the UK and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the British Army on October 1940 (ref the London Gazette). Second Lieutenant Nurk would serve with the 2nd East African Irregulars in the war against the Italians in Abyssinia, training Ethiopian Irregular units. In November 1941 he was involved in the conquest of Gondar. In a book published after the war in the UK (1949) about the fighting in Abyssinia, Nurk was repeatedly mentioned by name – at the time, on 21 October 1941 (ref London Gazette) he was promoted to Captain (General List) and awarded the Military Cross.

After completion of his assignment Abyssinia he was posted to Iran and then in 1942 to Cairo, where he was on the General Staff. In 1944 he was part if the SAS unit sent to Yugoslavia and based on Visi Island, from where they supplied and supported Tito’s forces and carried out raids against the Germans, actions in which Nurk often took part. In one such attack against the Germans Nurk was wounded by a grenade after which he was sent to a hospital in Italy and then to Algeria to recover. In August 1944 he was dropped into southern France behind the front as part of a SAS unit. His unit was in contact with the French resistance movement, and carried out a series of attacks behind the German lines. Roy Farran mentions Nurk a number of times in his recollection of his time in the SAS during WW2, however he is referred to in Phillip Warner’s “The SAS” as a White Russian.

On 13 June 1944 Nurk is mentioned in the London Gazette has having been awarded the DSO and somewhere in this timeframe he was promoted to Major. In 1947, shortly after WW2, Nurk became a British Citizen (Naturalisation Certificate: Karl Nurk. From Russia. Certificate AZ28546 issued 21 June 1947) and in 1949 he was awarded the Military Medal of Haile Selassie 1st Class. From 1949 to 1953 he was part of the British Military Mission in Greece. From 1954 to 1957 he was attached to the British Embassy in Greece and from 1958 to 1960 he was the British military attaché at the British Embassy in Ethiopia, at which time he is recorded as holding the rank of Colonel. After retiring from the military, he lived for some time in the UK, where he had an acting role in the 1965 movie, “The Naked Brigade” playing the role of Professor Forsythe. In 1966 he moved to South Africa where he lived for the last 10 years of his life. Having survived countless adventures, Karl Nurk died on 28 July 1976. He was survived by his wife and son.
Last edited by CanKiwi2 on 10 Apr 2012 11:27, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by CanKiwi2 » 11 Apr 2012 00:37

Kermit Roosevelt talks to the British Volunteers - British newsclip....

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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by T.T. » 11 Apr 2012 02:21

Absolutely fascinating stuff. Especially the Boer War connection was news to me.

Keep it coming!

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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by CanKiwi2 » 11 Apr 2012 12:07

T.T. wrote:Absolutely fascinating stuff. Especially the Boer War connection was news to me.

Keep it coming!
Hei TT, I agree on the absolutely fascinating!Interesting to see how so many of the British Vounteers went on to join the British special forces units such as the Commandoes, SAS and SOE and the things they got up to when they did. I am just working my way thru the list of names of the known Volunteers seeing what I can find out on each and its amazing what ou can put together from a few snippets here and there. Have Justin Brookes book on order right now, just waiting for it to arrive to see what else is in there on these guys that I might have missed. Anyhow, going to keep working thru the list for the Volunteer unit and then its on to the 5th Battalion Scots Guards to see what I can come up with on them.

As for the Boer War, that was an unexpected surprise indeed. I am going to play that connection for all its worth in my What If - the De La Rey Boer Volunteer Battalion in the Winter War :lol: - but have to get thru these Brits first!!!!!

Cheers.............Nigel
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Richard Aitken-Quack - Volunteer Pilot with T-Lento R 2

Post by CanKiwi2 » 11 Apr 2012 17:38

Second Lieutenant Richard Welford Aitken-Quack

In the list of British Volunteers, Richard Welford Aitken-Quack has his occupation listed as Accountant. Born in 1913, Aitken-Quack received a short service commission as an Acting Pilot Officer on probation with effect from, and with seniority dating from, 23rd December 1935 (London Gazette 7 January 1936). He lost his short service commission in mid-1936 due to unauthorized leave (London Gazette 11th July 1936) after which he went to Spain and flew in the Spanish Civil War – a note in Squadron 609 ORB from 1 December 1943 states “…A veteran of the Spanish Civil War, in which he flew Boeing fighters V. general Francos forces (and possibly did battle against P/O Comte de Grunne, another 609 pilot who was in that war)”. Given that the Republicans only had one Boeing P-26 fighter (a single example was demonstrated in Spain before the civil war, and was requisitioned by the government on the outbreak of war. It was shot down in 1937, after which compensation was paid to the Boeing company) this needs a little more research to verify.

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http://www.airwar.ru/history/aces/ace2w ... aitken.jpg
Richard Welsford Aitken-Quack – a British Pilot with a very colorful biography. He fought as a volunteer Pilot for the Republicans in Spain from the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. He signed a contract with the government to fly for a monthly salary of 200 pound). Of his military operations, very little is known. He himself said that he flew a number of flights in the Boeing P-26.

After the Spanish Civil War, Atitken-Quack volunteered to fly for Finland in the Winter War, where he was assigned to T-LentoR 2. After returning from Finland, Richard Aitken-Quack (re)enlisted in the ranks of the RAF as an AC2 in May 1942 but soon became a Sergeant Pilot (F/Sgt. Richard Welsford Aitken-Quack, 1805819) and was posted to No. 609 Squadron on 6th April 1943, as a Sgt, as per the Squadron ORB. The Squadron was flying Typhoons, and, again from the Squadron ORB of 19 November, 1943: “F/Sgt Aitken-Quack today interviewed pending posting to Training Command. He becomes one of 3 (out of about 50) selected as Fighter Controller (Invasion). This automatically implies a commission, previously rejected because he once overstayed leave before the war.”

Aitken-Quack was shot down on 1 December 1943 near Roubaix (south of Valenciennes, northern France) in France whilst flying from Lympne in a Hawker Typhoon 1b (JP924 PR-S). The concluding paragraph of the 609 Squadron ORB entry for 1st December 1943 states: “F/Sgt Aitken-Quack, who was on probably his last operational sortie before leaving the squadron, was one of its more picturesque characters. A veteran of the Spanish Civil War, in which he flew Boeing fighters V. general Francos forces (and possibly did battle against P/O Comte de Grunne, another 609 pilot who was in that war) he had also been in Finland during the Russo-Finnish War. He could thus speak several languages fluently, and it is hoped that these and his general buccaneering experience may get him back to this country before very long.”

Aitken-Quack parachuted from his aircraft, which fell to the ground at Beaudigeis near Valenciennes. On landing, he was picked up by the French Resistance and brought to Guise, where he was probably looked after in the home of the veterinarian, after which he was brought by Marcel Nicolas of Le Quesnoy to his own home on the 13th of December 1943. He left on the 18th of January for Creil where he was handed over to the “JO” repatriation organization. (Excerpted from the notes of Capt. Étienne Dromas. Capt. Dromas was the head of the Chauny Escape Line in the department Aisne). Aitken-Quack initially evaded capture, but was caught in Paris on 5th February 1944 and became a POW for the remainder of the War.

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Photo sourced from: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-9gsR6ls0-MY/T ... 055165.jpg
Pilots of 609 "West Riding of Yorkshire" Squadron, photographed at Manston ( 22 July 1943 ). Standing, from Left to Right: Sgt Georges Watelet (Belgian), Sgt B.L.J. Foley (Australian), Sgt R.O. Ellis (British), F/O J.R. "Johnny" Baldwin (British), F/O A.S. Ross (American), F/O F.J. Reahill (British), P/O Georges "Poupa" Jaspis (Belgian), F/Sgt H.W. McMann (Canadian), Sgt R.W. Aitken-Quack (British), Sgt J.G. McLaughlin (Australia), Sgt F.J. Bryan (Canadian).

Seated, from Left to Right: F/O W.F. Watts (British), F/Sgt G.K.E. Martin (Australian), F/O J. Niblett (British), F/O E.R.A. Roberts (British), F/Lt L.E. Smith (British), S/Ldr A. Ingle (British), F/Lt E. Haabjørn (Norwegian), F/Sgt Andrea " le Men " Blanco (Belgian), F/O I.J. Davies (British), W/O R.E. Bavington (Australian), F/O Joseph Renier (Belgian), Sgt Joseph Zegers (Belgian).
Released at the end of the war he remained in the RAF until December 1946, when he left the service with the rank of Warrant Officer. His later years were spent in Papua, New Guinea, and Darwin, Australia. Richard Welford Aitken-Quack died in Australia – his funeral notice was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 3 January 1966, with the funeral taking place on the 4th of January and mentioning that he was “Late of Potts Point.”


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Photo sourced from: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5 ... SS500_.jpg
See: “The Flyers: The Untold Story of British and Commonwealth Airmen in the Spanish Civil War and other Wars from 1919 to 1940” by Brian Bridgman, Upton-upon-Severn: Self Publishing Assoc., 1989 - p.184.
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Eric Maund - Winter War Volunteer

Post by CanKiwi2 » 11 Apr 2012 22:12

It seems like the magazine below may have a series of articles on Eric Maund, a Winter War Volunteer (machine engineer, Lieutenant, 1911 from the list of Volunteers). Would anyone by any chance have a copy of these or be able to get a copy from somewhere and scan in the articles - I'd be quite happy to turn my hand to a rough translation if anyone can track them down.

Kiitos..........Nigel

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SISÄLTÖ / CONTENTS 4 / 2008:
V.L. D.27 HAUKKA II PIIRUSTUSSIVU s.2
PZL-101 GAWRON - KUIN KORPPI KONSANAAN s.4
UOLEVI VAHTIKARI, METSÄLENNON ENSIMMÄINEN GAWRON-PILOTTI s.11
AERO OY:N TOIMINTA TALVISODAN AIKANA s.16
ERIC MAUND, TALVISODAN VAPAAEHTOINEN s.18
ADOLF HITLER IMMOLASSA 4.6.1942 s.20

Eric Maund a Winter War Volunteer, Part 3 (Part 2 is in March/2008 and Part 1 in Feb 2008).

Eric Maund was one of the few qualified foreign volunteers in the Winter War. His diary forms an interesting trip report.
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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by Tero T » 11 Apr 2012 22:42

I do have the 1996 issue volume 1 that discusses all volunteers in the Airforce. I will scan and send it through. Unfortunately I do not have any issues in in the 2000's. Regards Tero T

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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by Juha Tompuri » 12 Apr 2012 20:01

Hi!

About the foreign volunteer pilots/mechanics book Parolasta Pyhäniemeen (From Parola to Pyhäniemi) by Ahti Saarinen has a quite detailed list I believe.
There Aitken-Quack (Ltn in Finland) has mentioned having flown 700hrs (before arriving Finland) and being a Hotel owner.
After Winter War he worked as a accountant and english language teacher in Helsinki. Moved in 1941 to Sweden and from there 1942 to UK.

Online perhaps Harri has here the most detailed one:
http://www.oocities.org/finnmilpge/fmp_forpilots.html

Regards, Juha

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Lieutenant Sir Graeme Duncan Power Sinclair-Lockhart

Post by CanKiwi2 » 12 Apr 2012 23:24

Lieutenant Sir Graeme Duncan Power Sinclair-Lockhart, British Volunteer

Sir Graeme Duncan Power Sinclair-Lockhart (b. 29 Jan 1897 in New Zealand – deceased 15 Feb 1959) was the 12th Baronet of Stevenson (County Haddington, Nova Scotia, Canada), a title that dates back to 18 June 1636and was awarded by King James I of England. Sir Graeme was the son of Sir Robert Duncan Sinclair-Lockhart (b.1859-d.1918), the 11th Baronet and Flora Louisa Jane Beresford Power. Sir Graeme was educated at Wanganui Collegiate New Zealand (1911-1915) and was working on a sheep station on the East Coast of New Zealand on the outbreak of WW1. He enlisted in 1916 in the New Zealand Mounted Rifles as a Trooper #31096. His occupation is listed as Shepherd and he embarked from New Zealand on 5 December 1916 as part of the 20th Reinforcements (First Section), NZMR, leaving Wellington on HMNZT70, the “Waihora” for Suez and joining up with the 11th Squadron of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. He was invalided after the Gaza Battle and an artiucle about him mentions “he again associated himself with station interests” – one surmises that this was in New Zealand.

Sir Graeme’s father, Sir Robert Duncan Sinclair-Lockhart, the 11th Baronet and who was associated with the banking business in New Zealand, died suddenly in 1918 during the time of the influenza outbreak. His obituary from 14 November 1918 states “Died suddenly at his residence, Upland Rd, Remuera, yesterday. Sir Robert, who was 58 years of age, was a son of the late Mr George Duncan Lockhart and on the death of his uncle in 1904 he succeeded to the baronetcy. His estate is at Castle Hill, Lanark, Scotland. He also held the baronetcy of Sinclair of Stevenson. In 1895 he married a daughter of Captain Edward POWER. There is one daughter and five sons, of whom Mr Graeme D P LOCKHART, who recently returned from active service, is heir to the title. At one time Sir Robert was a member of the auctioneering firm of Wakelin and Crane, Whangarei, from which he retired on assuming the title. The deceased was greatly interested in all forms of sport and was a keen yachtsman and polo player. As a member of the Pakuranga Hunt Club he was a regular follower of the hounds. He was a steward of the Auckland Racing Club and also a member of the committee of the Auckland A & P Society. He is survived by Lady Lockhart and their family.

Sir Graeme succeeded to the title. At this time he apparently proceeded to Scotland to look after the estates to which he had succeeded (which included 6,500 acres of farmland on the Clyde, a coal pit which was leased out and which also included the position of head of the Sinclair of Caithness Clan. A newspaper article dated 22 October 1920 records him as a “Fresher” attending Pembroke College, Cambridge University although how long he attended university is questionable as a further newspaper article dated 5 May 1921 (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bi ... 10505.2.45) records that he “arrived in Sydney recently” on the SS Morea on his way home to New Zealand where his mother and brothers resided after he was forced to sell half the estate to cover British death duties. The article also mentions that he had taken leave from the “Scottish Horse” in which he held the rank of Lieutenant, having been recommended for a commission by the Duke of Atholl (note: actually it would have been the Lovat Scouts - the London Gazette of 1 February 1921 records that Sir Graeme was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Lovat Scouts, a Territorial Army unit, effective 6th November 1920).

It seems likely that he remained in New Zealand for some time as in 1928, when he was arrested and charged in Auckland for being intoxicated in charge of a motor car and fined fifty pounds, Sir Graeme’s address is recorded as Mountain Road, Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand and his Clubs as the Caledonian and the R.A.C. (Ref: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bi ... --1----2--). Sir Graeme married Jeanne Hamilton FERGUSON, only child of Capt. John Ferguson on 9 May 1932 (they were divorced in 1947). The Glasgow Herald of 8 July 1932 mentions that “Sir Graeme and Lady Sinclair-Lockhart have been spending a few days quietly at Beechlands, Cathcart, the home of Mr. Andrew Mitchell, before setting off for Spain. It is only a few months since Sir Graeme Sinclair-Lockhart married Miss Jeanne Ferguson of Glasgow, and it is unfortunate that their first year of married life should have been made anxious by illness. Sir Graeme is at present recuperating from a rather nasty bout of pneumonia.” In 1936, the couple were recorded in the Miami News (29 March 1936) as attending the spring races at Tropical Park, viewing from the Presidential Suite box with a party of guests including a number of american socialites and three British Naval Officers from HMS Dundee.

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Photo sourced from: http://images.npg.org.uk/790_500/2/2/mw60222.jpg
Lieutenant Sir Graeme Duncan Power Sinclair-Lockhart, 12th Baronet from a Photo by Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, 16 June 1920 (National Portrait Gallery, London. Given by Bassano and Vandyk Studios, 1974.

Sir Graeme volunteered to fight in Finland in the Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40 and was in Finland with the British Volunteers when the war ended. On the 15th Feb 1940 the London Gazette mentions that he is transferred from the Scouts (Scottish Horse) retaining rank and seniority. In an article in an Australian newspaper from 3 January 1943, it appears that after the Winter War, Sir Graeme spent 18 months in Sweden before returning to Britain.

HAPLESS FINNS. "Appalling Conditions" Described LONDON, Jan 3.--Sir Graeme Sinclair-Lockhart who is well known in Australia and New Zealand, has returned to Britain to join the army after 18 months in Sweden. In an interview he depicted Finland as goaded by the Nazis to continue the war against Russia and stripped of all available warm clothing to equip Hitler's army. "Over a year ago when I visited Finland conditions were appalling," he said. "Starvation and disease were sweeping the country and a large percentage of its manpower had been destroyed. Civilians were living on black bread. Porridge and meat were unobtainable. The Finns are thoroughly sick of the war but cannot withdraw. What conditions are like in Helsinki today I cannot imagine."

The London Gazette of 16 Feb 1943 records 2nd Lieutenant Sir Graeme D P Sinclair-Lockhart (47418) as transferring from the Royal Artillery to the Intelligence Corps as of 17th February 1943, retaining his present seniority. He served as a Captain in Intelligence from 1943 to 1947. In 1947 his wife divorced him in New Zealand – “AUCKLAND. — The unusual case of the. wife of a Scottish baronet, Lady Jane Hamilton Sinclair Lockhart, obtaining a divorce from her husband, Sir Graeme Duncan Power Sinclair-Lockhart of Lanark, Scotland, in a New Zealand court was heard in Dunedin. A divorce was granted on the ground of desertion. The action was undefended. The reason it was heard in New Zealand was that the respondent was born and spent his youth in the- Dominion, which is his domicile of origin. The wife, who was born in Glasgow, acquired her husband’s nationality.” A last reference to Sir Graeme is found in February 19521, as an author of “The Black Pearls of Fatu-Hiva - A weird story from the South Seas as told by Sir Graeme Sinclair-Lockhart” in The Wide World Magazine.
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Alfred Basil Brailsford "Basil" Woodburn, Transport (logisti

Post by CanKiwi2 » 13 Apr 2012 21:27

Alfred Basil Brailsford "Basil" Woodburn, Transport (logistic) Manager, Lance Corporal, b. 1911

Alfred Basil Brailsford "Basil" Woodburn was born on 2 November 1910. He married Audrey Rosaline Bateman-Champain, daughter of Brig.-Gen. Hugh Frederick Bateman-Champain and Dorothy Gertrude Arbuthnot, on 22 June 1937. He volunteered to fight in Finland with the British Volunteers in the 1939-1940 Winter War. After returning to Britain, he served in the Black Watch, posted to 1st Battalion The Kings Regiment (Liverpool) (77 Indian Infantry Bde) with the rank of Lieutenant (Regimental#321337), where he ended up fighting in Burma with the Chindits under the overall command of Orde Wingate.

It was in the fighting in Burma in 1944 that lieutenant Woodburn was awarded the Military Cross. The recommendation was date 29 May 1944 and reads “Action for which commended: From the morning of 22 May until 1200 hrs 24th May this Officer with his platoon were given two positions to hold, a counter attack to accomplish, and were used to cover the withdrawal of other troops through a position they were holding. During these various engagements, the strength of this platoon was cut down by casualties to 1 Officer and 10 men. Throughout this time the courage and leadership shown by this Officer was an example not only to his own platoon but to neighbouring units. Seldom could a higher example have been shown.” A further citation by Lieut-Colonel Heming, Commanding 1st Bn The Cameronians reads: “This officer with only ten men was ordered to counter attack up the side of a steep ridge that had been overrun by the enemy. With great courage he led the men himself and reoccupied the position. On 25th May he was filling a gap on the ridge between two other platoons when the enemy attacked. By his steadfast and personal courage he held his men together on the position until ordered to withdraw.”

The London Gazette of 3 June 1952 mentions that B. B. WOODBURN, M.C. (321337), from. Active List, to be Capt., 15th Jan. 1952, retaining his present seniority, indicating that in 1952 he was still in the Army. A further mention is found in The London Gazette of 27 Dec 1960 A. B. B. WOODBURN, MC (3121337), having exceeded the age limit, ceases to belong to the TA. Res. of Offrs., 28th Dec. 1960, and is granted the hon. Rank of Capt. The last mention found is from 4 May 1980, when Capt. Woodburn and his wife were murdered in South Africa, he at the age of 69, she at the age of 65.
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Lieutenant Martin Edward Meakin Herford, Medical Doctor

Post by CanKiwi2 » 13 Apr 2012 21:29

Lieutenant Martin Edward Meakin Herford, Medical Doctor, b. 1909, Switzerland

Martin Edward Meakin Herford (1909 - 2002) was a military doctor, pioneer in the occupational health of young workers. He was the second son of Oscar and Ethilda Herford who married in 1907. His father was a businessman based in Calcutta, India who was of German Jewish origins, with the family name of Haarbleicher. When anti-German feeling became extreme at the time of WW1, the family changed its name to Herford. His mother was born 6 December 1872, the daughter of Edward Meakin and Sarah Ann Budgett and died 26 Aug. 1956. Her Who’s Who entry gives her profession as "Hon. Physician, British Hospital for the Treatment of Mental Disorders; Hon. Physician, London Clinic of Psychoanalysis; Psychological research, Maudsley Hospital; Psycho-therapist (consultant)." Martin Herford gained his Bachelor of Medicine" degree (MB) and MD designation in 1937 in Bristol. After qualifying as a Doctor, he travelled to Spain to work with children suffering from starvation as a result of the Spanish civil war. After returning to the UK, he volunteered to serve in Finland with the British Volunteers, arriving in Finland in early March 1940.

He would journey via Sweden, the USSR, and Turkey to Egypt where he enlisted in the RAMC in January 1941. On 22 January 1941 he was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) as a Lieutenant (emergency commission, Regimental # 175256) where he worked in the General Hospital (Helmieh, Egypt) to 27 Feb 1941, at which time he was posted to the Casualty Clearing Station RAMC (Greece) (liaison and evacuating British troops) through to May 1941. Returning to North Africa, he was promoted to Second-in Command, 7 Motor Ambulance Convoy RAMC (Western Desert, North Africa). On 22 January 1942 he was promoted to Captain and appointed Acting/Major and Commanding Officer, 16 Motor Ambulance Convoy RAMC (Western Desert, North Africa, wounded 23 July 1942, hospitalized & posted to 15 (Scottish) General Hospital 9 November 1942), holding the post until April 1943. In April 1943 he took command of 200 Field Ambulance RAMC (attached to the 231st Infantry Brigade in Sicily and then in Italy), holding this command until May 1944. From May 1944 to August 1945 he was Commanding Officer, 163 Field Ambulance RAMC – while holding this command, he was confirmed in the Rank of Major on 22 August 1944 and at the same time given the Rank of T/Lt.Col.

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Photo sourced from: http://www.pegasusarchive.org/arnhem/Bi ... ford_1.jpg
Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Edward Meakin Herford (1909 - 2002). By late-1944 he had been promoted from Lieutenant to Lieutenant-Colonel over a 4 year period and had distinguished military career behind him in Sicily and Italy. He was now the Commanding Officer of 163 Field Ambulance, had been awarded a Bar to his Military Cross early in 1944 to accompany the MBE he received earlier in the war. His Field Ambulance Unit was part of the ground forces attempting to reach Arnhem.

Lt-Col. Herford, although not an Airborne soldier, played a critical role in the establishment of the “Airborne Hospital” at Apeldoorn, near Arnhem during the Battle and in the month afterwards which saved the lives of many Airborne soldiers, along with some civilians and German personnel. On 24 September 1944, he was granted permission to organise an attempt to get urgently needed medical supplies over the Rhine to Oosterbeek, accompanied by Capt Percy Louis from HQ Airborne Corps, and four ORs from 163 Field Ambulance. Although this supply mission ultimately failed, his presence in Arnhem was vital in co-ordinating Medical Services for the wounded (Cpt Louis would later drown attempting to re-cross the Rhine to Allied lines, whilst the ORs were captured shortly afterwards). The relief attempt began in daylight displaying a Red Cross flag to the south bank of the river, where they found an abandoned assault boat and paddled across the Rhine. Reaching the north bank safely, Lt Col Herford went forward to 'reconnoitre' and soon ran into some Germans troops who captured him. Over the next few hours he met various German officers at different locations before reaching a German HQ in Ede.

Lt Col Herford was instructed to go Apeldoorn to visit the Chief Regional Medical Officer, Lt Col Zingerlin, by the German HQ at Ede. On 25 September Herford arrived in Apeldoorn. Zingerlin informed him that many wounded British soldiers were expected as a result of a truce that had occurred in Oosterbeek which allowed the evacuation of wounded. The German occupied hospitals were already pretty full and Zingerlin took Herford to a pre-war Dutch Army base, the Willem III Kaserne Barracks, where he suggested around 250 lightly wounded Airborne troops could be treated. Lt Col Herford later said he suggested the Barracks should be made a ‘British Hospital’ and staffed by British medical personnel, which Lt Col Zingerlin agreed to. The British personnel were happy with this idea, as it was hoped the 2nd Army might soon secure a bridgehead on the North Bank of the Rhine nearby and soon relieve Apeldoorn, although this Allied advance would ultimately fail to materialise. Later on the afternoon of 25 September, casualties began pouring into the barracks and were being laid in rows upon piles of straw. As Lt Col Herford was unknown to any of the Airborne officers he was initially treated with some suspicion - a possible 'stool pigeon' planted among them by the German Intelligence Services. It soon became clear however that he was genuine. His fluency in German proved invaluable to help overcome numerous differences of opinion.

When the Divisional ADMS, Col Graeme Warrack, arrived at around 1900 hrs on 26 September, and assumed command, he established an HQ, and retained Lt Col Herford as his Second-in Command. Herford remained as an integral part of the Hospital until he, along with several other Officers, escaped during a night of bad weather on 16 October 1944. Herford escaped by swimming the Rhine and with him brought the names of all the wounded British soldiers. He went on to organise medical services at Belsen and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in March 1945 for his actions at Arnhem and in North West Europe. After the war, he remained in the Royal Army Medical Corps and rose to become an Acting Colonel (31 August 1945) and a full Colonel in the TA in 24 February 1950.

After the war he studied occupational medicine in the United States and on his return to the UK, worked in the field. Predeceased by his wife, Mary, he left three daughters and nine grandchildren.

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Photo sourced from: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XiYbVbVvn2o/T ... 0/DAW2.jpg
The Cover Image from “A Doctor at War”: The writer, M R Hall, comments in the updated forward: “Now and again one has the privilege of meeting someone truly inspiring. I had such an encounter in 1995 with the then eighty-six year-old Colonel Martin Herford, the most decorated British doctor of World War Two. I was a twenty-seven year-old lawyer trying to become a writer of fiction, but as fate would have it, my first published work would be in the realm of non-fiction; through a series of coincidences I had landed the job of recording this remarkable man’s wartime experiences. It’s fair to say that scarcely a month has passed in the intervening years in which I haven’t thought about what it must have been like for him to serve first in the Spanish Civil War, then in Finland, then in every major theatre of war right through to the liberation of Belsen. There can have been very few men who saw as much of the world’s biggest and most devastating conflict as Colonel Herford, and who emerged so philosophical and faithful to their principles. He was a living testament to the efficacy of Churchill’s famous maxim: ‘When you’re going through hell, keep going.’

At a time when ephemeral culture is finally showing signs of giving way to more sober and thoughtful perspectives, I feel we may need the stories of men like Colonel Herford more than ever: like the war-time years, those ahead promise to require inspired and outstanding individuals to subordinate their egos to vast group efforts. Virtue may once again have to suffice as its own reward. The following pages are a simple account of Colonel Herford’s war written by a young man who scarcely appreciated the enormity of what he was setting down. But what I did understand even then was that the doctors, nurses and stretcher-bearers of the military are every bit as courageous as the front-line troops, and very seldom written about. The image of a team of medics tucked safely away in a hospital tent well behind lines is far from accurate. Very often the wounded were treated in the midst of battle with bullets flying and shells exploding all around. Were it not for the efforts of the thousands of Medical Officers and staff who accompanied the Allied armies throughout battles across three continents, the fatalities would undoubtedly have been far higher.

When it came to discussing his experiences, Colonel Herford proved to be a modest man with an admirable reserve typical of the wartime generation. Self-aggrandisement was definitely not his style. Consequently it wasn’t always easy to extract detail from him – especially that concerning his own acts of heroism - but thankfully he had an old leather suitcase full of diaries, letters, notes and official dispatches through which I sifted in an effort to distil the unembellished facts. I am glad to say he gave his full approval to the finished text. When I cast back my mind nearly seventeen years I remember a man full of dogged but peaceful spirit. After dinner in his farmhouse on the Cornish coast, he led me outside and pointed out the constellations in a perfectly clear night sky. Despite all he had witnessed, he remained in awe of God’s infinite creation, and ever respectful of it.”
Last edited by CanKiwi2 on 14 Apr 2012 10:29, edited 1 time in total.
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Juha Tompuri
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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by Juha Tompuri » 14 Apr 2012 09:29

Martin Herford second from left:
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http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 5#p1691129

Regards, Juha

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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by CanKiwi2 » 14 Apr 2012 10:33

Juha Tompuri wrote:Martin Herford second from left:

Regards, Juha
Just found out that he escaped via Sweden, the USSR, and Turkey to Egypt where he enlisted in the RAMC (his personal papers and a sound recording of an interviews plus other items are filed with the Imperial war museum and their is a synopsis online that mentions this.

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/ ... 1030001978

Medals and Decorations

MBE - 30.12.1941 - Middle East (Greece)
MC - 18.11.1943 - Sicily 07.43
MC - 13.01.1944 Italy 43
DSO - 29.03.1945 - NW Europe (Arnhem)



Juha, without giving away your question, do you have any other info on what he got up to in Finland before he left?

Kiitos..........Nigel
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Juha Tompuri
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Re: British Troops In Finland 1940

Post by Juha Tompuri » 16 Apr 2012 10:36

CanKiwi2 wrote:Juha, without giving away your question, do you have any other info on what he got up to in Finland before he left?
My source being Talvisodan Kanarianlinnut, the finnish language translation of the British Volunteers in Finland 1940-41 The Canaries by Justin Brooke.
Quick re-reading revealed that there isn't that much about Herford in Finland, here some cases:
-9th March 1940 moved (together with the 3rd and the larges group of British volunteers) from London
-10th March Ltn Herford (later "just" doctor) got onboard at Leith
-18th March arrived (via Bergen) to Tornio, Finland
- Herford was ordered act as a treasurer of the 3rd volunteer group during the trip from UK to Finland, but because of
his apparently dishonest superiors there was some fuzz with the money, but Herford managed to clear the case, and the group got the money back.
-After Winter War was over, part of the volunteer force wanted a quick return (against the idea of the volunteer group leader) to home, Herford being one of the leading men at this group.
-Later (December 1940?) Herford travelled to Stockholm and got there a visa for to be able to return home via USSR, as did some of his volunteer colleagues.

Regards, Juha

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