Veteran Story: Edgar Harrison

We are pleased to feature Edgar Harrison OBE MC BEM this week. A truly incredible veteran and early member of The Brotherhood, Edgar was awarded the British Empire Medal (Mil) for gallantry at Kalamata; Military Cross for conspicuous service in Yugoslavia; MBE in 1958 for service to communications in Moscow and OBE in 1974 for service to Diplomatic Wireless Communications.  A member of MI6 (Section VIII) Special Communications unit he was Churchill’s personal radio operator. Fellow MI6 operator Geoffrey Pidgeon wrote about Edgar in his book “Edgar Harrison – soldier, patriot and ULTRA Wireless Operator to Winston Churchill”. Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Edgar’s experiences.  

Read Edgar Harrison’s Story

 

 

 

Veteran Story: Dai Davies

We are pleased to feature Dai Davies this week. Dai (known as DT) Davies OBE was captured during the battle of Crete in 1941 and transported to Austria where he was taken to Stalag 18A. He escaped from the camp and made his way to Hungary but was later recaptured. He escaped again and was recaptured twice more. He was taken to the concentration camp Zemum, near Belgrade, described as ‘hell on earth’. He escaped one last time and joined the Partisans to fight in Yugoslavia. Awarded the Military Medal for his wartime services, DT only spoke about his experiences much later in life and wrote about them in his book ‘All for Freedom: A True Story of Escape from the Nazis’. When you read his story you will find references to his friends Joe Burke and Joe Beckett. 

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Dai’s  experiences.  

Read Dai Davies Story

 

 

Veteran Story: Eric Bardsley

We are pleased to feature Eric Bardsley’s story this week. Author of ‘Barbed Wire & Balkans’, Eric was a member of The Brotherhood and regularly attended the UK services. He was a PoW in Wolfsberg and participated in the 2013 Wolfsberg trip. As the only ex PoW and oldest member of the group that weekend, Eric was very warmly welcomed. At the Mayor’s Reception on the Friday night, Eric delivered a speech in German and received a standing ovation. 

A note from our Archive: Eric ‘declined’ to make the march north to the Markt Pongau – Salzberg area as the Russians approached eastern Austria in March 1945.  He and some others stayed hidden in the countryside around Friedberg until it was liberated by the Russians.  He eventually made his way home via Odessa on the Black Sea coast. 

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Eric’s experiences.  

Read Eric Bardsley’s Story

 

 

Veteran Story: Jack Wentworth Ansell

We are pleased to feature Jack Ansell’s story this week. Jack was a keen member of The Brotherhood and author of the book ‘Khaki and Cowdung’. Jack appeared in a recent BBC VE Day programme where he talked about his time as a PoW including the book of poems he put together on behalf of his fellow PoWs, having found a typewriter discarded by the Germans when they left the camp on 8th May 1945. “Whilst waiting, with several thousand other former British prisoners of war to be repatriated to the United Kingdom, I set up shop with my typewriter. Men came to me with these poems written on scraps of paper for me to type out”. 

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Jack’s experiences. You will find the book of poems within his PostScript. We also include a link to the article we published last year. 

Read Jack Ansell’s Story

Jack Wentworth Ansell featured in BBC VE Day programme

 

 

 

Veteran Story: Joe Burke

We are pleased to feature Joe Burke’s story this week. Joe was a very enthusiastic and committed member of The Brotherhood and a real character. In addition to the story of his many escapades during the war, we also include a ‘PostScript’ with photographs taken at the 70th Anniversary Ceremony in Kalamata in 2011. Last, but not least, there is a very moving eulogy which was given at his funeral in 2018. 

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Joe’s experiences.  

Read Joe Burke’s Story

 

 

Veteran Story: Jock Watt

We are pleased to feature Jock Watt’s story this week. Jock, together with Frank Gill, was a founder member and standard bearer for The Brotherhood of Greek Veterans for many years. Jock had many adventures which are documented in his book ‘A Tankie’s Travels’. His experience in Greece included escaping to Crete from Tolos, having first ‘acquired’ a caique.

This is an extract from the tribute given by Brian Rogers, Secretary of the Nottingham Branch of the RTR Association at Jock’s funeral in January 2018: ” Jock served in France, Greece, and Crete & North Africa between 1937 – 1946 finishing as a Lieutenant, with the Military Medal and Mentioned in Despatches and was presented to our Colonel in Chief, Her Majesty the Queen more than once, a great honour for a great soldier.”

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Jock’s experiences. We also include a link to the Tribute to Jock posted on this website. 

Read ‘Jock’ Robert Watt’s Story

Tribute to Jock Watt

Veteran Story: Frank Gill

We are pleased to feature Frank Gill’s story this week. Frank was President of The Brotherhood of Greek Veterans for many years, until he sadly passed away last November, aged 101. As a veteran Frank survived the Hellas, was a prisoner of war, a founder member of The Brotherhood and author of the book ‘A Letter to my Daughter’. 

Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Frank’s experiences. We also include a link to the Tribute posted on this website, not long after Frank passed away.

Read Frank Gill’s story

Tribute to Frank Gill, our President for many years

Veteran story: Jack Simmonds

As many of you are aware, one of the last known surviving veterans, Rifleman John (Jack) Simmonds 9th KRRC (1st Rangers) had his 101st birthday in February this year. In March 1941, 80 years ago this week, Jack arrived in Greece. It is only fitting that Jack’s story should be the first one we feature in this 80th anniversary year.  Please click on the link below and scroll down to STORY where you will be able to read about Jack’s experiences.

Read Jack Simmonds Story

 

Sharing veterans’ stories in the 80th anniversary year

We are pleased to say that the majority of our Archive (including a section on the Royal Navy) is now available to view on our website. For every veteran listed we have been able to provide a summary record. For others, we also have a copy of their POW questionnaire/debrief. For the rest, we have a comprehensive story comprising their time Pre Greece, during the Greek Campaign, Post Greece and sometimes a Post Script about their life after the war.

In honour of the 80th anniversary, we plan to publish a series of ‘posts’ during the rest of this year, featuring different veterans. Our aim is to introduce you to a whole host of amazing individuals and their (even more) amazing stories.

 

Breaking news: we are publishing the contents of our Archive on our website

As you may or may not be aware, our Archivist Noah Scott has spent the last few years building and curating The Brotherhood Archive. It is based on accounts from individuals who were involved in some way in the Greek Campaign, the majority of whom are (or were) members of the Brotherhood, supplemented by information from our research and other sources. In developing the Archive, Noah has captured – not just people’s activities as part of the Greek Campaign – but where possible, their whole stories. Typically we have gathered information as follows:

  • Registration Form
  • Foreword (including published works if appropriate)
  • Pre-Greece (UK training, passage to Suez, time in Egypt etc)
  • Greek Campaign (advance, withdrawal, evacuation, surrender)
  • Post-Greece (further military career or Prisoner of War)
  • Post-Script and Last Post

Our Archive currently consists of information on 540 Greek Veterans whose stories (in terms of detail) range as follows:

  • Basic information (as per the Registration Form for all veterans who are listed)
  • POW questionnaires and debriefs
  • Detailed and comprehensive stories

We are pleased to tell you that, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the 1941 Greek Campaign, we have embarked on an extensive programme to publish the contents of our Archive on our website. For every single veteran listed on this website (where we have the information) we are adding their story. We are half way through this project and have uploaded information we hold in our Archive for surnames beginning A to L, namely Abbs to Lugg. 

To access the individual chapters of these stories, you will need to click on the person’s name to open up their Registration Form. Then scroll down until you come to STORY. Under this, you will find a short introduction and a series of headings/links which will take you to the relevant PDF files.

We will update you again when we have completed this (not insignificant) task. In the coming months we also plan to showcase key veterans and their stories to encourage people to explore and get to know these amazing individuals.