Still not sure if Forces War Records Magazine is for you? Below is another taster piece from our launch issue, a story contributed by site member Richard Wild as part of the ‘Hero in your Family’ section. To read more for free, visit www.forces-war-records.co.uk/magazine. If you'd like to be in with a chance of seeing your own war hero ancestor's tale published in our next issue, and winning a year's free subscription to Forces War Records to boot, please submit 250-500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, entitling your email 'Hero'. Remember, the next issue goes to Fully Subscribed Members only!
"Former Flying Officer John Wild, my father, sadly died in 1989 following a series of strokes and heart attacks. He was part of 2781 Squadron, which was sent with others to defend an area near the Wilhelmina Canal in October 1944. Dad was awarded the Military Cross for his part in this action and, following his release from service on 3rd December 1945, he was Mentioned in Despatches for further distinguished service in North West Europe.
This tale shows that, although Allied Forces are expected to go to war to resolve conflict, and although this action inevitably results in the killing of “the enemy”, it does not always result in the de-humanisation of those sent into battle. The attached picture was painted by Germans, around the time of the ending of the war. They were part of a boat testing and production group which was captured and held by British troops. The picture is entitled ‘HMS Black Prince 1690’, and signed by Alex Burgschwriger-Schleswig 1945. On its reverse is written:
“In the remembrance to F/o Wild M.C. our officer in command of the Boating Group and best English comrade, who is always a prototype to us in a fairness and sensible way. The German officers of Boat Group, Schleswig, 24th Octobre.” This is followed by five signatories.
I recall Dad describing a craft that the Boating Group was working on towards the end of the war. It was a cross between a boat and a small aircraft, but was not intended to fly. Instead, it had three levels of skis which were mounted under its ‘wings’. The upper skis were the largest, the next slightly smaller, and the lowest the smallest. This tiny craft was designed to carry twin torpedoes, one under each wing. At standstill, it would rest on its largest ski which was sufficient to keep the wing and its torpedo out of the water. As the craft picked up speed it would rise onto the higher level ski, and when its ‘pilot’ spotted an Allied ship, its high-powered engine would accelerate it rapidly, lifting it onto its smallest ski, so that there was almost no water resistance and even greater speed was achievable. This craft would race out to the target, briefly drop its speed so that its torpedoes were in line for firing, and then, immediately following that firing, accelerate even more rapidly away from the scene (having lost the weight of its torpedoes), thereby making it an almost impossible target for Allied gunfire or torpedo fire.
I made enquiries about the Boat Group 15-20 years ago, and was rewarded by a response from the son of one of the German Officers. I accidentally deleted his email address, but would like to let any survivors or their heirs know how precious this picture was to Dad, and is to me.