T h e Germans clap 107 British
cers and 1,269 N.C.O.’s and mer
irons. We reply by manacling
same number of German prisoner
The Germans bluster : “Do that - and
we'll put chains on three times as man-; >
tish prisoners.” From Rome, Muss
squeals : “And I’ll take reprisals, too."
And in the desert we are scratching o -
heads and saying “W hat the hell is it a;.:
about ? Who started it and where will it
get anybody, anyway ?”
W ell, it all started officially just afte'r the
Dieppe raid, when the Germans alleged that
prisoners taken by us had had their hands
tied to prevent them escaping during the ac
tion. They flung a number of our men into
chains as a “reprisal.” There is nothing in
any international convention to forbid the
tying of prisoners during action. But the Bri
tish Government, leaning backwards to play
“according to the rules," countermanded the
original military order to secure German
prisoners in this manner during action, in
case the enemy should do just what he has
done — make it an excuse for another bit
For it is at once a mark of the • honesty
id simplicity of the desert soldier that he
•edits the Hun with a few fundamental
aits that are characteristic of almost every
British soldier, however tough.
Decency, for instance, and fair-play for
the man who is down and out of the fight.
The Hun wants us to keep that way.
While he smashes rules of war which even
savages observe when it suits him and he
feels safe from reprisal, he wants us to
maintain our code and standards. Because
then he knows that the worst that can hap
pen to him in our hands won’t be very ter
rible. And it gives him a chance of produ
cing a new and dirtier trick another day.
The shackles he has clapped on our
men's wrists are light indeed compared with
what he has done and is doing to the peo
ples of a dozen prostrate nations.
And the sufferings of these unfortunate
people are light compared to what is in
store for our folk at home, should the Hun
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This article has been wrilien by Sgl. Cyril James who has !
I been in the Arm y since the beginning of the war. At the j
moment he is serving in "The Blue"
A great many important people will, no doubt, express i
i their views on the recent incident concerning the shackling. ]
i "Crusader" naturally prefers the comment of a member of j
Britain's Fighting Army.
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and you 1 1 see once again the spectacle of
the Nazi at his favourite pastime.
Nobody loves war more than the Ger
mans — when the war is going their way.
Nobody shouts more loudly about the “rules
of war” than the Germans — but they add
the qualification : “Of course, we are al
lowed to make up the rules as we go
along.” And unde'rneath all this business of
putting helpless prisoners in chains lies as
vicious a piece of Nazi blackmail yet.
W e all know now that when the Hun
starts moaning, it means we’re hurting him
somewhere. No matter what form his moan
takes, it can always be traced back to the
fact that he is being forced to swallow
some form of the medicine he has prescribed
for someone else.
The Huns’ Number One prescription for
Britain was mass bombing. W e took it.
But now we are dishing out the mixture,
triple-strong and in increasing doses.
The Germans don’t like it, but they
have to take it. They cheered wildly
when Hitler promised them the other
day that the Luftwaffe would take a
suitable revenge. But promises don’t stop
the thousands of tons of R.A.F. bombs
which fall on the Reich. And the 'planes
of the Luftwaffe continue to fall like
autumn leaves out of the Russian skies.
The Germans would love to call a bomb
ing truce- until the Luftwaffe is strong
enough again in the W est for them to
break it. But since the R.A.F. doesn’t talk
that kind of language they have looked
about for some lever to help force a Ger
I have spoken to men who have been at
hand-grips with the Germans, who have
fought him in half a-dozen toe-to-toe slog
ging matches. And, at one time or another,
they have all said the same thing :
“Jerry's a good soldier, make no mistake
about that. And by God, Rommel’s a clean
Yet that same Rommel, guest of the
unspeakable Gobbels, complained the
other day that the British were “unfair”
in their desert warfare, that we have
scored our successes only by the use of
“Maoris and head-hunters.”
Captured German soldiers, scared for
their skins and knowing very well what
happens to Poles and Russians captured by
the Reichwehr. are only too eager to flatter
our sense of “sportsmanship.” They know
“English soldier goot fighter. German sol
dier goot fighter. Italian no goot,” they say.
And how do we in the desert receive this
calculated flattery ?
Your “good soldier” of the Afrika Korps
will do in London as his comrades have
done in Warsaw' and Prague and Belgrade,
the moment he is given the order.
He may be browned by the same desert
He may joke about the flies, the sand
storms, the Italians — subjects that can be
humorous to you and to me.
But there all contact with us. as men,
ends abruptly — though he seeks to pre
tend that it doesn’t.
For the German soldier and nobody else
on God’s earth has made possible the ghast
ly crimes of Hitlerism. And, though he may
crack a thousand jokes with us, he is as
surely pledged to destroy us and everything
we value in this world as Adolf Hitler him
Shackles and shambles...
It seems a bit of a jump from the shackles
of our men at Dieppe to the shambles of
Swansea or Southampton.
But it’s all part of the Nazi jig-saw pic
And it’s our job to smash the pieces so
ruthlessly that even a battalion of cuti"-e
Hitlers won’t form the dirty pattern again.
In fact, none of the German prisoners ta
ken at Dieppe were tied. But our Govern
ment’s announcement that it had counter
manded the hand-tying order was hailed by
the Germans as a “climb-down" and a “con
fession of guilt” and the British prisoners
were released from their bonds.
Then came the recent commando raid on
Sark. A few German prisoners were taken
and were tied so that their arms might be
linked with their captors to prevent them
making a break for freedom and so raising
the ala:rm. All perfectly legal. But the Ger
mans, seeing a chance to make the British
eat “humble pie” again, immediately raised a
howl against this “unheard of atrocity” —
and flung the unfortunate Dieppe prisoners
back into their chains. But this time the
British Government wasn't playing. Instead
of backing dow'n as expected with profuse
apologies for nothing, we replied promptly
by clapping an equal number of Germans
into irons. And so the “manacle marathon"
At fi'rst glance, it all seems stupid and
senseless. But think it over for, a while —
were manacled. But
the Germans didn’t play
even this dirty game
according to their self-
made rules. No, the
cards were already
marked ; the deck was
phoney. They knew
that we hgve fewer
German prisoners than
they have British. Our
favourable balance of
Axis prisoners is made
up of Italians. So that
if the “manacle mara
thon" went far enough,
there would be more
Italian prisoners in
chains than any other
But little things like
the feelings of an ally
don’t worry the Ger
mans. They think they
have a lever which
will shift us fur
ther than all the might
of the Reichswehr and
Luftwaffe could do.
But, whichever way
you look at the inci
dent. it does seem ra
ther curious that a na
tion which boasts that
it has perfected the in
vincible war machine
should, after three years
of war, be obliged to
use disarmed prisoners
as a weapon.
Yet it isn’t curious at
For that is where we,
in the desert — who
ought to know our Hun
better than any other
British soldiers — still
tend to have a strange
blind spot in our view
of the German as an
Do we remember Coventry, shattered and
smouldering, while the Hun broadcast
gloatingly that a new verb — “to Coven
trate" — had been coined ?
Do we remember our seamen, machine-
gunned as they struggled in the water ?
Do we remember the countless dirty
tricks of the desert Hun — his use of Red
Cross ambulances to screen lorried infantry,
his almost systematic violation of the white
flag of truce ?
Do we remember the shambles of defen
celess Rotterdam, the corpses that littered
the streets of Belgrade, the fate of the wo
men of Poland, the hostages who are but
chered every day in hand-picked bunches ?
Or, nearer to us again, the prisoners of
Tobruk who were set to work under Bri
tish shell-fire ? And, when they protested,
the comment of “great-hearted" Rommel —
“There will be the fewer to feed
No, far too many of us look at the grin
ning Hun and repeat: “Good soldier, Jerry."
They wanted to hurt us through some
body who can’t hit back. They looked at
the thousands of British prisoners, disarmed,
helpless, and said “Just the job !”
They didn’t need an excuse — though
being Germans they would love one so that
they might redouble their cruelty and fury.
Then came the “incidents” of Dieppe and
Sark. And so all the following about the
“rules of war" and “humanity” — from the
butchers of Eurjpe.
More and more of our helpless prisoners
T h ey talk about "the ruie,
tare sh ow s bodies o f Russia^ u ,
lated and throw n into a p d c
St- Paul’s still stands proudly, dom inating
foregrou n d o f sham bles cau sed b y Nazi
bom bing o f non-m ilitary ta rgets in London.
British prisoners m arch to "stalag' German prisoners a rrive at British port.