Veteran Stories:
Robert Boris Shields

Army

  • Robert Shields in 1941.

    Robert Shields
  • The front cover of Mr. Shields Soldier's Release Book.

    Robert Shields
  • The inside page of Mr. Shields's Soldier's Release Book.

    Robert Shields
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"We used to bring supplies from the beachhead right to the front, right to the border of Belgium and Holland."

Transcript

My name is Robert Boris Shields. It used to be Schwarzschild. I was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. We were always, if you like, a bit Zionist at home. My mother’s from Kiev, although she married, [moved] to Frankfurt in 1920. My father is German, Jewish. And you know, we were always pro-Israel; and we decided that this is the thing to do. And also, the decision to join, I mean, I was taken on my own in the internment camp. I went overseas. I went to Normandy on D [D-Day] + 27, with the unit you see. And I was in a, if you like, in the 3rd line transport unit, which is a Corps company. We used to bring supplies from the beachhead right to the front, right to the border of Belgium and Holland. We were on Juno Beach, you see, which is the original [Canadian] beach. Only I didn’t go down the first day. It was fairly normal because you know, by then, things had been cleared up. So it was just the unit went in and that was it. I was a parts man. Motor vehicles have got a workshop and a workshop has got parts for those motor vehicles. And I was running the parts in that particular outfit. I was doing the same job until we reached the Belgium-Dutch border; and there the company was no longer needed, it was dissolved. And I became an ordinary driver and I went to a transport company, to a platoon. The driver was actually there. I was a clerk, you see. I was the platoon clerk until the end of the war. I was in Lüneburg in the airport during the negotiations with the Germans and I saw them come in their own, and so on. That’s quite interesting. And after that, we went to Neumünster, which is in Schleswig-Holstein. We were in there actually, the Germans were running the place and we were in there and put into barracks for the first two weeks until the Germans were really disarmed. When they got into Neumünster, the Swastika’s hanging down from the town halls; and the Germans were running it. It was a week after the armistice [signed on May 8, 1945], the surrender if you like. After the liberation of Brussels, that was just before the Jewish New Year [Rosh Hashana], they sent all the Jewish boys in the truck to Brussels to go to the synagogue. And there, I contacted some relatives, some ex-Russian relatives who were living in Belgium. I did find them, but I was only there three days. And that was the only thing I did. The most interesting part of the whole business was my work as a policeman. It wasn’t a traffic policeman, you know, I was, if you like, inside. Well, I interviewed all the Germans there. I was in Münster, which is the capital of Westphalia. I was responsible for the political goings on there.
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