The German, whoever he was; he looked at me and he said, ‘Aah, Queens Own Rifles, hey’? ‘Yes, fine regiment’. And he could tell me every place where the Queen’s Own Rifles had been, right from France all the way up to where we were in Holland.
George Beardshaw tells his remarkable story of being a homechild, having been forced to migrate from Britain to Canada for what amounted to indentured service for a Canadian family. As soon as he was old enough he joined the Queens Own Rifles, fighting through Northwest Europe until his capture and internment as a Prisoner of War in the closing days of the war.
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We went to liberate the town of Deventer [Holland]. We went in but the idea was to go in at three o’clock in the morning. It was kind of dark and one platoon evidently went the wrong way and, of course, maybe it was us that went the wrong way but I know we had to take this bridge, and I know I got to the bridge and we were supposed to stop there.
One platoon was supposed to be on one side of the dyke and another platoon on the other side of the dyke, and I got on my side of the dyke and my boys, and in the darkness I thought I saw our guys on the other side. They weren’t our guys; they were Germans. The next thing I know all hell broke lose, you know; we had two guys wounded and one guy killed - the rest of my platoon, which is in that... their names are on there on that thing.
We were taken over this bridge but this bridge was made of bricks, you know; it wasn’t a steel bridge at all, it was brick and mortar and the Germans had kind of put a thing underneath it, blew it up and there were big hunks of it were in the water there and we had to jump from one pile of bricks to another when they took us prisoner. And they took us over there and they took us behind a hedge there, and there was a field, and it seemed everywhere you went in Holland there were slit trenches already dug, that the Germans had had the people dig so if they went that way the Germans could jump into them or something.
So there were some slit trenches behind this hedge and they took us back and I said, ‘Oh-oh, they’re going to shoot us’. I was looking at the slit trenches and that’s when I thought, ‘That’s where I’m going to be’. But they got us together and the next thing I know they took us into the town and they interviewed Mr Fox there - it’s the first time he’d ever been in action so he didn’t know too much about it because he depended on me to show him because I was the section leader and he had been... I was only a corporal. But him being a sergeant he out-ranked me.
Anyway, they took him and interviewed him, I guess, and then he came back out, and then it was my turn to go in there. They ask you all kinds of questions like being sharp the German, whoever he was; he looked at me and he said, ‘Aah, Queens Own Rifles, hey’? ‘Yes, fine regiment’. And he could tell me every place where the Queen’s Own Rifles had been, right from France all the way up to where we were in Holland.
Yes, so as the morning... as it got lighter in the morning the Germans took us through the town of Deventer to... we walked and walked and walked, and as we walked back behind their lines we could see all their vehicles, our aeroplanes had rocketed them , our Typhoons [aircraft] that had the rockets on the wings. If they see a German vehicle, well, it was toast; it was done, and it was toast when you looked at them; it was like a burnt out piece of steel, you know.
And our planes were flying, or starting to fly around, and they were so scared of our planes; they were terrified I think, and they would run and jump into places to hide, you know. So we kind of looked at them and laughed because we thought, ‘Here are our boys up there, they’re doing their job’ and here’s the Typhoons and the Spitfires.