Translater’s Note: The Socialist Revolution of 1917 sent shockwaves throughout Europe and the world! The general air of indignation questioned how it was that the working-class could ever dare to overthrow their oppressors and assume control of society under their own recognisance! The British, Americans (and 12 of their allies) – together with Imperial Germany (and 6 of her allies) joined forces during early 1918 and invaded Revolutionary Russia! This ‘invasion’ would last between 1918-1921 and be renamed the ‘Russian Civil War’ – as a means to obscure the Western responsibility for the 10.5 million people who died during that conflict! Although the Germans would only participate until their general defeat during late 1918, the British and Americans would fight on until their general defeat in Russia in late 1921! This ‘defeat’ of the united West by the fledgling ‘Soviet Red Army’ was so embarrassing that this history is hardly taught in British Schools!
Although a relatively small number of British soldiers fought in Revolutionary Russia (between 1918-1921) – the vast majority were demobilised after their successful war in France and Belgium (during late 1918). Most of these British soldiers came back to the abject poverty they had left in 1914 – with little changing throughout society. What was different was the fact that the ‘Revolution’ had occurred in Russia and that a Workers’ State had been created! This success enthused the British working-class which established widespread ‘Socialist’ mutual assistance networks designed to help ‘Veterans’ and their families with housing, rent, employment, jobs and healthcare! The British Establishment (led by the likes of Winston Churchill) was alarmed by this development and saw this very much as the development of a left-wing ‘enemy within’!
The answer was to copy in the UK the notoriously far right (and right-wing) ‘American Legion’! This is how the overtly anti-Socialist ‘British Legion’ was developed in 1921! Its message was simple. The poverty the working-class experienced was entirely their own fault – and was not the consequence of any ‘imagined’ injustice that ran throughout British society! Dying of illness, starvation or homelessness was taught as being ‘nature’s way of culling the unwanted and unfit’ elements of the human race – those who could not ‘naturally flourish’ in a capitalist society! By removing these ‘weak links’, or so the ‘British Legion’ rhetoric explained – British society would be ‘strengthened’! Those Establishment figures who lurked in the background controlling the ‘British Legion’ – WARNED individual British working-class Veterans that ‘Socialism’ was NOT the way – and that any recourse to it would inevitably lead to recriminations!
Josef Goebbels was a very clever individual and certainly understood British history. He – and Hitler – knew full well that the majority of the British working-class were sympathetic to the ‘Socialist’ cause – and yet he had to fabricate and encourage the fear of the ‘Red Menace’ (an ideology the US government would enthusiastically take-on and development post-1945)! This fabrication played on the pro-capitalist and naturally right-wing attitudes held by the (Bourgeois) British Establishment and its Aristocratic-leaning component! As Hitler’s casualties mounted – and the Soviet Red Army moved ever-closer to Berlin – the shortage of German manpower became an ever-pressing concern. Although there were hundreds of thousands of British POWs spread throughout numerous Internment Camps – very few chose to betray their country (or their Soviet allies) and fight for Nazi Germany! In an attempt to remedy this situation, Goebbels and Hitler concocted the idea of forming a new (Nazi) ‘British Legion’ replete with all the right-wing rhetoric of its English counterpart! The only difference would be that of the adopting of the ‘National Socialist’ agenda! This would require the British (Nazi) Legionnaires committing ‘genocide’ in the name of Hitler as a means to create ‘living space’ for the ‘superior race’ that the Germans thought themselves to be! This explains why Hitler’s first prototype British ‘SS’ Unit was known as the ‘British Legion’ – short for the ‘British Legion of St George’ – formed during 1943! (Ironically, ‘St George’ is the Patron Saint of both England and Russia – but has NOTHING to do with Germany).
British Minister Leopold Stennett Emery (Secretary of State for India) – had a son named ‘John Emery’. John Emery was an Aristocratic supporter of ‘fascism’ between the two World Wars – who fled to Nazi Germany at the beginning of WWII. His defection to the side of the Nazi Germans served the cause of Hitlerite propaganda – although John Emery himself was more interested in social-climbing (and communicating with the Nazi Germany hierarchy in Berlin) – than in carrying out any real fighting against his native Great Britain! Nevertheless, it was John Emery who first proposed the creation of a ‘Volunteer’ based ‘British Legion’ recruited from British POWs at the very beginning of the war – but this idea was not realized until 1943 – when the Waffen SS Command showed an interest in creating the so-called ‘British Legion of Saint George’ – or ‘British Legion’! This name was chosen because it was thought by the Nazi Germans that it would be ‘familiar’ to the British POWs – and therefore ‘encourage’ recruitment!
Those tasked with ‘SS’ Recruitment visited a number of Nazi German POW camps – and utilised several sophisticated and persuasive techniques. These included promises of substantial monetary reward, a ‘limited’ (but substantial) form of freedom, communication with families and access to prostitutes! Although there were hundreds of thousands Allied POWs held within Nazi German captivity – this entire ‘SS’ recruitment venture was considered a complete failure! Only ‘30’ British POWs volunteered (the number of just a single ‘Platoon’) – and this was not considered a good return for the effort invested and certainly not enough in terms of military propaganda value! If thousands of British men had chosen to fight for Nazi Germany – this would have been a tremendous and priceless propaganda victory for Hitler! This working-class ‘Solidarity’ on behalf of the British was designed NOT to betray the UK’s alliance with the USSR! This is why the British (Bourgeois) Establishment’s support of Neo-Nazi Ukraine today – is a matter of great national shame! The name finally settled upon in the German language was ‘Britisches Freikorps’ (BFC) – a Waffen SS Unit designed only for fighting on the Eastern Front! The British referred to this as the ‘British Free Corps’. As the situation deteriorated for the Nazi Germans, ever desperate means of recruitment was tried, which led to a ‘trickle’ of volunteers.
Due to these limitations, the British Free Corps spent most of its existence engaged in physical training and educational (Nazi) indoctrination, but in the end, (during early 1945), what existed of this ‘SS’ Unit was eventually sent to the Eastern Front. The BFC was never considered a sufficiently reliable ‘SS’ Unit (there was even suspicions that those who had joined were not ‘serious’ or were attempting ‘sabotage’ of the Nazi German war effort from within). So bad was the reputation of the BFC that Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner – Commander of the 3rd SS Panzer Corps – (according to available historical evidence), issued a ‘ban’ on the use of the BFC in ‘Combat Operations’ on the grounds that as a ‘SS’ Unit its members ‘could NOT be trusted’! As a consequence, it is believed that no more than around ‘12’ BFC soldiers actually saw active ‘Combat’ during the existence of this ‘SS’ Formation. Although the British recruits ‘betrayed’ their country – they did NOT commit any known atrocities. ACW (20.5.2023)
Commanders of the BFC:
SS Hauptsturmführer Hans Werner Repke 11/43 – 11/44
Lieutenant William Shearer 8/44*
SS Obersturmführer Dr. Walter Külich 11/44 – 4/45
* Schearer was the only (ethnic) ‘British’ Officer to be appointed to the position of ‘SS’ Unit Commander – but he was soon recognized as suffering from ‘Schizophrenic’ and was quickly repatriated back to England via the Red Cross. Perhaps only those suffering from mental illness – or who were certifiably ‘mad’ – would ‘volunteer’ for service in these usually ‘murderous’ Nazi German ‘SS’ Units!
This is a debateable subject that varies according to source and method of estimation. There were around ‘30’ volunteers in the BFC during its existence (1943-1945) – but this is an accumulative number – and does not represent its much lower (serving) number given at any point in its history. It is thought that out of the original ‘30’ which ‘volunteered’ during 1943, only ‘7’ serving soldiers (or perhaps only ‘6’ soldiers) remained when the BFC was finally sent to the front during March 1945. The problem of numbers stems from the BFC being amalgamated with (and then disentangled from) other equally poorly defined ad hoc ‘SS’ Units as the war conditions worsened for the Nazi Germans – and record-keeping began to fall away. Whatever the case, numbers started low and remained low. This led Hitler to question ‘These Britishers are BAD National Socialists! How are their armies defeating our best Aryan soldiers?’ The far-right likes to exaggerate the numbers who volunteered for these types of ‘SS’ Units – but their efforts are sadly ‘deluded’. The historical evidence suggests that there was no great ‘coming together’ of the so-called ‘Teutonic’ races!
The BFC did not use any standard (or ‘recognisable’) British military insignia on their Nazi German-issued uniforms (although the ‘Three Lions’ is a well-known civilian symbol for ‘England’). The BFC initially used the standard ‘SS’ insignia (and emblems) – with unique ‘Britisher’ (SS) emblems (not known in the UK) developed as time progressed. This included two ‘SS’ lightning flashes (sometimes worn on the left collar – although in many photographs of BFC soldiers – this is replaced by a plain ‘Black’ square), a square badge featuring the ‘Three Lions’ of England (worn on the right collar), a ‘British Free Corps’ armband written in gothic text (and worn around the lower left forearm), a shield-shaped badge containing the Union Jack (worn above the armband on the left forearm) and a Nazi German Eagle carrying a Swastika (worn on the left upper shoulder). There was also a ‘Skull and Crossbones’ worn on the material ‘hat’ and/or steel helmet. Although ‘distinct’, these BFC emblems did vary and change from time to time (and situation).
Only one military vehicle – an ‘Amphibious (Half-Track) Sd.Kfz 251 Armoured Personnel Carrier’ – is recorded as being officially assigned for use by the BFC. As this vehicle was transferred for the general use of the 11th SS Division – it most likely bore the usual ‘Nordland’ SS emblems of that general Nazi German Formation.
FORMATION, TRAINING AND DEPLOYMENT HISTORY
September 1942: John Emery, inspired by the antics Hitlerite (Vichy) French Volunteer Legion – formulated the idea of creating a similar ‘British Legion’ to fight the Soviets. Hitler personally approved of this idea.
January 1943: The ‘SS’ leadership begins recruiting from British and Commonwealth POWs held in the numerous POW Camps as part of the formation of the ‘British St. George’s Legion’.
August 1943: Special Squad 999 and Special Squad 517 arrange for the establishment of so-called ‘Holiday Camps’ for British POWs – in order to identify former members of the British Fascist Union – as well as to encourage any anti-Communists who might express a desire to join the BFC. Around a dozen volunteers join the Detachment. The project is declared a failure. Indeed, British and Commonwealth POWs directly ‘mock’ ‘SS’ recruitment by using their Nazi German propaganda leaflets as ‘toilet paper’. Hitler is ‘thanked’ by the British POWs for ‘improving’ the quality of POW Camp toilet paper! Hitler reacts with ‘anger’ and spirals into a week-long frenzy!
September 1943: The Nazi Germans threaten the use of the brutal Stalag IIIa (in Lückenwald) as a ‘deterrent’ – forcing new British POWs to join the BFC. Only 14 POWs volunteer for service – with 2 soon dropping-out due to illness.
October 1943: John Emery’s efforts to increase the number of BFC recruits failed and he is removed from all participation in the project. The ‘SS’ Unit is renamed the ‘British Free Corps’ (using English wording). This name replaced the original name (associated with John Emery) of the ‘British Legion of St George’.
November 1943: SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Werner Repke is appointed Commander of the BFC. He orders the creation of ‘distinct’ emblems (and insignia) for use by the BFC – designed to inspire ‘fear’ throughout the Soviet Red Army!
January 1944: The BFC is redesignated the ‘Britisches Freikorps’ (using only ‘German’ wording). Strength: 30 – including 3 Canadians, 3 South Africans, 3 Australians, and 1 New Zealander. Ten of these men were NOT (technically) ‘British’ – lowering the number to just ‘20’ recruits.
February 1944: This British ‘SS’ Unit is transferred to the ‘SS’ Nordic Research Centre in Gildesheim.
April 1944: Distinct British ‘SS’ insignia and emblems arrive and are sewn onto uniforms.
April 20th (Hitler’s Birthday): First Parade made by the British ‘SS’ Unit and Speech delivered by the Commander – all dedicated to Hitler’s Birthday!
August 1944: According to ‘SS’ Regulations – the Union Jack shield-badge is to be placed below the Nazi German Eagle and Swastika on the left sleeve of the uniform (as the ‘British’ were a ‘defeated’ race). The BFC soldiers resisted this move – believing that it belittled the dignity of Britain. A direct order from Heinrich Himmler allowed this badge to be moved to the right sleeve (according to the Nazi German Army Canon) worn at the same level as the Nazi German Eagle on the upper left shoulder. Lieutenant William Shearer becomes the first (ethnic) British Commander of this ‘SS’ Unit – but is soon sent back to England due to suffering from a mental disorder.
September 1944: The BFC is transferred to Dresden for a Military Engineering Course held at the Waffen ‘SS’ Engineering School in Wildermann. The number of serving BFC soldiers is just ‘13’ at this point in its history.
October-December 1944: Engineering Course; In November – Repke leaves the post of Commander and is replaced by SS Obersturmführer Dr. Walter Külich.
January 1945: Engineering Course.
February 1945: British ‘SS’ Unit leaves Dresden due to Allied bombing; the entire BFC was ‘arrested’ by the Gestapo due to being ‘denounced’ by a Norwegian nurse (a friend of one of the BFC soldiers). This nurse states that the recruits are NOT dedicated to the Nazi cause and were planning to flee. (There was an escape plan – two BFC soldiers managed to mingle with British POWs ready to be evacuated – and thus managed to escape). The suspected BFC escaped group punishment and were transferred to Stettin – and assigned to the Third Panzer Corps, 11 Panzergrenadier SS Division Nordland.
March 1945: The remaining recruits of the BFC (8 people) request a return to the front-line. The BFC are sent to Niemek for training in handling the MP44 Submachine Gun (a ‘modern’ Assault Rifle) and (advanced) Anti-Tank Weapons. BFC numbers remaining – ‘7’ serving soldiers.
Mann SS Frank Exson (Eng)
Mann SS Harry Batchelor (Eng)
Mann SS Kenneth Edward Berry (Eng)
Mann SS Croft (Eng.)
SS-Unterscharführer Douglas Murdon (South Africa)
SS-Mann Ernest Nichols (Eng.)
SS-Mann Albert Stokes (Australian)
Transferred to 3rd ‘SS’ Panzer Corps. The BFC id finally sent to the western edge of the defence zone of Stettin – and are fired upon by Soviet Artillery – though without loss. The number is reduced to ‘6’ soldiers. The BFC is then assigned to the 3rd Company (Swedish Volunteers) of the 11th Tank Reconnaissance Platoon – under the Command of SS-Obersturmführer Hano-Gest Perrson – based at Grussov.
April 1945: Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner decides that it is foolish to use the BFC on the front lines and hands them over to his Headquarters Transport Unit stationed at Templin and then at Neustrelitz. There, BFC soldiers served as truck drivers, traffic controllers whilst assisting in the evacuation of civilians to the west.
April 16: Nordland received orders for the defence of Berlin; various sources say that the BFC soldiers either took part in the defence of Berlin or remained in Angermünde. However, it is doubtful that more than a maximum of two Englishmen participated in the defence of Berlin. The only BFC member who fought in the Nordland was an interpreter. There is no information about whether the BFC were taken prisoner. It is known that when they were sent to the front – they hurried to get rid of their Nazi Germany insignia.
May 1945: The British ‘SS’ Unit ceased to exist with Nazi Germany’s Unconditional Surrender,
Outcome: John Emery was hanged after a trial in England. Members of the BFC received a maximum of 15 years in prison or no punishment at all – depending upon the extent of their involvement and the circumstances of their entry into the BFC.
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