Wormhoudt massacre

The Wormhoudt massacre (or Wormhout massacre ) was the mass murder of 80 British and French POWs by Waffen-SS soldiers from the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler during the Battle of France in May 1940.

As part of the British Expeditionary Force 's (BEF) retreat to Dunkirk , the 144th Infantry Brigade of the 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division was holding the road that runs southward from Bergues through Wormhoudt, Cassel and Hazebrouck to delay the German advance.

British troops at Wormhoudt were overrun by advancing German forces. Having exhausted their ammunition supplies, the troops at this point surrendered assuming that they would be taken prisoner according to the Geneva Convention.

After their surrender, a large group of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment , 4th Battalion Cheshire Regiment , and gunners of the Royal Artillery as well as French soldiers in charge of a military depot were taken to a barn in La Plaine au Bois, near Wormhout and Esquelbecq on 28 May 1940. 

The Allied troops had become increasingly alarmed at the brutal conduct of the SS soldiers en route to the barn, which included the shooting of a number of wounded stragglers. On arrival at the barn the most senior British officer in the group, Captain James Lynn-Allen, protested but was immediately rebuked by an SS soldier. 

When there were nearly 100 men inside the small barn, soldiers from the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, threw stick-grenades into the building, killing many POWs. The grenades failed to kill everyone, largely due to the bravery of two British NCOs, Sergeant Stanley Moore and CSM Augustus Jennings, who hurled themselves on top of the grenades using their bodies to suppress the force of the explosion and shield their comrades from the blast. Upon realising this, the SS called for two groups of five to come out. The men came out and were shot. Despite being shot, Gunner Brian Fahey survived, unknown to the SS men at the time. Concluding that these methods were too slow, the SS troopers simply fired into the barn with their weapons. 

Several British prisoners were able to escape, while a few others, like Fahey, were left for dead. Captain Lynn-Allen died while trying to escape, although he enabled Private Bert Evans to escape; Evans was the last survivor of the massacre. A total of 80 men were killed. While 15 more were wounded, their wounds were so severe that within 48 hours all but six of them had died. After a couple of days, Fahey and several others were found by regular German Army medics and taken to hospital. Their wounds were treated before they were sent to prisoner of war camps in occupied Europe.

The Waffen-SS division, Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was under the overall command of Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich. It was alleged from post-war testimony that it was specifically soldiers of the 2nd Battalion under the command of then Hauptsturmführer Wilhelm Mohnke that carried out the atrocity. However, Mohnke never had to face a trial for any alleged part in the war crimes based on these hors de combat killings. Mohnke strongly denied the accusations against him, telling historian Thomas Fischer, "I issued no orders not to take English prisoners or to execute prisoners." Mohnke died in August 2001.

In 1947, a number of survivors of the massacre returned to the scene accompanied by officials from the War Crimes Interrogation Unit, following investigations undertaken by the office of the Judge Advocate General . It proved impossible to construct a sufficiently strong case to bring prosecutions. A number of alleged key witnesses were reported to have died on the Eastern Front , while others invoked the "SS Oath" and refused to talk.

In 1988, after a campaign by British MP Jeff Rooker , the case was reopened but a German prosecutor came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges. 

The incident was re-enacted in the 2004 BBC television docudrama Dunkirk .

The 2004 German film Downfall was criticized by author Giles MacDonogh upon release for its sympathetic portrayal of Wilhelm Mohnke , who many feel was responsible, directly or indirectly for the massacre. 


Dunkerque / Dunkirk

The Battle of Dunkirk was a military operation that took place in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War. The battle was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940.

In one of the most debated decisions of the war, the Germans halted their advance onine. Despite the Allies' gloomy estimates of the situation, with Britain even discussing a Dunkirk. Contrary to popular belief, what became known as the "Halt Order" did not originate with Adolf Hitler. Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshals) Gerd von Rundstedt and Günther von Kluge suggested that the German forces around the Dunkirk pocket should cease their advance on the port and consolidate to avoid an Allied breakout. Hitler sanctioned the order on 24 May with the support of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht ( OKW ). The army was to halt for three days, which gave the Allies sufficient time to organise the Dunkirk evacuation and build a defensive l conditional surrender to Germany, in the end more than 330,000 Allied troops were rescued.
Battle of Dunkirk
Part of the Battle of France in the Second World War
A British soldier on Dunkirk's beaches fires at strafing German aircraft [2]
Date26 May – 4 June 1940
LocationDunkirk , France
ResultAllied forces expelled from Dunkirk. Allied withdrawal to Britain.
 United Kingdom
France France
Poland Poland
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Lord Gort
France Maxime Weygand
France Georges Blanchard
France René Prioux
France JM Abrial 
Nazi Germany Gerd von Rundstedt
Nazi Germany Ewald von Kleist(Panzergruppe von Kleist)
approx. 400,000
338,226 evacuated 
approx. 800,000
Casualties and losses
  • British
    68,111 killed, wounded or captured (~3,500 killed)
    63,879 vehicles including tanks and motorcycles
    2,472 field guns
    6 destroyers
    over 200 marine vessels
    over 100 aircraft 
  • French
    18,000 killed
    35,000 captured
    3 destroyers 
  • (Estimated)
    20,000 killed and wounded
    100 tanks
    156 aircraft 
Civilian casualties : 1,000 civilians killed during air raids

                                                     Betram Ramsay


Battle of Dunkirk, full story


Dunkerquen taistelu oli toisessa maailmansodassa Saksan ja liittoutuneiden joukkojen välinen Dunkerquen kaupungin hallinnasta käyty taistelu, joka alkoi 26. toukokuuta ja päättyi 4. kesäkuuta 1940 saksalaisten vallattua kaupungin vangiten 40 000 kaupungin puolustajaa. Taistelun aikana kaupungista evakuoitiin arviolta 338 226 sotilasta Britteinsaarille.

                                                          Senegal soldier

                                                     Royal Indian army service corps

Saksan hyökkäys Ranskaan alkoi 10. toukokuuta 1940. 20. toukokuuta he olivat edenneet Englannin kanaalille katkaisten Britannian siirtoarmeijalta yhdeyden Ranskan 1. armeijaan, joka piiritettiin Lilleen. Saksalaiset pysäyttivät joukkojensa etenemisen 24. toukokuuta, mikä antoi liittoutuneille aikaa järjestää ja evakuoida joukkonsa Dunkerqueen. Arviolta 400 000 liittoutuneiden sotilasta oli piiritettynä Dunkerqueen. Saksalaiset aloittivat hyökkäyksen Dunkerqueen 26. toukokuuta kaikilta rintamilta. Britit aloittivat samanaikaisesti Operaatio Dynamon, jossa he 11 päivän ajan evakuoivat joukkonsa englantiin. Yli 861 alusta osallistuivat evakuointiin. Näistä 243 upotettiin operaation aikana, mukaan lukien yhdeksän hävittäjää. Britit menettivät 177 lentokonetta puolustaessaan aluksia ja saksalaiset 240.

3. kesäkuuta saksalaiset olivat vain kolmen kilometrin päässä kaupungista. Seuraavana päivänä brittien evakuoitua viimeisetkin joukkonsa kaupungista saksalaiset etenivät kaupungin satamaan ja nostivat hakaristilipun kaupungin valtauksen merkiksi. Viimeiset kaupunkia puolustaneet 40 000 ranskalaissotilasta antautuivat saksalaisille. Saksalaiset saivat merkittävän sotasaaliin brittien hylättyä kaiken raskaan sotakalustonsa kuten ajoneuvot ja tykit. 

Saaliiksi saatiin 880 kenttätykkiä, 310 suuren kaliiperin tykkiä, 500 ilmatorjuntatykkiä, 850 panssarintorjuntatykkiä, 11 000 konekivääriä, noin 700 panssarivaunua, 20 000 moottoripyörää ja 45 000 moottoroitua ajoneuvoa. Dunkerquen valtauksen jälkeen saksalaiset aloittivat Fall Rotin eli operaatio Punaisen, jossa joukot etenivät Ranskan eteläosiin. Pariisi vallattiin 14. kesäkuuta. Tulitauko solmittiin 17. kesäkuuta ja Saumurissa käydyn puolustustaistelun jälkeen Ranska antautui saksalle 22. kesäkuuta 1940.

On 24 May, Hitler visited General von Rundstedt's headquarters at Charleville . The terrain around Dunkirk was thought unsuitable for armour. Von Rundstedt advised him the infantry should attack the British forces at Arras, where the British had proved capable of significant action, while Kleist's armour held the line west and south of Dunkirk to pounce on the Allied forces retreating before Army Group B. Hitler, who was familiar with Flanders' marshes from the First World War , agreed. This order allowed the Germans to consolidate their gains and prepare for a southward advance against the remaining French forces.

Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring asked for the chance to destroy the forces in Dunkirk. The Allied forces' destruction was thus initially assigned to the air force while the German infantry organised in Army Group B . Von Rundstedt later called this "one of the great turning points of the war." 

The true reason for the decision to halt the German armour on 24 May is still debated. One theory is that Von Rundstedt and Hitler agreed to conserve the armour for Fall Rot , an operation to the south. It is possible that the Luftwaffe's closer ties than the army's to the Nazi Party contributed to Hitler's approval of Göring's request. Another theory—which few historians have given credence - is that Hitler was still trying to establish diplomatic peace with Britain before Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union). Although von Rundstedt after the war stated his suspicions that Hitler wanted "to help the British", based on alleged praise of the British Empire during a visit to his headquarters, little evidence that Hitler wanted to let the Allies escape exists apart from a self-exculpatory statement by Hitler himself in 1945. 

The historian Brian Bond wrote:
Few historians now accept the view that Hitler's behaviour was influenced by the desire to let the British off lightly in [the] hope that they would then accept a compromise peace. True, in his political testament dated 26 February 1945 Hitler lamented that Churchill was "quite unable to appreciate the sporting spirit" in which he had refrained from annihilating [the] British Expeditionary Force, at Dunkirk, but this hardly squares with the contemporary record. Directive No. 13, issued by the Supreme Headquarters on 24 May called specifically for the annihilation of the French, English and Belgian forces in the pocket, while the Luftwaffe was ordered to prevent the escape of the English forces across the channel. 

Whatever the reasons for Hitler's decision, the Germans confidently believed the Allied troops were doomed. American journalist William Shirer reported on 25 May, "German military circles here tonight put it flatly. They said the fate of the great Allied army bottled up in Flanders is sealed." BEF commander Lord Gort agreed, writing to Anthony Eden , "I must not conceal from you that a great part of the BEF and its equipment will inevitably be lost in the best of circumstances". 

Hitler did not rescind the Halt Order until the evening of 26 May. The three days thus gained gave a vital breathing space to the Royal Navy to arrange the evacuation of the British and Allied troops. About 338,000 men were rescued in about 11 days. Of these some 215,000 were British and 123,000 were French, of whom 102,250 escaped in British ships


SA-pictures, 1941

After the Winter War had begun, Finland bought a total of 88 Breda guns from Italy, the last arriving during the Interim Peace in June 1940. Five of the Finnish Bredas were later lost in action during the Continuation War. In addition, the four Italian-built Jymy class motor torpedo boats operated by the Finnish Navy each had one 20 mm Breda cannon on the rear deck. The Finnish Defence Forces used the 20 ItK/35 Breda, as the gun was officially known in that service, as a training weapon for anti-aircraft crews for several decades after the end of World War II. In 1985 there were still 76 guns remaining in the inventory, but all of these were discarded later during that decade.
Talvisodan aikana Suomeen tilattiin kaikkiaan 48 kappaletta 20 mm:n Breda-tykkejä. Suomeen tykit saapuivat helmikuussa 1940, mutta rintamajoukoille niitä ei ehditty enää jakaa ennen sodan päättymistä. Myöhemmin (välirauhan ja jatkosodan aikana) aseita tilattiin lisää joitakin kymmeniä kappaleita, joista osa oli kiinteälavettisia laivoihin tapahtuvaa asennusta varten. Breda-tykkien melko suuresta lukumäärästä johtuen ne osallistuivat sangen näkyvästi sotatoimiin useilla jatkosodan rintamilla.
Sotien jälkeen Breda-tykit huollettiin ja varastoitiin. 1960-luvun alussa puolustusvoimien varastoissa tykkejä oli edelleen jäljellä 83 kappaletta ja vielä vuonna 1985 niitä oli varastoituna 76 asetta. Tämän jälkeen kymmenen näistä aseista jätettiin puolustusvoimien omiin kokoelmiin ja loput joko myytiin tai hävitettiin. 

                    Breda cannons transport and assembly to fire station and cover


                                     Information patrol coming back from front line

Military officer, patrol leader Lieutenant

Patrol leader Corporal Niemelä, and his three men, with submachine guns. One them, soldier Bird, shot 12 soviet officers in the last battle, attack to soviet command post.
 Löytynoja 1941.07.21

From Turku city's, schoolboy cannon pattery soften to motti of Hämekoski closed enemies. The battery crew is one of the schools of turku rector assembles and has only volunteers.
The Rector himself received a heroic death when this fire-leader chief was front.
Hämekoski 1941.07.18

                             Heavy cannons rollings for the front lines

                                    work duty determinate men repair the roads

                                     The organ gun, captured soviet made aa-mg