WWII Expert Fires New Attack on Horace's Tales of Nazi Escapes

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), July 14, 2013 | Go to article overview

WWII Expert Fires New Attack on Horace's Tales of Nazi Escapes


Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY STEVE BRADLEY

MY husband was no liar: he DID escape the Nazis 200 times to meet his lover.

So says furious Midland widow Brenda Greasley, dismayed at claims by a leading historian that her much-missed spouse, Horace, made up his Second World War experiences Set amid five years of degradation and close run-ins with death, Horace's recollections of bravely thwarting his captors and fleeing his Polish prisoner-of-war camp for dramatic love trysts with his German sweetheart Rosa Rauchbach in a nearby forest, have captivated audiences across the world - and attracted interest from Hollywood film-makers.

But war expert Guy Walters has launched a stinging attack on Horace's biography Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell?, which has been reissued, claiming that it was one of several 'suspect' books about the Holocaust and the war.

He also rubbished the veracity of Horace's family's claim that a famous photo showing an emaciated, topless soldier confronting evil Nazi SS head Heinrich Himmler to demand more food was Horace - as the prisoner was wearing a Russian hat, not a British one.

Walters claimed that Horace, from Ibstock, Leicestershire, was part of a group of 'old men with failing memories teaming up with sharp-elbowed ghost-writers to 'recall' increasingly fantastical stories of 'derring-do during the war'.

His assertions have angered both Brenda, 82, who lives in Hinckley, Leicestershire, and ghost-writer Ken Scott, who collaborated with Horace for two years on the book.

Brenda told the Sunday Mercury: "Horace's story is all true. Guy Walters' comments have made me furious. He doesn't know - he wasn't there.

"He's just making assumptions about what happened, and not talking about what did happen.

"There was nothing wrong with Horace - he was as alert as anything.

He enjoyed hoodwinking the German guards and if he could do something behind their backs, he would "It's definitely Horace in the picture - the other men got him to tell Himmler 'we want some more food'. He went up to the barbed wire fence and asked for some, and took his shirt off to show how thin he was.

"Although he was very thin then, I definitely recognise Horace without his shirt on!

"As for what he was wearing, Horace said they wore whatever they were given."

Captured Horace, a Private during the war, was captured by Hitler's forces during the British retreat to Dunkirk in 1940.

He then endured a ten-week forced 'death march' across France and Belgium to Holland, in which many of his colleagues lost their lives, and a three-day train journey to prison camps in Polish Silesia, then annexed as part of Germany.

Then aged 21, unmarried Horace first met 17-year-old Rosa at his second jail, a marble quarry labour camp, where she worked as a translator for her father, who owned the quarry.

Horace was liberated on May 24, 1945, and continued to receive letters from Rosa - by then a translator for the Americans. But the correspondence suddenly stopped and tragically Horace found out that Rosa had died in childbirth not long after he got home. He never knew if the baby was his.

He married Brenda in 1970 and the couple moved to Spain's Costa Brava where he died at the age of 91 in February 2010. Brenda said: "He got friendly with Rosa because by then he was beginning to learn German.

"He said he learned it so he could tell the b*****s what he thought of them!

"By then Normandy had been invaded but the Germans didn't want the prisoners to know that they were winning the war, so they kept it from them.

"Horace found out through Rosa that France had been invaded and that Germany was on the run. She used to pass on messages rolled up in cigarettes.

"So then it became a little bit easier and then he was moved to another camp, which was more open, next to some woods. …

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