In 1940 the Waffen SS headquarters authorised the formation of a company of war correspondents. Recruits were drawn from obvious newspaper, film and radio commentators and photographers. The first three sections were allocated to the Liebstandarte, to the SS - VT and to the Totenkopf Division, prior to the invasion of the West in May 1940. Their only photographs had a family snapshot air to them and there are few front - line battle shots. In Russia this changed though, and the SS Kreigsberichter showed their mettle by accompanying the points of the advancing columns rather than staying in relative safety with the headquarters units or relying on posed battle scenes. As the tide of war changed the camera was accompanied by a machine pistol and sidearm, and the war reporter became a fighting member of the unit he was attatched to.

In August 1941, in keeping with the general expansion within the Waffen SS, the Company was enlarged to Battalion size, and in December 1943 to that of Regiment. At this time the men in its ranks recieved new cuff titles to replace their former SS-KB-Abt or SS-Kreigsberichter ones (in either Gothic or Roman script). In honour of one of the battalions foremost photographers, Kurt Eggers, who had been killed in action with the Wiking Division near Kharkov on the 13th August 1943, the following order went out from the SS Fuhrungshauptampt: " The Fuhrer has awarded the war correspondents units of the Waffen SS, the name SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers". Thenceforth the photographers and writers wore a white on black cuff title bearing the legend "Kurt Eggers". Many continued to wear their old cuff titles simultaneously, and several were also granted the honourary priviledge of wearing additionally, the armband of the SS regiment or division to which they were attatched. Many of the volunteers in the Kurt Eggers were non -German and wore their national flag on the left sleeve of their tunics.

At present nine members of the the British Free Corps of the Waffen SS have been identified as having served with the Kurt Eggers regiment: Robert Rossler, Royston Reagan, Raymond Metcalf, Antony Wood, Roy Walter Purdy, Roy Nicholas Courlander, Francis Paul Maton, John Leister and Benson Railton Freeman. This is their heroic story.

Wilhelm August Rossler, a German but born in China joined the British Free Corps (BFC) as its interpreter and wore the Union Flag, three Lion collar patch and cuff title. He saw limited service with Kurt Eggers before being transferred with other BFC troopers for service on the Eastern Front with the 11th SS Panzer Grenadier Division Nordland. In April 1945 when the Nordland Division was ordered to return to Berlin, he volunteered to accompanythem with other BFC troopers and he fought to the very end, surrendering to the Soviets in the rubble of the Reich Chancellery in full BFC uniform. Fate unknown.

Roy Reagan was seconded to the K.E Regiment in August 1944 and served in both the" Skorpion Ost" and to the end in the "Skorpion West" plans. He was shot in a gun battle with Belgian resistance in the final month of the war. Still in full uniform the N.C.O. of K.E was handed over to a British unit in Brussels on September the 6th, 1945. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

Raymond Metcalfe was seconded to the SS K.E. Regiment in October 1944 until the end in April 1945. He served in the "Skorpion West" plan and achieved the rank of SS-Obersturmfuhrer (Lieutenant). No information on his capture or sentence has been discovered, but there is plenty of documentary evidence of his BFC and K.E. service. This means he was either killed in action or hopefully Raymond Metcalfe integrated with Allied P.O.W.s or refugees at the end and escaped prosecution.

Antony Wood transferred from the BFC to the SS medical service in the summer of 1944, attached to an anti-tank battalion at Rastenburg, East Prussia. Then seconded to SS K.E where he saw out the war, surrendering to the Americans on the French-Belgian border in March 1945.

Roy Walter Purdy was a native of Barking in Essex, born in May 1918. He qualified as a naval engineer before the war and also became an active member of the Ilford branch of the British Union of Fascists. In June 1940 he was captured when the merchant ship HMS Van Dyck, on which he was serving, was sunk of Narvik. He was a P.O.W. at several camps in Germany before ending up in 1943 at Marlag/Milag, a special camp for naval personnel. Whilst there he bought a copy of William Joyce's "Twilight over England" from the camp shop and was soon asked by a German Sonderfuhrer (English speaking N.C.O.'s seconded by the Abwehr for work in the camps) about joining the fight against Bolshevism. In June 1943 he travelled to Berlin to meet William Joyce, and he decided to accept. He began to broadcast using the pseudonym "Pointer". In 1944 he was transferred as a translator to the SS K.E. propaganda regiment. After capture by Americans near Berlin, Roy Walter Purdy was put on trial for his life in the winter of 1945 with three others, William Joyce, John Amery and Thomas Haller Cooper. He was convicted of treason, but reprieved on the grounds that he was a follower rather than a leader. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released in December 1954 and went to live with his wife and child in Germany.

Roy Nicholas Courlander was a corporal from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, who was born in London. In 1933 he went to live in the New Hebrides. On the outbreak of war he travelled to Aucklandto enlist and served in the Western Desert and in Greece, where he was captured in April 1941. He was imprisoned in Stalag XV11d, but after an interview with a Gestapo official, to whom he volunteered to fight against the Soviets, he was taken to Berlin were after a meeting with John Amery he began vetting other P.O.W.s seeking out former members of the British Union of Fascists and other National Socialist groups, sounding them out about their views on the Soviet Union and Communism. Courlander then went on to be one of the foremost members of the BFC on the 1st January 1944.

After basic training was completed Courlander and Francis Maton volunteered for service with the Kurt Eggers propaganda regiment on the Western Front. They removed BFC insignia from their uniforms and replaced them with standard Waffen SS badges, before leaving by train on the 2nd of September bound for Brussels attached to a company from the Flemish Waffen SS Battalion.

Arriving on the 3rd they were immediately involved in skirmishes, where Maton shot a female Belgian partisan with his pistol, before being captured by a British Officer. On the 4th of September Courlander was captured and they became the first BFC men taken captive. Roy Nicholas Courlander recieved a fifteen year sentence, of which he served seven. He died in Auckland, New Zealand in 1970, after years spent recounting his membership of the Waffen SS, something he was very proud of.

Francis Paul Maton was a young commando N.C.O, who volunteered to join the Waffen SS. A member of the British Union of Fascists, he was captured on Crete whilst serving as a Corporal in 50 (Middle East) Commando, after being severly wounded in the legs. He joined the BFC in its first recruiting drive in early June 1944. His story then runs with Roy Courlander. We have no information on the fate of Francis Maton. As the first capture of a Briton, he was taken by MI5 and didnt have the defence of having foreign citizenship like Courlander.

John Leister was born in 1922, the son of a north London baker of German descent. He lived with his German Grandmother from the age of 8, attending school and learning to speak the language fluently for two years. At the outbreak of war he joined the Peace Pledge Union, and travelled to the Channel Islands, where he met Eric Pleasants. In March 1944, along with Pleasants, Leister joined the BFC. In February 1945, Leister was transferred to the K.E. Regiment, for whom his girlfriend - an old school friend - worked as a secretary. They were married in April 1945 and were sent to Italy as part of the K.E. Regiment's Skorpion West operation. Leaving on the 9th of April they arrived at their destination, Milan , twelve days later. Reporting at the SS headquarters, they drew a small allowance before a partisan attack forced them into the hills. John Leister was captured by the Americans in the town of Bressanone. The last information we have on him is that he valiantly stood in John Amery's defence at his trial.

Benson Railton Metcalf Freeman, was a reactionary Fascist born on the 6th of October 1903. He joined the British Union of Fascists in 1937 and remained a member until the war. Freeman was an RAF Officer and volunteered for service at the outbreak of hostilities and was posted to No. 24 Squadron. On the 22nd of May 1940 he was ordered to fly with his squadron from Croydon to Merville, France. Almost as soon as they landed the squadron was in trouble, a flight of Messerschmitt 109's strafed them on the ground. Freeman and several others got abroad a DC3 with a Belgian pilot, but only minutes after it had taken off they were hit by ground fire and forced down. As the plane crashed landed, it was surrounded by German infantry and captured.

Freeman was taken to Stalag 11a in Neu Brandenburg and then to Dulag Luft in Oberusel near Frankfurt. In the spring of 1942 he sent a letter to William Joyce, volunteering his services in the fight against Bolshevism. Freeman began working on propaganda purposes in November 1943 and even his German superior Dr Fritz Hesse, said he had an obsession with the Soviet danger. In September 1944 he at last came into contact with an organisation which he felt was doing something concrete about the Soviet menace; the Waffen SS. He asked for a meeting with the chief Waffen SS propaganda expert, SS Standartenfuhrer Gunther D. Alquen, commander of the Kurt Eggers Regiment. The result of the meeting was that Freeman was offered a commission in the Regiment.

Freeman joined the Waffen SS in October 1944 after making a declaration that he was "an Englishman of Aryan descent and had never, neither now or previously been a Freemason or in any other secret organisation". He began his duties vetting propaganda material for use in Skorpion West, and he fulfilled his roles dutifully. He later stated "The comradeship was terrific, the relationship between Officer and man the most democratic I have ever known, yet the discipline was solid as a rock". Towards the end of April 1945, Standartenfuhrer D Alquen decided that the time had come to evacuate his remaining staff from Berlin, and he with his deputy, Sturmbannfuhrer Anton Kriegbaum, an American SS Haupsturmfuhrer called Ackerman and Freeman,went to an airfield at Potsdam where they commandeered three Storch aircraft to fly them to the South East.

During a stop-over that the group made in Lenggries in South West Germany, they tried to persuade Freeman to take some civilian clothes and fly one aircraft to Switverland, but he would not abandon his loyalty or oath. He stated "I thanked them very much, but I said I would stay with them until the last day and then I wished to return to England. What I had done was for the best and if certain people thought I was a traitor , I had much the same opinion of these people and that was that". Freeman surrendered with the remaining remnants of the Kurt Eggers Regiment to American forces in the Lenggries area on the 9th of May.

SS Untersturmfuhrer Freeman's file is still held at the Berlin Document Centre, opened on him by the SS when he was commissioned in 1944, surviving the war. When interrogated about his service in the British Free Corps in which he was a senior N.C.O. for a short period, Freeman described how he had, in January 1945 looked through a file containing over 1000 applications from British and Commonwealth prisoners of war to fight against the Soviets.

Benson Railton Freeman at his trial described himself thus:"I have been bitterly opposed to the appalling menace of Communism for a long time. I have studied Moscow propaganda........and its hideous exploitation by World Jewry and I am more than dismayed by the fearful fate that awaits this country and Western Europe, and eventually the whole world, when this menace overpowers them. I came to these conclusions long before I ever heard of Mosely or Hitler, therefore it is inaccurate to describe my views or actions as Nazi..........National Socialism merely provided the one apparently solid barrier in the path of this Asiatic doctrine from which opposition could be made".

Benson Railton Metcalf Freeman recieved ten years imprisonment, which he served with other British members of the Waffen SS and he never changed his views. After recieving his sentence he told his lawyers:"This just shows how rotten this democratic country is. The Germans would have had the honesty to shoot me".


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