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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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".
TAKE OUR INSPIRATION FROM HEROES! HAIL VICTORY!