The King's Own Loyal Enemy Aliens

German and Austrian Refugees in Britain's Armed Forces, 1939-45

Leighton-Langer, Peter

During the Second World War, 10,000 Germans and Austrians volunteered to join the British Forces from the UK. Most were refugees, but there were others also. From 1939 until 1943 most served in the 18 so-called Alien Companies of the Pioneer Corps. After that almost all branches of the services were opened to them and they used this chance to its fullest extent. In this period they were spread over the whole of the Navy, the Army, and the RAF. To write the history of the Alien Pioneers is not difficult. The history of the men who in 1943 were dispersed over all the rest of the services however is the history of the Services as a whole. Peter Leighton-Langer, himself one of the 10,000, has tried to solve this by concentrating on the fate and the actions of individuals, who may or may not be typical for all the others. To do this he has been in direct or indirect contact with some 600 of his former colleagues, whose adventures he cites, often in their own words, to give a picture of the whole. Some of their stories are exciting, others tell of the frustration of men who wanted to get at the enemy, but were treated as untrustworthy because of their nationality. All risked their lives, for had they fallen into enemy hands and been recognised for what they were, everyone would have been treated as a traitor. All knew that. Few returned to their countries of origin. Many stayed in Britain and in due course became loyal British citizens. They should not be forgotten. This is the purpose of this book.

401 pages

Copyright: 5/1/2006