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Welcome to Remembrance Week.
I'm honoured to be here in Afghanistan with
some of the brave men and women serving in our armed forces.
To mark Remembrance Sunday, we'll also meet some amazing
people from past conflicts around the world.
They'll share their most precious memories of war, their pain
and loss, friendship and survival.
Coming up on today's programme...
A German refugee describes how he almost died fighting for Britain.
I was, of course,
well aware that I was volunteering to fight against my country.
I didn't think of it as my country.
It was fighting against the Nazi barbarity.
That's why we wanted to be in fighting units.
The miraculous survival story of a young British vehicle
commander in Afghanistan.
I sort of rolled over and I was like, "What's happened, Nick?"
And he was like, "You've been blown up, mate, and it was a bloody big one."
And a 19-year-old officer from the Korean War
tells of the extraordinary sacrifices his men made.
They would fight to the death for each other.
They would give their lives for each other.
And there's no greater thing that a man can do.
In the 1930s, the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany led to the
ever increasing persecution of the Jewish population.
Rather than stay, around 70,000 German
and Austrian citizens fled to the relative safety of Britain.
They were called the friendly enemy aliens and many were
so passionate about overthrowing Hitler's regime,
they volunteered to fight alongside the British.
Now aged 91, Colin Anson began life as Claus Ascher.
Growing up in 1930s Germany, he witnessed
the rise of the Nazi Party.
When the Nazis came to power, there was a sort of wave of enthusiasm.
And one could get swept up with it.
My father pulled me up short and said, "Look at what's happening,
"look under the surface, look behind the stage set.
"See where this is going."
Although born Jewish, above all else Colin's father Kurt
considered himself a patriotic German.
As the Nazis' campaign of hatred against the Jews gained
momentum, Kurt became disillusioned with his country.
What particularly upset him was what he called the lack of civil courage.
Where people toed the line
and kept their nose clean in order not to get into trouble.
And allowed them...to be culled by this gangster regime.
Colin's father became increasingly outspoken about his feelings
towards the Nazi regime.
It was tragic to see him...becoming disgusted with being a German.
In power, the Nazis clamped down on all opposition.
Ordinary Germans were soon fearing for their lives.
With informants everywhere, people were never sure about
who was a spy hiding amongst them.
I used to tug his sleeve and say, "Daddy, careful. Mind what you say."
And he would look me full in the face and say,
"Do you want me to act like a coward?"
Colin, then only 15 years old, was about to experience
first-hand the brutality on the Nazi regime.
Father and I went out for a supper of beer and sausages and sauerkraut.
My father made some anti-Nazi remarks.
A young man got up off the table and came back with a policeman,
who pointed at my father, crooked his finger and took him away.
And there I was sitting with...my glass of beer
and his walking stick and our good dog, Lorna...
..for quite a long time.
After an anxious wait, a police officer arrived to take
Colin to see his father at the police station.
On the way the officer indulged in that typical German gesture of
the time, to look over both shoulders to make sure you weren't overheard.
And then said, "How can he say such things?
"Doesn't he know how dangerous it is to talk like that nowadays?"
Speaking against the Nazis often led to the same
outcome in Hitler's Germany.
A visit by his ruthless secret police.
He was handed over to the Gestapo.
Who probably didn't treat him awfully kindly
but he was then sent to the concentration camp at Dachau.
Originally intended to hold only political prisoners,
Dachau was the first concentration camp built by the Nazis.
It would be the model for the many other concentration camps
that were to follow.
We received a postcard to tell us that he had arrived
and that he was healthy and not to worry.
And a letter which had been mutilated by the censor.
Altogether he lasted about two weeks, three weeks
before we were informed by a Gestapo officer that he had died.
I seem to remember something about circulation failure.
Which doesn't really...mean anything.
In its 12 year history, it's estimated that more
than 30,000 prisoners perished at Dachau.
To avoid risking the same fate,
it became clear to Colin that he should leave Germany.
As a half-Jewish boy,
my mother was worried about the possibility of my future in Germany.
It was deemed essential, if possible, to get me out of the country.
His mother, not being Jewish, was thought to be in less danger
and had to stay.
I very much hoped that we would meet again.
Just five days before his 17th birthday,
Colin left his mother behind to start his new life.
He was one of 70,000 German
and Austrian citizens who fled to Britain.
People were incredibly generous and never adopted a suspicious or
hostile attitude because we were German.
They understood that any refugees from Nazi oppression
were at least as much opposed to Nazism.
And that we were on their side.
'This morning, the British Ambassador in Berlin
'handed the German government a final note.'
Everybody who was alive then in Britain will
remember for as long as they live, the voice of Mr Chamberlain.
'This country is at war with Germany.'
As soon as war broke out I made enquiries about joining the Forces.
Because I felt that this was my quarrel and I couldn't very well sit
back and let others deal with the problem for me.
When the war began, Germans like Colin living in Britain,
were not allowed to join fighting units.
He was a friendly enemy alien, but keen to fight the Nazi regime in
any way he could, he volunteered for the only option left open to him.
Colin was amongst thousands of Germans
and Austrians who joined what was known as the Pioneer Corp.
Now 5,000 Pioneers have taken on the biggest job even they've attempted.
The clearing of pitiable mounds of rubble that were once
the homes of unarmed civilians...
I was posted to London to help clear up bomb damage.
It was during the Blitz now.
And there was a good deal of clearing up to be done.
Having proven his loyalty to Britain in the Pioneers, Colin,
like many other refugees, was finally allowed to join
a fighting unit.
He was chosen for the elite Royal Marine Commandos,
formed that very year under special instruction from Churchill himself.
I was, of course, well aware that I was volunteering to
fight against my country as they would have called it.
I didn't think of it as my country.
And I didn't think of it as fighting Germany.
It was fighting against the Nazi barbarity.
That's why we wanted to be in fighting units.
In July 1943, after just three weeks of training,
Colin set off on a top secret mission.
We were on our way to the biggest invasion operation ever yet
attempted, which was the invasion of Sicily.
Codenamed Operation Husky, it marked
the beginning of the Allies' Italian campaign.
Miraculously, actually put ashore at exactly the point
we should have been.
That is a very rare happening.
After the initial landing, Colin went back to his assault ship.
But the ships were exposed to attacks from the skies.
The German dive-bombers, the Stukas, rather concentrated on us
and the night became extremely noisy.
Inevitably, their ship was hit.
I wasn't aware of being wounded at all.
But I was a bit woozy, I suppose.
I came across a chap I knew who had shrapnel in his abdomen
so one had to be a bit careful with him.
Pulled him into a little gangway for protection from the shrapnel.
And then another of these Stukas started coming down.
You can hear them coming down with that queer siren noise they make when
And I felt something drip onto my arm.
And I realised then that it was blood
so I must have scratched my head or something.
Colin didn't realise he'd sustained a life threatening injury.
My skull had been shot off. My brain was visible.
A bomb splinter had penetrated the helmet, penetrated my skull
and smashed some of it.
And skittered around on the inside where at the back of my head
it's still imbedded in the bone.
It took Colin five months to recover from his injuries.
But once back on his feet,
he continued serving alongside the British until the end of the war.
Victory over Hitler and his Nazi party paved the way for many
refugees to go in search of their families.
I asked to be posted to the Frankfurt area
so that I might look for my mother.
Psychologically, it was a bit schizophrenic sometimes to...
..walk the streets with which I had been so familiar.
And with the ghost of a German schoolboy walking ahead with
whom I had nothing in common any more.
Despite six years of being apart,
Colin had never lost hope of being reunited with his mother.
When I managed to find the house which she lived...
..and started up the stairs,
I heard her unmistakable footfall from the top end of the stairs.
She was just going out.
And so I rushed up and embraced her in order
to prevent any fainting on stairs.
And she said, "Nanu?" which means, "What on earth's going on?"
And I said, "Madame, I have the honour of being your son."
And from then on it was all joy and happiness.
Colin has earned his place in history as one of the King's
most loyal enemy aliens.
Along with others who sacrificed so much.
On Remembrance Day, it is when suddenly everybody stops still,
when the two-minute silence starts.
And that million of poppy petals start raining quietly down onto
this silent scene.
That's when it really starts to get me.
That is when I start to remember.
That's when these poppy petals suddenly all have faces.
And they're all there.
And there is Ken and there is Robbie and there's Mack.
And they're all there.
And that really gets me. Sorry about that.
Bravery, camaraderie and determination.
Words that can describe the experiences of all our veterans.
They're also words that sum up this next story particularly well.
Murray Hambro joined the British Army when he was 22 years old
and signed up to be a specialist tank driver.
In 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan.
But before he went he had an important question to ask
the love of his life.
I'd already decided that Hannah was the one for me.
So I went out and got an engagement ring and decided that
I was going to propose to her on holiday and make a big deal of it.
It was a real surprise and we'd only been together eight months
so it was quite soon.
But it just felt like the right thing
and I was very excited about it.
It was quite an emotional time.
She started welling up with a tear in her eye and I said,
"Is it a yes or a no?" And she said, "Course it's a yes."
The couple set a date for the big day.
But before long it was time for Murray to head off to Afghanistan.
It was what I expected. It was, you know, it was full-on firefights.
At that time the Taliban was really taking us on.
And it's what I joined up for. The adrenaline just kicked in.
Operating in hostile territory, Murray's regiment was amongst
the first to use a new vehicle, the Warthog.
A specially adapted 22-ton armoured personnel carrier.
And Murray, now a vehicle commander, was taking control.
But with Murray in the heart of the action, it was a difficult
time for his new fiancee.
I tried not to watch the news too often.
I thought if I could busy myself in doing other things
and not really look at what was going on in the news then any
sort of negative thoughts I had in my head would go away.
Two months into his deployment Murray's specialist tank team
was called in to assist the Parachute Regiment.
They basically had a forward patrol base.
But every time they tried to send battle
supplies down their convoys were taking massive casualties.
They basically called in the Warthogs.
Our terrain capabilities, we weren't limited to roads.
We could go through fields, across ditches and stuff like that.
Being able to avoid the dangerous roads,
the Warthogs could successfully deliver supplies to the front line.
But as the mission came to an end,
his life was to take a dramatic turn.
It was on the return journey back at the end of the day.
So I was thinking what pie and chips I'm going to have,
what pudding and everything else.
As we was driving through the field last thing in the day, one of the
Taliban crawled along an irrigation ditch
and connected up a battery pack to a legacy device.
Which basically means it could have been there for days, weeks, months.
And my vehicle triggered it.
Murray's vehicle had driven over a 65kg bomb.
He was thrown 40ft up in the air.
My friend that was in the vehicle behind me,
he just didn't bat an eyelid.
He jumped out of his vehicle, got his metal detector.
I sort of rolled over and I could hear Nick shouting towards me
telling me to stay still.
And it was kind of like a scene from Baywatch.
Where all the dust was still settling and Nick was running through.
And at that point I was like, "What happened, Nick?" And he's like,
"You've been blown up, mate.
"It was a bloody big one." So I was like, "Aw, brilliant."
We was all getting put onto stretchers
and at that point the Taliban started using indirect fire.
Throwing grenades over the bushes.
The emergency response team, the helicopter,
just came in and picked up all the casualties.
At that point we was flown straight to Camp Bastion.
The news of the explosion quickly reached home.
Murray's sister Susannah called me and as soon as she said,
"I've got something to tell you.
"I need to talk to you." I thought, "No, surely not."
I don't really know what went through my mind at the time
but it's a bit of a scary feeling.
She told me what had happened
and Murray had been involved in an IED incident.
She explained a little bit but then had to pass me
over to one of the officers that had come round to, of course, inform her.
But, yeah, it is scary having that call. Especially being on my own.
Within 36 hours Murray was back in the UK.
Only then did he learn just how severe his injuries were.
I'd broken my left pelvis. Ripped my liver and spleen.
Fractured six vertebrae and the one that everyone sort of laughs at
and I always say it was the worse was the cut on my nose.
Typical squaddie thing, anything but the face.
I didn't really know what to expect walking into intensive care.
He had to keep still.
He wasn't allowed to move because of the fractures to his spine.
It was just so nice to see him.
To actually see him still smiling.
Throughout everything, his still being able to smile was incredible.
The consultant came up to me.
He said, you've got really severe fractures to both feet.
So, I thought, six to eight weeks with a cast and then, you know,
going through the recovery process that way
and I'd be disco dancing in no time but, I mean, his idea of
severe fractures and mine were obviously two different things.
With such serious injuries to both feet,
Murray was advised to have a double amputation.
I think, when you're involved in quite a serious injury anyway,
especially one that inhibits your mobility and stuff like that,
you're going to have down days and I certainly have my fair share.
We'd find him sort of on his hands and knees
and...trying to make cups of tea hanging off of cupboard doors.
In the following weeks, he took a tumble out of his wheelchair
not long after he'd come out of hospital,
so that meant another hospital visit.
But we...we made plans, the wedding date hadn't changed.
We still wanted to go ahead with that date that we'd booked.
It was an unlikely prospect.
The wedding was less than a year away
but Murray was determined to stand beside his bride.
My first set of prosthetics... it was quite a worry in fact
because I just didn't know what to expect.
So, when they first put them on, they were very tight.
For me, my mindset was that regardless, they're going on.
And we stood between a set of bars.
And I just remember thinking, as painful as it was, I didn't care.
You know, I was out of my wheelchair.
Just three months after his operation,
Murray was able to take his first steps.
I went from one end of the bars to the other.
I sent a picture to Hannah of me stood there doing a stupid pose.
I'm absolutely surprised how quick he started to recover.
It's just the most amazing thing to see him walk.
To some, to a lot of us, you know,
walking is the most simple thing but to see someone who's been
injured, someone close to you, it's just incredible.
Eight months after he was injured,
Murray had a rather special date to keep.
On my wedding day...without a doubt you always feel a sense of pride.
There's some nerves,
so I was hoping that Hannah was actually going to turn up,
and, you know, walk down the aisle.
Seeing him at the end of the aisle was just, was just amazing.
He always had concerns at the outset.
He said, will I be able to do it?
I said, of course you will be able to do it, so, yeah, he smashed it.
With such life-changing injuries,
Murray needed to think about his future in the Army.
To lose my feet and be told that, um, I'm not really employable...
There is jobs that the Army could have offered me but it would
have been as an admin role and for me, I was a front-line soldier.
That's what I wanted to be.
So, instead, Murray decided to follow his boyhood dream.
He wanted to race motorbikes.
So, I got my first set of prosthetics,
and then I was walking, I basically went skipping down to the local
dealer and then bought myself a motorbike.
If you say to Murray, you can't do that, he'll want to do it
ten times over.
Equipped with a specially adapted bike,
he was soon racing against the pros.
I'm the first double amputee that's ever
ridden in the British Superbike Championship.
It's just, you know, showing these people that...not to rule us out.
From my perspective, he is... just incredible.
He's such a strong character
and I think he is an amazing inspiration to anyone.
The Korean War began just five years
after the end of the Second World War.
It's often referred to as The Forgotten War
but over 100,000 British troops made the voyage
to the other side of the world to fight.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War cease-fire.
The 60th anniversary of the cease-fire
is a cause for celebration but as soon as you celebrate it,
you then remember all those who gave their lives.
Haunted by the horrors of war, 81-year-old veteran, John Bowler,
has only recently felt able to talk about his time in the war.
I found it very difficult,
almost impossible, to talk about it other than to other soldiers.
It's only now that I am willing to talk to people about it
and tell them what it was like. BOMB BLAST
In June 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea
and another bitter conflict began.
British forces were sent to fight the Communist North who were
backed by their allies, China and the Soviet Union.
22 nations got together under the United Nations to stop Russia
and subsequently China.
In those days, we didn't have mass air transport
and so everybody went by troopship.
17 months after the invasion, John, a 19-year-old officer
and his men from the Welsh Regiment,
set sail from Southampton to the Korean Peninsula.
We went on a lovely German liner that had been
seized at the end of the war and it took us about 4? weeks to get there.
Arriving in Korea, as a platoon commander, John was to lead 30 men.
80% of our Battalion was aged 19.
We were a very young battalion.
I was enormously proud of the young soldiers.
They were conscripts, they weren't volunteers.
They didn't want to go there and they'd fight to the death
for each other.
They'd give their lives for each other.
And there, there's, there is no greater thing that a man can do.
Before facing the enemy,
John and his platoon were met by a harsh Korean winter.
During the winter, we experienced -25 and -30 degrees centigrade.
And that temperature was in the valley,
where battalion headquarters were.
We, in the platoons, were on top of the hills.
And on the top of the hill it was far colder.
The wind came down from Siberia
because Siberia's only 500 miles away to the north.
There was no time to rest.
John and his men were soon called into action.
We were told when we got there that we'll probably be allowed
to acclimatise for three weeks or so.
And after three days we'd suddenly been kitted out with
the most wonderful British Arctic clothing
and then the following day they sent us up to the front line.
So, we were in the front line about four days after we arrived.
Much of the Korean War saw the UN and Communist forces
entrenched either side of what was called "no-man's-land."
John led his platoon on regular patrols of the area.
Some days passed without incident.
But others have stayed with him for ever.
The day was February 9th and it was quite cold.
When we set out, about eight, nine o'clock in the morning,
it was snowing.
What we'd been told to do was to go to a hill in no-man's-land
where activity had been seen.
Crossing into no-man's-land, they were ambushed by enemy fire.
I noticed puffs of smoke apparently along the side of this section
where I was walking.
Well, we dived into a very shallow ditch that was by the side,
just by the minefield.
And I went forward just a little way to where there was a little bit
of a shelter.
And just at that moment, cos I was crouching on the ground,
a mortar shell landed in our midst.
A corporal was killed almost instantly. He died in my arms.
He just said, "My God."
He took the blast.
If it hadn't been for my poor corporal, I'd be dead.
Looking around, John was faced with even more casualties.
My sergeant, Sergeant White, he had blood coming out of his ears,
he had his arm smashed, he had his knee broken.
He had shrapnel all the way up him.
And so I shouted, "Anybody else wounded?"
And they said, "Yes, Private Babbage over there."
I could hear him croaking with his breathing.
And I could have put my fist into the hole in his chest.
It was his first patrol with us.
So that was a very bad day as far as we were concerned
because we had two dead and one severely wounded.
And that was a black day.
60 years on, memories of that day have not faded.
If you've been involved in an action
and because of what you decided to do people had been killed,
then if they were your men, your family, part of you...
You agonise almost for ever and ever.
You carry a guilt, you carry a burden that you never lose.
It stays with you till you die, I think.
John was to serve alongside UN troops for a further seven months.
But before heading home there was one last patrol.
On my last patrol I was asked to just go
and swan around no-man's-land in daylight.
They wanted to know whether anything had changed.
Was anybody up to any monkey business?
So off we set. It was a nice day, sun was shining,
and I decided to stop and rest up for a while.
Over another ridge, which was about 50 yards away from us,
came an identical couple of Chinamen and we came up into the ready
and there was no doubt that we would never have missed.
And I couldn't...I couldn't bring myself to shoot him.
Because he had a mother, he probably had a wife, he had others at home.
And I wasn't there to kill people like that.
I wasn't there to kill people in cold blood.
Lasting three years,
the Korean War saw more than 1,000 British troops lose their lives,
with many more wounded or taken prisoner.
I was having nightmares.
Three years ago,
I was out of my bed shouting at my wife to take cover,
ordering one section up on the left-hand side
and the other section on the right.
And telling them what weapon was being used cos
I could hear the mortars going off.
And it was Guy Fawkes Night.
We owe a debt of gratitude to John Bowler,
the men that served with him, and all of our armed forces.
They put their lives at risk in our name and for our sake.
And this weekend we remember their sacrifice.
I'm in FOB Shawqat,
a UK-run base in Nad-e Ali in the heart of the Green Zone.
Now, this used to be a very dangerous place to be,
but thanks to the incredible work of our armed forces,
responsibility is now being handed over to the Afghans,
which means our guys are leaving.
The British have been in Shawqat for eight years
and there are currently 500 servicemen and women based here.
With the handover fast approaching,
that means a lot of kit needs to be moved.
Including all the accommodation.
The man in charge is Captain Tony Brooks.
Tony! Gethin. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.
I hear you are the man with the almighty task of getting
everything out of here.
Yep, that's right, that's what they say.
How do you do something like this? It's like a small village.
The population fluctuates between 400-500 people at any one time,
so we're basically closing down a small village.
Where's all the stuff going?
Back to the UK, up to Kabul, it's going to all different locations.
It's my job to make sure that kit gets to the right location.
We're on schedule. Week six out of week ten and we're ahead of schedule.
You're always on schedule in the Army.
What are you doing today?
Today we're just about to remove the last tent standing in our camp.
So we've dropped 60 so far, this is the last one standing.
So these guys must have the long straw then
because this means they've had nice accommodation for a little while.
Yeah, these guys belong to me so, you know, a little bit of...
Favouritism! So it's all about teamwork.
It wouldn't be right for me to come all this way
and not give you a hand. Crack on.
If you go and see Sergeant major in there...
You going to wait here and have a cup of tea?
I'm going to grab a brew. Yeah, thought you might. Yeah, all right.
Sergeant major, how can I help?
Take all the beds outside. All right, straight in.
Whose bed's this? My bed.
I better look after this one, eh?
The tent has got to come down, the flooring's got to get taken out.
So all that's going to be left here is just the sun shade.
We're going to put some camouflage netting over the front.
You're basically going from five-star to what, one-star?
I wouldn't say that. Half a star.
'This home-made sofa is destined for a special new home back in the UK.'
There's a weight on that.
Where's this going?
This is going to the Imperial War Museum. Is it?
Yeah, we had a visit a few weeks ago and they liked what they saw.
Built by the lads themselves.
And I think it'll look good.
The lads made the sofa by bending blast walls like these into shape.
It's a piece of home-made history.
I'll go one side, you get the other. Forward. Stand there.
How much do you weigh?
Very soon, everyone on base will be sleeping under the stars.
As more and more things leave Shawqat,
in just a couple of days everyone here will be sleeping like this.
It's almost 50 degrees
and all they'll have for protection is this little thing.
But it's not just the household items like beds, furniture
and flooring that needs to leave,
it's also the really big stuff like vehicles and generators.
And these. They're full to the brim with technical equipment
and anything else they can fit in there
that they've needed up until now.
Every day more and more equipment leaves Shawqat.
This whole process has been described as the biggest
logistical challenge in a generation.
After hours of non-stop driving, the convoy reaches its destination -
First up, to make sure vehicles haven't been tampered with,
highly trained military dogs search every vehicle for explosive devices.
Next, every item is systematically checked.
Anything not needed is repacked and sent home, ready for its next role.
There are almost 10,000 containers worth of stuff here,
half of which have already gone back to the UK.
The key piece of kit that's responsible for moving
the containers round whilst they're being sorted is called the RTCH -
Rough Terrain Container Handler.
The RTCH can carry a massive 30 tonnes.
It's used to move more than 80 of these containers every day.
And it's a small dedicated team who get to play around with these
Pleasure to meet you, Gethin. All right?
Is the smile on your face anything to do with the fact you get
to drive this around all day? Yeah, it's a bit of fun.
How many containers will you move around, say, in a week?
Cos it's the busiest time, we've got about 600. 600 a week.
What do your family make of what you do out here?
They're really proud.
Very proud. Especially when they had me and brother out here.
His fiancee was out here as well, so I met her for the first time.
We'll go meet up Saturdays,
keep the old home thing going, go to watch the football.
Apart from you can't have a few beers.
But I've always wanted to be in the forces since I was a kid
and do my bit and come out to Afghan.
And play around with this.
This is the C-17.
It's a monster of plane and it's used to carry the biggest
and heaviest cargo.
Tonight, it's taking these three huge armoured vehicles.
It's time for them to leave Camp Bastion
and make the long journey back to the UK.
These chains are industrial strength
and watching these guys is absolutely brilliant.
They all know what they're doing and they get the job done quickly.
It's like the best Formula One pit stop I've ever seen.
This plane's ready to go back with three vehicles loaded.
And this is the best thing about redeployment -
our guys and girls are coming home.
Subtitles By Red Bee Media Ltd
Gethin Jones is with the troops in Afghanistan, paying tribute to those who have served and sacrificed for Great Britain. In this final episode, a German refugee tells how his Jewish father inspired him to fight for Britain against the Nazis. A 19-year-old officer from the Korean War speaks for the first time about the horrors of the 'forgotten war'. An extraordinary young vehicle commander in Afghanistan describes the moment he triggered an explosive device and his fight to recover.