{Second World War; Wormhoudt Massacre, 1940 ] Papers of Rev. Leslie Aitken, 1943-1993, Author of "Massacre on the Road to Dunkirk" (1977; 1988).

The Wormhoudt Massacre, 1940.
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SKU: 20903

It is largely due to the efforts of Rev. Leslie Robert Aitken, Rector of Alvechurch, Worcestershire, and National Chaplain to the Dunkirk Veterans' Association, that the details of the Wormhoudt Massacre - one of the worst atrocities perpetrated by the Germans against the British in the Second World War - are preserved for posterity. In May 1940, during the retreat to Dunkirk, the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was ordered to fight to the last in order to hold up the German advance. On 28 May, after a valiant action at the French village of Wormhoudt, the remnants of the battalion were surrounded and, having run out of ammunition, surrendered to 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. They expected to be treated by the rules of the Geneva Convention, but instead the prisoners, including a few members of other regiments, were stripped to the waist and their identity discs were removed. They were marched for a mile to a point between Wormhoudt and Esquelbecq, fifteen men being shot along the way. At their destination around a hundred men were forced into a small barn, and hand-grenades were thrown inside. Those left alive were either shot in batches of five, or sprayed with machine-gun fire, or bayonetted. Nevertheless around a dozen men survived.The British began to investigate the affair in 1944, and in 1947 Lt Col. A. P. Scotland of the Judge Advocate General's Office produced two reports. It was Scotland's view (as stated in his book 'The London Cage', 1957) that direct responsibility for the massacre lay with Major-General Wilhelm Mohnke (1911-2001), who ended the war in command of the Hitler bunker, and is implicated in another massacre (see Howard Margolian, 'Conduct Unbecoming: The Story of the Murder of Canadian Prisoners of War in Normandy', University of Toronto, 2000). Much to his frustration, Scotland was unable to present a case, and the matter was not aired in court. In the early 1970s Aitken determined to write a book on the subject and took statements from survivors. He engaged in research at the Public Record Office and elsewhere, and - much to the disapproval of the Ministry of Defence, who informed him that it was a restricted document - Aitken consulted a copy of one of Scotland's reports in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment museum. Aitken's book 'Massacre on the Road to Dunkirk' was published in 1977, and received a fair deal of publicity in the British press, and Aitken and a survivor were interviewed by the BBC. Aitken had discovered an unrepentant Mohnke living in some affluence in Germany, and had pressed the German authorities to investigate the charges against him. By the time a second edition of Aitken's book appeared in 1988, the case had been taken up by Labour MP Jeff Rooker (b.1941, now Lord Rooker), who raised the matter in parliament on several occasions, but no action was taken ever taken against Mohnke or anyone else. The present collection of nearly two hundred items relating to the Wormhoudt Massacre from Aitken's papers is in good condition, lightly aged and worn. It includes: a batch of material from the 1940s relating to the original investigation, given to Aitken by survivor Richard Tudor Parry, and including Parry's copy of his original affidavit; some survivors' statements on the massacre, made to Aitken in the 1970s, with his notes and comments; Aitken's correspondence with survivors and other individuals (including two letters giving first-hand accounts of other atrocities); Aitken's correspondence with the Ministry of Defence, indicating official reluctance for the full facts to be known, for fear of embarrassing the Germans; Parliamentary correspondence, including a number of letters from Rooker and copies of Aitken's letters to Prime Minister John Major and others, indicating a complex response to the 'Mohnke witchhunt' and involvement of the media; material relating to Mohnke's alleged complicity in the massacre, including Aitken's correspondence with German state prosecutors; an interesting batch of material relating to claims that one of the survivors was not in fact present, including copies of interesting letters from Aitken discussing his research methods and false memory; together with newspaper articles and reviews; publishers' correspondence and related material; a couple of circulars by Aitken; a small batch of photographs.[Note: the seven 'official' survivors, referred to at the time of Scotland's report were: Charles Edward Daley; William Reginald O'Callaghan; Albert Leonard Pooley; Robert William Gill; Albert Evans; John Edward Lavelle; Richard Tudor Parry. Five survivors not named in the initial report: Tombs, Hall, Hopper, Dutton, West.]The following description is arranged as follows:A. Survivor R. T. Parry's material relating to the original investigation, 1943-1947B. Accounts of the massacre by survivors, made to Aitken in the 1970sC. Letters to Aitken from survivors and othersD. Correspondence with Ministry of Defence, Judge Advocate General's Office, etcE. Parliamentary correspondenceF. Correspondence relating to Mohnke's complicity in the massacreG. The Reginald West affairH. Statements by AitkenI. Secondary materialJ. Newspaper articles and reviewsK. Material relating to the publication of Aitken's bookL. PhotographsA. Survivor R. T. Parry's collection of original material, 1943-1947Nineteen documents, dating from between 1943 and 1947, relating to the original investigation into the Wormhoudt Massacre, presented to Aitken by survivor Richard Tudor Parry (see his second letter in Section C below). Containing: the copy Parry was given of his original 1944 affidavit to Lt-Col. A. P. Scotland's War Crimes Investigation Unit of the Judge Advocate General's Office; nine letters from Scotland's team (three from Scotland himself, three from Major C. G. Mason, two from Captain W. D. Sadleir, one from G. Stanton); four from Treasury Solicitor P. H. B. Kent; three from Lt. Col. M. H. V. Kendall of the Royal Warwicks; one from W. Harvey of the War Office; a duplicated map of the scene of the massacre. Topics: news of the progress of the investigation, arrangements for the swearing of Parry's affidavit, Parry's revisiting of the scene of the massacre 'to assist in investigations', requests for elucidation and further information, details of eleven individuals who may be among 'the victims'; request for Parry's help in identifying perpetrators. Parry's carbon copy of his two-page affidavit to Colonel Scotland's investigation is divided into ten parts, the key passage reading: '7. No sooner were we all inside than grenades were thrown in. I counted five in all. I was blown through a gap in the side of the barn by the first grenade and only my feet remained inside. I was wounded in my leg and was unable to move. Then I heard the Germans shouting "Raus, Raus" and I heard our boys shouting abuse and later asking if they could have a smoke before they were shot. Their request was apparently not granted because a few seconds later five men were lined up in the field on my side of the barn, and shot in the back. Then five were lined up in the field on the far side of the barn. I could see them round the back of the barn, and their last act was to turn of their own accord and face the firing squad. | 8. After this the Germans stood at the barn entrance and sprayed the wounded with Tommy-guns. I was shot through the foot. This rendered me unconscious for a short time and when I awoke I saw a German looking at me from near the barn door. He lifted his Tommy-gun to his shoulder and as I tried to get to my feet shot me through the face.' The earliest letter, written 'On behalf of the Colonel of the Regiment' by Lt. Col. M. H. V. Kendall, 18 December 1943, begins: 'I have heard recently that you have been repatriated and also that you were among the prisoners who were murdered and left for dead after capture in a barn near Wormhoudt on 27th May 1940. | I have already obtained from two members of the Royal Warwickshire Regt various statements regarding this incident, […] We are very keen to put together a completely authenticated case, supported by the statements of witnesses, so that we can send it to the War Office, with the request that it may be noted with a view to some form of justice being meted out to those responsible after the War. | I am told that there were from 80 to 120 persons in the Barn, […] that the Boche took men outside in batches of five and shot them, that they then threw grenades into the Barn in order to kill off the remainder, and then came into the barn and sprayed the bodies with Tommy Guns. | During this, a Capt Lynn-Allen escaped from the Barn, together with a Pte Evans, whom I have interviewed. Capt Lynn-Allen was actually killed only a short distance away from the barn, but Evans, although left for dead, survived.' (Also present is a photocopy of a similar letter from Kendall to survivor Charles Daley, 7 December 1943.) In letters of 5 and 16 January 1945 the Treasury Solicitor P. H. B. Kent puts a number of detailed points to Parry regarding his affidavit, and asks for elucidation. On 13 March 1946 Mason states that 'it is now thought that there is a reasonable chance of finding and punishing at least some of those responsible for this crime', and on 9 April 1947 Mason asks if Parry would be willing to travel to London 'for the purpose of trying to identify some of the Germans who took part in the massacre or who were responsible for it'. Scotland begins a letter of 14 May 1947 with the news that investigations 'have now reached the stage where it has become necessary for the under mentioned former members of 2nd Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regt to proceed to WORMHOUDT and to the scene of the crime: - | Albert EVANS | Charles Edward DALEY | Richard Tudor PARRY | Albert MONTAGUE'. On 3 June 1947 Sadleir sends an 'Urgent Memorandum' requesting Parry 'to proceed to WORMHOUDT in France on 5 June 1947, to assist in investigations concerning the Massacre of British PWs at WORMHOUDT'. In the last communication, 1 July 1947, Stanton writes that 'we have now been able to define the German Section responsible for the shooting, and are in possession of the names of the people concerned. Two are already in our custody, and we are hoping to trace at least some of the others on the Continent.' Also present is Parry's duplicated menu of the 'Welcome Home Supper' at the 110 Convalescent Depot, Glencourse.B. Accounts of the massacre by survivors, made to Aitken in the 1970sONE: Early drafts by Aitken of the accounts of the massacre by three survivors. Undated, but an accompanying documents indicate a date of 1974. Evidently all produced around the same time: each of the three has the survivor's name by Aitken in block capitals at head of first page. First, Albert Evans (regarded by Aitken as 'The best witness'). Typed two-page account of massacre, apparently written-up by Aitken following an interview. Undated and untitled. Note at end, indicating Aitken's editing: 'Barn. If the Germans had stopped at that point, only you and Lyn Allen and one or two more would have been injured? Oh yes. They went in afterwards with bayonets finishing them off.' Second, Richard Tudor Parry. With an undated [1974] typed one-page account, with additional information in autograph added by Parry. Titled 'Statement of Mr. R. T. Parry'. At one point Parry writes: 'I heard awful screams from a man who was near the door and who was gravely injured.' Beside this is a note in Aitken's hand: 'This was Daley, but not to be mentioned in the book, lest he should be embarrassed'.TWO: A. G. Hopper (George Hopper). Two accounts of the massacre. First account: Signed Autograph account ('George Hopper') on DVA letterhead (2pp., A4), responding to a questionnaire from Aitken. Undated. Includes a postscript describing events when the British soldiers were first captured. Second account: Typed account (2pp., foolscap 8vo) of the events of 26 to 28 May 1940. Undated and unsigned, but accompanying a letter (for which see below) from Hopper to Aitken, 9 February 1975 . The first page is headed '26th/27th May, 1940' and the second '28/5/1940'.THREE: Alfred E. Tombs. Typed undated (1970s) three-page survivor's statement to Aitken, titled 'An account of the murder of men from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regt: near the village of Wormhoudt in France on the 28th May. 1940 as told by a survivor of the massacre Pte A. E. Tombs (5107786) Mortar Pln. H. Q. Coy. 2nd Batt: (Original available if required.)' Text in block capitals, with comments in lower case in brackets indicating Aitken's editing, as for example: 'WE SAW A FARMER COMING TOWARD US ALONG THE EDGE OF THE FIELD, HE WAS CARRYING TWO BUCKETS OF MILK. WE CALLED TO HIM AND TRIED TO ASK HIM WHERE OUR TROOPS WERE, BUT HE DID NOT KNOW. HE LEFT US A BUCKET OF MILK. (I wrote to MR TOMBS and asked him to think back on this point. He wrote back saying that he couldn't remember for sure about the milk bucket, but he confirms that the Farmer would not help them.)' With a few deletions.FOUR: Three pages of undated (1970s) typed drafts by Aitken of passages relating to George 'Hagger' Hall. Two with autograph emendations by Aitken. The first two are versions of an anecdote regarding the redemptive behaviour to a dying child of 'a real killer' in the British Army; the last page regarding Lynn-Allen's commendation of an injured despatch-rider. With copy of letter from Tombs to 'Doug' [i.e. Douglas Cordrey), 8 January 1973, regarding the number of men in the barn.FIVE: L. Carrier of Salisbury. Undated typed account of an incident in 'the prelude to this massacre', on half a page, with autograph note by Aitken.C. Letters to Aitken from survivors and othersTwo ALsS by survivor George West, one correcting and adding information to his statement (in Section B above), the other listing 'the various Camps I was in, in France, Italy & Germany', with dates. The second letter accompanied by a two-page draft of the beginning of Chapter 10 of Aitken's book, with autograph emendations by Aitken, and autograph notes by West.Two ALsS by survivor R. Tudor Parry of Westmoreland, both dating from 1974. In the first he states that he has corrected and is sending back Aitken's 'notes' (i.e. the statement in Section B above); in the second he writes (clearly regarding the material in Section A above) that he is enclosing 'letters, which I feel might be of some value to you in your investigation'.ITEM: Two ALsS from survivor George Hopper of Battersea, In the first (signed 'A. G. Hopper | (George)'), 9 February 1975, he writes that he is enclosing a 'brief note which my Daughter has so kindly typed for me, as you know it is so difficult to remember every little detail after all these years'. In the second, 5 July 1977, he praises Aitken's 'first class' book: 'the details etc of the event at that time and what actually took place is almost perfect'.ALS from survivor Charles DaleyTLS from T. H. Nicholls ('Tom Nicholls') of Leamington Spa. 8 September 1977. In describing his experiences at Wormhoudt as a member of the Worcestershire Yeomanry, he alleges first-hand knowledge of further massacres: 'I would not for a moment detract from the frightfulness of what happened at Esquelbecq . . . . . . . but Padre, do you believe that was an isolated incident at Wormhout that day? | When I got back from Dunkirk in 1940 I told my wife of some of the things I had seen, including about fifteen or twenty bodies, quite naked and covered in blotches of blood, these were just within the square at Wormhout as I drove into the town not knowing it had fallen hours before to the Germans. | When I returned there in 1951, the Mayor was kind enough to conduct me around the area; the roughly buried graves in the cemetery upset me greatly, we went into the cafe on the corner and I spoke with Mme. Christian who was then the proprietress; I asked what had happened when the British got out in 1940. She replied "Any Englishman who could stand that day was stripped and put to the knife, the wounded were thrown into the horsepond in the square and five ambulances outside the Town Hall were set on fire". Thus were my naked bodies of 1940 explained.'ALS from Philip S. Bixley, 20 October 1977. 'During August, 1944 my Unit, 35 Reece Wing, 2nd T.A.F. Was asked by the 1st Canadian Army to provide ground crew photographers to photograph the mutilated bodies of Canadian soldiers that had been recovered from shallow graves near Caen. It appears that the victims had neither been shot or bayonetted but had been tortured to such an extent that leg and arm bones had been torn out of their sockets and that the bodies were extensively bruised and battered. The local Roman Catholic Priest witnessed the exhumations and the photographing and signed the film negatives.'ITEM. ALS from 'Patrick Burge' (Col. P. B. I. O. Burge) of the Royal Warwicks, 22 August 1977. Burge explains that he served in the Warwicks for twenty-five years, and 'knew many of the victims'. He refers to his time as a POW, and concludes: 'I also heard, but cannot confirm as true, that F[ield] M[arshal]. Montgomery had forbidden any publicity during the war in case the Germans took reprisals against members of the Regiment in captivity. I knew the FM well but I dont think we ever discussed the subject.'Two ALsS from 'Dick Tomes' of the Royal Warwicks, whose 'Personal Diary' Aitken made use of in the writing of his book (see the copy of Tomes's diary below). In the first letter, 17 August 1975, Tomes praises Aitken for having 'gone into far more detail than I had realised, and, indeed from your synopsis, your book appears to have exactly the right balance'. In the second letter, 10 August 1975, he gives advice over four pages on Aitken's 'intended book', and writes: 'I am very aware that Wormhoudt was a gallant little action. But it was only one of a very large number of similar actions by other units of B.E.F. Having spent 5 years in P.W. Camps & spoken to, & indeed discussed at length with, other P.W from other units, I am only too well aware of the many unsung actions which took place during that fatefull [sic] two weeks or so.' Accompanied by a long reply from Aitken, in which he discusses his use of Tomes diary, and 'plan of the book'. Aitken quotes as an example of his use of Tomes's diary, his reworking of an account of 'the C.O. going out with his revolver and you accompanying him on a calming expedition'.TLS from John R. Chichester-Constable, 15 June 1973, discussing, with reminiscences, his 'uncle and my father's brother' Major Cecil Chichester-Constable. Accompanied by a telegram and three pages of photocopied material.ALS from Bill Cordrey of Burnham-on-Sea, 10 July 1977. 3pp., 12mo. He begins by discussing the first meeting he and 'Douglas [Cordrey]' had with Aitken five years before, and continues: 'Thanks to you, and others like Jack Woodcock, there is now a memorial to the men who were murdered in the battle of Wormhoudt, and now once again thanks to you, a book telling the whole story has been published. We differ in one fact only Padre; I firmly believe that Monke [sic] is the man responsible for the massacre (note I say is; not was)'.ALS from Alec G. Pugh, 1988, enclosing a copy of his letter to Brigadier Chater, in which he addresses Chater's claims of 'a witch hunt and Israeli organisations being involved' in the question of the massacre. Accompanied by copy of TLS to Pugh from Brigadier J. K. Chater of the Royal Fusiliers Regimental Association, Warwickshire, containing claim complained of by PughITEM: Two long ALsS from A. S. Herbert of Lincolnshire, both from 1978. Totalling 26pp., 12mo. Discussing his wartime activities with the regiment, and his postwar cynicism, following service with 'the Brigadier, that is my former C.O. P. H. H. Hicks […] in the Airborne Forces'. In the first letter (29 October 1978).3 TLsS from Ludwig Kosche of Ottawa, Canada, between 6 July and 2 September 1988. In the first Kosche explains that he has been in touch with Richard Lane regarding the massacre, and poses questions on 'several puzzling differences' between Lane's account and an article in the Daily Telegraph. In the second letter he describes his own 'background' with relation to the massacre, and in the third he states: 'Fifty years later one still wonders, puzzles, questions, thinks, how was it possible - and while there have been and are many answers, at the core there is still an enigma probably forever beyond the possibility of a complete answer.'Also letters from: David Connett of the Sunday Times; Lt Col. M. Ryan, curator of the Royal Warwickshire Regimental Museum; 'Dick'. With copies of six TLs from Aitken. To: 'Nazi-hunter' Simon Wiesenthal, Vienna, requesting assistance; H. Negendank and Kleinert, Lübeck; the Commissioner, R.C.M. Police, Ottawa, Canada; Vladimir Dobkin of Novosti, London; 'The London Correspondent', Tass News Agency, London. The last is accompanied by the reply from K. McKay, Secretary, Tass, London. In the conclusion to his letter to Dobkin Aitken writes (8 January 1976) that he is seeking 'verification that [Mohnke] was a particularly nasty individual and that he talked freely to the Russians so as to "save his own skin", and so on'.D. Correspondence with Ministry of Defence, Judge Advocate General's Office, etcSixteen letters to Aitken, with copies of eleven reciprocal letters by him. The letters to Aitken comprise: twelve letters from the Ministry of Defence, all on letterheads, eight of them written between 1973 and 1977, and four dating from 1988. The letters lay out conditions for permission to quote from 'the Wormhoudt File', and discuss 'sensitivity considerations', 'German statements as in Wormhout File', 'Names of Germans', 'Official Letters to Survivors' and the MOD's 1988 examination of 'the records relating to the killing of British soldiers near Wormhoudt in 1940'. Also two letters from Nicholas G. Cox of the Public Record Office, regarding permission to quote from 'the 2nd. Battn. Diaries of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment'; and two letters from J. G. Morgan-Owen, Vice Judge Advocate General, the second of which responds to Aitken's request (13 October 1976) to 'publish the affidavits of four survivors (each of whom kept the copy which was given to him) […] These will shew that the story which I tell - as it concerns these men - is based on the truth, […] you will see that no-one is accused by name, nor can it be deduced from the statements who was implicated. Nor do I attempt to "charge" anyone in the book, except members of the SS-Leibstandarte Regt., as a body, making it clear that its C.O. Sepp Dietrich himself owned his overall responsibility for the deeds of men under him'. The authors of the Ministry of Defence letters are: K. J. H. Carter (3); George W. Brown (4); 'Mrs Comrie'; James Oliver, Departmental Record Officer; Alex J. Ward (3), Head of Army Historical Branch. In the first of the ten letters, 25 October 1973, Carter writes regarding Aitken's request to quote from 'the Wormhout File (a copy of which is in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment's Museum at Warwick)': 'Unfortunately, the original files held by this Ministry have not yet been released for scrutiny by the general public primarily because certain aspects remain personally sensitive to individuals who were involved. Notwithstanding this we would not object to your writing a book subject to you giving an undertaking that you would not quote direct from the material or acknowledge the fact that you were permitted access. Clearly in view of the reason for not yet permitting general public access we would wish you to avoid naming individual German soldiers - apart from Wilhelm Mohnke who has already received fairly wide publicity.' Responding to Aitken's reply, Carter elaborates on the MOD's conditions. On 3 October 1974 Brown writes that 'our Historical Branch read the manuscript with interest, and commented that the first hand accounts which you have used give the manuscript a quality of immediacy which made the text easy to read. As you have relied so heavily on first hand accounts, it is not possible for us to comment on the facts which have been quoted.' On 7 June 1988 Alex J. Ward, head of the MOD's Army Historical Branch, acknowledges receipt of 'the originals of the statements made to you by Hopper, Tombs, Evans and West'. On 5 July 1988 Ward encloses a copy of a statement on Wormhoudt made by 'our Minister' in the House of Commons on 28 June 1988. She also writes: 'We are now in the process of settling the necessary arrangements for making the evidence we hold available to the authorities in Germany. The statements made to you in the 1970s which you sent us and of which we now hold copies (I hope the originals have arrived back safely) are clearly important evidence which the Germans should have.' She asks if he would like the MOD to 'draw the statements to the attention of the German authorities'. Accompanying the letter is a four-page photocopied extract from Hansard, of a House of Commons question on Wormhoudt by Jeff Rooker, and the response by the minister Roger Freeman, 28 June 1988. In a copy of a letter to Ward, 28 September 1988, Aitken describes a phone call he has just received 'from Mr. Richter, […] a member of Lt. Col. Scotland's Interrogation Unit. | As he was fluent in the German tongue, Mr. Richter interrogated most, if not all, of the German witnesses prior to the completion of the Wormhout Report. It emerges from his call, that he interrogated Oskar Senff whose evidence was vital in a certain connection […] Mr. Richter's concern is that Senff's verbal deposition was, or appears to him, given a different rendering in the Second Report to that which appeared in the First; and as Senff made only one desposition (and this, to Mr. Richter), the matter became important to him. Also, it seems that Mr. Richter has a copy of the deposition which would appear to provide confirmation.'E. Parliamentary correspondenceFour TLsS from Labour MP Jeff Rooker. Two from 1988 and two from 1993. The first two letters are accompanied by copies of Hansard reports of House of Commons speeches by Rooker, the first 'in order to keep up the pressure on the Ministry of Defence', the second a 'short debate' he 'was able to initiate'. In the third letter, 3 February 1993, Rooker explains that he has written to Prime Minister John Major to ask him 'to raise the matter of General Mohnke with Chancellor Kohl at the Edinburgh Summit'. Accompanying the letter is a copy of Major's reply, 1 February 1993, which includes the following: 'I cannot of course comment on the allegations about American and Canadian servicemen. On Wormhoudt I must point out, as I have done before, that this case was thoroughly investigated after the war and is well documented in our records. However, these documents, which include the original statements from British survivors and have been made available to the German authorities, do not in themselves contain enough evidence to bring a case against General Mohnke. More evidence is needed. I understand that the Public Prosecutor in Lubeck is still seeking evidence in the American and Canadian cases.' The last letter accompanies 'a letter from the Ministry of Defence which is always as we expected it would be. | I will make arrangements with Ian to go to the Public Record Office to read the files. The General has had lots of sleepless nights in recent years and I suspect more to come.' The letter is accompanied by a copy of the letter to Rooker on behalf of Defence Secretary Viscount Cranborne by his private secretary, 10 December 1993. Cranborne begins the letter by announcing that his ministry has 'decided to release our records on the investigation of the killing of British Servicemen near Wormhoudt in May 1940. As I said, the carious administrative processes associated with their release would take a little time both in MOD and the Public Record Office […] You will remember that before taking the decision to open the records, we consulted the German authorities. This was because we had taken very seriously the need not to prejudice their investigations and conclusions. We had therefore said we would not consider opening the files until the German legal processes were complete.' With copies of one letter apiece from Aitken to Major, Cranborne, Rooker and Douglas Hurd. On 15 December Aitken gives his view of the case to Rooker, including: 'Mohnke WAS at the German HQ - but never anywhere near the Barn, nor did he follow after the SS-guards. But the TV idiots cleverly persuaded Reg to say that he SAW Mohnke. Yes, he saw Germans - but not Mohnke.' Writing to Cranborne, 18 December 1993, Aitken boasts that he was 'the first person to research the matter in depth, in 1972 onwards, and to publish it in my book "Massacre on the Road to Dunkirk" […] In 1990, when the German State Prosecutor and the Scotland Yard detective visited England for the purpose of making further enquiries, they came to my home - and in over six hours we discussed the matter, and I gave my opinion'. To Major, 4 February 1993, he states categorically, regarding what he calls 'the Mohnke Witch Hunt': 'there is no evidence to support the theory that Wilhelm Mohnke was responsible for the Massacre of men of the 2 Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. […] My belief is that, whereas there may be a case for Mohnke to answer regarding the killings of American and Canadian troops, this is not so in respect to Wormhout.' In a long letter to Hurd, 24 April 1988 explaining his association with the case Aitken writes that he was 'guided by Scotland's various remarks in his book to instinctively feel [Mohnke's] guilt, I actually wrote in the book "there is no evidence that he either knew of or condoned the atrocities which were to follow"'. Also two TLsS from Sir Donald Kaberry, 1973, the second accompanied by copy of TLS to Kaberry from Defence Secretary Ian Gilmour; TLS from Airey Neave to Douglas Cordrey, accompanied by original TLS to Neave from Peter Blaker, Under-Secretary of State for the Army, 6 August 1973, regarding the number of victims.F. Correspondence relating to Mohnke's complicity in the massacreNine documents (numbered by Aitken 1-8, with a 3a) relating to Mohnke's complicity in the massacre. 1973-1978. Including letters from German state prosecutors: Schneider, Staatsanwalt, Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen, Ludwigsburg (with translation); Wirsich, Staatsanwalt, Lübeck (3); Böttcher, Oberstaatsanwalt, Lübeck (with translation). Also letters from J. F. E. Poirier, Asst. Liaison Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ottawa, Canada, and Philip Chaplin, also of Ottawa; and two copies of letters by Aitken. In the last of Wirsich's letters (18 February 1976), the only one written in English, he writes: 'On the basis of your several information extensive investigations have been instituted. The accused Mohnke has denied the deeds, reproached in the book of Scotland and Mac Donald. The interrogations of all former still to ascertain members of the SS-tank division "Hitlerjugend" have brought no essential facts to the crimes in question.' Aitken has annotated this letter: 'Note by Leslie Aitken | Richard Parry & Albert Evans (The best witnesses) } unable to identify photograph of Mohnke from members of SS. Officer referred to as a "Big Noise"'. Chaplin writes (15 May 1978) that he is writing to Aitken 'unofficially, indeed in a manner that might bring official displeasure upon me'. After explaining his personal connection with the B.E.F. Chaplin writes: 'Of course, the investigation arising from your information increased my interest. I was able to confirm your statements in detail: in the week 8-14 June 1944, Mohnke's name was connected with six incidents in Normandy involving the murder of at least 59 Canadian soldiers. A charge sheet was prepared on the basis of four of them, and our legal officers were prepared to prosecute him if he could be found. Unfortunately the key witness, the one who could positively identify him and connect him with the murders, was a Polish SS man who was repatriated by an administrative error before his interrogation was complete or all hope of finding Mohnke was abandoned.'Four-page ALS on Mohnke from Matthew James Macdonald of Hamburg, translator of a couple of pieces from German newspapers, giving information about Mohnke's situation: 'Wilhelm Mohnke although not a politician enjoys immense political power in Schlieswig-Holstein (a shire as big as Hampshire and Wiltshire put together) due in the main to his formal high rank as Major General and of course his wealth. He of course is much admired by the growing wave of Nazi youth, and is the Father of the Waffen SS Old Comrades Ass. which includes high-up Politicians and civil servants and some Captains of major German industries. I mentioned the fact that Mohnke enjoys a pension of DM 7,000 = £2,258 per month, or if you lime £564.50 per week.'Four ALsS from Amy Howlett of Aitken's publisher William Kimber, two from 1977 and two from 1983. (Howlett would feature as a witness in the David Irving libel action.) In the first letter Howlett writes, with reference to the libel trial over Leon Uris's 'Exodus' (later itself fictionalised by Uris as 'QB VII': 'Mohnke: I am afraid that we do think that the libel problem is a serious one - not so far as Wormhout is concerned, since with the omission of the sentence of Schauff's this is harmless, but as regards the Canadian soldiers, and the Russians. Although other books have used the stories against him, this is no let out in law (as we well know, on account of the Dering v. Uris & Kimber case)'. With copies of two letters to Howlett from Aitken, both from 1977 and relating to the Mohnke libel problem.G. The Reginald West affairFourteen items, from a variety of individuals, relating to the refusal of the Birmingham Branch of the Dunkirk Veterans Association to accept that Reginald West was a survivor of the massacre. Beginning with a TN to Aitken from his wife, 24 May 1979: 'Mrs. West rang to say that Mr. Brotherton [i.e. Chairman of the Birmingham Branch of the DVA] telephoned her with the news that the Committee have met and decided that West was NOT in the Barn, that he was possibly in a ditch, or imagined it all. He added that perhaps West has made enemies at Dunlops, [i.e. his place of work] or in the Army. […]'. Also copies of three long TLs from Aitken, the first to Mrs West, the other two to her husband ('Reginald'). Aitken assures Mrs West of his belief in her husband's claim and discusses his research methods, stating that the book was 'checked out at every stage by the Ministry of Defence - who possess documents unseen by anyone except myself. They were able to compliment me on its veracity […] Also, 43 reviewers - as well as the publishers, who specialise in War Books - remarked on the research in the book being of a meticulous standard. The BBC after reading it asked me to participate in "The World This Weekend"'. Writing to West, Aitken describes the 'means' by which he arrived at his conclusions: 'Official' survivors Gill and Daley vouched for Tombs and Hopper, respectively. […] So, Tombs was a survivor. Not believed by some of his friends, he was now vindicated. He was there. (Incidentally, Evans, who was an "official" survivor, met disbelief from his own brother amongst others - and so thanked God for the book). | Next, Tombs asserted to me that George Hall (who was taken prisoner with Tombs) was in the Barn. So, Hall was there. […] Then, Hall (without being led by me) vigorously asserted that "his old pal knocker West" was with him in the Barn. […] Thus, I accepted you to be one of the survivors of the Massacre of May 28th., 1940'.H. Statements by AitkenCircular from Aitken, on DVA letterhead, dated 12 May 1988, headed 'Observations on the War Crimes Investigation Report, Wormhout, 1940.' He discusses 'Colonel Scotland's conclusions' ('rather more optimistic than the German statements seem to afford') and 'Mohnke's alleged statement'. There is also a section headed 'Survivors' Statements', discussing Richard Parry, Albert Evans, Charles Daley. Another long section headed 'The Ssh-Secret Whitehall File'. Accompanied by an undated draft of a similar circular (from around the same period), also on DVA letterhead, regarding the material in Section A above: 'An important witness to the above Massacre was RICHARD TUDOR PARRY, who was badly wounded. When the Reverend Aitken was researching his book "Massacre on the Road to Dunkirk", Parry gave him his original copy of the documents from the Judge Advocate General, together with his own copy of the statements made before a Commissioner for Oaths.' Also one-page undated (1970s?) press release by Aitken (as 'L. R. A.'), headed 'The Story of the Wormhout Massacre | Taken from the Regimental History of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, evidence given before the War Crimes Tribunal and statements given by survivors to the Reverend L. R. Aitken and Mr. D. Cordrey', with French translation.I. Secondary materialThe first four items are photocopies of documents, the originals of which are all scarce. ONE: [War Crimes Interrogation Unit report, 1947 (first version). ] 'Wormhoudt | The murder of a considerable number of British prisoners-of-war by members of the German armed forces at Wormhoudt, France on 28th May 1940'. War Crimes Interrogation Unit, 6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W8. Dated 1947. Headed 'WCIU/LDC/1500 Confidential'. A4. Photocopy of the first 60pp. Not present are the last four appendices, among them Appendix D, 'Affidavits of British Survivors'. No other copies of this text located, either on OCLC WorldCat or on COPAC, or at the Imperial War Museum. Accompanying this item is a folder containing a photocopy of what is presumably the missing Appendix D, containing affidavits by seven survivors, over 15pp. (each separately paginated and not necessarily in the correct order), with title-page: 'Appendix "D" | Sworn Affidavits by British Survivors'. TWO: [War Crimes Interrogation Unit report, June 1947 (second version).] '"Wormhout" | The murder of 80 or 90 British prisoners of war by members of the German armed forces at Wormhout (France) on the 28th of May 1940. | This Report Supersedes Report Number WCIU/LDC/1500. [i.e. previous item]' War Crimes Interrogation Unit, 6 and 7 Kensington Palace Gardens, London W8. June 1947. Headed 'WCIU/IDC/1650: Confidential | Crown Copyright'. 62pp., paginated [1], 1-72, but lacking pp.53-63, i.e. Appendix C, 'Sworn affidavits by British survivors'. A4 photocopy. As with the previous item, no other copies located. THREE: 'Crimes committed by Waffen SS Units'. 23pp., landscape A4. Detailed typed table, divided into: Division; Unit; Date; Place; Incident; Source. With stamp indicating that the copy has been made from an original in the Wiener Library, London. Autograph emendation on first page by 'Miss Langmaid' (i.e. Janet Langmaid). FOUR: 'Personal Diary of | 1. Events between May 10th and June 17th, 1940 | 2. September, 1942 | 3. April, 1945 | by Captain L. T. Tomes | 2nd Batt. The Royal Warwickshire Regiment'. Printed typeset document with title-page, with without publication details or date. 70pp., 12mo. Stapled. The entry for 28 May 1940 on pp.29-35, including a full-page order of battle for the battalion , 'Dunkirk Perimeter […] Action at Wormhoudt'. With a few manuscript emendations, and marked up in red ink. The only other copy traced at the Imperial War Museum. Also present, FIVE: Typed extracts from Regimental diaries, sent to Aitken by the nephew of 'Bill Cordrey', headed 'Details and information taken from the war diary of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regiment', 3pp., A4. With 4pp. of further extracts made by another party (Aitken?); and seven pages of extracts in Aitken's autograph, headed '4th Battalion | Cheshire Regt. | May 1940'. SIX: Small bundle of miscellaneous material, including photocopied printed documents relating to the massacre, including seven full-page maps, and one fold-out map, together with three photocopied pages relating to Mohnke, the first headed: 'Consolidated search list of persons wanted in connection with the Wormhout Murders 28th of May 1940'. Also containing miscellaneous photocopied printed secondary material, including extracts from Scotland's 'The London Cage' (1957), maps, photographs.J. Newspaper articles and reviews48 items, including 27 original cuttings of articles and reviews from British newspapers, 1973-1993, and one from a French newspaper; 19 photocopies of articles; and two manuscript translations from German newspapers by M. J. Macdonald of Hamburg. Containing a number of reviews of the 1977 edition of Atiken's book, of which eleven are accompanied by Durrant's news agency; and six photocopies of reviews of the 1988 edition, each with compliments slip of the publicity department of the publishers Thorsons. Also: two-page Weekend article by Douglas Fairey, 5-11 September 1973 ('Murdered by the SS - 80 unarmed British soldiers') with follow-up one-page article, 12-18 ('Hunt for the beast of Wormhoudt'); long piece from the Express and Star, 22 July 1977 ('The war massacre they wouldn't believe'); two-page Daily Mail article by David Williams, 11 December 1993 ('This man ordered the massacre of defenceless British soldiers. Today the Mail reveals that, despite damning evidence, he will never be prosecuted'). Also three copies of a 1973 article on the subject from a French newspaper, with a covering letter in French from the mayor of Esquelbecq.K. Material relating to the publication of Aitken's bookFile of fourteen items, including eight letters to Aitken, 1974-1976, granting permission to reproduce, from: Clarke, Irwin & Company; Royal Warwickshire Regimental Museum; Martin Secker & Warburg; Pan Books; Evans Brothers (Books); Cassell and Company; and photographer Brian L. Davis; with six copies of letters by Aitken. Also royalty statements for Aitken's book from: Haynes Publishing Group; Harper Collins; William Collins & Co. With letters to Aitken from Thorsons and Haynes.L. PhotographsSmall collection of miscellaneous photographs. Two copies of a portrait of Mohnke in SS uniform, each with a different typed caption. Black and white photograph with typed caption: 'The site of the Barn where the prisoners were murdered.' Eight small black and white photographs of the results of bombing, a wrecked tank, and German soldiers advancing. Four negatives of a man in uniform. With two postcards of Wormhoudt.