Claus Ascher’s father, a German Jew, was one of Hitler’s political opponents during the 1930s. He was denounced to the Gestapo which led to his arrest, imprisonment and murder in Dachau in 1937. After his father’s death, Claus too was at risk and managed to flee to Britain where he subsequently joined the British Army and changed his name to Colin Anson. During the Second World War he was one of around a hundred German refugees to be trained in the British Commando unit was known as 3 Troop or X-Troop. Attached to the Royal Marine Commandos, Colin took part in the invasions of Sicily and Italy in 1943 where his ship received a direct hit from a German plane. Surviving a life-threatening head wound when shrapnel penetrated his skull, he underwent brain surgery in a field ambulance.
After nine months of recuperation and further brain operations, Colin was determined to fight again. He returned to his Commando unit to fight in the Yugoslav islands in protection of Tito and the partisans, Albania, and became the first Allied soldier to liberate Corfu. After the war he asked to be stationed in Frankfurt so he might find his mother, a German Protestant who had survived the war in Germany. In Frankfurt, he worked as part of Field Intelligence Agency Technical and translated documents for the Allies from Albert Speer’s Ministry of Defence. Colin was in a position to trace the man who had betrayed his father to the Nazis. Having discovered his name and whereabouts, he made a conscious decision not to take revenge. This is an extraordinary portrait of bravery and determination, continuing his father’s legacy as he fought to defeat the Nazis. Colin Anson is one of the last surviving Commando veterans of 3 Troop.
Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written numerous books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain. Her highly acclaimed book The King’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens: Germans who Fought for Britain in the Second World War received international media coverage. The book is now out in paperback as Churchill’s Secret Soldiers. Helen has worked closely with war veterans with whom she has built up a special rela...
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