Remember Le Paradis

If you’ve read Blood and Blitzkrieg you’ll be familiar with what happened in a farmyard in the town of Le Paradis in France on 27 May 1940. Before I started researching for that book I was totally unaware that the Germans had massacred British soldiers during the invasion of France. In fact it happened several times, including at Wormhout the following day.

What happened at Le Paradis? A fierce fight, in which a company of the Waffen SS Totenkopf division under the command of one Fritz Knochlein took heavy losses. The Nazis lined up 97 surrendered British soldiers of the Royal Norfolks’ 2nd battalion against a farmhouse wall and machine-gunned them. Two survived and escaped to tell the tale, despite being re-captured. Knochlein survived the war and was hanged as a war criminal in 1948.

A word of thanks to Patrick Watson, who reminded me of the anniversary of this event on and who has published an excellent almanac of WW2 in date order.

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