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I Had a Fear of Death in New Square, Germany

by Stockton Libraries

Contributed by 
Stockton Libraries
People in story: 
Allan Turner, Jimmy O'Connor, Adam McDougle, Josef Kreuzberg
Location of story: 
Austria
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A3300355
Contributed on: 
19 November 2004

As told by Allan Turner:
It all started in New Square, Klagenfurt, Austria, 1945 when a woman began screaming and three Yugoslav’s began dragging her to a vehicle, they opened the door pushing her backwards into the car and as she tried to get out one of the men slapped her hard across the mouth.

I suddenly became very annoyed and I walked over to this fellow and stiff-armed him, the heel of my right hand hitting him under the chin. To this day I still don’t know how I got up enough nerve to do this. It is not in my nature to be aggressive and I usually took a back seat and left heroics to someone else. Perhaps it was because the woman was smartly dressed and looked to be a person of quality, she was good looking and looked to be a person in her forties.

I took hold of her wrist and pulled her clear of the car and took her over to our crowd and Lieutenant Jimmy O’Connor.

He was standing with his hand on his hips and watching me, he said, ‘It looks as though you’ve taken charge!’ I replied, ‘that was disgraceful, no woman should be treated like that, besides, what would have happened to her if I hadn’t intervened?’
Jimmy replied, ‘All right, since you’ve started you can take all those Yugoslav's flags down and bring them to me’.

Dick Smerton, a sergeant came forward and said, ‘Turner can’t do that, the partisans will shoot him down’. O’Connor replied, ‘Turner, do as I tell you, don’t worry, we will cover you, I’m in charge here not this rabble!’
Jimmy O’Connor was a sergeant at El Alamein and got his commission at Cairo, I heard he was a milkman in his private life.

So I walked over to the Town Hall and pulled down all the flags and some more on other buildings. There were mostly paper, I was scared stiff! I expected to be shot in the back at any moment.
The crowd clapped and cheered thinking I was a hero as they had watched me help that woman.
But I wasn’t a hero, I had survived North Africa and Italy and I thought it would be awful if I were shot here now that the war was over.

Allan and one of his comrades were to make friends with Josef Kreuzberg (who later became a police chief in Klagenfurt); this friendship was not lost with the return of the soldiers to England. They exchanged many letters over the years. Allan Turner has been back once to Karnten, the 84 year old ended his military career at 71 and until 6 years ago was the official sword bearer for the Mayor of Newcastle on special occasions.

A copy of the newspaper from Karnten, 7th May 2000, tells of the courageous Allan Turner who helped save the people and the town of Klagenfurt from the oppressive regime of the Yugoslav’s.

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