- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Flt Lt Albert Ricketts
- Location of story:
- Lunerberg Heath, Germany
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 17 January 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War site by Peter Ricketts [son] on behalf of Albert Ricketts [the author] and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
The story describes the surrender of the German Army initially to Field Marshall Montgomery and later to General Eisenhower. This is an account by Fl. Lt Albert Ricketts and is an extract from his WW2 Memoirs. The passage describes the transfer of the German Surrender Team from Montgomery's HQ at Lunerberg Heath, Germany, to Eisenhower's HQ at Rheims, France. Fl. Lt Albert Ricketts was attached to Montgomery's HQ and flew various RAF and Army staff as directed.
The war had reached the point where the Germans could not hold out much longer and it came as no surprise when we learned that they had surrendered to Gen. Montgomery on 4 May. It transpired that one of our aircraft was detailed to fly into the unoccupied part of Germany with the instruction that if they were shot at they were to 'get the hell out of it'.
Obviously they succeeded because after they had surrendered to Monty, I was instructed to fly the Surrender Team of General Admiral Von Freideberg and Colonel Pollack to make the total surrender to General Eisenhower at Rheims which was his HQ.
On the 5th May I took off with the Germans on board together with 2 British officers Lt / Col James and Major Lawrence to fly to Rheims airfield. Unfortunately, as we got closer to Rheims the cloud base became lower and lower until eventually I was forced to fly above the cloud. As my radio was not performing I had no alternative but to return to our main base at Brussels. This meant that the German party together with their British escorts had to complete the journey by road. Whilst arrangements were being made to obtain a vehicle, it was deemed as not sensible to take the Germans into the Main Buildings.
We therefore, whilst waiting, resorted to walking with them up and down the tarmac outside. It was left to me to walk with the Admiral and he asked in broken English if the clouds were 'too deep'. With the weather as it was and the inability to mend the radio we were even prevented from following the party to Rheims and flying them back to their base. We were therefore denied seeing the euphoria of handing the Germans over to the Supreme Commander. Knowing how the Americans would have and indeed treated such an occasion it was not inconceivable that I would have featured in the cinema news of the day.
I flew back to my own base the following day. On the 7th May news came through that the final surrender had taken place. It was decided that the following day (the 8th) would be celebrated as VE Day and that everyone would stand down. That is everybody except me, who was detailed to fly to Canadian Army HQ to pick up Major General Templar who greeted me with the words 'we must be the only silly b…s working today'. I found myself warming to a person with his understanding.
On the evening we decided to have our own fireworks but the only thing we had was a Verey Pistol and some Verey cartridges. The cartridges were fired away from the back of the building which was in the opposite direction to the aircraft. Unfortunately the person using the pistol fired one cartridge straight up into the air and the wind carried the burning cartridge over onto one of our Auster Aircraft, setting it on fire so that it ended up completely wrecked. Somehow or other we managed to cover up this unfortunate accident.
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