US thanks Yarmouth man
HE has never set foot in America, but proud Englishman Owen Edwards ended the second world war fighting under the Star and Stripes.Last month the former GI was given an honorary invitation to the United States Embassy in London to meet defence attach� Rear Admiral Ronald Henderson.
HE has never set foot in America, but proud Englishman Owen Edwards ended the second world war fighting under the Star and Stripes.
Last month the former GI was given an honorary invitation to the United States Embassy in London to meet defence attach� Rear Admiral Ronald Henderson.
Great Yarmouth born and bred, Mr Edwards joined the Company K Rangers, 3rd battalion, 66th infantry of the US Army after escaping from a prisoner of war camp in Germany.
The 90-year-old, and son Tony, were treated to a meal at the embassy where he told Rear Admiral Henderson about his extraordinary wartime experiences.
Now retired and living in Caister, Mr Edwards fought alongside US troops after escaping from the Stalag 383 prison camp in Bavaria.
The visit to the embassy was arranged by former veterans' minister Kevan Jones who Mr Edwards met last year.
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He said: “The Rear Admiral was very interested to hear about my time fighting with the Americans in the war. It was quite different to serving in the British Army.
“As a Tommy I could never have imagined a truck coming up with iced coffee in the middle of a pitched battle. The Americans had better food and equipment and the discipline was more free and easy.
“We took part in an amphibious assault across the River Isar and on one occasion I nursed a sergeant after he was shot. I was covered in his blood and the lads thought I was injured too.
“I thought we were going to fly back to America at the end of the war, but the plane stopped in Sussex so I had to get off there even though I pretended to be asleep.
“I was still wearing my US Army uniform and when I went in a pub the staff were slow to serve me because they thought I was a Yank.”
Mr Edwards had lost the pin brooch given to US soldiers that had seen active service, but Rear Admiral Henderson promised he would be sent another.
Before the war Mr Edwards worked as an engineer in Birmingham and was a member of the Territorial Army when war broke out in 1939.
He was stationed in France with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was badly wounded and captured in May 1940.
Shot through the ankle, arm and lung, his life was saved by a German doctor.
Mr Edwards had been imprisoned in Belgium, Poland and East Prussia before escaping through the fence of his Bavarian prison camp.
He said: “When I escaped I weighed just six stone. The American colonel said I was not strong enough to carry a gun so he gave me a pistol.
“We listened to radio in prison and knew where the allied forces were, so headed towards the American lines when I got free.
“I asked if I could stay and fight and because of my military experience the Americans were quite happy to have me.”
A former police sergeant, Mr Edwards retired to Caister in 1984 three years after the death of wife Nell.
Still an active member of
the community, he is a trustee for
Age Concern, and a member of the Disability Forum and Older People's Network.