Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


The Kiwi soldier who became an American GI

The strange story of the Second World War Kiwi soldier who became an American GI


Jack with US Army in Germany 1945

It is April 17, 1945 when Jack Elworthy walks free from German POW camp Stalag XIIID in Nuremberg.

He has been a prisoner for four years since being captured on Crete, one of 5,000 Allied soldiers left behind on the island after a hasty and bungled evacuation at the end of May 1941.

Unlike most POWs, who are desperate to get out of Germany and back home, 32-year-old Elworthy is thirsting for adventure. He’s missed most of the war – but there is still a chance he can see some action.

He and his fellow POWs have been liberated from the German POW camp by the 45th (Thunderbird) Division of the US 7th Army. The next evening some of the American soldiers invite him and a mate for a drink. ‘After a few bottles of schnapps, we were cordially invited to join them and help finish the war,’ Elworthy reveals in his engrossing book Greece Crete Stalag Dachau (Awa Press, $40).

The next day ‘nobody wants to remember their promises’ but Elworthy is not about to give up. After the battery commander turns him down, a top sergeant agrees to let him travel with the division for a few days if he keeps out of the commander’s sight.

The GIs rally around and cobble together a uniform for the New Zealander. ‘Within ten minutes I was indistinguishable from an American soldier – as long as my mouth stayed shut so my Kiwi accent wouldn’t give me away.’ For three months Elworthy stays with the Thunderbirds as they patrol devastated German cities, routing out the last pockets of resistance. On April 30 he enters Dachau concentration camp, which has been liberated the previous day. It is an experience he will never forget.

Back home, Jack Elworthy writes about his wartime experiences for his family. In 2012, twelve years after his death, his daughter Jo realises his story is a unique contribution to New Zealand’s wartime history and edits his manuscript for publication.

Greece Crete Stalag Dachau: A New Zealand soldier’s encounters with Hitler’s army will be released on May 20, the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Crete. For advance proofs, contact Harriet Prebble: publicity@awapress.co.nz;


Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Kiwi Pride: Accolades For Film About Man Who Falls In Love With A Stick

A short animated film written and directed by New Zealand born Matthew Darragh has been selected for the Courts des îles, International Festival of Short Fiction Films. More>>

ALSO:

Anniversaries: Vivid Memories Four Years After Christchurch Quake

Four years ago, an earthquake that would change the lives of thousands shook Christchurch at 12.51 p.m. More>>

ALSO:

Environment 'n' Conservation: Slash Meets Tāne The Tuatara

Rock and Roll superstar and former Guns 'n' Roses guitarist Slash visited Zealandia Ecosanctuary along with collaborating band Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. More>>

Foo Fighters: Exclusive Show In Support Of Music Foundation

Frontier Touring has today announced that the Foo Fighters will play a last minute intimate and exclusive benefit show at the Auckland Town Hall this Friday February 20 with all profits going to The New Zealand Music Foundation. More>>

ALSO:

Canterbury Quakes: Feedback Sought On Short-Listed Memorial Designs

Six short-listed designs for the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial have been released for public input... The Memorial will honour the victims of Canterbury’s earthquakes and acknowledge the suffering of all those who lived through them as well as the heroism of those who participated in the rescue and recovery operations. More>>

ALSO:

Celia Lashlie: Legacy Will Live On

Social justice advocate Celia Lashlie leaves a legacy that will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of New Zealanders for years to come, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Celia was a powerful voice for reason, sense and compassion. Her work, particularly with teenage boys, was ground-breaking." More>>

ALSO:

Obituary: Sad Farewell To PPTA Activist Robin Duff

Duff has been a long-time fixture of the association... Most recently Duff has been working hard to support Canterbury teachers through the quakes that devastated the region. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Culture
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news