|Frank Dudley at Arnhem|
|Frank Dudley's Paratroop unit was returned to England from North Africa and kept in reserve during D Day and then went into action at the battle for Arnhem. A famous battle and defeat for our British Forces when the parachute force sent to capture the bridges of Arnhem, Nijmegen and Eindhoven in an operation that it was hoped would lead to an early end to the war. Land forces were sent forward to break through the German lines for support and reinforcement, but met fiercer German resistance than expected and were unable to get to them, so for many days they fought a lonely battle with just air support to help their dwindling supplies and men. |
Frank's unit did capture their target the bridge before being overwhelmed by the German forces and Frank was finally captured on the last day of the battle, whereon his hands were tied behind his back for many hours with barbed wire leaving very bad scars that still show strongly across the backs of his hands. Later he was interrogated by an SS officer who wanted military information which Frank denied giving as he gave only his name rank and service number. In a rage the SS officer struck Frank hard across the side of the head which stung Frank into a quick response of hitting the man back harder still. Frank didn't go into what happened next but as a result instead of being sent to a Stalag prisoner of war camp he was sent to a concentration camp near Dresden called Buchenwald.
At Buchenwald Frank helped collect the many corpses from the overcrowded huts each day. While there one of the inmates who had been a tattooer stole a bottle of ink out of the school house and did tattooing on request. Frank had a tattoo done of the parachute regiment crest with Arnhem underneath on his arm which he showed us. Frank survived in the camp long enough to be taken on the forced march to Czechoslovakia in early April 1945 when the German took 30.000 inmates away from the advancing Russian and American forces. 8.000 of those on the march died.
After the war ended and his release from the army Frank work at the Blue Circle factory looking after the plant machinery and returned several times to reunions at Arnhem where he and his comrades received many tributes from the Dutch and others. At one time the mayor of Arnhem presented him with a special flag.