Thursday, 3 June 2010

Hans Arenstein AKA Harry Andrews

Having seen his grave, and having blogged about him yesterday, I decided to try to find out some more about Hans Arenstein AKA Harry Andrews and this is what I discovered:
  • He was the son of a department store owner and he had escaped from Germany in the Kindertransport evacuation of Jewish children after the infamous events of the Kristallnacht
  • His parents, Max and Gertrude Arenstein, settled in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but he decided to join the British Army to fight Nazism
  • He became a member of No.3 (Jewish) Troop, No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando, an unit that was specially set up to bring together members of the different Allied nations who could be trained and used for special missions behind enemy lines
  • He was enrolled in the British Army as Arenstein, Hans/Arenstein, Richard, and his number was 13804535
  • He died leading a reconnaissance patrol in Normandy when he trod on a mine that exploded and killing him instantly
  • His grave originally had a cross on it, but this was changed to the Star of David after his mother made representations through a Jewish chaplain, Rev Isaac Levy
A truly remarkable young man, whose life and deeds deserve to be remembered alongside those of his colleagues.

2 comments:

  1. There is a memorial on the seafront at Aberdovey (where they were based and trained) to this extraordinary group of young men.

    A possible reason for difficulty in giving appropriate gravestones may have been that all men were given false id when attached to other units in an attempt to protect them from the inevitable consequence's of capture.

    It seems so important these days to just take a moment to remember what the real nature of heroism is.

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  2. Johnpreece,

    I have seen a photo of the memorial in Aberdovery that you mention, and it looks very impressive.

    It strikes me that in the run-up to the 66th Anniversary of the D-Day landings it is appropriate for the sacrifice of all the young men who fought and died - as well as those who survived - is remembered.

    All the best,

    Bob

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