WW1 - The Naked Soldier; Gerry Mills

WW1 - The Naked Soldier; Gerry Mills

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As dawn broke on the 29 September 1918, Captain Stephen blew his whistle and the front line of British and Allied troops climbed the ladder and advanced forward towards the German lines. The big guns must have done their job as there seemed to be no resistance from the Huns. That was until the clattering of machine gun decimated the troops crossing no man’s land.

After four years of fighting that day was to be the decisive attack on German lines breaching the defensive Hindenburg Line and driving the enemy back to Berlin.

Private Fred Mills of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry had survived the initial onslaught but had become disorientated.

He moved cautiously to a murmuring sound coming from a shell hole. Two Germans, one badly injured came into Fred’s vision. Rifle at the ready he was about to kill the uninjured enemy soldier ‘Don’t shoot. I’m English,’ pleaded the German.

An Englishman in a German Uniform!

With his gun trained on the German, Fred was apprehensive and hesitant. Questions to verify the German’s claim of being from the Manchester area were answered correctly and an element of trust gradually developed.

Both soldiers were of the opinion that the war would end with the final push of the allies. If not that day, then very soon.

The injured soldier breathed his last and the two decided to travel together.

A decision was taken for Fritz to the uniform of a dead allied soldier and Fritz von Franke became Jack Jackson, a Sergeant from New Zealand.