The Last Glacier in Wiltshire Melts and a History Lesson
Come back Mr Free Market the last glacier in Wiltshire is melting;
Where's Al Gore when you need him?
The circle you can see on the hill below is Rybury Camp, an ancient Neolithic fortification, which nearly became a bloody battlefield in 1944.
In December 1944 an audacious plan was hatched by Waffen SS officers and some Fallschirmjäger troops to break out of their camp in Devizes, Wiltshire and seize weapons, including tanks from a local army depot and march on London, all this was to coincide with the Ardennes offensive which was taking place in Europe. The Ardennes Offensive lifted the moral of many German prisoners as they though this would lead to their liberation but they were very much mistaken.
Their plan called for them to regroup after escape at Rybury Camp, await reinforcements and fight off any opposition.
Although the plan sounds ludicrous it caused the British some concern and not unfoundedly as there were around 250,000 prisoners in Britain (the equivalent of 48 divisions) at that time and the British and American forces stationed in Britain numbered considerably less as they were fighting in Europe and the Far East.
The huts were bugged and so the plan was discovered. On the night of The Great Escape at the appointed time the floodlights were turned on and revealed the camp ringed by Grenadier Guards who were stationed nearby. The easy going local guards were replaced that night by Polish troops, noted for their sensitivity towards Nazis.... The perpetrators were dealt with, being sent to Comrie Camp in Perthshire (Camp 21) in the wilds of Scotland which housed hard-line line Nazis (mainly young Waffen SS, Fallschirmjäger and U-boat crew prisoners) out of the way of other moderate prisoners. This did lead to one very unfortunate incident where Feldwebel Wolfgang Rosterg-a known anti-Nazi was sent by mistake. He was believed to have informed of the plot to march on London and after a severe beating was hanged in the latrine. Five prisoners were caught, tried and hanged in Pentonville Prison in North London on 6th October 1946. Another prisoner- Unteroffizer Gerhard Rettig was beaten to death for his open criticism of the plan and was beaten to death after being chased round the camp and two other prisoners were executed in November 1946 in Pentonville Prison.
Picture Credit Young Harry