In 2011, Victor Gregg published Rifleman
about his time on the front line in World War II,
but the experience of writing this memoir sparked long buried memories of his experience in Dresden.
In four air raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 772 Lancaster bombers of the British Royal Air Force and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on Dresden. The resulting firestorm destroyed 15 square kilometres, or 6 square miles, of the city centre. 25,000 people, mostly civilians, were estimated to have been killed. Post-war discussion of whether or not the attacks were justified has led to the bombing becoming one of the moral issues of the Second World War.
An established soldier turning his uniform to the 10th Parachute Regiment in 1944, Victor Gregg was captured at Arnhem where he volunteered to be sent to a work camp rather than become another faceless number in the huge POW camps. With two failed escape attempts under his belt, Gregg was eventually caught sabotaging a factory and sent for execution.
Greggs first-hand narrative, personal and punchy, sees him through the trauma and carnage of the Dresden bombing. After the raid he spent five days helping to recover a city of innocent civilians, thousands of whom had died in the fire storm, trapped underground in human ovens. As order was restored his life was once more in danger and he escaped to the east, spending the last weeks of the war with the Russians.
Harrowing and vivid, Gregg draws us in to the heart-wrenching, often futile attempts to save lives, and the tentative friendships and near-misses along the way.