26 August 2010

Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend

Every football fan knows the legend of Bert Trautmann. Fifteen minutes from the end of the 1956 FA Cup Final, Trautmann - the goalkeeper for Manchester City - falls spectacularly mid-tackle. He continues to play on to the end of the game, ensuring Manchester City win the cup. An X-ray later reveals a broken neck.

But there is more to this legend than a plucky goalkeeper. Bert Trautmann was born Bernhardt Trautmann in Germany in 1923. Brought up in a country already in the grip of National Socialism, he joined the Hitler Youth at the age of ten and went to fight for the Fatherland when he was seventeen. Despite enduring inconceivable hardships in the name of war, Trautmann continued to believe wholeheartedly in the cause. Until one day he stumbled into enemy territory to be greeted by the words, 'Fancy a cup of tea, Fritz?'

What follows is an extraordinary story of transformation. Bernhardt - a Nazi living in a POW camp in Cheshire - becomes Bert. From an amateur footballer working on a bomb disposal unit in Liverpool, to celebrated Manchester City goalkeeper adored by thousands, Catrine Clay charts Trautmann's conversion from Hitler Youth star to all-England football hero, mirroring Europe's own journey through the horrors of war to a fragile post-war peace.

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Two Survived: The Timeless WWII Epic of Seventy Days at Sea in an Open Boat

On August 21, 1940, the German armed merchant raider Widder torpedoed the British merchantman SS Anglo Saxon approximately 800 miles west of the Canary Islands. The survivors were machine-gunned as they tried to escape in their lifeboats.

One little boat escaped with seven men. Five of them perished, but Robert Tapscott and Wilbert Widdicombe endured for seventy full days and 2,300 miles to landfall on the other side of the Atlantic.

This is the incredible account of their ordeal, one of the most thrilling stories of the sea ever written—and one that almost never came to light. “It has seldom happened,” writes William McFee in the introduction, “that a narrative so circumstantial, so entirely stripped of all humbug and false sentiment, has come out of the depths of the sea, to inspire us with admiration for human valor.”

Read more about the SS Anglo Saxon on the Imperial War Museum website.

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