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johntaylor

WWI tank commander and assassination of Heydrich

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johntaylor

Since The Times website is behind a paywall, Pals may not have seen a fascinating story today linking Captain Harold Head - commander of D3 in the first tank action on September 15, 1916 - with the assassination of the Nazi leader Heydrich in World War Two.  Following his WWI career in the Tank Corps, Captain Head later joined SOE and helped to train the Czech agents who carried out the killing in Prague, now the subject of the film Anthropoid.

 

I must declare a small interest here, as this story is mentioned in my book 'Deborah and the War of the Tanks', and The Times reporter met and interviewed Harold Head's relatives at the launch in London a couple of weeks ago.  

 

The book isn't mentioned in the article, but I'm delighted to have helped bring Captain Head's courageous role in this affair to public attention, especially as he paid a heavy psychological price.  When he heard about the dreadful reprisals committed by the Germans, including the destruction of the village of Lidice, he was so shattered that he was unable to continue his work at SOE and spent the rest of the war training pilots to fly American aircraft.

 

In the words of the book: "Harold Head died in 1989, the last of the tank commanders who had taken part in the original attack at Flers, and was given a military funeral by the Royal Tank Regiment in recognition of his place in history."

 

He now has a double place in history, and I know his family are tremendously proud of him.

 

John

 

Edited by johntaylor

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delta

That's remarkable - thanks for sharing

Edited by delta

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Chris_Baker

Very interesting and well done, John. My wife's uncle Ted (Teodor) was in the Free Czech Army and knew Lt Adolf Opalka, one of those who parachuted into Czechoslovakia and who was presumably trained by Head.

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johntaylor

Thanks Chris - I will pass your message on to Vince McGarry, my colleague in the 'Deborah team', who investigated the Czech/Slovak side of this story for The Times.

 

Stephen, thanks for your message, and I should mention that there's also a good deal of information about Harold Head in 'The First Tank Crews'.

 

All the best, John

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WhiteStarLine

Thanks for this interesting snippet.  I work with an Australian whose Czech grandparents were both executed for their part in this and their son (my colleague's father, when a child) imprisoned by the Nazis.  The family's anguish still endures.

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johntaylor

What a dreadful business.  You can understand by Harold Head felt terribly guilty over what had been unleashed, even though he had no reason to.

 

John

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delta

John

I have updated the FTC blog to reflect this new info and credited you with the details 

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johntaylor


Many thanks for that Stephen - I will send a copy of the article as well for your background.

 

All the best, John

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delta

Thank you - I will be "high-lighting" Heady's MC on Twitter @FirstTankCrews on 18 Oct

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David Filsell

Everyone seems to forget the earlier film (with Martin Shaw). The only person who I know who has seen both movies, tells me the first was far more accurate. Any views?

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Stoppage Drill

"Op Daybreak" (1975) was an outstanding, but underrated, film, which benefitted from the fact that it was made during the lifetime of many of those involved in the real events.

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