The remarkable story of World War Two veteran Eric Deuters who died earlier this month

16:37 28 January 2014

Eric Deuters at the 2012 March Remembrance Day parade. Picture Steve Williams

Eric Deuters at the 2012 March Remembrance Day parade. Picture Steve Williams

Archant

A proud World War Two soldier who was part of the rearguard which held up the Germans at Dunkirk in May 1940 died earlier this month aged 95.

Eric Deuters at Neale-Wade Academy.Eric Deuters at Neale-Wade Academy.

Eric Deuters, of Elm Road, March, served in the Queen’s Own Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) whose heroic resistance enabled the bulk of the British and some French forces to be evacuated from the French coast.

The Buffs fought until, due to a lack of ammunition, they were forced to surrender and Deuters became a Prisoner of War.

Deuters attended Royal Naval Association meetings and was a member of The Royal British Legion Club.

He died in Peterborough City Hospital on January 8 and his funeral will take place at March Crematorium on February 7.

The Royal Naval Association and Royal British Legion will attend and their colours will be paraded.

Deuters has written an account of his Second World War experiences, including his time in Polish Prisoner of War camps and the terrifying moment he thought he was going to be executed by Russian soldiers. This is his story:

In 1939 when war was declared, I was called up to Canterbury in the September. It was there I did my basic training.

From Canterbury I moved to Turnbridge Wells and spent a few weeks there, then I was sent abroad to France, where I spent most of the time doing road repairs and getting drunk with my friend Bob Day, who sadly lost his life behind me, which I did not witness as we were all running.

I was told of his death when we reached the woods on retreat.

We were captured at Armentieres. After a lengthy march we arrived at Thorn in Poland (Stalag 20A).

We were put in a working camp and transferred to Stalag 20B.

We were then in various working camps until I was eventually moved to a farm where there were 14 of us.

One night, I was in the top bunk and one of the lads came in and said there’s someone shining a torch inside.

I spoke to the man, who was from the Polish Resistance, and made arrangements to meet up at a certain bush and make a call, so he knew it was me.

I told the lads and one of them said he would come with me.

I loaded myself with Red Cross goodies for the resistance.

On meeting with the resistance worker at our arranged place, we made our way to his bunker, in which we had a very enjoyable evening then we were escorted back to the camp.

Eventually, I made by escape in January 1945. I was recaptured twice and on both occasions managed to escape again.

Eventually, on meeting Russians I told them I was an English soldier (the only words I knew in Russian).

The Russians ordered me outside and an officer went to my left and the Russian Sergeant was straight in front of me, so I knew it was an execution.

I tried to explain that I was an English soldier (I was still in my British uniform). I had a vision of the Queen coming towards me with the Union Jack, which gave me extra determination to shout out English comrade in Russian.

At last, a Russian spoke to me and the Russian Sergeant turned around laughing his head off and then said I could go.

Then I made my way through to Poland, eventually arriving at Odessa, where I boarded a Norwegian ship home. I was away for five years in total.

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