Keeping the Peace 1945-48

Keeping the Peace

The Second World War had ended, however, the 4th Hussars did not go home for two and a half years after the enemy had surrendered and by the end of May 1945 had moved up into Austria near the Yugoslav border.

Austria, unscathed by war, was a pleasant contrast to the ruin of Italy and the Austrians soon realised that the British Army did not come as conquerors.

Everyone was busy with the vast human problems thrown up by war; the vicious German SS in the prisoner-of-war camps, the flotsam of Hungarians, Cossacks, Italians, Russians and Yugoslavs all trying to return to their homelands; and across the border, the fully-armed Yugoslav partisans suspicious of our intentions, carried on their trade of violence.

Austria had become the refuge for many of the more villainous Nazis, the SS Gauleiters and others who had been found hiding in the sparsely populated mountain farms and huts of the border country.

Lt WK Hedley was put in command of a picked band, the Regimental Intelligence Squad, whose task was to track down these war criminals in their lairs. Hedley’s relentless searches in the mountains produced eighteen important Nazi criminals and fifteen lesser ones.

German Officer blindfolded and lead away for interrogation May 45 Austria

German Officer blindfolded and lead away for interrogation, Austria, May 1945

At the end of July, the Allies agreed on their areas of occupation and the 4th Hussars moved north into Syria where administrative and police duties were manifold; manning checkpoints, patrolling, guarding trains and systemic searches.

Trieste, claimed by both Italy and Yugoslavia, was one of Europe’s most sensitive areas and there, at the end of the year, the 4th Hussars kept the delicate peace.

A year later the 4th Hussars moved to Lubeck in Germany, and in the November of the same year went home, seven and a half years after they had left Liverpool on active service and were again sent to Colchester.

Soon after settling into life at home, they were soon on the move again, this time to Malaya.

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