“Victor Gregg is the most remarkable spokesman for the war generation. Searingly honest in his appraisal of what that conflict did to the world, on society and, above all, on himself.”
– Dan Snow
Victor Gregg is an extraordinary man. As he approaches his 100th birthday, he is still making public appearances to talk about his time in the British Army as one of the few surviving veteran soldier voices of WWII.
Born in London in 1919, Gregg signed up in 1937 on his eighteenth birthday, and served first with the Rifle Brigade in India and Palestine, and later the Western Desert. By 1944, he had joined the Parachute Regiment and fought at the Battle of Arnhem where he was captured – his platoon, reduced to three men, had run out of ammunition and were holding back the enemy by pelting them with stones. Gregg was sent to a work camp in Dresden where, after two failed escape attempts, he was eventually caught sabotaging a factory and sentenced to death.
While awaiting his fate, in February 1945 the British Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on Dresden in four air raids over two days. The resulting firestorm destroyed six square miles of the city. 25,000 people, mostly civilians, were estimated to have been killed.
“The only reason for keeping this atrocity in the public eye is to horrify people so much that they never again allow their representatives to order such crimes.”
– Victor Gregg
In 2013 he wrote a haunting memoir about his experiences in Dresden, which is now available in paperback for the first time. This eye witness account is a harrowing narrative of the unfolding events, and follows the trauma and carnage left in its wake. It also chronicles Gregg’s miraculous escape, and how getting safely back to Britain was another story entirely. The incredible encounter, read by Gregg himself, is now available for audio download. You can listen to a sample here. You can also listen to Vic’s interview with the BBC 4 Today programme here, beginning at 1 hour 43 mins.
Victor Gregg has written a number of memoirs, including Rifleman which covers his whole WWII experience from 1939 – 1945, also available to download in audio with elements read by Gregg himself. He also wrote three first-hand accounts in his Snapshots of War series, chronicling the Second Battle of El Alamein, Operation Compass, and the Battle of Arnhem.