Release Date: 07/02/11
Born into a working-class family in London in 1919, Victor Gregg enlisted in the Rifle Brigade at nineteen, was sent to the Middle East and saw action in Palestine. Following service in the western desert and at the battle of Alamein, he joined the Parachute Regiment and in September 1944 found himself at the battle of Arnhem. When the paratroopers were forced to withdraw, Gregg was captured. He attempted to escape, but was caught and became a prisoner of war; sentenced to death in Dresden for attempting to escape and burning down a factory, only the allies' infamous raid on the city the night before his execution saved his life. Gregg's fascinating story, told in a voice that is good-natured and completely original, continues after the end of the war. In the fifties he became chauffeur to the Chairman of the Moscow Norodny bank in London, involved in shady dealings and strange meetings with MI5, MI6 and the KGB. His adventures, though, were not over - in 1989, on one of his many motorbike expeditions into Eastern Europe, he found himself at a rally of 700 people in a field in Sopron at a fence that formed part of the barrier between the Soviet Union and the West. Vic cut the wire, and a few weeks later the Berlin Wall itself was destroyed - a truly unexpected coda to an incredible life lived to the full. This is the story of a true survivor.
Life as they say can be stranger than fiction and that’s exactly what occurs within this autobiographical story by Victor Gregg who tells of his life experiences during the Second World War, from marching in Africa through Italy as well as being an eyewitness to the devastation of Dresden.
It’s beautifully written and brings a human personal look to events that are pretty static and impersonal in the history books. Add to this a good understanding of pace, a solid comprehension of keeping it linear and it’s a tale that should be passed on to others to read. With so much of recent history being lost with the elderly generation we need to get these stories down so that when the last one passes the stories are there otherwise we’ll be left with a history that has no connection, cold and sterile.
Add to this events in his life after the war and it’s a tale that will have many an author scrabbling to create an equally large as life character.