A very sad wartime atrocity came to light which took place in France on a summer’s day 27th May, 1940. Private Albert Pooley, a former Southall postman (who married in 1940 just before going to France as a Private in the Royal Norfolk Regiment), with about 100 officers and men of the regiment became cut off from the main force and surrendered to the German SS in the hamlet of Le Paradis. The men were disarmed, marched into a field and mowed down by a machine-gun. By feigning to be dead Private Pooley and a Private Bill Callagan survived and escaped during the night. They were recaptured but, because of his wounds, Pte Pooley was repatriated in 1944 and taken to Roehampton Hospital where he had a leg amputated. Whilst there he told officers about the massacre but nothing could be done for fear of the other man’s safety, he still being a prisoner of war.
As soon as possible after the war Albert Pooley went back to Le Paradis and collected various items from where the massacre took place. The two men eventually proved their story. Eventually both men attended the War Crimes Trial in Hamburg and identified the German officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Frity Knoechlein, who was later hanged for the crime.
Albert Pooley and his family lived in Portland Road. He returned to work at the Post Office but was always in pain and had to have 47 more operations which included having his other leg amputated in 1980. He died in February 1982, aged 70. He was cremated and in mid June his ashes were taken back to La Paradis and placed on the Monument which marks the site of the massacre.
A book by Cyril Jolley The Vengeance of Private Pooley has been published.
Bill O’Callaghan died in 1976