Trouper: World War Two veteran George Fisher, 90, still drives a car. *Photo by Simon Jones
Trouper: World War Two veteran George Fisher, 90, still drives a car. *Photo by Simon Jones
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As George Fisher lay on his back in a field in Holland with bullet wounds in both legs he thought his time had come.

The Germans were descending on his position fast. He could barely move and he was alone.

He somehow dragged his bleeding body to safety — only to be captured and held as a prisoner of war in Germany for nearly a year before liberation.

Five years earlier he had been among the first band of 30 Bermudians who volunteered to join the British Army in World War Two.

Mr. Fisher had grown up in Bermuda and after leaving school joined his father on the dairy farm that he ran in Smiths.

At the age of 19 he boarded the Mataroa at St. George’s and headed off across the Atlantic bound for England.

He said: “We were all very gung-ho about heading off to join the war. We were young and it seemed that England was in trouble so we thought we would help.”

On the journey across the Atlantic, the Mataroa joined a convoy of ships protected by naval destroyers.

Mr. Fisher and his friends woke up one morning to find one of the ships in the convoy had been attacked by a German U-boat: “Our convoy was attacked two days out of England,” he said.

“It was early in the morning and the German U-boat just surfaced right amongst the convoy.

“It fired at the Humber Arm and sank her. We were woken up by the noise and arrived on deck to see the ship going down. It was a pretty cheeky move. We had never experienced anything like that before and that was the first kind of action we saw.”

The Mataroa arrived in England in early July, 1939 and the first thing Mr. Fisher and his friends did was head into Bristol — for fish ‘n’ chips.

Coastal defences

The Bermudian recruits joined the Lincolnshire Regiment and helped construct coastal defences to begin with.

By 1942 Mr. Fisher wanted a fresh challenge and signed up to join the First British Airborne Division. He was sent to Sicily — and although his company was not sent to the front — his division suffered major losses.

Sergeant Fisher took part in the invasion of Italy in July 1943 chasing the Italian troops up the Adriatic Coast. He then returned to England at the end of the year to join in preparations for the invasion of Germany.

“In September 1944 we were sent to Arnhem in Holland.” Mr. Fisher added.

“Our objective was to seize a bridge over the Rhine and hold it until re-enforcements arrived. The landing in the gliders was pretty dicey but we came through okay.”

Over the following days, Mr. Fisher’s division was surrounded by German forces and it was during a desperate bit to break the German line that he was shot.

He said: “They had surrounded us and we were running low on ammo and food so we decided to attack their lines

“I did a silly thing really — I had one grenade left and ran towards their lines and threw it. As I ran back down the hill I was hit in the right leg.

“I told my men to carry on without me as I had to strap the wound and pulled myself up beside a tree. I hobbled along trying to catch them up for around three or four hours and ran straight into a German patrol.

‘Luckily I had a full magazine but when I ran out of ammo I turned around and took off. As I did I was shot in the other leg.

“I said to myself ‘well I guess this is it’. I kept rolling and rolling to try and get away and somehow they never hit me again.”

Mr. Fisher was taken to a civilian hospital but a few days later he was taken prisoner by the Germans as they pushed forward.

His parents, who still lived in Bermuda, waited months before they found out their son was still alive. He spent the rest of the war in POW camps writing one letter home a month until the Americans liberated Germany in 1945.

He said: “The morale was always high in the camps. Everyone had lice and some of the fellows had dysentery but we kept each others spirits up.

“The winter of 1944 was harsh but we stayed strong. Then one morning we woke up and the guards had gone.

“We walked to the front gate of the camp and an American tank unit was heading towards us. That was the end of the war.”

Mr. Fisher returned to Bermuda in August 1945 on leave before travelling back to the U.K. to be demobbed. He married his late wife Dorothy and the couple returned to Bermuda in 1946 where they raised their three children. He was the office manager for the Bermuda Gas and Utility Company.

Mr. Fisher is now 90 and still drives his own car into town.

Looking back on the war he says: “I had more good times than bad – except for when I was in the POW camps of course.”

He has no regrets about volunteering to jump on the Mataroa to help the Mother Country in her time of need.