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June 04 , 2010

Rifleman: A Front Line Life

A Front-Line Life from Alamein and Dresden to the Fall of the Berlin Wall


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.

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Almost continual warfare raged in Europe during the period 1300-1500. These wars were the furnaces in which many of the modern European nations were forged. Parallel with this emergence of the nations came the development of national armies to protect the newly-won borders and independence, yet throughout this period the old feudal method of…

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.

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