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Rifleman : A Front-Line Life from Alamein and Dresden to the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Rick Stroud


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


Published: 7th November 2011
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RRP $19.99

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Published: 7th February 2011
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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.

About the Authors

Victor Gregg was born in London in 1919 and joined the army in 1937, serving first in the Rifle Brigade in Palestine and the Battle of Alamein, and then in the Parachute Regiment at the Battle of Arnhem. He was repatriated in 1946 and now lives in Winchester.

Rick Stroud is a film, television director and author. He lives on a houseboat in London.


Exciting stuff but how true?


A very interesting look at the life of an ordinary British soldier in WWII. However, his later exploits seem a little too much like a page from a James Bond novel.



A unique tale of a unique life


This individual led a charmed life and later questioned the motives and politics behind warfare.

Emu Vale Queensland



4.0 2


'Completely fascinating. This feels like one of the last voices of a vital generation. For the first-hand account of the Dresden fire-bombing alone, this is gripping reading. It has an immediate power throughout that makes war fiction a pale shadow of the real thing' Conn Iggulden 'Second World War memoirs are commonplace, but very few soldiers had Victor Gregg's breadth and depth of experience. Rifleman is a thrilling story of a young man in extraordinary circumstances. Yet what makes Gregg's story so enthralling is how he was shaped by his wartime experiences and primed an eventful - and dangerous - life behind the Iron Curtain. Rifleman is an outstanding book that deserves to become a classic' Lloyd Clark, author of Arnhem 'Many people performed extraordinary feats of bravery and lived through an astonishing array of campaigns during the long years of the Second World War, yet few can have seen more action than Rifleman Victor Gregg. His hugely entertaining and often moving memoir is as action-packed as any fiction, and yet this is no novel - Gregg's adventures were real. His is truly an astonishing story' James Holland, author of The Battle of Britain and Fortress Malta 'Gregg's description of the bombing of Dresden is possibly one of the most shocking accounts of warfare you will ever read ...his memoir is a gripping life-story: an incident-packed account of heartache, violence and cunning by a man whose will to survive and unbreakable optimism are a true inspiration' Independent

Forewordp. ix
Mapsp. xii
The Early Yearsp. 3
The Concrete Playgroundp. 6
Out of the Roughp. 11
Growing up in Bloomsburyp. 17
The King's Shillingp. 23
Goodbye Englandp. 27
Indiap. 30
Palestinep. 35
Eggwhitep. 41
Under Pressurep. 47
Beda Fomm: A Different Form of Killingp. 51
We Meet the Herrenvolkp. 56
The First Failurep. 59
South Africap. 63
Crusaderp. 67
The Cloak and Dagger Stuffp. 72
The Libyan Arab Force Commandop. 76
The Long Range Desert Groupp. 81
Back in the Foldp. 84
Operation Breakthroughp. 87
El Alamein: The Butcher's Shop Opens for Businessp. 90
Snipe: 2nd RB Open the Gatep. 94
I Become a Birdmanp. 102
Sicily and Italyp. 109
Learning the Hard Wayp. 112
Home at Lastp. 118
Market Gardenp. 125
The Witches' Cauldron: Der Hexenkesselp. 133
In the Cagep. 136
The Work Campp. 142
Introducing an Honest Manp. 147
The Trial Runp. 151
The Second Dayp. 154
Life in Dresdenp. 158
Thunderclapp. 164
The Uppercutp. 171
The Hammer Blowp. 174
It's All Over Nowp. 178
Demobilisedp. 181
Coming to Grips with Lifep. 187
I Become a Red, but not Under the Bedp. 194
The Moscow Narodny Bankp. 200
An Enemy of the Statep. 210
A Minor Role in the Great Gamep. 212
The Final Cutp. 225
I Get My Comeuppancep. 229
The Handoverp. 236
The Magyar Experiencep. 246
1988: Free at Lastp. 251
Time Expiredp. 258
Afterwordp. 260
Acknowledgementsp. 262
Indexp. 265
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781408822081
ISBN-10: 1408822083
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 273
Published: 7th November 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9  x 1.8
Weight (kg): 0.227
Edition Number: 1