William Mintram was a Staff Sergeant in the Royal Tank Regiment. He first joined the Territorial Army before the war and moved into the regular army once war with Germany was declared.
William was based in Folkstone ready for D Day. He had to wait for an American transporter because his tank was fifty ton! Eric’s tank was a Churchill crocodile with a flamethrower and they towed the fuel behind them. In the late afternoon on D Day he arrived on Gold Beach, Arromanches.
While in France, his Colonel came up to him and said ‘we’ve got a do on at the church, would you like to come’, William replied ‘Oh yes of course sir’, to his amazement there was a woman tied to a cross. All of a sudden fourteen blokes came marching round with rifles and lined up in front of her, William snapped ‘oh no, I’m sorry, I’m not watching this’ his Corporal said ‘oh no, it’s not what you think, c’mon’. William stayed and saw two women come along and shave her hair, and from then on she was an unwanted woman in France. She now had a bald head and was known to be friendly to the Nazis.
William moved up to the Belsen Concentration Camp, and once completely emptied, he used his Churchill Crocodile tank to burn all the huts to the ground. They did this to stop any disease spreading.
William remembers being in a square wireless vehicle in a German town and this German lady approached them and asked ‘would you and your staff like to have lunch with us?’, he replied ‘oh that’s very kind of you’. They got to the house, one plays the piano, one plays the violin and they sat the three of them down. They had a cup of tea and a piece of cake. They were an ordinary German family, not all Germans were bad Germans, not all Germans were Nazi’s.
Print taken from the book ‘A TIME TO FIGHT Living and Remembering WWII’