War hero who famously drew a V-sign to the Germans dies at the age of 97

Liuetenant Jack Reynolds died at the age of 97. He joined the army at the age of 17 and served throughout Europe during the conflict

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Liuetenant Jack Reynolds died at the age of 97. He joined the army at the age of 17 and served throughout Europe during the conflict

A war hero who was famously photographed with a V-sign after the Germans after being captured 75 years ago in the Battle of Arnhem, has died.

Lieutenant Jack Reynolds' courageous act against his captors yielded one of the most iconic images of the doomed Operation Market Garden.

The officer and his men were flooded by the Germans for a few days after 10,000 British airborne troops landed behind enemy lines in September 1944.

As they marched away, Lt Reynolds saw a grinning German cameraman making a video of the vanquished British.

Out of a combination of anger and frustration, he greeted the camera with two fingers.

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& # 39; I was so angry at the loss of fine young men and the massacre. Further on I saw a German guy with a camera and a big grin on his face and I thought what a b ****** and gave him the opposite & # 39; V & # 39; sign, & # 39; he said later.

& # 39; It was an act of resistance, but a temporary decline of military discipline, which, given the circumstance, seemed completely justified! & # 39;

Lt Reynolds, who had lied about his age to join the army, spent the rest of the war in a PoW camp in Brunswick, Germany, along with his commander, captain AH Willcocks.

After being released when the camp was liberated by US forces in April 1945, he returned home and met and married Eulalie Willcocks – his commander's younger sister.

The couple lived in Pulborough, West Sussex, where he stayed until his recent death at the age of 97. His wife died 13 years ago.

Friends and historians have now paid homage to the decorated war veteran.

He was famously photographed by having a V-sign fired at the Germans after he was captured 75 years ago in the Battle of Arnhem. Liuetenant Jack Reynolds & # 39; defiant act of defiance against his captors yielded one of the most iconic images of doomed operation Market Garden

He was famously photographed by having a V-sign fired at the Germans after he was captured 75 years ago in the Battle of Arnhem. Liuetenant Jack Reynolds & # 39; defiant act of defiance against his captors yielded one of the most iconic images of doomed operation Market Garden

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He was famously photographed by having a V-sign fired at the Germans after he was captured 75 years ago in the Battle of Arnhem. Liuetenant Jack Reynolds & # 39; defiant act of defiance against his captors yielded one of the most iconic images of doomed operation Market Garden

Historian Steve Penticost interviewed Lt Reynolds for the book & # 39; Military Voices; West Sussex veterans in the 20th century. & # 39;

He said: & # 39; Men like Jack Reynolds seemed to have an indomitable spirit and rarely showed signs of vulnerability.

& # 39; People today talk about World War II veterans, but Jack didn't have a truck – he just did what he had to do.

& # 39; He went to only one reunion in Arnhem and that was the first one.

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& # 39; He felt that they had terribly abandoned the people in Arnhem because they had taken revenge from the Nazis because they were helping the British.

& # 39; He felt partially responsible and could not face those people.

& # 39; A few years after the war, a German newspaper just picked him up and sent him this framed photo of him with the V sign.

He was posted at Dover to man a 12-pound cannon aimed at German E-boats in the English Channel. Frustrated by the lack of action, he joined the 1st Airborne Division and participated in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.

He was posted at Dover to man a 12-pound cannon aimed at German E-boats in the English Channel. Frustrated by the lack of action, he joined the 1st Airborne Division and participated in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.

He was posted at Dover to man a 12-pound cannon aimed at German E-boats in the English Channel. Frustrated by the lack of action, he joined the 1st Airborne Division and participated in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.

Photo taken in Eindhoven with gliders on their way to Nijmegen and Arnhem during Operation Market Garden
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Photo taken in Eindhoven with gliders on their way to Nijmegen and Arnhem during Operation Market Garden

Photo taken in Eindhoven with gliders on their way to Nijmegen and Arnhem during Operation Market Garden

& # 39; It was an iconic image of Arnhem and one that he was very proud of, because it captured exactly what men like him felt, even though it wasn't the behavior you'd expect from an officer.

& # 39; When I visited him, he left this photo on the wall of his living room. & # 39;

Lt Reynolds was 17 years old at the start of the Second World War – a year below the legal age to join the army.

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He had wanted to follow his elder brother Arthur in the armed forces and so lied about his age. he succeeded in becoming a member of the Sussex Yeomanry and trained as a seiner.

But when his real age was discovered, he was sent to South Wales for more training instead of France and most of the action.

While there, he was recommended for a commission and joined the Royal Artillery.

He was posted at Dover to man a 12-pound cannon aimed at German E-boats in the English Channel.

Frustrated by the lack of action, he joined the 1st Airborne Division and participated in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.

He received the Military Cross for his part in conquering and defending a bridge in Sicily while under heavy enemy fire.

For Arnhem, Lt Reynolds was in the first wave of glider troops, which landed on September 17.

He was sent on a reconnaissance mission on the back of an engine, but encountered German sniper fire that made their vehicle unusable.

He continued on foot until he saw German infantry and Panzer tanks when he withdrew and returned to the battalion headquarters.

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The next day the men marched towards Oosterbeek, near Arnhem, and were severely under fire. Lt Reynolds went further alone to discover the power of the opposition.

But he was cut off and spent several days behind enemy lines. When he finally reached the battalion headquarters, it was completely overrun by the Germans and the men had to surrender.

Reportedly, Reicholds, born in Chichester, died on August 22 in his sleep in West Sussex.

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