Bob Early, a member of Blind Veterans UK, tells his story of Serving in World War II. This is one part of his story of when he served in the UK, Italy, and finally in a covert operation in Germany.
During WWII Louis ‘Bob’ Early of Earley in Berkshire Served with the Royal Artillery in Italy and Austria. A skilled joiner and cabinet maker at the end of the war he was sent to occupied Germany where he taught his craft to British soldiers in a factory near Bad Lauterberg to prepare them for life after the Army. However, he had another mission, to fraternize with the German workforce in the factory where he held his classes to gain their trust. This was part of his work to identify Nazi war criminals, who it was suspected were in hiding in the factory.
Bob was responsible for the arrest of Harnig, a high ranking SS officer, known as the Jew Baiter of Paris. Harnig’s strange behaviour aroused Bob’s suspicions and one night he risked his life as he stole into the factory to go through Harnig’s cupboard in search of evidence. What he found was a photograph of an unbearded Harnig, which he compared to those of Nazis who were high on the most wanted list. He sent it to his superiors who confirmed it was Harnig, who was immediately arrested and taken to Berlin and later tried at the Nuremberg War Crimes Court. He was charged with sending hundreds of men, women and children to the concentration camps and to death in the gas chambers. Found guilty he was hanged. Bob was not implicated in the arrest and continued his work in the factory.
Demobbed in 1946, Sergeant Early found after his war experiences he couldn’t work for anyone again. He promptly set up his own business and was soon commission to make a cabinet for the King. Not long after his talents led him into the world of television, which was still I its infancy. Known as ‘Mr Gadgeter he made the all the paraphernalia for two Eurovision song contents and two General Elections. Including the 1955 General Election, the first to be broadcast on TV, when he had to build a gadget using 600 table tennis balls to show how the different parties were doing. It was at Alexandra Palace and Richard Dimbleby was the commentator. When a party member won a seat, Bob had to drop a table tennis ball down the chute. There were no electrical gadgets then and television was still in its infancy. The programme went on to the early hours of the morning and at 2am a note was passed to Bob that read: ‘Well done, your result model comes over fine on screen.’ It was signed by the Governor of the BBC.
Using the skills learnt at Blind Veterans UK Bob has written of this in his book I Well Remember. Published by Ammonite Books, it retails at £10.95 and is available from Bob who can be contacted on 0118 9661146, or from your local bookshop.
Read Bob’s most recent interview in September 2013 with The Reading Post.