Canadian Cpl Bob Roberts was overseeing the surrender of dozens of enemy soldiers during the Battle of Normandy when the 7ft 6ins German loomed into his view. Cpl Roberts, who stood two feet below him at 5ft 6ins, had the daunting job of frisking the German lance corporal for weapons before taking him prisoner.
It was a moment of lightness during the grim duty of war.
For just a few minutes before the picture was taken, Cpl Roberts faced a life-or-death duel with another German soldier who pulled out a pistol as he pretended to surrender. Luckily, he raised his gun in the nick of time and shot the enemy soldier dead.
The photo has been unearthed by an amateur historian who sent it to Cpl Roberts, from Bournemouth, Dorset, in the hope he could identify the Allied serviceman. But the great-grandfather went one better than that and instantly recognised himself in the photo.
Holding the picture, Cpl Roberts said: “I didn’t take a lot of notice of this guy at the time because I was so focused on what the Germans were doing after what had happened to me. I just passed the prisoners on one after the other after searching them.
But my mates who were watching the rest of the men saw this giant of a guy approach me and I was aware they and the Germans were having a good laugh. The Germans were saying that he was the tallest man in the German army, he was 7ft 6ins tall. My mates took some pictures of me with him with a camera they had taken from the Germans. Luckily he didn’t give me any aggravation. I couldn’t believe it when I received the photo after all these years. It took me back to a moment of light-heartedness so soon after I had been a blink of an eye from death.” Cpl Roberts, who was 21 at the time, was a member of the North Shore New Brunswick Regiment of the Canadian Army and stormed Juno Beach on D-Day in June 1944.
Cpl Roberts carried on fighting with his regiment through Belgium and Holland until February 1945 when he was badly injured in his right leg by a piece of shrapnel at Kappeln on the Holland/German border.“
Caption from the Telegraph. Colourised by Paul Reynolds