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Boots that walked through Bergen-Belsen

1944/1944

Sydney Jewish Museum

Sydney Jewish Museum
Darlinghurst, Australia

Army boots worn by liberator Harry Wigglesworth who served in the British Army from 1939-1946. The pair of boots were worn into France and Germany with the Allied invasion forces. They walked into Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where Harry and his division arrived on 15 April 1945. Harry marched home wearing them to Leeds, England in 1946, and they came with him to Australia in 1981.

Harry Wigglesworth was born in 1916 in Leeds, Yorkshire County, England. He and his brother Harold joined the Army Reserves just before war broke out in August 1939. He volunteered to join a transport division as a dispatch rider. After recovering from a motorbike accident in 1943, he was transferred to the Allied 21st Army Group, a combined British-Canadian unit including the British 11th Armoured Division. He arrived in Normandy and his group was attached to the 5th Tank Division of the Canadian army. It was his job to supply the tanks with ammunition and petrol. They continued through France, Belgium, Holland and finally into Germany.

When they came to Bergen-Belsen Harry recalls the “terrible smell,” which lingered in the air around the clock. “I saw the skeletons, the piles of bodies, I saw all that.” Harry recalls of his experience “We’d just done six years of war; we thought we’d seen everything. I had nightmares for over two years when I got home. Terrible.”

Details

  • Title: Boots that walked through Bergen-Belsen
  • Date Created: 1944/1944
  • Location Created: England
  • Type: shoes
  • Rights: Sydney Jewish Museum
  • Medium: leather

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