From John Bogin at Quora:
My father served in the South Lancashire Regiment, The Prince of Wales Volunteers in WW2.
One day I was visiting the museum for the Lancashire regiments in Preston, Lancashire. While I was there I saw a medal box which, among other medals, contained an Iron Cross from World war one.
The officer I was talking to told me the story behind the medal and its owner, who I believe, was called Albert. Anyway, I will call him Albert from here on.
I must say that sometime has passed since this conversation and so I am going to fill in some blanks and add, what I hope you will find funny. But when I tell this story I always get a lump in my throat.
Albert was between the lines, in no manâ€™s land, when he was seriously wounded. That night a German search party came out. I presume that they were looking for their own men but I donâ€™t think they were worried about taking a British Tommy back.
They got him back and he would be sent to the nearest hospital. His uniform would be cut of, his wounds attended to and then he was put to bed in a hospital just behind the lines filled with German wounded. By now he would be wearing German army pyjamas.
One day the door opens and a German army general comes into the ward. You can imagine all of the staff standing rigidly to attention when he came in. He addressed the wounded patients. He told them that they were all heroes. They had all fought and been wounded for their country. As a result, they were all to be awarded the Iron Cross, you can imagine him stopping by each bed, awarding the medal, stepping back and saluting the soldier and then moving on to the next.
Was Albert awake or conscious ? I donâ€™t know but I bet you a Â£5.00 that he didnâ€™t speak German.
I imagine two German orderlies standing to attention as the is happens, call them Hans and Karl.
Karl. â€œHans do you think that the General knows that the man in bed 14 is a Tommy?â€
Hans â€œOf course he will. He is the General.â€
Karl. â€œBut what happens if he doesnâ€™t and giveâ€™s the Tommy a medal?â€
Hans â€Good point. You had better tell him.â€
Karl â€œMe. You are senior to me. Oh too late. The Tommy has just been awarded one of the highest honours that Germany can bestow.â€
In due course the General found out what had happened and was asked what should happen. Did the Tommy get to keep the medal or should it be taken off him? Well- I told you he gets to keep it.
The General said that the medal had been awarded to men who were heroes. They had fought and were wounded for their country. He was such a man and, as such, he deserves the medal.
I am raising a glass to the German General. I wish I knew his name.