Shortly before D-Day Trautmann was transferred to France to train new recruits. He fought in several desperate delaying actions across France, and then at Arnhem; by now he had been awarded two Iron Crosses and promoted to corporal.
While regrouping in the German town of Kleve, he was buried alive for three days when the Allies bombed a school where his unit was billeted; most of his comrades were killed.
In the confusion that preceded the fall of the Reich, Trautmann decided to make for Bremen. Briefly held by the Americans, he was finally taken prisoner by a British signals unit whose soldiers greeted him with: “Hello Fritz, would you like a cup of tea?” His lifelong love affair with Britain began at that moment.
Weird, but perhaps not so bad:
“My education only began the day I arrived in England,” Trautmann recalled. “People were so kind and decent, they didn’t see an enemy prisoner, they saw a human being. The British made me what I am … When I visit Germany, they say to me: \’Be honest, you’re English through and through’. And I’m mighty proud so to consider myself. I come back four or five times a year and always think \’Great, I’m home.’”