Campaign To Reunite WWII Enemies Turned Best Friends Launches

A campaign to reunite two WWII veterans who fought against each other has launched.

Desert Rat Graham Stevenson and Africa Corps Panzermann Charley Koenig were on opposite sides of the war but later became best friends.

Graham and Charley first met in the deserts of Tunisia as enemies and became friends after the war.

They are the only members of the Association left alive who fought in Africa 75 years ago.

Graham told Forces Radio BFBS presenters Richard Hatch and Verity Geere:

"People seem to think that if you fought one another then you've got to be fighting for the rest of your life which of course is tripe."

You can listen to Graham and Charley's chat to Hatch and Geere in full below:

 

In late March 1943, Allied and Axis forced prepared for one of the fiercest battles of the World War II African campaign near Mareth, Tunisia.

After four months on the run, Rommel’s Africa Corps took one of its last stands.

In order to outflank the enemy, the Sherman Rangers Yeomanry Tank Regiment swung through a mountain pass to attack the Axis troops from behind.

El Alamein veteran and 18-year-old lap gunner Graham Stevenson and his crew burst into the battlefield through the Tebaga Pass in a Sherman tank.

They ran into the German 21st Panzer Division. Karl Friedrich “Charley” Koenig, only newly arrived in Tunisia as a 19-year-old officer candidate, awaited them as a loader in a Panzer IV long-barreled tank of the 5th Panzer Regiment.

Both survived the battle. Graham returned to England with the Sherwood Rangers and was severely wounded on his first day of hedgerow fighting in Normandy.

Charley was eventually taken prisoner in Tunisia, and brought to America, Belgium and England as a POW, returning home to Germany in 1947. But neither he nor Graham could forget Africa.

In 1991, Charley sought out the Sherwood Rangers. It wasn’t long before they became like brothers.  

After Charley attended ceremonies for the regiment in Normandy and Holland, he was invited to become a member of the Sherwood Rangers Old Comrades’ Association. 

Heather Steele, founder of the non-profit World War II History Project, has launched a $25,000 crowdfunding campaign to film 'a mini-documentary about this unique friendship for future generations of school children, college students, and the public learning about World War II.'

You can watch the pitch for the documentary and learn more about Graham and Charley below:

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