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Graffiti at Dover Citadel reveals story of forgotten war hero Charles Henry Brough traced by historian Phil Eyden

A historian who saw Second World War graffiti on a wall at Dover Citadel has painstakingly traced the life of the soldier who penned it.

Phil Eyden saw the scribblings during a tour of the former military barracks in 2015. His curiosity led him on a research journey back to the military man's home in Glossop, Derbyshire.

The graffiti by Charles Brough. Picture Phil Eyden
The graffiti by Charles Brough. Picture Phil Eyden

Mr Eyden said it was when the Immigration Removal Centre, formerly sited at the fortress, closed that he was shown around with other volunteers for the Western Heights Preservation Society.

His tour included the area beneath the Citadel which has gunrooms and tunnels packed with graffiti left by the soldiers who were garrisoned there from Victorian times to the Second World War.

One of the soldiers left his service number and signed his name - 3653935 ‘Boy’ C.H. Brough. It was dated 1938 when the garrison of the Citadel was the 1st South Lancashire Regiment.

Last June Mr Eyden decided to research his origins as a lockdown project.

Via genealogy research, he identified him as Signalman Charles Henry Brough, (1921-2005), a resident of Glossop, Derbyshire.

Charles Brough. Picture supplied by Paul Brough
Charles Brough. Picture supplied by Paul Brough

To his amazement the historian found him listed in a 1943 Missing report as being in the Signal Troop of the Long-Range Desert Group – a famous group of elite soldiers in North Africa who raided behind Rommel’s supply lines in heavily armed lorries and jeeps.

Charles served there in XXX Corps - Mr Eyden also found him listed in a casualty report dated February 1943 in Libya.

A further 1945 Mention in Despatches citation discovered in the National Archives stated Charles handed himself in to the German authorities on the Greek island of Leros on November, 21, 1943, having evaded capture for a few days following the capitulation of the island and the total destruction of his unit.

Charles had only surrendered himself as he was starving and was then transferred to Athens. On December 8, 1943 he was then put onboard a Prisoner of War train for Germany. However, using a pair of wire-cutters he had concealed from the guards, he, and one other, cut their way out of a ventilator in the roof. He jumped onto a grassy embankment at Kiourka and went into hiding.

The Citadel Tunnels. Picture Phil Eyden
The Citadel Tunnels. Picture Phil Eyden

Charles was soon found by local inhabitants and guided to the British Military Mission. He then spent seven months in Greece with Force 133 (Special Operations Executive) working as a wireless operator liaising with the Greek Resistance groups before the Force was evacuated to Italy.

After the discovery of his amazing war history, Phil put an appeal online on a Glossop social media page to try to find a relative so he could tell the family of his discovery.

Within a couple of days and with the help of local resident Jon Baldry, his grandson Paul Brough, living in Glossop, spotted the post and got in contact.

Paul had possession of Charles’s medals, his photographs and some fascinating documents. One was a counterfeit Greek identity card that would have been issued by SOE containing a false identity.

Another told how in late 1944 Charles, Colonel Shepherd, Captain McIntyre, one other British, six Greek guerrillas and a teenager named Olga were in disguise onboard a truck which arrived at a village near Thebes with 200 gold sovereigns and secret papers concealed on them.

The counterfeit ID card. Picture supplied by Paul Brough
The counterfeit ID card. Picture supplied by Paul Brough

The lorry was stopped by a German party who thought it was suspicious and took them all to a hall. Olga took the secret papers and hid them under her blouse. She then managed to sweet-talk the guards assigned to them that they were all Black Marketeers working for German officers and charmed them into releasing them. Thanks to brave Olga, the entire secret British Mission had slipped through their fingers and saved their lives!

Post-war, Charles settled at Turnlee Road in Glossop with his new wife, Sarah Shaw, and died, aged 84, in the town in 2005.

A forgotten hero found by his name inscribed on the wall 83 years ago!

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