Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 25, 2013 9:49:11 GMT 12
I'd like to know a little more about this chap, cpl Jack Denver - how did he come to be leading a battaslion with Tito's army?
Evening Post, Volume CXXXVII, Issue 71, 24 March 1944, Page 6
NEW ZEALANDER'S MEDAL
LONDON, March 22.
Included among British Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel whom the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. has decorated "for outstanding military activities which ensured the success of operations of the British and Americans in North Africa and Italy, and for courage and gallantry displayed in these operations," is an Army Medal for Valour awarded to Corporal J. Denver, of the New Zealand forces.
Corporal Jack Denver was reported to be recovering in Cairo an arm wound received when fighting with General Tito's army in Yugoslavia, of which he became a battalion commander.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 25, 2013 9:55:45 GMT 12
Aha, found some more:
Evening Post, Volume CXXXVII, Issue 23, 28 January 1944, Page 5
OFFICER UNDER TITO
FORMER N.Z. CORPORAL
CAIRO, January 25. The New Zealand infantryman Corporal Jack Denvir, who escaped from the Germans by jumping off a prisoner-of-war train when passing through Slovenia is now reported to be a battalion commander in Marshal Tito's army.
Denvir, who comes from Christchurch, left New Zealand with the first echelon, and it was during the fighting at Corinth in Greece, that he was taken prisoner, on April 28, 1941. From April to November of that year he was a prisoner, but he made a successful escape from the prison camp some time in November. After five days of freedom, he was recaptured, and his family received a card from him saying that he was enjoying a spell "behind bars" as a consequence.
According to cablegrams, Denvir died on February 4, 1942, and since then he had been 'officially classified as dead. In May, 1942, his parents received cabled advice that he had died in Germany in a prisoner-of-war camp. About the same date his wife received a cable that he had died in Italy, Denvir must have escaped again, this time permanently, and made his way to the mountains and gorges of Yugoslavia, where patriot bands continually harass the German and Italian occupation troops.
In January, 1943, a cabled message from London reported that Denvir had made a broadcast over a secret radio station operated by Yugoslav patriots. In this cabled message his name was spelt Denver, but the other particulars and his unit numbers were correct.
Book tells of my hero uncle April 23, 2012, midnight
I WISH to get hold of the book Partisan. The book is about my uncle, Jack Denvir, who rose from corporal in the New Zealand army to supreme commander of the partisan resistance forces in Yugoslavia during World War II.
His second lieutenant was Gunner Colin Cargill AIF.
These guys carried out raids on the Germans and Italian armies from camps in the Balkans alps.
Jack Denvir was captured and escaped three times from German prison camps.
The last time, he took control of a German supply train and killed eight German soldiers. He then used their uniforms as part of a disguise to get his men through Italian and German towns.
The book also says some of the best resistance fighters were the Yugoslav mountain women. Because these men were classified as missing in action and fighting behind the enemy lines, a lot was kept quiet about the fighting and my grandparents assumed their son was dead. The British Empire did not recognise a lot of their medals and awards from Europe but they were probably some of the most decorated soldiers of World War II.
Yugoslavia’s leader Marshal Tito bestowed the freedom of Yugoslavia and hero status on them but they were not allowed to accept their medals and the same for the other countries.
Every four years, Tito took them to Yugoslavia for a reunion and showered them with gifts — but nothing from the soldiers’ home countries or British governments.
This book reads like the classic movie The Great Escape and I sometimes wonder where the theme for the movie came from. — RUSSELL ADAMS,
Hi there, I can tell you alot about John Denvir (Jack), as he is my grandfather. I have completed quite a lot of research into his WWII activities, however you can also find some info on the following link as the Waiouru Army Museum has his medals on display at the moment www.armymuseum.co.nz/medals/worn-with-pride/#denvir Please feel free to contact me, it really is an amazing story Cheers
Post by Dave Homewood on Jan 27, 2020 20:50:08 GMT 12
I just found this in the Evening Post, dated 12th of June 1944:
SERGT. JACK DENVIR
FORMER GUERRILLA LEADER
The saga of Sergeant Jack Denvir, of Christchurch, who recently returned to New Zealand after four years spent variously with the Second N.Z.E.F., in a German prisoner-of-war camp, and raiding enemy communication lines and troop detachments with Marshal Tito's Yugoslav guerrillas would be a silent one if he had anything to do with it. Part of the reason is that for purposes of security he has been forbidden to recount some of his adventures, but the rest was due to a modesty that made him a hard subject for interview when New Zealand Press representatives sought his story when he came back.
Denvir, a 30-year-old ex-storeman from Christchurch, served with the division in the Western Desert and was afterwards captured by the Germans in the Greece campaign and sent to Maribor prison camp in Yugoslavia. Five months later, with two Australians, he jumped off a train going to Zagreb, crossed a river in a stolen boat, and set out across country making for the main railway to Belgrade. Two stations from Zagreb, however, they saw two soldiers in Yugoslav uniform and asked their assistance, only to be handed over to the Germans and sent back to Maribor. There Denvir was sentenced to 21 days' solitary confinement, a normal punishment for an escape attempt, and whiled away the hours of his punishment by perfecting plans for a second break. He and an Australian anti-tank gunner made it together. Because there is still a chance that others may be able to adopt the same method, Denvir is not permitted to reveal his method, but it worked well enough for him to have joined the Partisans with his companion by December, among the first of many other New Zealand and Australian soldiers who later picked on this method of getting on with the war.
"In the first job we did on the Italians I was a machine-gunner," said Denvir. "Eleven of us with four machine-guns wrecked a train and killed 185 Italians. We concentrated on the enemy's lines of communications, ambushing trains, wrecking rail tracks and bridges—anything to cut his supplies. When we had wrecked a track we waited until they had repaired it and then did the job again."
CAPTURED EQUIPMENT USED. Although the Partisans at first operated with very poor and scanty equipment, they soon improved matters by capturing enemy equipment, a system which had the advantage of ensuring that there was plenty of ammunition available — all they had to do was take it from the enemy. Most useful of all was anti-tank artillery, for two shells through the boiler of the engine effectually stopped any train, and a previously-laid mine beneath the track completed the job and wiped out the passengers. The Germans countered by putting two armoured trucks on each train, but the Partisan gunners engaged the enemy while others went ahead with the work and the result was usually the same. Before Denvir returned to the Middle East at the end of last year the guerrillas had cut all the rail routes from the Balkans to Italy and were destroying a half of all the supplies they tried to send to the considerable bodies of troops who were trying to exterminate them.
The guerrilla tactics Denvir learned in the Western Desert in 1940, harrying and destroying enemy tanks and ambushing columns, stood him in good stead with the Partisans. He knew nothing of their language when he joined up with the Yugoslavs, but once he learned it, his job was easier, and he got on well with them.
With the enlargement of the Partisan forces towards the end of 1942, Denvir became a company commander, and played a leading part in an action in April, 1943, when 400 Italians were killed. Next he became 2 I.C., of a battalion, and two months later, battalion commander. Then came the great rise. In September last when Italy was giving in, the Germans tried to rush large numbers of troops south. The Partisans fought a three-day battle against them—unusual for a guerrilla force—and killed large numbers. Denvir was promoted brigade commander. As a British soldier he could not take the rank, but he was made an honorary officer.
The report of his death came when the Germans captured and shot Denvir's comrade who was carrying part of his paybook. They triumphantly announced that the man who was helping to cause them so much trouble was liquidated, and on receipt of their report the British authorities posted him as dead and informed his wife. She refused to believe the report, and although she had been in receipt of a widow's pension she was justified in her faith when her husband broadcast over a secret radio the Partisans operated.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 24, 2020 19:08:47 GMT 12
I found a photo of Jack Denvir
SERGEANT DENVIR’S RETURN.—Sergeant John Denvir, D.C.M., and his small son, John. Sergeant Denvir’s military career is one of the most remarkable of the present war. He left New Zealand with the 1st Echelon, was captured in Greece in April, 1941, escaped from a prison camp in Jugoslavia in the following September, was recaptured but escaped again in December, and then, serving with the partisan forces of Marshal Broz, rose to the rank of brigade commander.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 30, 2022 23:46:28 GMT 12
From The Press, 18 November 1955
MR DENVIR BACK IN N.Z.
Four Months’ Visit To Jugoslavia
“TITO FRIEND OF THE WEST”
“The Press” Special Service AUCKLAND, November 22.
Mr J. Denvir. of Greymouth, the New Zealand corporal who fought as a brigadier with Marshal Tito’s Partisans, found Jugoslavia intensely anti-Russian, unanimously pro-Tito, and in most states a hive of industrial activity. Mr Denvir returned to New Zealand with his wife in the Monowai today after four months in Jugoslavia.
Mr and Mrs Denvir spoke eagerly of the warmth of the welcome they received everywhere in Jugoslavia. People had no difficulty in recognising Mr Denvir, whose exploits after his escape from the Germans during the Second World War have become a legend in their country and his own.
Mr Denvir said he went back to Jugoslavia half expecting to find it an Iron Curtain country. Instead he met a people who spoke and acted with complete freedom, argued politics at the drop of a hat, and were leaning more and more toward the Western way of life.
“The strongest party in the six States is the Socialist,” said Mr Denvir, “but whatever his political adherence, every Jugoslav is solidly behind Marshal Tito. To me, Tito seemed to be a cross between a dictator and a democratically-elected President. And he is the driving force behind the tremendous progress his country is making.
“I had two hours with Tito, and when he speaks he is worth listening to. We conversed in English, and the marshal said from what he had heard of New Zealand it must be a very beautiful country. I agreed with him.”
“Swamped with Kindness" Mr Denvir said that when he revisited the villages he knew, old friends swamped him and his wife with kindness, and he could never get away without drinking at least half a litre of wine. He learned to speak the three dialects of Jugoslavia fairly fluently during his war service there, and he found his tongue had not gone rusty.
“His Scottish burr is a help,” said Mrs Denvir. He spoke to gatherings a number of times, and told them something of New Zealand. Used to the spartan Jugoslavia of 10 years ago, Mr Denvir was amazed at the development that has taken place. Cart tracks were now smooth roads, and hundreds of factories, new homes, and blocks of flats had sprung up throughout the country, he said. Such was the desire of the Jugoslav to progress that many of the buildings and roads had been built by free and voluntary labour. The new Jugoslavia was producing trucks and buses for her own use and was manufacturing much heavy machinery, including hydro-electric equipment, for export. The old crafts of lace making and glass blowing that were once done in the home had now been revived in the factory.
“Labour difficulties have attended this new development,” said Mr Denvir. “Jugoslavia first had to train ex-soldiers for trade, and now that the development is well under way there are not enough men for the jobs.
Watch on Frontiers “The large standing army watching the country’s many frontiers takes up half the budget allowance and absorbs many of the available young men. Tito has a scheme to divert farming people from impoverished land to industry, but old customs die hard, and it will be interesting to see how he gets on.”
Mr Denvir said he was impressed, too, by the strides Jugoslavia was making in rehabilitation and education. The country’s equivalent of the Returned Services’ Association handled all pensions and paid out money to all categories of people who suffered in the war. These included those sent to German concentration camps, the men who were conscripted by the Germans and sent to the Russian front, and others captured by the Italians and sent to Africa.
Mr Denvir found English spoken by large numbers of people. As an instance of the new desire for study, he told of one 55-year-old man who had been a farmer and then a Partisan and who was now studying law.
Although various parts of Jugoslavia clung to their separate customs, the country was now welded into one, he said. The people, however, were independent, and the collective farming system had “backfired a bit.” There were still many more individual farms than collective farms, and stock was being improved by State breeding stations.
Summing up the country's progress, Mr Denvir said: “Another 10 years will put Jugoslavia a long way ahead. These people are finding their own way of living, and it happens to be our way. Tito is the friend of the West.”
More Decorations To the Jugoslavs Mr Denvir is Rabel Franz, the Serbian name on the passport with which he hoodwinked the Germans, and for his services to the country they have added four decorations to the D.C.M. and the Soviet Medal for Valour he already held. At a dinner in Kranzj the Slovenian President presented him with the Partisan Memorial Badge, the Order of Brotherhood and Unity, First-class; the Partisan Star, Second-class; and the Jugoslav Medal for Valour.
Another highlight of his trip was a reunion in Ljubljana with men of his old brigade, many of whom now hold high Army and Government posts.
Mr and Mrs Denvir left Auckland today for their home in Gladstone and a reunion with their family of four. The 41-year-old coalminer has heard all about the uranium strike, but he has no immediate plans for joining the rush.