Tameside’s Tribute to Auschwitz
Thursday 3rd November 2016 11:53 Droylsden News Posted by Tom Greggan

An ex-serviceman from Droylsden has laid a wreath at Auschwitz on behalf of the Tameside & District Ex-Service Association and the Royal British Legion Droylsden Branch.

84-year-old Ray Waymond spent two years in the RAF, spending some of that time at RAF Gütersloh, close to the site of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Ever since, he has harboured ambitions to visit Auschwitz, where an estimated 1.1million people died between 1940 and 1945.

“I was in the anti-aircraft squadron and they sent us on these manoeuvres in Belsen,” Ray said. “By the time we got there in 1950, the bulldozers had been in and they’d put the monument up. We still went and had a look. I’ve wanted to see Auschwitz ever since.”

Ray’s chance came in September with a visit to Krakow with his family. He said: “My two sons and my grandson said they were thinking of going to Krakow and wanted to take me with them.

“I’m a member of the Tameside & District Ex-Services Association and our secretary, Susan Hartley asked me if I’d like to lay a wreath while I was there, which of course I was happy to do.”

Droylsden resident and ex-serviceman Ray Waymond lays down a wreath of poppies at Auschwitz on behalf of Tameside & District Ex-Services Association and the Royal British Legion Droylsden.

Droylsden resident and ex-serviceman Ray Waymond lays down a wreath of poppies at Auschwitz on behalf of Tameside & District Ex-Services Association and the Royal British Legion Droylsden.

The inspiration for the idea to lay the wreath At Auschwitz came from Susan’s father. “I bought this wreath for my father’s grave in Ashton cemetery but never laid it,” she said.

“He was part of the British force that helped to liberate Belsen so I thought it was appropriate that, as Ray was going over to Poland, the wreath should be laid at Auschwitz on behalf of the Association and British Legion. My Dad would have been proud.”

Ray toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum and visited the Krakow Ghetto during his three-night trip, something he described as an overwhelming experience.

“Auschwitz was very emotional,” he said, “Especially when you go into one of the rooms where they experimented on children- that was a tearjerker.

“As for the gas chambers, they blew them up when the allies were coming in to get rid of the evidence, but they didn’t have time to get rid of the crematoria, which were underground. That was emotional as well.”