An orphan evacuated to Ireland during the war is going back to the Emerald Isle for a commemorative event nearly 70 years later.

Former Saltney town councillor and Flintshire county councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun was one of nearly 1,000 young children from Germany, Austria and France sent to Ireland at the end of the war as part of Red Cross initiative Operation Shamrock.

Now Klaus, aged 73, who believes he was evacuated by boat in 1944, has received an invitation to Operation Shamrock Gathering next month hosted by the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in County Wicklow.

 

The invitation reads: “We hope that this will be a wonderful opportunity for you to meet other Operation Shamrock children and members of your Irish family.”

Klaus, who lives in Broughton, was born in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1940 to a Polish mother and a German father with the Second World War raging around him.

He never knew his father who went off to fight the Russians and is believed to have been killed at the Battle of Stalingrad.

His mother was forced to get a job on the railways in Essen and Klaus was put into care while she battled to make ends meet.

She slept in the station and one night was tragically blown up by an Allied bomb.

The orphan Klaus was then shipped off to neutral Ireland by the Red Cross as a refugee.

There he was safe from the bombs but was passed from place to place and from family to family and didn’t know what it meant to grow up in a loving and stable environment.

However, the Armstrong family, from whom he takes half his surname, were a notable exception, and he still talks with fondness of the man he called ‘Daddy Armstrong’, who has long since passed away.

At the age of 14 Klaus was shipped to Chester and to the Barnado’s residential home at Boughton Hall which was recently sold off and transformed into retirement flats where he and another former resident were invited to a fete in 2010 as guests of honour.

Klaus, a former Green Party member, believes his early experience shaped his environmental and political outlook.

He said: “I have always been for the underdog and anybody who needs help and the environmental side of things comes from my days on the farm in Ireland with Daddy Armstrong.”