WHILE many Europeans jubilantly celebrated the announcement that the Second World War was over on May 8, 1945, the Hereford Regiment had one final, important operation to finish.

The 1st Battalion had landed on the beaches of Normandy six days after D-Day and for 12 months had fought through France, Belgium and Holland, before crossing the Rhine into Germany and advancing close to the Danish border near Flensburg.

The battles had been hard – particularly the breakout from Normandy, the liberation of Antwerp and the fighting on the Tuetoberger Ridge in Germany – and more than 200 men had been killed.

But the Herefords were called on to take part in one last operation.

Adolf Hitler had nominated Grand Admiral Doenitz, the mastermind behind the Germans U boat campaign, as his successor to lead Germany and Doenitz had set up a government in Flensburg.

Though the allies initially tolerated the ‘puppet government’ – hopeful that it would assist in managing the German people during the immediate post war days and transition to peace – it became clear that Doenitz had other plans.

Many members of the Doenitz government were staunch Nazis and desperate men with the prospect of prosecution in the international courts for war crimes.

So, on the morning of May 23, The Herefords, along with other units, took part in Operation Blackout.

It saw them surround the government buildings and gradually move in on Doenitz, his ministers and support staff, and resulted in a total of 756 arrests.

Admiral Doenitz, General Jodl and Albert Speer were arrested and, along with others, transported in the back of three-ton trucks to be imprisoned on the ship Patria.

Admiral Von Friedburg escaped arrest by committing suicide using a cyanide capsule.

It finally signalled the end of the war in Europe for The Herefords.

Artefacts and accounts from the time, including Grand Admiral Doenitz’s car pennants, are held at the Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum.