The ‘Belsen boys’ who moved to Ascot

Ivor Perl's pink identify card

Shortly after the end of World War Two a group of young Holocaust survivors was flown to the UK to recuperate. Thirty of them were housed in the Berkshire town of Ascot, famous for the pomp of the Royal Ascot horse races, where they made an incongruous sight, writes Rosie Whitehouse.

Margaret Nutley remembers her first meeting with a group of unfamiliar boys on the Ascot racecourse. It was autumn 1945, and they were playing football, wearing striped jackets from a concentration camp.

“The course was not fenced off as it is today and us local children used it as a playground. One day I went up with my friends to muck about and there they were. They were just there, playing like the rest of us.

The ‘Belsen boys’ who moved to Ascot
The ‘Belsen boys’ who moved to Ascot

“The boys showed us their tattoos and talked about what had happened to them, but not boastfully.”

Nutley, now 85, noticed that they were “happy people”, despite what they had been through.

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