British ex-servicemen join March of the Living in Auschwitz

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

British ex-servicemen join March of the Living in Auschwitz

One of the graduates of Israel's Veterans' Games says he is 'blown away by the sheer scale of what I saw'

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

From left: Nick Redshaw, Susie Kahn, James Hill, Ian Breeze and Adam Lyons
From left: Nick Redshaw, Susie Kahn, James Hill, Ian Breeze and Adam Lyons

James Hill and Nick Redshaw each spent 15 years in service with the Royal Marines, before being medically discharged. And last week, because of their subsequent participation in the Veterans’ Games in Israel, the two men took part in the annual March of the Living in Auschwitz — and told Jewish News of the “profound” effect that both Poland and Israel had on them.

Nick, from Telford in Shropshire, left the Marines in 2000 after a series of traumatic brain injuries which led to “a significant brain haemorrhage” and major surgery. He was, he says, “gutted” to realise his career in the military was over: “In 1997 I was training for the Olympics, I was a world-class canoeist.”

His wife Bethan was told to prepare for the worst when he had his brain surgery. But just 12 months after his operation, he represented Great Britain in the Wild Water Racing World Cup in New Zealand, winning a medal and ending the season fifth in the world.

After leaving the Marines Nick spent nearly 20 years teaching A-level psychology, but he says both he and his wife were throughly drained, physically and emotionally, by the effects of his serious brain injury.

In 2019 he was offered the opportunity to take part in the Veteran Games, a project of Beit Halochem UK, competing against Israeli ex-servicemen and women who had suffered trauma or physical injury. It was an opportunity Nick and Bethan seized with both hands, a “recharge of our batteries” and a “life-changing” experience for the couple.

“The Jewish people have given us energy”, says Nick, who describes himself as religious. As a graduate of the Veterans’ Games, he, together with other British ex-servicemen, was invited to join the March of the Living in Poland. For Nick it was “humbling” to be with the marchers and “inspiring” to meet the Holocaust survivors. “I joined the Marines so that this sort of thing could never happen again. I was blown away by the sheer scale of what I saw in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the industrial level of it, the football stadiums of people.”

James Hill’s story echoes that of Nick. He is a former Royal Marines commando who was wounded in the legs and head while serving in Afghanistan, again after 15 years of service. Birmingham-born, he and his family now live in Bournemouth. He was injured in 2013 and left the Marines the following year.

James was invited to take part in the 2023 Veterans’ Games in Israel via the Royal Navy’s Hasler rehabilitation centre in Plymouth. “It was a no-brainer that I could take my wife and family with me,” he says, speaking warmly of his week in Israel, soaking up “the culture, the community, the people — it blew me away”.

Though he knew little about Israel before his visit, when he was asked to join the March of the Living in Poland, James set to and began learning about the Holocaust. “I began to understand the pain of the people,” he says, adding that it was the stories of individual lives that affected him the most, and caused “a lump in my throat”.

But, said James, the event also caused him to question how regular military personnel — such as he himself had been — could get up every day and inflict such cruelty on others. He wondered how he would have reacted in such circumstances.

These days, James is still involved in rehabilitation, but this time of animals, inspired by the dog who was injured when he was shot in Afghanistan. Now he runs a dog rehabilitation centre in Bournemouth, called Pawseidon, in a nod to his Marine background.

Of his March of the Living experience, James says that he and the other veterans were “welcomed so warmly. I would recommend this journey, one hundred per cent.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: