6 December 1914|
London, United Kingdom
Lethbridge Park, New South Wales, Australia
|Years of service||1939-1941; 1943-1944|
|Unit||British Free Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II
*Western Desert Campaign
*Battle of Greece
Born out of wedlock, Courlander was adopted by Lithuanian Jewish businessman Leonard Henry Courlander (1878–1970) and Edith Cater (1898-?), who sent him to boarding school. When he was 19, his parents divorced and he was sent to live and work on a coconut plantation owned by his father in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. In November 1938, Courlander arrived in New Zealand and found work as a clerk with the Land and Income Tax Department in Wellington. On the outbreak of war, Courlander was enlisted into the New Zealand army. He served in North Africa and Greece, where he was captured in April 1941.
He joined the New Zealand Army and was captured in Greece in 1941. Courlander posed as a “White Russian émigré” and claimed to have extreme anti-Soviet views. He participated in the Nazi broadcast into Britain.
Subsequently, the Germans recruited Courlander for the British Free Corps. Although the name 'Leonard Courlander' appears in some records in connection with the British Free Corps, the actual member appears to be Roy Courlander. Along with Thomas Cooper, he is said to have forcibly recruited British and Dominion POWs for the British Free Corps.
Courlander and another man, Francis Maton, left the BFC by volunteering for service with the war correspondent unit SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers, which was operating on the Western Front. Their ultimate goal was to make for the Allied lines at the first chance. Courlander and Maton removed all of the BFC insignia from their uniforms, replacing them with the standard SS patches and rank. The two men boarded a train for Brussels in the company of a Flemish Waffen-SS unit. On 3 September, the two men arrived in Brussels, where they went into hiding rather than face the advancing Allied army. The following day, they gave themselves up to a British officer, thus becoming the first two BFC men to be arrested.
Lance Corporal Courlander was arrested and tried by court martial by the New Zealand military authorities in Margate, England, and on 3 October 1945, six years to the day after enlisting, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 1946, Courlander was transferred to Mount Eden prison in Auckland, New Zealand, until his release in 1951.
After serving his time, Courlander moved to Australia in the early 1950s to start a new life, but spent his last years moving between homes. He ended up in a small industrial town of Lethbridge Park, two hours' drive from Sydney, which at the time was home to many serving and former soldiers. His last known address was a ground-floor council flat in a graffiti-scarred rundown block.
He died in Australia in 1979.
- Guy Walters (22 March 2010). "Hitler's British SS: Chilling pictures of the traitors who joined the Fuhrer's most evil unit - with a Union Flag on their sleeve | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
- Stone, Andrew (15 August 2009). "The war in black and white". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- Weale, Adrian, Renegades: Hitler's Englishmen. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1994. ISBN 0-7515-1426-8