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The Obituaries

daftandbarmy

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A bloody shame… met him once, top bloke

Professor Richard Holmes

Professor Richard Holmes, who died on April 30 aged 65, was one of Britain's most distinguished military historians, and a distinctive broadcaster with a soldierly mien, imparting knowledge and enthusiasm in equal measure.

Battlefields were Holmes's natural habitat, and defined him as a television presenter, often up to his knees in mud for the BBC series War Walks in the 1990s, in which he toured the trenches of the First World War. He went on to make documentaries about the American Revolution in Rebels and Redcoats (2003), an acclaimed profile of Oliver Cromwell as part of the 100 Greatest Britons series in 2002, and the wide-ranging In The Footsteps Of Churchill (2005), which he accompanied with a book.

Although a born communicator with a quiet but decisive air and always at ease in front of the camera, Holmes was an unlikely media star. His old-school persona and academic background in a field of study that had lain largely neglected by modern television might have consigned him to obscurity, but he lit the vital spark to fire the viewer's interest and, simply by being himself, struck the perfect balance between erudition and populism. "I don't really see myself as a TV presenter," Holmes explained. "I'm a historian who likes telling stories."

His subject was war, described where possible from the point of view of the soldier of the line. He always sought to balance his innate gung-ho enthusiasm with a desire to keep the ordinary soldier centre stage. Although one critic mocked him as "the Sister Wendy Beckett of blood and guts", Holmes was always at pains never to glorify war.

Holmes's passion for the history of conflict was fired during his last year at school when he was transfixed by the BBC series The Great War, shown in 26 parts in 1964. "I was hooked from the start," he recalled. "It was the first time I had seen early film slowed down so that men and horses did not walk with a jerky quickstep. And although I was about to go to Cambridge to read History and thought myself no end of a scholar, it was the first time I had seen it suggested that the war's generals might be anything other than mindless and inarticulate butchers."

Forty years on, in his book Tommy (2004), Holmes continued to repudiate the view, promoted by the war poets, that the troops of the First World War were poorly led. He also re-examined the enduring legends about the prevalence of shellshock, drunkenness in the trenches, and soldiers shot at dawn for cowardice or desertion, pointing out that 90 per cent of death sentences were commuted.

Another major influence on Holmes was the landmark ITV series The World At War, produced by Jeremy Isaacs in 1973. Isaacs had shot discursive interviews with many important figures from the Second World War, but had been able to use only a fraction of the material in his final cut. Nearly 30 years later Holmes mined the full transcripts of the interviews for his book about the war based on previously unpublished archives.

Holmes was also an accomplished military biographer. He published a life of Sir John French in The Little Field Marshal in 1984, another of Wellington: The Iron Duke in 2002, and, in 2008, Marlborough, acclaimed by The Daily Telegraph as "the best, because fairest" biography of the victor of Blenheim.

As the author of more than 20 books on military history, Holmes tended to avoid drawing on the reminiscences of veterans, mindful of the frailties of human recall. "If you look at what veterans were writing just 10 years after the end of the war, it's quite different from what they were writing at the time," he noted. "The closer we get to events, the better our chance of finding out how people really felt."

Edward Richard Holmes was born on March 29 1946 at Aldridge, Staffordshire, the son of an engineer. He shared his father's love of the outdoors, but combined country pursuits with an appetite for books, and at Forest School, Snaresbrook, read an account of the Franco-Prussian war by the eminent military historian Professor Sir Michael Howard. It proved such a powerful influence on the young Holmes that in August 1970 he marked the centenary of the war by visiting the sites of the battlefields. Thereafter Holmes strove to emulate Howard's "penetrating but not pettifogging" approach to historical research.

Having won a scholarship to read History at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Holmes graduated and spent a year at the Northern Illinois University, completing a PhD on the French army during the second empire before joining the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst as a lecturer in 1969, eventually becoming deputy head of the department of war studies.

It was at Sandhurst that Holmes was first approached by ITV to make a television series about the relationship between Montgomery and Eisenhower during the Second World War.

In 1964 he had joined the Territorials as a squaddie in the Essex Yeomanry – illicitly, he liked to recall – and was commissioned as an officer while still at Cambridge. Promoted first to lieutenant and then to major while teaching at Sandhurst, in 1986 he was invited to take command of the 2nd Bn Wessex Regiment, a post in which he held the rank of brigadier.

Working with a permanent staff of 30 supplemented by 500 part-timers, Holmes was struck by the calibre of the people under his command. This enthusiasm for the military life consistently informed his books and his television programmes.

As Britain's senior reservist, he worked at the Ministry of Defence in charge of all reserve forces, and from 1999 until 2007 was colonel-in-chief of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/tv-radio-obituaries/8486836/Professor-Richard-Holmes.html
 

daftandbarmy

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Lord Middleton

The 12th Lord Middleton, who died on May 27 aged 90, was a Yorkshire landowner who exemplified the aristocratic tradition of dedication to soldiering, public service and country pursuits. He served with distinction as an officer of the Coldstream Guards during the Second World War, and was later a hard-working Conservative peer.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/politics-obituaries/8578099/Lord-Middleton.html
 

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Captain Paul Badcock

Captain Paul Badcock, who has died aged 81, was fleet engineer during the Falklands conflict and from his base at sea repaired ships of the Task Force after they had been damaged by the weather or the enemy.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/8766364/Captain-Paul-Badcock.html
 

daftandbarmy

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Lieutenant-Commander Peter Cobby

Lieutenant-Commander Peter Cobby, who had died aged 82, was twice commended for his bravery in defusing German mines and established a world-class diving school in Scotland.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9146704/Lieutenant-Commander-Peter-Cobby.html
 

daftandbarmy

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Brigadier Tony Hunter-Choat

Brigadier Tony Hunter-Choat, who has died aged 76, was a special forces soldier who served with the SAS; his remarkable military career began, however, with the French Foreign Legion, with which he was three times decorated and took part in a coup to unseat Charles de Gaulle.

Anthony Hunter-Choat was born on January 12 1936 in Purley, south London, the son of Frederick, who worked in insurance, and Iris, a schoolteacher. The family would later move to Ascot.

Tony was educated at Dulwich College and then Kingston College of Art, where he trained as an architect. On holidays he hitchhiked around Europe, developing a taste for travel and an affinity for languages.

In March 1957, having decided that architecture was not for him, he decided to indulge his thirst for adventure and made his way to Paris to enlist in the Foreign Legion. He was pursued by his mother, keen to get her errant son back to his studies, but by the time she caught up with him he had signed up.

Hunter-Choat was sent for basic training to Algeria, then in the throes of increasing anti-colonialist insurrection, and volunteered to complete the extra training necessary to become a paratrooper. He was duly posted, on October 15, to the 1st Battalion, Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes (1e REP), with which he would be involved in continuous operations for almost five years.

By the late 1950s the Algerian War of Independence had become a high-intensity conflict fought on a wide scale, and required the presence on the ground of 400,000 French and Colonial troops to maintain a semblance of order.
Hunter-Choat and his comrades were involved in hundreds of operations, and suffered and inflicted considerable casualties. In February 1958, as a young machine-gunner, he took part in the battle of Fedj Zezoua, in the woods east of Guelma, in the north-east of the country. Two armed units of the rebel Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) were dug in on a hillside. The legionnaires began their attack at 7am and met stiff resistance, but after being dropped by helicopter (balancing precariously on a cliffside) in the midst of the FLN positions, they overwhelmed the enemy. Hunter-Choat was awarded the Cross of Valour – the first of three. He would also be awarded the Médaille Militaire

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9221907/Brigadier-Tony-Hunter-Choat.html
 

daftandbarmy

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Ted Sismore: RAF veteran of daring low-level air raids


Ted Sismore planned and navigated Second World War RAF low-level
daylight raids which were the most precisely timed, the
deepest-penetrating, and the most appreciated by those for whom
they were targeted. His skill freed prisoners and destroyed papers
held by the Gestapo, preventing many executions and hundreds of
arrests, with the minimum of civilian damage. The raids were made
in answer to requests by the French and Danish resistance
movements. "The difficulty was to achieve this kind of success
without killing a lot of people," he wrote. "It was a very
difficult decision of what to drop and how much to drop."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/ted-sismore-raf-veteran-of-daring-lowlevel-air-raids-7879643.html
 

medicineman

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Seem to recall the movie "Mosquito Squadron" was based on one of those raids...they dropped miniature versions of the Dam Buster bombs to knock down the walls of a prison IIRC.

MM
 

daftandbarmy

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Not a bad run for a signaller, eh?

With my platoon in 1 PARA, it took me a week to cover the same terrain these guys covered in a couple days on the Jebel Akhdar in Northern Oman. Amazing…

Maj-Gen Tony Deane-Drummond

Major-General Tony Deane-Drummond, who has died aged 95, won a DSO and two MCs and escaped three times from enemy hands.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/army-obituaries/9722273/Maj-Gen-Tony-Deane-Drummond.html

 

daftandbarmy

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Fred Marafono

Fred Marafono, who has died aged 72, was one of the first Fijians to join the SAS. Later he became passionately involved in Sierra Leone, deploying his considerable combat experience to influence the blood diamond war there.

Kauata Vamarasi Marafono was born on the Fijian island of Rotuman on December 13 1940, one of five children. His father was a farmer who had served in the British Army in Burma during the Second World War.

Fred’s early ambition was to study Veterinary Science, which he pursued first at Navuso Agricultural School, and then at college in Australia. But he came from a warrior society, and when the British Army arrived to launch a recruiting drive in Fiji he signed up without telling his parents. He later admitted that the decision was “an impulse”. “I was young and that was it. I was told I’d be leaving the next day, so I called my parents – my mother cried.”

In Britain he joined the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, serving as a corporal until 1963, when he applied with 90 others to join the SAS; only six were successful.

His 21-year career with 22 SAS, B Sqn, is subject to a non-disclosure agreement, which he signed, and which, in his retirement, he firmly adhered to. But it is known that he saw service in Borneo, Aden, Oman, Northern Ireland and the Falklands. An idea of the hair-raising nature of his engagements can be gleaned the fate of one fellow Fijian in the SAS, Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, who was killed in the battle of Mirbat in Oman in 1972 – when nine SAS men fought for their lives against an attack by some 250 communist guerrillas. Sergeant Labalaba had been Marafono’s best man.

In his final months in the SAS, Marafono was recruited by David Stirling, founder of the SAS, to work for the security company KAS. He considered selection by Stirling to be an immense honour: “I was lost for words, and only managed to say, 'Thank you.’”

He worked in several countries with the company. Then, in 1990, after Stirling’s death, Marafono began a two-year spell providing security at a gold mine in Guyana. This led to him being recruited by Golden Star Resources, a mining company which was expanding its operations across Africa. As a result, Marafono moved to Sierra Leone.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/special-forces-obituaries/9961915/Fred-Marafono.html
 

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Lance-Corporal Paul Burns

Lance-Corporal Paul Burns, who has died aged 52, survived the Warrenpoint massacre, the deadliest IRA attack of the Troubles, overcoming the loss of both legs to take a highly active leading role in charitable events that raised money for fellow wounded servicemen.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10203064/Lance-Corporal-Paul-Burns.html
 

daftandbarmy

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Sir Alfred Blake - obituary

Sir Alfred Blake was a commando who fought with Tito and became director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme


Sir Alfred Blake, who has died aged 98, was decorated during his active wartime service with the Commandos and later became director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

The Award Scheme, originally for boys aged 15 to 18, started in 1956 under the directorship of Sir John Hunt, leader of the conquest of Mount Everest in 1953. The purpose was to encourage young people to enrich their lives by providing training in citizenship, and the opportunity to improve their physical fitness and attractiveness to employers.

The inspiration came from the example set by Kurt Hahn, headmaster of Gordonstoun school, where the Duke had been educated. It was thought that the scheme would attract boys who were not interested in joining uniformed organisations such as the Boy Scouts, and in the first 12 months 7,000 enrolled. In 1958 a modified scheme was opened to girls.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10569080/Sir-Alfred-Blake-obituary.html

 

daftandbarmy

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Major-General Logan Scott-Bowden - obituary

Major-General Logan Scott-Bowden was a sapper who carried out daring missions to ensure the Normandy beaches were ready for D-Day


Major-General Logan Scott-Bowden, who has died aged 93, carried out secret reconnaissance missions to the Normandy beaches which paved the way for the D-Day landings.

Scott-Bowden was a member of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPP), a small unit which specialised in the clandestine survey of potential sites for the Allied landings in Italy and later France. On the night of New Year’s Eve 1943, he and Sergeant Bruce Ogden-Smith, clad in rubber swimsuits, swam for 400 yards from a landing craft to the area west of Ver-Sur-Mer, later known as Gold Beach.

Each carried a Colt 45, a commando knife, wire cutters, wrist compass, emergency rations, waterproof torch and an earth auger for testing the bearing capacity of the beach. The objective of their mission was to determine whether the landing area would stand up to the weight of heavy vehicles disembarking in great numbers. If armour and supply vehicles became bogged down in a hitherto undetected substratum of clay or peat bog, it would put the whole operation in jeopardy.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10644481/Major-General-Logan-Scott-Bowden-obituary.html
 

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John Tyson - obituary

John Tyson was an explorer who mapped the Kanjiroba Himal, won an MC in Malaya and ran a school in Nepal


John Tyson, who has died aged 85, was a modest English schoolmaster who made it his personal mission to map the Kanjiroba Himal, a remote group of mountain peaks in north-west Nepal — among the most rugged and forbidding in the Himalayas.


The topography of the region features several enormous and highly complex mountain ranges, surrounded and divided by steep-sided river gorges. While the lower hillsides suffer landslides from monsoon rain all summer, the upper hillsides are prone to avalanches all winter.


A detailed topographical mapping of Nepal had been carried out in the 1920s, but the Kanjiroba Himal was one of the regions left blank. While Tyson did much to rectify that omission, it remains the least explored part of Nepal to this day.



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10695779/John-Tyson-obituary.html
 

daftandbarmy

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Colonel Tresham Gregg - obituary

Colonel Tresham Gregg was a serial escaper who posed as a member of the Hitler Youth and led a brigade of Italian partisans

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10724730/Colonel-Tresham-Gregg-obituary.html
 

daftandbarmy

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Major-General Dare Wilson - obituary

Major-General Dare Wilson was an SAS commander and free fall parachutist who won a wartime MC and did the Cresta Run at 80

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11070735/Major-General-Dare-Wilson-obituary.html
 
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jollyjacktar

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Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch - obituary

Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch, who has died aged 98, was a pilot in Coastal Command who made the greatest number of sightings and attacks against German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11248705/Squadron-Leader-Terry-Bulloch-obituary.html
 

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Staff Sergeant Arthur Shackleton - obituary

Staff Sergeant Arthur Shackleton was a glider pilot who survived relentless enemy fire during the Battle of Arnhem

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11342863/Staff-Sergeant-Arthur-Shackleton-obituary.html
 

daftandbarmy

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John Sheppard - obituary

First soldier of the war to destroy German light panzers while under fire


John Sheppard, who has died aged 99, was the first British soldier of the Second World War to knock out a German tank.

As the Platoon Sergeant Major commanding his battalion’s mortar platoon, John Sheppard landed at Andalsnes in Norway with 1/5 Leicesters (TA) in the spring of 1940. After moving some 50 miles inland by rail to secure a road and rail junction at Dombas to prevent the Germans from reinforcing Trondheim, the British forces made contact with the Norwegians, coming under the latter’s authority.

The British thereby lost operational control and were split into detachments to cover a wide front. This pre-empted all possibility of a co-ordinated movement, so when the battalion had to consolidate to defend Faaberg, they had no transport and had to discard equipment they could not carry. Under German attack Faaberg had to be abandoned and it was at Tretten, some 10 miles north of Faaberg, that the Leicesters made their stand.

It was St George’s Day and, as one present later recalled: “All hell was let loose.” The battalion was outflanked, sniped at and mortared, then attacked by armour from the front, including three tanks. Creeping into the open and lying in the snow, Sheppard fired his 0.55 in anti-tank rifle, destroying two German light panzers. Having been ordered to protect an exposed flank and remain in position until 21:00 hours, they were attacked at 18:30 hours but fought on for a further hour and a half.

By this time their ammunition had been expended and the surrounding buildings and woods had also caught fire. According to the citation for his DCM, Sheppard had “set an example of courage and devotion to duty and his action helped the remainder of the battalion beyond measure”. Sheppard himself was captured, however, and spent the rest of the conflict as a PoW in Germany, Poland and Bavaria.

His citation for the DCM makes no mention of his knocking out German tanks. When, in 1999, he wrote to The Daily Telegraph about doing so, he ended his letter with “until now, it had never occurred to me that I may have put the first dents into Hitler’s panzers”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11552551/John-Sheppard-obituary.html

 

daftandbarmy

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Brigadier Tony Hunter-Choat

Brigadier Tony Hunter-Choat, who has died aged 76, was a special forces soldier who served with the SAS; his remarkable military career began, however, with the French Foreign Legion, with which he was three times decorated and took part in a coup to unseat Charles de Gaulle.


Anthony Hunter-Choat was born on January 12 1936 in Purley, south London, the son of Frederick, who worked in insurance, and Iris, a schoolteacher. The family would later move to Ascot.






Brigadier Tony Hunter-Choat


Tony was educated at Dulwich College and then Kingston College of Art, where he trained as an architect. On holidays he hitchhiked around Europe, developing a taste for travel and an affinity for languages.


In March 1957, having decided that architecture was not for him, he decided to indulge his thirst for adventure and made his way to Paris to enlist in the Foreign Legion. He was pursued by his mother, keen to get her errant son back to his studies, but by the time she caught up with him he had signed up.


Hunter-Choat was sent for basic training to Algeria, then in the throes of increasing anti-colonialist insurrection, and volunteered to complete the extra training necessary to become a paratrooper. He was duly posted, on October 15, to the 1st Battalion, Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes (1e REP), with which he would be involved in continuous operations for almost five years.


By the late 1950s the Algerian War of Independence had become a high-intensity conflict fought on a wide scale, and required the presence on the ground of 400,000 French and Colonial troops to maintain a semblance of order.


Hunter-Choat and his comrades were involved in hundreds of operations, and suffered and inflicted considerable casualties. In February 1958, as a young machine-gunner, he took part in the battle of Fedj Zezoua, in the woods east of Guelma, in the north-east of the country. Two armed units of the rebel Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) were dug in on a hillside. The legionnaires began their attack at 7am and met stiff resistance, but after being dropped by helicopter (balancing precariously on a cliffside) in the midst of the FLN positions, they overwhelmed the enemy. Hunter-Choat was awarded the Cross of Valour – the first of three. He would also be awarded the Médaille Militaire.

Less than two weeks later he was wounded as the 1e REP pursued FLN groups through the wooded territory close to the border with Tunisia.

It was an odd fact of life in the Legion that one in four of his NCOs was German, and many had fought on the Russian Front. Hunter-Choat recalled that their homes had become marooned behind the Iron Curtain and that, to his brothers-in-arms named Adolf, Rolf, Hans or Karl, the Legion had “become their country”. Some of them were former SS troops and were, Hunter-Choat noted, “superb soldiers and great trainers of men”. “They would expose themselves to danger in order to bring on the young soldiers,” he said.

After recovering from his wounds he was repeatedly involved in intense fighting against the FLN. But as the tide of war turned, and it became clear that Paris was preparing to negotiate Algeria’s independence, Hunter-Choat found himself fighting his own side.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9221907/Brigadier-Tony-Hunter-Choat.html?fb_ref=Default
 
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