Military (& related) obituaries

Plastic Yank

War Hero
PtP agreed that this was something many individuals would endorse. Torygraph seems main source, but i am sure the other qualities will be represented.

Lets hope it becomes a Sticky.

To start off:

The DT, 14 Feb 04


Colonel Geoffrey Powell, who has died aged 90, won an MC leading 156 Parachute Battalion at the Battle of Arnhem; later he served in MI5 and became a notable writer on military history.

Brigadier "Shan" Hackett's 4th Parachute Brigade was dropped north-west of Arnhem on September 18 1944 in the second lift of "Market Garden", an audacious attempt to capture the road and rail bridges over the Rhine. The Brigade had the task of moving into Arnhem to establish a defensive perimeter on the high ground to the north of the town in order to block the movements of German forces from that direction.

As Powell - then a major in command of C Company - left the Dakota, the Germans were on the dropping zone shooting up at him, and one of the bullets grazed his fingers. On the ground, the lightly equipped paras, without artillery, armour or air cover, found themselves confronted by determined, well-armed German troops in strong defensive positions.

A dawn attack by C Company the next morning was successful, but assaults by A and B Companies, with the objective of capturing a dominating feature, were repulsed with very heavy casualties. In the first 36 hours, two-thirds of the battalion was lost and food and ammunition were running short.

Amidst the carnage, there were acts of the greatest gallantry. Powell said afterwards that one of the Dakotas that had flown over them had been hit and was on fire; it was rapidly losing height, but the RASC dispatchers stood in the doorway throwing out supplies until it was too late for them to jump. The pilot was awarded a posthumous VC.

As the Brigade attempted to move from the woodland into the Oosterbeek Perimeter, it encountered ferocious German attacks from machine-gun fire and mortar bombs which burst in the trees with deadly effect. An attack by Messerschmitts on the Brigade HQ caused more casualties.

After his CO and second-in-command were killed, Powell took command of the remnants of 156 Battalion and elements of Brigade HQ, leading them out of the dense woodland towards Oosterbeek. When he took cover in a house, a round of solid shot came through the wall, passed over his head and exited through the other, showering him with debris and leaving a hole a foot in diameter.

Facing virtual annihilation, Powell led one bayonet charge to clear the enemy from a hollow in a wood and afford a brief respite for the beleaguered survivors. Then, Hackett led another to break through the encircling Germans and reach Oosterbeek, where 1st Airborne Division was clinging to a small bridgehead north of the Neder Rijn.

For the next six days, Powell and what was left of his battalion fought a rearguard action to defend the eastern sector of the perimeter. Here they saw some of the most bitter fighting of the week. Most of the British anti-tank guns had been destroyed, and German armoured vehicles were able to stand off out of range and smash each building in turn, compelling the defenders, by now hungry and exhausted, to fight from slit trenches in the gardens.

When orders were given to evacuate, Powell led the survivors downstream in darkness and pouring rain, guided by lines of parachute ropes, each man holding on to the smock of the man in front. At the riverbank, the first boat that he saw was riddled with bullet holes and its sapper crew dead.

As his men started to swim across a boat appeared, and Powell put half his group on board and waited for it to return, before departing with the remainder. Harassed by scarlet tracer from the German spandaus and with shells dropping around them, they reached the southern bank.

Powell formed up his 15 men and marched them, bayonets fixed and rifles at the slope, five miles back to the reception area. Although recommended for a DSO, he was awarded an MC. The citation stated that his bravery was an inspiration to all around him. Brigadier Hackett described him as a great fighting man in a great tradition; competent, courageous and self-effacing.

Geoffrey Stewart Powell was born at Scarborough, Yorkshire, on Christmas Day 1914, a few days after the German naval bombardment of the town. After attending Scarborough College, he started work with a firm of estate agents, but decided that it was not for him and was commissioned as a regular subaltern into The Green Howards in 1939.

Powell served with the 2nd Battalion at Ferozepore in the Punjab before transferring to 151 British Parachute Battalion (later 156 Parachute Battalion) in 1942.

Promoted major and given command of C Company, he served in Palestine and Tunisia, but broke a leg in a night drop and missed the invasion of Italy.

Arnhem was the end of Powell's participation in the Second World War. After attending Staff College, Camberley, he was posted to Java, and subsequently Malaya as brigade major of 49 Indian Infantry Brigade; he was mentioned in dispatches.

In 1954 Powell returned to the 2nd Battalion Green Howards to command C Company in the Canal Zone and then in operations against Eoka terrorists in Cyprus.

The next year, he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and appointed to the planning staff of the CIGS, Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer.

Powell commanded the 11th Battalion King's African Rifles in Kenya in 1957 and then moved to the MoD. In 1962, in his final appointment in the Army, he served as Brigade Colonel Yorkshire Brigade. He then applied for an appointment in the Security Service, took the Civil Service Commission examination and, having passed out close to the top, was accepted. For the next 12 years he worked for MI5, initially on security policy and then on counter-espionage.

In 1977 Powell moved to Chipping Campden and was able to devote more time to writing. He founded and ran the Campden Bookshop and helped to start the Campden & District Archaeological and History Society. He lectured on Army Staff College battlefield tours of Arnhem, and he was proud of being elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

As a young man, he enjoyed polo, hunting and beagling. In his latter years, he took to climbing and was a vigorous walker into his eighties.

Powell published a number of books, among them Men at Arnhem (1976); The Devil's Birthday: The Bridges to Arnhem (1984); Plumer: The Soldier's General (1990); and Buller: a Scapegoat? (1994). The History of The Green Howards (1992) was updated in collaboration with his son, Brigadier John Powell, Colonel of the Green Howards, and republished in 2002.

Geoffrey Powell died on January 5. He married, in 1944, Felicity Wadsworth, who survives him with their son and daughter.

Just don't make 'em like this anymore


War Hero
Read this and many orbits and felt humbled that such a gentleman could die without so much as a brief note in the nation television news.

A great loss to society and may he finally rest in peace.

If I may be so bold as to add to this thread with a mention from today's Telegraph...

Major George Fielding

Major George Fielding, who has died aged 89, was parachuted into north-eastern Italy in 1944 at the head of an SOE unit with the objective of carrying out subversive operations in southern Austria.

Along with two officers and an NCO, Fielding was dropped near Tramonti, 200 miles behind enemy lines, on the night of August 12. After a hazardous march north, they established a mission with the Italian partisans at Forni Avoltri, some 15 miles from the Austrian frontier.
It proved impossible to enter Austria in uniform or without documents. Fielding, however, crossed the frontier twice, dressed as a peasant but carrying no papers, to reconnoitre the Upper Gail Valley. He visited a local doctor, known to be anti-Nazi, to find out what were the prospects of establishing a local resistance movement; but his contact told him to drop the idea - most of the Austrians were intimidated by the long reach of the Nazi machine, and all the able-bodied men had been conscripted.

The Germans reacted swiftly to Fielding's activities, making repeated attacks with regular troops in an attempt to drive him from the area. He relied on the partisans for food, local intelligence and a bodyguard; but when air drops of arms and ammunition promised by the Balkan Air Force did not arrive, morale suffered and his position became increasingly dangerous.

Fielding blamed these supply failures on the pilots' unwillingness to fly over the mountains at night, and he was moved to send them a message asking that they display "more of the spirit of the Battle of Britain and less of the bottle of Bari".

Fear of German reprisals led to the betrayal of Fielding's hiding places on two consecutive nights - but he was warned on both occasions and moved just in time. Two of his group, however, were captured, and in October he was betrayed and surrounded. Although wounded, he escaped, and the Germans placed a reward of 800,000 lire on his head, an almost irresistible temptation in a poverty-stricken area.

A thousand Alpine troops, a Russian brigade and two of the best Italian Republican units – a total of 6,000 men – were diverted from the front in a determined effort to eliminate Fielding's group of 30 partisans and crush the remaining resistance in the region. Local intelligence became scarce and unreliable, and by mid-November the snow had closed the passes for the winter.

Fielding was ordered to withdraw what remained of his mission to Slovenia. After a gruelling march of 300 miles across the mountains, during which they were short of food and had to ford rivers by night, they reached Crnomelj. On December 27 they were evacuated to southern Italy. Fielding was awarded an immediate DSO.

George Rudolf Hanbury Fielding was born at Twyford, Berkshire, on July 3 1915, two days after his father, a company commander with the Sherwood Foresters, had sailed for Gallipoli, where he was killed three weeks later. His mother moved with her infant son to the Pays d' Enhaut, in Switzerland, where they joined the English community already established at Château d'Oex.

George was educated at Shrewsbury before going up to Freiburg University to study German. After a year in Canada on the edge of the Arctic Circle, he sailed for the Argentine, where he worked as assistant to the farm manager on an estancia. He was responsible for supervising gauchos who had a habit of reaching for their skinning knives to settle a difference - but he carried a revolver, and demonstrated his proficiency with the weapon by challenging the foreman to a competition and beating him.

Fielding worked as a cattle-buyer for a spell, before returning to England to enlist. He was commissioned into the 3rd the King's Own Hussars and was wounded in 1940 in the battle for Crete. After being evacuated by the Royal Navy, he saw active service in the Western Desert before being recruited by the SOE in 1944.

When Fielding and his comrades arrived at the southern Italian base after being airlifted from Slovenia, their reception was less than fulsome. They had lived off chestnuts for a week, but were obliged to look at a sumptuous buffet through locked glass doors for an hour and a half before being allowed into the mess.

Fielding was reprimanded by a senior RAF officer for his "bottle of Bari" message, but he defended his action, recounting the many starlit nights that he had waited for supplies, only to be told that bad weather had forced the cancellation of the airdrop.

His explanation for returning without any money - he had given all that remained to an Italian priest for a stained glass window in his church to commemorate the deaths of the local partisans - was grudgingly accepted; but the loss of 20 gold sovereigns, which had fallen from his pocket in a barn where he was hiding, nearly resulted in a board of enquiry.

After the war, Fielding bought a mixed farm in the west of Ireland, and ran it successfully for nine years before returning with his family to the Pays d'Enhaut; an excellent skier, for a time he ran a sporting travel agency. His natural charm and command of languages made him a popular member of the international community.

After the death of his wife, Georgina (née Pope), whom he had married in 1940, Fielding took up painting, which brought him a new circle of friends. He died on January 23, and is survived by a son and a daughter.
An excellent suggestion P_Y , your wish is my command.

If anyone can find illustrations or photos when making a post, so as to better inform all of us on the background of some of these fine men and women, please post them.



I have access to a scanner and will try and post those pictures which appear in the Telegraph (or which I have to hunt* down on google)

*oops! can no longer do this....well, to blazes to the begrudgers - tally ho! :twisted:
A 'related' obituary - as much if it reads from the Squaddies trying to be real people thread.

From the Daily Telegraph (I recommend signing up to their obits)

Malcolm Hardee
(Filed: 04/02/2005)

Malcolm Hardee , whose body was found in the Thames on Wednesday, was a 55-year-old former jail-bird, stand-up comedian and impresario instrumental in launching the careers of the likes of Paul Merton, Jo Brand, Vic Reeves, Harry Enfield and Jerry Sadowitz.

A Hardee performance usually involved the flourishing of genitalia and was not for the fainthearted. He was famous as part of The Greatest Show on Legs, a three-man act in which he performed a "balloon dance" stark naked except for a pair of socks and Eric Morcambe specs, a steadily dwindling bunch of balloons usually failing to preserve his modesty. He did an impression of Charles de Gaulle, his penis playing the part of the General's nose. He was also celebrated for a bizarre juggling act performed in the dark and with nothing visible apart from his genitals, daubed with fluorescent paint. Fans would greet his arrival on stage with cries of "Get yer knob out". He was said to be huge in Germany and Sweden.

He was also a regular draw at the Edinburgh Fringe, where he always managed to be listed first in the brochure by calling his shows Aaaaaaaaargh. On one occasion, disappointed by a thin audience, he got his friend and fellow comic Arthur Smith to write a glowing review, adopting the prose style of one of the Scotsman's regular critics then phoning it in for the next edition. No one twigged, and the piece appeared under the critic's byline the next day. Hardee's most infamous prank was driving a tractor in the nude through a tent where the American performance artist Eric Bogosian was giving a show, because Bogosian was disturbing Hardee's performance next door.

But Hardee's most notable contribution to comedy was as godfather to a generation of comic talent in the 1980s, as proprietor and compère of the indescribably seedy Tunnel Club, near Blackwall Tunnel, and later of Up the Creek at Greenwich, venues at which fledgling comedians could pit their wits against some of the most boisterous heckling on the circuit. "Don't show us your tits," they told Jo Brand.

Many of Hardee's protégés went on to carve a niche on television, but Hardee himself was too much of a white-knuckle ride for mainstream programme makers (one of his least savoury habits was urinating on hecklers). When he did appear, doing his ballooon dance routine on Chris Tarrant's OTT show in 1981, there were angry protests from the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association. Most of his jokes are unprintable in a family newspaper.

Malcolm Hardee was born at Lewisham, south London, on January 5 1950, into a family of lightermen who earned their living by pulling barges up the Thames.

At school he became involved in petty crime, once setting fire to the Sunday School piano because he wanted to see "holy smoke". He spent time in Gaynes Hall Borstal, from which he escaped, dressed as a monk.

After leaving school, he served several sentences for fraud and petty theft, once for stealing the Conservative cabinet minister Peter Walker's Rolls-Royce. In between spells inside, he freelanced as a mobile disc jockey under the name Wolf G Hardee.

In 1977, he decided to swap crime for showbusiness and joined forces with Martin Soan to form The Greatest Show On Legs, at the time a pornographic Punch and Judy act. From Salcombe, the act got them a booking at the Tramshed, Woolwich. Soon afterwards they moved to the newly-opened Comedy Store in Soho, where Hardee got to know Ben Elton, Alexei Sayle and Rik Mayall. He made his first appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1979.

In 1984 he opened The Tunnel as a venue for new comedy acts. Many of those who first appeared there went on to stardom. The less celebrated included Terri Rogers, the foul-mouthed ventriloquist; Chris Luby, the aircraft impersonator; and The Bastard Son of Tommy Cooper, a nipple-ringed Welsh magician in fez and boxer shorts whose sword-swallowing routine sometimes ended in bloodshed. The Tunnel was eventually closed after a police raid, and in 1990 Hardee opened Up the Creek in Greenwich.

He continued to have minor run-ins with the law. In 1996 he was sentenced to 150 hours community service for driving a car without insurance. His most famous misdemeanour inspired the title of his autobiography, I Stole Freddie Mercury's Birthday Cake (1996). The birthday was Mercury's 40th; the cake had cost £4,000; and Hardee donated it to an old people's home just a few hours before the police arrived to search his house for crumbs.

Hardee twice stood for Parliament in Greenwich, on the second occasion with the sole purpose of getting a free mailshot to publicise his club.

He had a two-year affair with Jo Brand, whom he persuaded to give up nursing for comedy, and who described her former mentor as an "appalling, trampy old mess". He was married twice, secondly in 1994, but when asked on a Channel Four documentary what he would do if he had to choose between his wife and the bottle, he chose the latter, adding "but I'd miss the wife, obviously". In 2000 he cancelled his show at the Edinburgh Fringe, complaining that his wife had chucked him out. He had two children by his first marriage.

Hardee enjoyed pottering about on the Thames, but was a notoriously dangerous sailor. In 2001 he bought a floating pub, the Wibbly Wobbly Boat at Surrey Quays.

It is thought that he fell, probably on Tuesday, from the rubber dinghy in which he travelled from the pub to his houseboat, moored nearby.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005

This has to be filmed - but who could fill the man's shoes?.



February 17, 2005

Major-General George Crookenden
Army officer whose diaries as a PoW are a poignant record of the frustrations of prison camp life in wartime Germany

GEORGE CROOKENDEN was a meticulous man, but a relaxed manner and sense of humour rescued him from any hint of dogmatism. As he would ruefully concede, his principal contribution to the Allied cause in the Second World War was the unpublished diary he kept as prisoner. It revealed that his incarceration was not one of severe hardship, but of frustration and mood swings caused by trivial incidents in the camp and good and bad news from outside: persistent failure of the electric light system; delight at the Allied liberation of Paris; a letter from the wrong girl at home.
The circumstances of his capture could be made amusing by his light-hearted telling of it. After commissioning into the Royal Artillery in 1941, he volunteered for service overseas and sailed via the Cape to Egypt. In the Western Desert he joined the Essex Yeomanry, nicknamed “Groppi’s Horse” from the time and money spent by their officers at Café Groppi in Cairo’s Kasr el Nil Street. The regiment had been sent out to Palestine with their horses, as part of the 1st Cavalry Division, then mechanised as the 104th Royal Horse Artillery.

During the withdrawal of the 8th Army from the Gazala Line in June 1942, Crookenden was left in charge of a 25-pounder gun with a broken-down towing tractor. The vehicle was eventually restarted, but Crookenden and his men were overtaken by Rommel’s swift movement with three divisions round the 8th Army’s open flank at Bir Hacheim. Small-arms fire was exchanged, but the situation was hopeless and the Gunners found themselves in the hands of the German 90th Light Division.

While in a prisoner-of-war cage in the desert south of Tripoli, Crookenden could not fail to notice a vast mural on a rock depicting the coastline of North Africa as a naked woman, reputedly painted by a New Zealand officer. It later became a tourist attraction.

Flown to Italy with other prisoners, Crookenden was held in a camp near Bari, then moved to a monastery, and finally north to Bologna. The German Army reacted quickly to the Italian armistice in September 1943, and clamped their own guards on the prison camps which the Italians had abandoned. As the American 5th and British 8th armies fought their way up the Italian peninsula, the prisoners were moved by train to Germany, in Crookenden’s case to a converted barracks outside Brunswick, where the final volume of his wartime diary began.

Read 60 years later, it provides a poignant illustration of the fluctuating nature of prison-camp life, the brevity of the daily entries giving them extra point. Food, letters and amateur dramatic performances were the principal preoccupations, with fragments of news of battles to the east and west adding some spice to humdrum lives. One is left wondering which of the two entries registers the greater hurt: “No letters again,” or “Letter from Mavis F____. It’s amazing how the almost unwanted ones come through.” Others, such as “Heaviest daylight air raid so far (August 24, 1944).

Five high-explosive bombs inside our wire. Colonel ‘Smash’ Kilkelly of the 8th Hussars and R. H. of the Central India Horse both killed”, need no elaboration.

George Wayet Derek Crookenden was the only son of Lieutenant-Colonel John Crookenden. He was educated at Winchester and Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a wartime degree in modern history in 1940. After being freed from his prison camp by a reconnaissance unit of the 30th (US) Division in April 1945, he applied for a regular commission.

That achieved, he embarked on the career of a professional soldier with the characteristic thoroughness which marked his success. He was adjutant of 5th RHA in England, attended the Pakistani Staff College, Quetta, and, after his promotion to brevet lieutenant-colonel in 1960, went to the policy and plans staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (Shape) at Fontainebleau.

Command of 19 Field Regiment, RA, initially at Minden, brought him particular satisfaction. When ordered to prepare his regiment to go to Aden, where the troubles which were to lead to the British withdrawal in 1967 had recently begun, he was delighted to hear his soldiers singing as they finished a hard day’s training: “We’re going to Aden with Georgie Boy.” No greater sign of confidence and trust can be paid to a commanding officer by his soldiers than to be referred to by his first or nickname. His care for them was indicated by his insistence that every man had a full dental check before leaving for South Arabia. Two who refused were left behind.

His outstanding performance as CO of 19 Field Regiment led to promotion to brigadier and command of 7th Artillery Brigade, responsible for the air-defence of the 1st (British) Corps area in Germany. His blueprint for the air-defence missile deployment remained unchanged for the better part of two decades.

A year at the Imperial Defence College followed, then 18 months as Chief of the British C-in-C’s Mission to the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. Acknowledged by both sides as uniformed and overt spying, this was always a tricky assignment, but Crookenden managed it without any untoward incident. Promoted to major-general in 1972, he became Chief of the Shape planning staff for contingencies involving Berlin and the Allied garrisons there.

On leaving the Army in 1975, he applied for the post of bursar at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, and won it in competition with 100 candidates. This final phase of his working life proved to be exceptionally happy. He made a point of getting to know the undergraduates, often sitting late into the night with them over a glass of claret.

He had one particular brush with the Master, Lord Dacre, who thought he had deliberately “forgotten” to tell the college gardeners not to cut down a Jubilee memorial tree obstructing the back gate. (It was later discovered that the undergraduates had moved the original tree earlier, without anyone noticing.) He was involved with both Dacre and Lord Weinstock in the college’s 700th anniversary appeal, and led one for the restoration of Ely Cathedral, by persuading Peterhouse to put up the initial sum for other colleges to follow. He was chairman and later president of the Cambridgeshire branch of the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Airmen’s and Families Association, the nominated member for Peterhouse of the Evelyn Nursing Home general purposes committee and acted as secretary of the group of interested residents who successfully opposed the building of a new town at Sixmile Bottom, near Cambridge. He was a deputy lieutenant for Cambridgeshire from 1984.

He married Angela Bourke in 1948. She predeceased him and he is survived by a son and daughter.

Major-General George Crookenden, DL, Chief of Staff Contingencies Planning, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, 1972-75, was born on December 11, 1920. He died on January 11, 2005, aged 84.

Diary of a PoW

July 8, 1944

. . . the arrival of £4,000 Canadian Red Cross Parcels and the ration of cigarettes.

July 9

Russians still advancing. Germans admit evacuation of Lida. Will they be able to stage any sort of counter-attack. We seem to be almost detached here — in physical terms only. Interest in events could hardly be greater.

July 14

The storming of the Bastille. Will the French keep the feast? If they do there may be a deal of blood let in German reprisals. However, on verra. Germans admit the loss of Pisik and Wilna. The Man Who Came to Dinner: how did such a medieval play run for so long in London?

July 15

Rosemary’s birthday. The next one we shall be together — I wonder! No water. How long will they take to put it right? We are squalid enough as it is.

July 17

Germans have removed the electrical connection panels in the room. Cannot imagine what they thought we would do with them.
Peter Benenson

Believer in individual action who founded Amnesty International after hearing of the imprisonment of two Portuguese students in 1960

Peter Archer
Monday February 28, 2005
The Guardian

In the first half of the 20th century, political protest was concerned largely with justice for social groups excluded from privilege and power, rather than individuals victimised by a repressive state. Events in Spain, and later in central Europe, together with stories of Soviet gulags, pointed to the suffering concealed inside state prisons, but a concept of persecution as a denial of free thought had yet to be developed.
Political parties undertook campaigns on behalf of specific victims with whom they were in sympathy, but there was a need to emphasise not the cause for which the prisoners suffered, but the fact that they were imprisoned simply for a belief. Not only could this factor serve as a focus for all the campaigns, but it could enlist large numbers of people who did not see themselves as political activists. The hour found the man - Peter Benenson, the prime mover of Amnesty International, who has died aged 83 from pneumonia, following a long illness.

The incident which triggered the activation of these ideas is enshrined in Amnesty folklore, even if the details may be uncertain. Benenson's recollection was that on a Tube journey in November 1960 he read a newspaper item about two Portuguese students who were dining privately in a Lisbon restaurant, and drank a toast to liberty. They were overheard, and their gesture led to prison sentences.

Benenson decided to organise a protest by those who were rarely given to expressing their indignation. The World Refugee Year campaign that was drawing to a close had demonstrated the potential of public opinion. He discussed with a few friends the possibility of a world year against political imprisonment, possibly to culminate on December 10, Human Rights Day, in 1961, when it was hoped that some governments could be persuaded to release a number of prisoners.

On May 28 that year, the Observer carried a full-page article by Benenson headlined The Forgotten Prisoners. The campaign was called Appeal For Amnesty, a title borrowed from the campaign specifically for the release of political prisoners in Spain, conducted by the political left there.

Benenson had already begun work on a book, later published by Penguin, entitled Persecution 1961, which consisted of case studies of political prisoners from various regimes, concentrating on the consequences for the individuals concerned.

The reaction to the Observer article surprised everyone. People wrote asking what they could do, and this led to what became Amnesty's early distinguishing mark. Those working in the same office, teaching in the same school, or worshipping at the same church, were encouraged to organise themselves into "threes groups". Each group was allocated three prisoners, respectively from the western hemisphere, the then Iron Curtain countries, and what have since come to be called the developing countries.

They would lobby for the prisoners' release, write to those who were permitted to receive letters, and send such gifts and comforts as could be delivered. Thus every member might be working for at least one prisoner whose views he or she did not share. What was at issue was not the opinions which they had expressed, but their right to express them.

This was a new form of political action, operating on a person-to-person basis. The strong relationships forged between prisoners and group members, even when they could not meet, introduced a new dimension to individual involvement.

Inevitably, the individual activity required institutional support. It was necessary to establish a library of prisoners, with the maximum information about them. There was a need for paid staff, for fundraising, and for rules about the involvement of members. Amnesty was no longer a limited campaign, but had become a movement. It became necessary to define those for whom Amnesty was working, and there was much debate as to who was a "prisoner of conscience", and whether the term could include those whose protest exceeded the mere expression of an opinion.

Groups were formed in other countries, and it became necessary to form national sections. The first international conference came at the end of 1961, and an international executive was established. All this was taking place alongside the daily campaigning for the release of specific prisoners.

If the growth was too slow to meet the need, it was too fast for the development of organisational structures. Local groups complained of the service which they received from the centre. Benenson realised that the movement was overstretched, and became depressed about progress. In 1964, there was discord between him and other Amnesty leaders, particularly Sean MacBride, the best-known figure in the movement.

By 1967, funding, never wholly adequate, had failed to keep pace with the need, and Amnesty staff lived under perpetual threat that there would be no funds to pay their salaries. Yet between June 1966 and June 1967, the number of groups increased from 410 to 550, and Amnesty was accorded consultative status with Unesco.

Benenson had become tired, and during 1966 his health had suffered. He began to withdraw from the organisational work, and at the end of the year he resigned. But by then his offspring was safe, and it has continued to grow, to the point where it now has more than 1.8m members and supporters around the world.

Born in London to a mother from a Russian-Jewish background and an army officer father who died while he was young, Benenson was tutored privately by WH Auden before going to Eton. There his social conscience was awakened when he established a relief committee for refugees from the Spanish civil war, and then participated in the rescue of Jewish children from Nazi Germany.

He was admitted to Balliol College, Oxford, to read history, but his academic progress was interrupted by the second world war. After a period at the Ministry of Information, he was recruited for military intelligence work at Bletchley Park.
While waiting for demobilisation in 1946, he read for the bar, and began practising as a barrister. But his interests lay in politics. He joined the Labour party, and stood unsuccessfully for parliament. He was active in the Society of Labour Lawyers, but his passion was not evoked by questions of law reform, which he felt failed to capture the imagination of the public.

In 1947, sponsored by the TUC, he had attended a political trial in Spain, and helped to found Labour's Spanish Democrats defence committee. In 1956, high-profile political trials in South Africa and Hungary persuaded him that questions of individual freedom, on which lawyers were particularly qualified to speak, should transcend party differences, and in that year he participated in the founding of Justice, the British section of the International Commission of Jurists.

In 1958, he underwent a conversion to Roman Catholicism, and his new faith became a dominant influence in his life. He ceased to look to politics for a solution to the world's problems, and concluded that the answers lay in individual regeneration.

The following year, he developed a digestive illness, ceased to practise law, and moved to Italy for a period of convalescence. While recuperating, he became increasingly interested in the Moral Rearmament movement, founded by Frank Buchman in 1938. Although he never became actively involved, he recognised an echo of his own thinking in its emphasis on improving the world, not by collective action, but by the commitment of individuals.

In 1977, Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Governments continue to draw on its expertise, and prisoners continue to be released in response to its efforts. Its campaign against torture has achieved worldwide support, and its candle in barbed wire symbol - Benenson had had in mind the Chinese proverb "better light a candle than curse the darkness" - is universally recognised.

One of his last acts for Amnesty was to write a message launching the appeal to set up its recently opened £10m Human Rights Action Centre in London, in order to accommodate its growing staff, and to provide educational and campaign facilities for activists. It will stand as a living memorial to his vision.

He is survived by his wife Susan, a daughter, a son, and two daughters from his first marriage.

· Peter James Henry Solomon Benenson, human rights campaigner, born July 31 1921; died February 25 2005
Major Dick Rubinstein
Daily Telegraph 28/02/2005

Major Dick Rubinstein, who has died aged 83, won the MC and the Croix de Guerre serving on SOE Jedburgh missions in France and Burma.

On the night of August 6 1944, Rubinstein's team was parachuted into Brittany, north-east of Vannes. The "Jeds" were not spies, but primarily a liaison force, and Rubinstein was wearing the uniform of a British paratrooper and a captain's badges. He was armed with a.45 Colt revolver, M1 carbine and commando knife and was carrying five million francs for local supplies and wages for the French Resistance.

The money was handed over at the HQ of the Forces Français de L'Interieur and for the next week the team were concealed in a small oyster farm. Working with the SAS and the FFI, they helped with the landing of gliders carrying arms for 3,000 men and harassed the German garrisons in the naval bases. By the end of the month, most of the region had been cleared of the enemy. On his return to England, Rubinstein had to pay customs duty on a silk dress that he had bought for his wife.

On September 15, Rubinstein and his team were dropped by night into the Jura, south-east of Besançon, to assist the local Maquis in attacking the Germans along the Allies' main axis of advance from the south. After the setback at Arnhem, a Rhine crossing that autumn was ruled out and the team concentrated on reporting on enemy troop movements. When they were ordered to make their way home, they split up for safety reasons. Rubinstein found a German motorbike but ran into the French Army and was promptly arrested and tied to a tree while his future, which seemed likely to be short, was deliberated.

He persuaded his captors to verify his credentials by calling SOE HQ with a coded message giving his house number in London. He was released and flew back to England in October. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and was mentioned in despatches.

In December 1944, Rubinstein was attached to SOE Force 136 and, the following month, was parachuted by night into Burma with two comrades. He said later that, despite being a veteran, before the drop he had "felt rotten all afternoon; very frightened and also irritated by the non-op types who kept saying, 'Don't worry, old boy, the chute won't open anyway.'" Guided by fires, the team was dropped in the Kutkai area of northern Burma to reinforce an SOE intelligence group led by Bill Howe, a former rice buyer. The "Jeds" sustained themselves on fruit, rice with chillies, stewed meat along with bartered eggs, buffalo milk and the odd chicken. They lived with the Burmese, sleeping in thatched huts or in the open under mosquito nets.

Intelligence on the movements of the Japanese was supplied by the local Kachin, tough, cheerful, hill people fiercely loyal to the British. Rubinstein organised fighting patrols composed of guerrilla groups who would set up concealed camps, reconnoitre for enemy bivouacs and attack at night, often going in close with their short swords. Japanese military targets were ambushed, roads were mined and convoys shot up.

Rubinstein's men were in action almost every day and by the end of February 1945, they had taken a heavy toll of the enemy. In March, General Chiang Kai-Shek's forces arrived from the north. The next month, in an operation code-named "Chimp", Rubinstein and his five-man squad were dropped into a dry river valley surrounded by forest north of Pyinmana. Two of them fell in the trees but by the time the Japanese had arrived they had made their getaway.

The Army was badly in need of intelligence about Japanese troop dispositions and Rubinstein raised 200 guerrillas through the local leader of the Communist Anti-Fascist Organisation. During the month, they ambushed enemy troops, called down air strikes on strategic targets, and captured arms and ammunition.

A Japanese major-general, six of his staff and 17 other ranks were killed in one ambush. Important documents found with them were despatched immediately by runner to General Slim's forces. When the news of this coup reached London, it had a marked effect on the willingness of the military planners to increase support for Force 136, the SOE and the Burmese resistance.

In June, Rubinstein was moved to Toungoo with orders to stop the Japanese crossing the Sittang and making for the border with Siam. So successful was his Burmese force that he questioned the number of kills reported. Proof was then produced in the form of amputated right ears carefully wrapped in green leaf packages.

Rubinstein afterwards estimated that his force of 1,000 fighters had accounted for 2,500 of the enemy as well as taking 200 prisoners. In October, after the Japanese surrender, he was posted to Calcutta to organise the reception and care of agents being withdrawn from operations. He was awarded an immediate MC.

Richard Arthur Rubinstein, the son of an importer of millinery, was born in London on August 29 1921. His grandfather, a Latvian Jew, had come to England in the early 19th century.

Young Richard went to University College School and won a place at Imperial College to read Aeronautical Engineering. But the outbreak of war intervened and he enlisted in the Royal Engineers and was posted to 321 Company 26 Anti-Aircraft Battalion.

After being granted a commission, he commanded a searchlight troop in Norfolk, travelling by motor-bike on a 50-mile circuit to control six searchlight sites and 80 men. In 1943, he was promoted captain and had 24 searchlights in his charge.

He then volunteered to serve in Occupied Europe and, after intense training, including parachute jumps at Ringway, was recruited into an SOE Jedburgh team.

In February 1946 Rubinstein returned to England from Burma to find that his parents' house had been destroyed by a bomb. He took charge of a POW camp in Devon for a few months and was then demobilised. He then spent two years at Imperial College and, after a spell with ICI, joined De Haviland Hawker Siddeley at Hatfield, Hertfordshire. He was later responsible for selling the company's gas turbine control systems to the Royal Navy and stayed with the organisation until he retired in 1986.

In retirement, Rubinstein lived in Hendon, north London, but his holiday home was a small boat moored on the Beaulieu River. He and his wife, Gay, spent many happy summers cruising on the Solent. He was an active member of the Special Forces Club and used to arrive for meetings on his motor-bike until he was close to 80.

He was proud of his Jewish roots but converted to the Church of England so that he could share his faith with his wife.

Dick Rubinstein died on February 23. He married, in 1943, Gay Garnsley, who survives him with their two sons.

Plastic Yank

War Hero
Missed this one last week.

Major General 'Bala' Bredin
Major-General 'Bala' Bredin, who died yesterday aged 88, was awarded an MC and Bar when serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles in Palestine in 1938 and an immediate DSO in Italy in 1944; he won an immediate Bar to his DSO in 1945 and received another Bar when commanding the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, on Cyprus in 1957; he was also twice mentioned in dispatches.

The son of a colonel in the Indian Army, Humphrey Edgar Nicholson Bredin was born at Peshawar on the Northwest Frontier on March 28 1916. After education at King's School, Canterbury, he went to Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Ulster Rifles in 1936.

He was following in a long family tradition of military service, for his forebears had fought on both sides at Agincourt in 1415. Both his father and grandfather were in the Green Howards, and two of his uncles had served in the Royal Irish Regiment. While at Sandhurst, Bredin acquired the nickname "Bala", which was the name of a fort in Peshawar and also the name of a successful horse owned by the Aga Khan. On being posted with the Ulster Rifles to Palestine, he found himself quartered in an Arab village called "Bala".

Bredin received his first MC for a successful patrol attack against superior numbers, and was chosen for special night work by Captain Orde Wingate, later the creator of the Long Range Penetration Groups (Chindits) in Burma. The citation noted that "he had already proved adept at this work which is both arduous and dangerous".

While patrolling with a squad of soldiers and police supernumeraries on the night of June 11 1938, he saw a party of Arabs setting fire to the oil pipeline; he attacked them, promptly inflicting casualties and making arrests. Three weeks later he was leading five soldiers on patrol when they encountered a much larger gang astride the oil pipeline which he attacked and drove off, killing and wounding several.

In another action a few days later he engaged a large enemy party which he chased part of the way up Mount Tabor. In spite of being wounded, Bredin remained on duty till the end of the action.

During May 1940 Bredin was commanding a company of the RUR in the fighting retreat from Belgium. They marched from Louvain to Dunkirk, still carrying all their weapons, and fought off numerous German attacks on the way. They then boarded an Isle of Man channel steamer at Dunkirk and, just as Bredin slumped down to catch up with sleep, he saw a man in a white coat.

On discovering that he was a steward, Bredin inquired: "Any chance of a pint of beer?" "Yes, sir," replied the steward, "but I can't serve you till we are three miles out." The ship was rolling from side to side as bombs fell all around her. Eventually Bredin got his beer, just before landing in Kent. "I thought to myself," he said, "we can't lose the war with people like that about."

In 1944 Bredin was asked to command the 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Italy; on May 15, he was given the task of leading 78 Division in the break through the Gustav Line, the German defences across the peninsular from the north of Naples and Termoli. "Throughout this operation he commanded his battalion with the utmost skill and inspired his men by his examples of personal gallantry under heavy fire. This difficult operation was entirely successful owing to his leadership," ran the citation.

Two days later Bredin was ordered to attack Piumarola, where German infantry and tanks had held up an advance all day. He planned the attack at short notice and was wounded on the start line; but despite his wounds he fought on with great gallantry until success was in sight, when he fainted from loss of blood and was evacuated. He was awarded an immediate DSO.

When Bredin had recovered from his wounds, he was appointed to command the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles. Mounted in Kangaroos (armoured troop carriers) and affiliated to the 9th Lancers, it was then launched through the leading elements of the enemy positions in order to exploit their success.

On April 18, the battalion advanced 10,000 yards, capturing the bridges over the Fossa Sabbiosola and reaching the Scolo Bolognese. In this action enemy artillery was over-run, tanks and guns were destroyed or captured, and many prisoners were taken. Three days later the force advanced another 8,000 yards against stiff opposition, capturing more bridges and matériel.

Bredin's citation emphasised that in this fast-moving battle his grasp of a rapidly changing situation and rapid action were vital. His men had such confidence in his leadership that they cheerfully and enthusiastically embarked on tasks which would have appeared foolhardy under less inspiring command. Well aware of the horrors of the battlefield, Bredin held that preliminary discussion of expected casualties was a mistake, and that fear was best dispelled by treating war as a sort of game.

He never wore a steel helmet and was a conspicuous figure in his regimental feathered bonnet, and carrying a cane. A soldier who was constantly making jokes, he affirmed, was worth his weight in gold, for it took men's minds off the appalling scenes around them. Following the war, Bredin was once more engaged in anti-terrorist work in Palestine and, after a spell as an instructor at Sandhurst, was seconded to command the Eastern Arab Corps in the Sudan Defence Force from 1949 to 1953.

He was then appointed to command the 2nd Parachute Regiment at Suez and on Cyprus, where his leadership and planning in anti-terrorist work, mainly in the Troodos Hills, brought him a third DSO. His troops captured a large collection of automatic weapons, arms and explosives as well as important documents, and reduced four organised gangs to a number of leaderless individuals. On returning home, Bredin was characteristically outspoken about the men's deep frustation at the ceasefire.

After two years in the home posting Bredin was promoted to command 99 Gurkha Brigade Group in Malaya and Borneo. In 1962, he was appointed Chief of the British Commander-in-Chief's Mission to Soviet Forces in Germany (BRIXMIS) for two years. From 1965 to 1968 he commanded 42nd Division (TA) and from 1967 was GOC, Northwest District. He was appointed CB in 1969.

His final posting was as Director of Volunteers, Territorials and Cadets, Ministry of Defence, from 1968-71, during which time he was also the first Colonel Commandant of the newly formed King's Division. He was Colonel of the Royal Irish Rangers from 1979 to 1984.

In retirement he was Essex and Suffolk appeals secretary for the Cancer Research campaign, and enjoyed shooting, travelling, fishing, gardening and entertaining. A trenchant letter writer to The Daily Telegraph, he questioned cuts to the services in 1991, and protested at remarks about the cavalry by Field Marshal Lord Carver, saying that field marshals never retired because "they had to defeat the Queen's enemies in the murky future and to harass the politicians accordingly".

Despite his distinguished military career, in which he had been wounded with every regiment with which he had served, "Bala" Bredin stressed that he was not a warmonger, "I've seen too much of war to like it," he would say. But he felt that while there were ambitious, ruthless people of every nationality, war of some form or other was probably inevitable, and that Britain should be prepared for all possible contingencies and not count on "peace in our time".

He married first, in 1947 (dissolved 1961), Jacqueline Geare; they had a daughter. He married secondly, in 1965, Ann Hardie; they had two daughters.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
From The website of the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) association's website:



Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
The Rt Rev Lord Sheppard of Liverpool
(Filed: 07/03/2005)

The Right Reverend the Lord Sheppard of Liverpool, who died on Saturday aged 75, was an outstanding Bishop of Liverpool, particularly involved in the Church of England's social policies; earlier in his career he had been hardly less celebrated as the first ordained minister to have played Test cricket.

Captain in turn of Cambridge and Sussex, Sheppard played for England before taking Orders. An opening batsman, he was at his prime during the three seasons from 1951 to 1953, in each of which he scored more than 2,000 runs, compiling 24 centuries in the process.

Once he started training for the priesthood in 1953, it seemed that his cricket would be confined to vacations. In the event, he would add the captaincy of England to his laurels, and make two centuries against Australia.

Those who regarded Sheppard as the epitome of polite, inoffensive Anglican respectability had some cause for surprise after he became Bishop of Liverpool in 1975. With his deep Biblical faith, and his commitment to social change, Sheppard proved a sharp critic of the Thatcher government's policies - a stand that may have cost him the chance to succeed Robert Runcie as Archbishop of Canterbury.

The most important factor in Sheppard's ministry on Merseyside was his close co-operation with Derek Worlock, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool. The two men arrived in the city within a year of each other, and Sheppard called at Archbishop's House within an hour of Worlock's appointment.

They spoke to each other on the telephone every evening, and enjoyed such a close relationship that one Liverpool wag, seeing them walk down Hope Street, which links the city's two cathedrals, called out: "It's time you two got married."

David Stuart Sheppard was born on March 6 1929, the son of a London solicitor and a cousin of "Tubby" Clayton, the founder of Toc H. Although his father died when David was eight, he inspired the boy with a love of cricket, taking him to watch Sussex at Hove. David had a fine treble voice and enjoyed reading and music, but his elder sister and his mother, a steady underarm bowler, ensured that cricket was not neglected.

Sheppard's first ambition was to be a left-arm bowler in the mould of Hedley Verity. Even at Sherborne he did not at first show any marked talent for batting. He did not play for the first XI until he was 17, and then collected two ducks in his first two matches. However, showing the determination which would be the hallmark of his entire career, he finished the school season of 1944 with an average of 44.

The main elements of Sheppard's game were already in place: sound defence, infinite patience, and an eagerness to drive off the front foot. In 1947 he scored 768 runs for Sherborne and averaged 78, which earned him a place in the Public Schools side against the Combined Services at Lord's. The young Peter May, from Charterhouse, scored 146; Sheppard could only manage nine and 12. Later that summer, in his first innings for Sussex, he was out first ball.

During his National Service, in which he was commissioned into the Royal Sussex Regiment, his commanding officer allowed him time off for cricket with the Sussex Second XI. In 1949 Sheppard returned to the full county side against Oxford University, and top-scored in both innings.

Yet his early career was a struggle. "There are times," he reflected, "especially in big cricket, when it feels more like an ordeal by fire than a game." Nevertheless he ended the 1949 season in a blaze of glory, with a double century and two centuries in successive matches.

This promise was amply fulfilled in the next year, at Cambridge, where he held an exhibition to read History at Trinity Hall. He hit 227 against the West Indian tourists at Fenners, and narrowly missed a century in the Varsity match when he was deceived by Donald Carr's googly on 93. Further solid performances for Sussex won him a place in the fourth Test against the West Indies; he made 11 and 29. During his second innings the birth of Princess Anne was announced. "Let's have a wicket for the Princess," the West Indies responded, and Sheppard duly fell to Alf Valentine.

In 1950-51 he went with MCC to Australia; with his high back lift, however, he found it difficult to cope with the pace of Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller. He played in the last two Tests, battling to an honourable 41 in the second innings at Adelaide.

Despite scoring heavily in 1951, Sheppard was unable to force his way into the England side. In 1952, however, his performances were almost Bradmanesque. As captain of Cambridge he hit seven centuries for the university, including 239 not out against Worcestershire (his highest first-class score), and 127 against Oxford in a drawn Varsity match. In his three seasons for Cambridge he made 3,545 runs at an average of 62.19.

Recalled to the England side for the last two Tests against India in 1952, Sheppard made 119 at the Oval. He finished the season top of the first-class averages, with 2,262 runs at 64.62. Peter May, Len Hutton and Tom Graveney lagged behind.

Sheppard had arrived at Cambridge with merely formal religious beliefs; then, during a Christian Union mission conducted by Dr Donald Grey Bamhouse, an American Evangelist, he underwent a conversion which gave him a deep and abiding Christian commitment.

Even so, after deciding to prepare for ordination at Ridley Hall, he gave one last full season to Sussex in 1953, captaining them to second place in the championship. There was, however, no place for him in the England team that won back the Ashes that summer.

Sheppard now imagined that his cricket would be restricted to the odd game for Sussex, as his ecclesiastical duties allowed. In 1954, however, he was approached by Ronnie Aird, secretary of MCC, who asked if he might be available to take on the England captaincy.

England had just played a sour and bitter series in the West Indies, and the authorities were at that point wondering whether Hutton, for all his mastery as a batsman, was really the right man to lead his country.

Sheppard decided that the situation warranted the interruption of his theological training, and agreed to make himself available for MCC's tour of Australia in 1954-55 if offered the captaincy. Early in June he returned to the Sussex side; and when Hutton fell ill after the first Test against Pakistan, he was duly called up to lead England in the second Test at Nottingham.

England won by an innings, and Sheppard retained the captaincy for the next Test at Old Trafford, which was ruined by rain. Once again, he had proved himself a thoroughly competent leader; all the same it was finally decided that Hutton should captain England in Australia.

Sheppard professed relief, and went back to Ridley Hall prior to his ordination at Michaelmas 1955. He had managed, however, to play 18 first-class matches that summer; and when, in June 1956, he made 97 for Sussex against the Australians, "Gubby" Allen enquired whether he might be available for Test duty. Sheppard was allowed time off from his curacy to prepare himself for the role by playing for Sussex, and was quickly brought back to the England side for the fourth Test at Manchester.

This was the match in which Jim Laker took 19 wickets; Sheppard, for his part, distinguished himself by scoring 113. He was equally impressive in the fifth Test at the Oval, when he made 62 on a bowler's wicket.

In 1957 Sheppard was again recalled to the England side for the fourth and fifth Tests against the West Indies. That year, however, he was appointed Warden of the Mayflower Family Centre in Canning Town, in east London, so that between 1958 and 1961 he was available for only seven matches for Sussex.

This did not prevent him from again being touted as a potential England captain for the tour of Australia in 1962-63. In May 1962 Sheppard announced that he would play two months' cricket for Sussex. His performances were patchy, redeemed by a century for the Gentlemen against the Players at Lord's.

Back in the England side for the fourth Test against Pakistan, he battled to 83, and then made another half century at the Oval.

Ted Dexter, however, was appointed captain in Australia. Sheppard went as a member of the side, and secured an England victory with an innings of 113 not out at Melbourne. In the last Test, at Sydney, he made 68 and, by his own account, considered he had never batted better. Less happily, Sheppard, a fine fielder in his prime, dropped a number of catches in the series. "It's a pity the Reverend don't put his hands together more often in the field," Fred Trueman observed.

On leave from his clerical duties, Sheppard refused to play on Sundays, although in those days this affected only charity matches. With the agreement of Ted Dexter and the Duke of Norfolk, the tour manager, he accepted invitations to preach in the cathedrals of all the Australian state capitals.

Altogether Sheppard played in 22 Test matches, making 1,172 runs at an average of 37.80. In his 230 first-class matches he scored 15,838 runs, averaging 45.75, with 45 centuries. The last act in his cricketing career would be his appointment as President of Sussex in 2001.

From 1953, though, Sheppard's principal concern had been with the Church. In 1955, he had been ordained to a curacy at St Mary's, Islington, a notable north London centre of evangelicalism, which was then under Maurice Wood, who was later to become Bishop of Norwich.

Although St Mary's was always filled to capacity and parish life was booming, Sheppard became vividly aware of the gulf between the Church and the working class; and it was this that determined the course of his future ministry.

At Canning Town he threw himself into the life of London's declining docklands. When he arrived at the Mayflower Family Centre in 1957, there was only a handful of people there; 12 years later there were 110, with a full-time staff of 10 and much work to be undertaken among the young and the elderly.

It was a tough job, not least in the uphill task of getting local people to accept responsibility, and although Sheppard's work was deemed to be a great success, he came to see the need for changing social structures as well as human hearts.

In 1969 Mervyn Stockwood, the controversial Bishop of Southwark, invited Sheppard to succeed John "Honest to God" Robinson as Bishop of Woolwich. Cynics supposed at first that Stockwood, the supreme impresario, was concerned only to replace a world-famous theologian with a world-famous cricketer, but they soon discovered that the elegant batsman had made good use of his time in Islington, and in Docklands.

His first decision was to live in Peckham, rather than in the Surrey stockbroker belt where the bishop's house had previously been located. He then spent a whole day listening to black community leaders – a group which had taken him to their hearts a year earlier when he led an assault on the MCC establishment for allowing race factors to determine the composition of the team which had been chosen to tour South Africa. This provoked tremendous wrath at Lord's and alienated Sheppard from some of his cricketing friends.

Six busy years followed. Besides his pastoral leadership in South East London, he was chairman of the Peckham Settlement and also of the Evangelical Urban Training Project.

A substantial book, Built as a City (1974), established him as an authority on the Church's work in urban areas. He began to propose rather more controversial projects. Amongst his bright ideas, he advocated the bringing together of all development land under public ownership and the absorption of public schools into the state educational system.

Before long there was speculation about his next move, and it seemed likely that he would succeed Cuthbert Bardsley as Bishop of Coventry. But by this time Coventry was seeking consolidation rather than controversy and when Stuart Blanch was translated to the Archbishopric of York in 1975 Sheppard succeeded him at Liverpool.

Thus began one of the most creative episcopal ministries of recent times. Not long after Sheppard's arrival, Merseyside found itself in an acute economic and social crisis. The decline of the port and its associated commerce led to widespread unemployment and the dislocation of community life. Racial tension became high and there were destructive riots in Toxteth and other deprived inner-city areas.

Sheppard and his new confrere Archbishop Worlock devoted much time to all this. They tackled the city council for its partisan stance and lack of vision, and identified themselves closely with the poorest sections of the region. This led Sheppard to develop an interest in the work of the liberation theologians of Latin America.

In another book, Bias to the Poor (1983), he argued that such a bias is not a political preference but, rather, a willingness to "listen to the poor, exist with them, try to stand in their shoes, and then be willing for them to take a full share in the leadership and decision-making". Unsurprisingly, the book generated a remarkable amount of controversy, and was sharply attacked by many other clerics.

He and Worlock were acutely aware of Liverpool's reputation as one of the most religiously divided communities in the United Kingdom, so they drew the Moderator of the Free Churches into their company and by wide-ranging and sustained collaboration brought about a change of atmosphere in the city which has been described as miraculous.

Three books - Better Together (1988), With Christ in the Wilderness (1990) and With Hope Together (1994) – written jointly by Sheppard and Worlock, made their experience more widely known. Reconciliation in Church and society was their theme.

In 1978 Sheppard became chairman of the Area Board of the Manpower Services Commission for Merseyside and Cheshire, and from 1983 to 1985 he was vice-chairman of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Urban Priority Areas which produced a controversial report, Faith in the City.

He was elected national president of Family Service Units in 1987, and from 1989 to 1993 was chairman of the Central Religious Advisory Committee for the BBC and ITA - a somewhat thankless task, as he quickly discovered.

Ever-growing national and international commitments frequently made it necessary during the period that Sheppard was bishop to leave much of the pastoral work of the diocese to the suffragan Bishop of Warrington. Sheppard was sometimes criticised for this, but he was always ready to welcome to his home and beautiful garden those who really needed him.

In 1980 he was introduced to the Upper House of Parliament as a Lord Spiritual, and was always listened to with respect (though rarely with agreement) by the Conservative benches. Soon after his retirement in 1997, Tony Blair made him a life peer as Lord Sheppard of Liverpool.

He continued to speak in the House of Lords on social matters, especially when he believed government policies to be contrary to the interests of the poor. His sermons, firmly rooted in the Bible and never neglecting the need for personal piety, were also always worth hearing.

Over the years he moved considerably from the neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism which had influenced him so profoundly at Cambridge, though the conviction that the Church was in the business of saving souls as well as societies never left him. His friends often wished, however, that his earnestness might have been tempered by a keener sense of humour.

Liverpool University honoured him with an LLD in 1981 and the Liverpool Polytechnic with an Honorary DTech in 1987. Cambridge followed with an Honorary DD in 1991, Trinity Hall having elected him to an Honorary Fellowship in 1983. He was given the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in 1995.

David Sheppard married, in 1957, Grace Isaac; they had a daughter.

© Copyright of Telegraph,,60-1556206,00.html

Roddy Thesiger
Art dealer who helped to rediscover masterpieces of 17th-century Italian painting

RODDY THESIGER had a life of extreme contrasts. After courageous war service he became an art dealer and was largely responsible for creating a new taste for the neglected Italian 17th century.
Roderic Miles Doughty Thesiger was born in 1915 in Addis Ababa, the youngest of three sons of Wilfred Thesiger, the British Minister to Ethiopia. The explorer Wilfred Thesiger was his elder brother. Roddy was educated at Eton, Christ Church, Oxford, and the Courtauld Institute. When war was declared in 1939 he joined the Army and was commissioned in the Welsh Guards.

In July 1941 he was one of the first volunteers to be transferred into the 1st Parachute Brigade. After the Allied landing in North Africa he was dropped with the brigade far in advance of the British First Army. After initial successes against light opposition the brigade was engaged in heavy fighting against superior German and Italian forces, during which Thesiger was wounded.

He recovered in time to take part in the invasion of Sicily. The brigade’s task was to capture the bridge at Primasole, but the drop was badly managed and the parachutists and their equipment were dispersed over a wide area. Thesiger was one of the few who reached the bridge. In October 1943 the brigade was withdrawn to England.

He was next in action in September 1944 in the gallant but unsuccessful attempt to capture the bridges over the Lower Rhine at Arnhem. The enemy was believed to be demoralised and few in numbers. Intelligence reports of SS divisions and German armour near Arnhem were discountedby the high command, but proved tragically correct. The 1st Parachute Brigade was the first formation to be dropped. Thesiger was wounded on the first day and taken prisoner. He spent the rest of the war in a PoW camp near Kassel, and afterwards admitted that although tormented by hunger, he had rather enjoyed the experience.

After demobilisation he returned to the art world, initially as an assistant in the Tate Gallery, then as the expert on modern paintings at Sotheby’s, and later dealing on his own account. In 1956 he joined Colnaghi as the director in charge of Old Master paintings.

Colnaghi’s could not afford the work of the great Renaissance artists, so Thesiger, who travelled regularly to Italy, specialised in the less expensive art of the 17th century. With the help of two art dealers, the Sestrieri brothers, he was able to make purchases from that part of the Barberini collection that had been cleared for export.

His greatest coup was a painting first seen in an attic behind a line of washing. It proved to be Van Dyck’s portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria painted for Pope Urban VIII and documented in the Vatican archives; it is now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Among other purchases, Andrea Sacchi’s Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness went to the National Museum of Wales, a large Lanfranco, from a Sotheby’s sale, to the Getty Museum in Malibu, and Diana Huntress by the Genoese artist G. B. Gaulli, bought in a country auction, to the Minneapolis Museum.

Thesiger supervised closely the restoration of the paintings he acquired and frequently visited the restorers to make sure that cleaning was not carried too far.

He succeeded James Byam Shaw as chairman of Colnaghi’s in 1968, but retired to Herefordshire in 1971 when the firm was bought by Lord Rothschild. During his retirement he acted as an unofficial adviser to the National Museum of Wales and the National Trust.

He was twice married. His first marriage, to Mary Rose Charteris, was dissolved in 1946. He is survived by his second wife, Ursula Whitworth, and their son and daughter.

Roderic Thesiger, art dealer, was born on November 8, 1915. He died on March 5, 2005, aged 89.
Problems posting in this thread now sorted, thanks mods.

Sorry to see so many SOE and Yugoslavia veterans in recent obituaries.

Anyway I think this obituary is another classic, even without the spring-loaded toy rat... The original piece in the Scotsman had a photograph of a very dashing young man in the desert, adorned by enormous WW2 beret, duffel coat and impressive moustache.

  • Capt Lewis Archibald Gibson, MM LRDG


    Born: 8 November, 1919, in Crieff.
    Died: 4 April, 2005, in Perth, aged 85.

    AS A young man Archie Gibson was a strikingly handsome, tall, athletic figure. He had great personal warmth and a friendly, outgoing personality. A highly intelligent man with artistic and entrepreneurial flair, he also had wanderlust in spadefuls.

    Archie was always making unexpected moves; always looking for adventure, he had no intention of being a bank manager, like his grandfather and father. He loved being outdoors; he enjoyed sports; but above all, he craved a motorbike and the freedom and opportunities it could provide.

    In due course he became a soldier, husband, father, businessman, traveller, artist, musician and friend to many.

    He was a fine singer and could play many musical instruments. At the age of 14 he played the pipes for Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands when, in the early 1930s, she used to take up temporary residence in St Fillans. Archie played his pipes upon her arrival and he played outside her dining room in the evenings. He accompanied her to the lochside - carrying her painting equipment. When she left in 1933, Archie was given an ornate envelope. Expecting some monetary reward, he opened it after he had "piped her awa" to find a certificate confirming him "official piper to Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands", but alas no money.

    The Gibson family have long banking and military traditions. Archie was born a year after his father’s return from the First World War.

    He joined the Scots Guards as a teenager, and when war was declared in 1939 he was already serving with the Long Range Desert Group in north Africa, covertly monitoring the Italian military build-up in the Middle East.

    His unit was closely involved with the formation of the Special Air Service commando unit under David Stirling. He and Stirling often travelled together, with Archie driving through the desert nights in enemy-occupied territory to infiltrate enemy aerodromes, destroy their planes, and cut supply lines. Archie was still just 22 years old.

    He went on to serve throughout the war and fought with distinction in some of the most difficult and challenging war zones. He was parachuted into Yugoslavia to wage guerrilla war with Tito’s partisans, and he served in many other European operations. Archie had progressively earned promotion to the rank of captain. He was mentioned in despatches and decorated for bravery.

    When coming up through Italy in 1943, Archie went to a hospital to see his sister, who was there with the Queen Alexandra Nursing Service. It was there that he met Joan, also a nurse, and so began a partnership that lasted until her death last year.

    When Archie was demobbed, he bought a second-hand Rolls Royce in London with his demob money. He drove back north home to civilian life - broke, but in great style.

    He and Joan were married in 1946 in a simple, unconventional ceremony that cost the equivalent of 35p for the certificate and 50p for the book token as a present for the minister. In due course Archie started his own hardware wholesale business. His son, Paul, born in 1956, went into the business with Archie, and when he was old enough to take charge, Archie was off.

    While Joan started an antiques business, Archie reinvented himself as a free born man - a man with many interests and guises. He travelled extensively and lived in various European countries, then in Ireland for 15 years.

    Archie designed, made and sold jewellery. He was a street trader in Portugal, Belgium and elsewhere. He was a hippy and travelling magician. He organised and managed the Crieff and Comrie folk clubs, and the highly successful Crieff Folk Festival in the 1960s. He became a professional solo entertainer - and with his flute, or whistle and his guitar, coupled with his good singing voice, he developed a routine that ensured continuous solo engagements in concerts and with leading folk groups. Billy Connolly, The Corries, The Dubliners, Archie Fisher, and many other famous names were all regular visitors to Gleniffer in Crieff.

    Joan periodically joined him and they had great times together. He moved continuously by motorbike, car or van, complete with wood-burning stove and chimney. The van was his workshop and his home. He slept wherever night fell.

    Archie later re-invented himself again and became an author. He trained as a psychotherapist, and became a teacher.

    Archie’s life was full to overflowing. It was unconventional, varied and happy. He was blessed with Joan, a wonderful, tolerant wife. Archie saw things in an individual and different way to most people - reflected in his dress; his variety of headwear; the spring-loaded toy rat he kept in his pocket or inside his shirt for when he wished to attract attention.

    Instead of a tip for a waitress, he’d give her earrings. He made and delivered jewellery to be sold for the Marie Curie cancer care charity and he sported their daffodil symbol. For his 75th birthday, Archie bought himself a Harley Davidson.

    Archie’s father originally painted the boulder dragon emerging from the wood just outside St Fillans, and to the delight of many children, Archie re-painted it. It’s an interesting and humorous landmark. Archie wrote verse and limericks. He was always making notes and sketches. He loved to quote lines of his own and others.

    In recent years his body became frail but his intellect, his mind and his sense of humour remained as sharp as ever. Archie was buried in a wicker coffin, with the urn containing Joan’s ashes by his side, covered by his army duffle coat and his LRDG cap.

    He is survived by his son, Paul, granddaughter, Emma, and sisters, Paddy and Eva.



Petty Officer Norman Walton
(Filed: 10/05/2005)

Norman Walton , who has died aged 84, was the only survivor of the 765 crew of the cruiser Neptune, sunk in a minefield off Libya in 1941.

ISA Brochures

The loss of Neptune occurred on the night of December 19. Commanded by Captain Rory O'Conor, she was leading Force K, a cruiser raiding squadron sent to intercept and destroy an important Italian convoy carrying Panzer tanks, troops and supplies to Tripoli.

Having become trapped in a minefield 12 miles offshore, Neptune struck four mines in three hours and sank with the loss of 764 officers and men. Thanks to his courage, tenacity and supreme physical fitness, Able Seaman Walton, then aged 20, survived three days in the water and two on a raft before being picked up by an Italian torpedo boat; after 15 months in Italian PoW camps, he was released in 1943.

Walton later gave a dramatic account of the sinking: "We had been at action stations since 8pm, when soon after midnight there was an explosion off our starboard bow. The captain stopped engines and went astern but we hit another mine, blowing the screws and most of the stern away. Then we were hit abaft the funnel. We were ordered up top and had a bad list to port and were down in the stern. The destroyer HMS Kandahar came up to take us in tow.

"With seven others, I was asked to go forward to help with the tow, but Kandahar then hit a mine and slewed off. Then we hit a fourth mine and we were lifted up and dropped back again. I got the Petty Officer off the forecastle from beneath the anchor chain but he had broken his back. Four of us - Price, Middleton, Quinn and me - climbed down the anchor. They jumped in, but I wanted somewhere to swim to, not just float around, and when I saw a Carley raft I jumped in and swam to it.

"I took the tow rope back to Middleton, who had no lifejacket, and when we got back to the raft it was crowded - about 30 people on and around it. We saw the ship capsize and sink, and gave her a cheer as she went down. We picked up Captain O'Conor, who was clinging to what looked like an anchor buoy, and he and three other officers finished up on a cork raft attached to ours. The sea was thick with oil and most of us had swallowed a lot of it. A few died around us that night and at daylight there were 16 of us left. The weather was pretty rough, and two officers tried to swim towards the Kandahar, but they never made it."

Since there was no room for him on the raft, Walton simply hung on to it - periodically swimming around it in circles in order to keep warm. "By the fourth day there were only four of us left, including the captain, who died in my arms that night. I was in the water for three days before being able to find room aboard the raft. Most of the lads just gave up the ghost, but I was very fit because of playing so much sport and this is probably why I survived.

"I had a smashed leg, and by Christmas Eve on the fifth day there was only Price and myself left. I saw an aircraft, waved to it and an hour later an Italian torpedo boat came alongside and threw me a line. I collapsed when I got on board and woke up on Christmas Day in a Tripoli hospital. They told me Price was dead."

When he was picked up, Walton found that the oil in the water had temporarily blinded him: "On Boxing Day I got my sight back and looked in a mirror. My tongue was swollen to twice its size and my nose spread across my face, which was black from the oil and from exposure. Still, apart from my broken leg I was almost back to normal by New Year's Day, when I was put on a ship bound for Italy full of German and Italian troops going on leave."

The eldest of nine children, John Norman Walton was born on January 15 1921 at Rowlands Gill, near Gateshead. His father was a professional footballer who played for Gateshead and Everton. Brought up at Swalewell, near Gateshead, Norman was educated locally before finding employment as a steelworker. He joined the Navy in September 1938, aged 17. In 1941, before joining Neptune, Walton served in the destroyer Janus. He was then drafted to the crew of a whaler taking supplies along the North African coast to Tobruk; the boat was sunk by enemy aircraft, and Walton spent several hours in the water before being rescued.

Later that year, he was serving at Alexandria in the depot ship Woolwich. The submarine Tetrarch was alongside and he was invited down "for a wet" to celebrate a friend's birthday. After a bottle of rum had been consumed, Walton suddenly realised that the submarine had sailed, and he was added to the "next of kin" list. As they left Alexandria harbour, Walton dived in and swam back to the breakwater, returning to his ship undetected. Tetrarch never returned from patrol, and his parents received a telegram saying that he was missing; Walton had some explaining to do. He joined Neptune on November 13 1941.

After his release from a PoW camp in 1943, he served in a frigate on Russian convoys and then in the minesweeper Rowena, before being de-mobbed in 1946.

Walton settled in Leeds and became a professional boxer, fighting under the name of Patsy Dodds - Dodds was his wife Irene's maiden name, and he took Patsy because, in the fairground fights in which he started his boxing career, he pretended to be in trouble to deceive his opponent into over-confidence. In those early days he fought both in gloves and with bare knuckles.

Continuing his boxing career until the late 1950s, Walton had 147 recorded fights as a middleweight, winning 82, losing 61 and drawing four. He fought three times for the Northern Area Championship against Bert Ingram, but lost on each occasion.

Called up again during the Korean War, Walton served another five years in the Navy. After retiring as a petty officer, he joined a container firm in Leeds as works director. He retired to Pudsey in 1985.

The circumstances surrounding the loss of Neptune had been kept secret by the Navy; the crew's next of kin merely received a telegram saying that their husbands or sons were "missing on active war service". Of the crew, 150 were New Zealanders, representing the greatest loss of life suffered by New Zealand in a naval action. Sixty years after the event, a chance meeting between Norman Walton and Commander John McGregor, whose father had died in Neptune, resulted in the formation of the Neptune Association, now a thriving organisation of more than 250 members. Walton was the obvious choice for president.

Two years ago, when he was 82, Walton was mugged by two youths who demanded his wallet. Walton told them: "You will have to get it out of my pocket," and - as one of the men leaned forward - the former boxer butted him on the nose, then landed a left hook on the second and struck both of them with his stick. As they ran off, what upset Walton most was not being able to chase after them.

Norman Walton, who died on April 20, married Irene Dodds in 1943. She died in 2002, and he is survived by their daughter. A son died at the age of three.



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