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Colonel the Reverend Robbie Hall, underwater bomb disposal expert – obituary​

He was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for neutralising a German bomb found under 40 feet of water at Beckton Gas Works

Colonel the Reverend Robbie Hall, who has died of cancer aged 63, was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for neutralising a German bomb in particularly hazardous circumstances.
In July 1986, Hall joined 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) as the Training Major. He became the leader of the regimental diving team, specialising in underwater bomb disposal.
On November 21, a civilian maintenance diver located what was thought to be a bomb at Beckton Gas Works, East London. It was under 40 feet of water in a large gasometer and was obstructing the workings of the equipment.
Hall, with Staff Sergeant Nigel Daly and Sapper John Wright, entered through a small airlock at the top and were lowered 100 feet by winch to the surface of the water. The interior was pitch black and the atmosphere heavy with gas fumes.
The water was stagnant and polluted with poisons after more than 50 years use. Pumping out the water would have contaminated the River Thames and would have involved taking neighbouring gasometers out of service.

Debris in the water clogged Hall’s breathing apparatus, and he had to cough this up to be able to breathe normally. Visibility in the water was nil and all the work had to be conducted by touch alone.
The nose section of a very large bomb was found, containing decomposing explosive and a sample was sent for analysis. This showed that it was active explosive.

The team was now faced with a major bomb disposal incident. On November 24 they dived again to recover the nose section. It was identified as an unexploded 500kg Second World War German bomb. It had entered through a hole in the crown of the gasometer which was patched up at the time.
Early on November 26, they began a systematic search of the sloping floor of the gasometer, working up to 50 feet below the surface of the water. By 1400 hours they had located the crumpled tail fin and the main section of the bomb. The fuse was intact but could not be identified as it was facing down into the mud.
By 1800 hours, Hall had positioned the emergency services and arranged for the area to be evacuated. He and his team dived down to the bomb, which was now known to be extremely dangerous. Shackles were attached to it, and with great difficulty it was prised from the mud, winched to the surface and manhandled into a rubber dinghy. Throughout this operation, all three men were working in close contact with the bomb.
Hall then set about defusing the bomb, working by the light of a torch while trying to keep his balance on the unstable dinghy. The hiss as the hand drill pierced the vacuum in the fuse indicated that, as had been feared, it was in perfect condition.
It took a further hour to neutralise the fuse. The half-ton bomb was then winched up to the top of the gasometer and eased by Hall through the small airlock. Eventually, at 0130 hours, it had been lowered 100 feet to the ground where it could be steamed out by others.
This was the culmination of many hours of great physical effort. The three men who were by then exhausted were in constant danger of being crushed by the swinging bomb or falling off the structure.
The courage, selfless dedication to duty and professionalism displayed by Hall and his team were recognised by the award of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal to all three of them – the first time that all ranks received the same award.
Robert George Russel Hall, the son of a civil engineer, was born at Spinningdale in the Scottish Highlands on November 9 1956. After his family moved south to Rowlands Gill, near Newcastle, he was educated at the local grammar school.
Always known as Robbie, in 1973 he enlisted in the Corps of Royal Engineers. He was commissioned three years later and his first posting was to 3 Armoured Division Engineer Regiment, which included a tour in Northern Ireland.
Hall was keen on running, rock climbing and scuba diving, and his party piece was one armed pull- ups, which he would do with just a fingertip hold on top of a door jamb. In November 1982 he was appointed as second-in-command 7 Field Squadron. The tour included six months in the Falkland Islands in 1983.
In 1986, he joined 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD). The Regiment was undergoing a period of expansion which required the formation of the new 22 Field Support Squadron (EOD). The manpower had to be found from within the Regiment and Hall was chosen to be the first officer commanding, raising it from scratch, a challenging job that he performed with tact and great professionalism, while still performing duty as Training Major.
In September 1989 he went to the Canadian Staff College at Toronto. Having gained a Distinction, he was posted to the Special Forces section at the MoD, where he was involved in the planning for the First Gulf War.
After commanding the Defence Diving School at Portsmouth, followed by a staff job at HQ 1 (UK) Armoured Division, his final posting, in December 2007, was as Commandant of the Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Munitions and Search School.
Possessing a strong Christian faith, he trained for the ministry and obtained a Master’s Degree in biblical mission. He served as the pastor of Hope Baptist Church at Bridgend.
Robbie Hall married, in 1980, Helen Thompsett, whom he had met in Germany when she was teaching at a military school. She survives him with their three sons, all of whom followed their father into the forces and, at one time, were all serving in Afghanistan.
Colonel the Reverend Robbie Hall, born November 9 1956, died November 6 2020
 

Major John Poyntz, Royal Engineer who became Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways – obituary​

He drove the train carrying the 'schoolgirls' in The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery and later advised steam railway enthusiasts

Major John Poyntz, who has died aged 82, was the final Royal Engineer to be an HM Inspecting Officer of Railways, his retirement in 2006 as Principal Inspecting Officer ending a connection dating back to 1840.
From his Army days, Poyntz was a hands-on railway operator. At the Longmoor Military Railway in 1956, he experienced the worst peacetime accident on a British military railway, when a steam engine hauling a passenger train ran through a signal at danger and rear-ended a train of wagons; six soldiers in the brake van were killed.
During the shooting of The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery at Longmoor in 1966, then Staff Sergeant Poyntz installed himself in the cab of the diesel train carrying the “schoolgirls”. Later, as the officer reponsible for the Rhine Army’s military trains, he took every opportunity to drive the latest German locomotives.

As an Inspector, he was a stickler for detail in maintaining safety, and unfailingly helpful to railway staff who asked his advice. One of the enthusiasts who revived the Churnet Valley Railway’s branch to Cauldon Lowe in Staffordshire said of his engagement with the project:
“John was such an amazing source of knowledge that without his input we would not have been able to carry out this entire project. Visit after visit, he would inspect, check and offer his many years of advice, with all his suggestions duly noted in his notebook.”
With the military, Poyntz - always immaculately turned out - worked with notebook in one hand and a drink in the other; when he became an Inspector, the drink was replaced by a camera.
The Inspectorate was set up to make Britain’s fast-growing infant railway network safer at the urging of George Stephenson, in the teeth of opposition from Isambard Kingdom Brunel who reckoned it a stultifying layer of bureaucracy.
Royal Engineers were chosen as the first inspectors, no-one else having the necessary knowledge, experience and organisational awareness. They were recruited for almost a century and a half, with Poyntz the last in 1989.
The transfer of the role to civilians reflected the eclipse of the Army’s once sizeable railway operating capability, with which Poyntz, with first the RE and then the Royal Corps of Transport, was closely involved.
Until the end of the Cold War Britain’s military conducted its own railway operations in West Germany, and as recently as 2003 Poyntz’s old 79 Railway Squadron RCT - since disbanded - was drafted in post-invasion to restore services between Basra and Baghdad.
Poyntz’s time at HMRI coincided with the period - 1990 to 2006 - when it came under the aegis of the Health and Safety Executive. The experience was mutually frustrating: the HSE treated the railways as another industry needing regulation, and railway managers saw the Executive as small-minded and dogmatic. Today the Inspectorate rests more happily with the Office of Road and Rail.
John David Pierrepoint Poyntz was born in London on May 27 1938, the son of Richard Poyntz, one of the few survivors of the Royal Berkshires from the battle for Ypres, and the former Elieen Bourke. The family came over with William the Conqueror, and their seat was at Iron Acton, Gloucestershire.
After the family home in south-west London was bombed, John went to stay with an aunt in Kent.
Leaving St Marylebone Grammar School in 1955, Poyntz joined the Royal Engineers, and after basic training was posted to Longmoor, where he became a corporal instructor. His service there was interspersed with a spell at Marchwood navigating military hovercraft, and postings to Singapore and missions in war zones including Borneo.
In 1965 the RCT was formed, taking in his branch of the RE, and in 1969 Longmoor closed and Poyntz was put in charge of BAOR’s railway operations at Mönchengladbach. These included the transport of troops and tanks, a “Command Train” for its commander-in-chief, and an ambulance train taken out on exercise every year with a full complement of Army medical staff.
The two-car diesel “Command Train” was retired on 1976 after unfavourable feedback from Prince Philip, who had suggested using it when his helicopter was grounded. He experienced a jolting ride, during which the train - maintained and driven by the Germans - struggled to reach 60 mph.
Poyntz was called in when there were administrative issues with the daily British Military Train which ferried troops and supplies to and from the British sector of Berlin throughout the Cold War. Its 145-mile journey, between Braunschweig and Berlin’s Charlottenberg station, ran largely through Communist territory, and its unimpeded operation was both a lifeline and a political statement.
The “Berliner” last ran in 1991, and when a re-enactment was staged in 2012, Poyntz eagerly attended. As the train made its first stop at Marienborn, just inside the old East Germany, where Soviet and British officials used to exchange documents, he recalled that the process seemed interminable.
Poyntz found the best way to speed things up was to include Western “gifts” in the official papers for the Russian guards. “A copy of Playboy would usually grease the wheels,” he said.
Joining the Inspectorate - where the floor had to be strengthened to bear the weight of his railway books - he was mainly occupied ensuring that equipment and operating practices were up to scratch. This was of particular importance once the railways were privatised in the mid-1990s.
Poyntz’s most notable accident investigation almost certainly involved a defective signal. In the Severn Tunnel in 1991, a Portsmouth-Cardiff diesel unit ran into the back of a High Speed Train from Paddington; its driver suffered a fractured skull and lost an eye, and 185 other people were injured.
Retiring in 2006, Poyntz became the Inspectorate’s Heritage Railway Consultant. He toured the country until 2014 advising enthusiasts running or reviving preserved railways on safe means of operation, and vetting the professionalism of their work.
The co-author of an HMRI manual on managing steam locomotive boilers, he served on the advisory panel of A1 Steam Locomotive Steam Trust, which built from scratch the main line loco Tornado.
John Poyntz married Anne Balloch in 1974; he died on their anniversary. She survives him, with their three daughters. His son-in-law, Col Graeme Hazlewood, also served in the RCT.
John Poyntz, born May 27 1938, died November 2 2020
 

Major Henry McKenzie Johnston, served in North Africa and Italy – obituary​

He attacked a German Spandau post in Tunisia, was wounded at Monte Cassino and later joined the Foreign Office

ByTelegraph Obituaries27 December 2020 • 10:26am

Major Henry McKenzie Johnston, who has died aged 99, saw action in the Second World War with the Black Watch in the North Africa Campaign and in Italy before joining the Foreign Service.
In April 1943 6th Bn The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) took part in fierce fighting in Tunisia, where the Germans were holding up the advance of the allied forces. McKenzie Johnston was signals officer, and many nights were spent mending telephone lines which had been broken by enemy shelling, a task that was frequently interrupted by enemy patrols.
On one occasion, when his position came under enemy shell fire, he and a fellow officer made for the same trench. His comrade was closer and reached the trench first, only to be killed by a shell going straight into it. McKenzie Johnston flattened himself on the ground, and during the next half-hour two shells landed at his feet but failed to explode. This experience persuaded him that he would not be killed in the war, but it was only the first of several narrow escapes.

Henry Butler McKenzie Johnston was born in Edinburgh on July 10 1921 and educated at Rugby before going up to Oxford. He left the university after two terms, and although he was selected for officer training he became seriously ill, and it was not until April 1941 that he started his training. In August he was commissioned into the Black Watch and joined the 6th Bn in Hampshire where he shared a tent with the actor, Stewart Granger.
During the campaign in Tunisia, he and a brother officer, Michael Keogh, armed only with pistols, attacked a German Spandau post. Keogh fell and, for a nasty moment, McKenzie Johnston feared that he had shot him. In the darkness, Keogh had tripped on a stone.
The machine gun jammed and the enemy crew fled, pursued by wild pistol shots. McKenzie Johnston listened in to the radio that had been abandoned in the trench and was able to warn his commanding officer of an impending counter-attack. Forewarned, the battalion drove it off.

In March 1944 the battalion landed by ship at Naples and, in May, he was wounded at Monte Cassino during the final big offensive to break through the German defences. He rejoined the battalion in August and was adjutant for the rest of the campaign.
In December, the battalion was in action against Elas, irregular Greek communist forces who were attempting to seize power in their recently liberated country. It was a dangerous business clearing houses along the road to Athens against an enemy which fought in small numbers, wore no recognisable uniform, infiltrated back into areas at night and whose snipers were a persistent problem.
On his demobilisation, he worked for the British Embassy in Athens in an administrative post before joining the Foreign Service in 1947. Having served in diplomatic posts in France, Germany, Uruguay, Mexico and Trinidad, he became Consul General in Munich during the 1972 Olympic Games. His wife, Marian, accompanied him on all his postings and was a great support to him.
The following year, he left the Foreign Service and became Deputy to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. On his compulsory retirement, aged 60, he was appointed CB. He was re-employed as one of three Local Government Ombudsmen for England before becoming a part-time member of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.
McKenzie Johnston was a philanthropist, and established a Trust to benefit young people in the Cromarty area, as well as contributing to the cost of securing the future of the cottage at Cromarty, Ross-shire, that was Hugh Miller’s birthplace, together with the interactive museum.
Miller, an antecedent of McKenzie Johnston’s wife, was born in 1802 and was a geologist, folklorist, stonemason, newspaper editor and a campaigner for social justice.
McKenzie Johnston published Missions to Mexico: A Tale of British Diplomacy in the 1820s (1992) and Ottoman and Persian Odysseys: James Morier, Creator of “Hajji Baba of Ispahan”, and His Brothers (1998).
Henry McKenzie Johnston married, in 1949, Marian (Merrie) Allardyce Middleton, daughter of Brigadier A A Middleton. She died in 2009, and he is survived by their son and two daughters.
Henry McKenzie Johnston, born July 10 1921, died October 29 2020
 

yank_eyetie

Old-Salt

Sir Brian Urquhart, Troubleshooter for the U.N., Dies at 101​

He was best known for creating and directing the U.N.’s peacekeeping operations in conflict-filled areas around the world.
By Robert D. McFadden
  • New York Times, Jan. 3, 2021
Brian Urquhart, a troubleshooting British diplomat who joined the United Nations at its birth in 1945 and over the next four decades was a chief aide to five secretaries general while directing peacekeeping operations around the world, died on Saturday at his home in Tyringham, Mass. He was 101.

His son Thomas confirmed the death.
Mr. Urquhart (pronounced IRK-it) was no James Bond, but he was kidnapped and severely beaten by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leapt out of an airplane at 1,200 feet and survived when his parachute partly failed as he landed. He led peacekeeping forces in many war zones. He once downed a bottle of whiskey to avoid freezing on a subzero flight through a blizzard to find Yasir Arafat.
“We had a choice,” he told Mr. Arafat, the teetotaling leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, after Mr. Urquhart’s small, ice-encrusted plane landed in Beirut in 1982, “of arriving either drunk or dead.”
Resourceful, irreverent, unflappable, Mr. Urquhart blended the qualities of a globe-trotting adventurer and a determined international civil servant. In 1945, he worked for the commission that set up the United Nations Secretariat, arranged the General Assembly’s first meeting in London and settled on New York City as the United Nations’ permanent home.

Over the ensuing decades, he was a close adviser to the first five secretaries general: Trygve Lie of Norway, Dag Hammarskjöld of Sweden, U Thant of what was then Burma, Kurt Waldheim of Austria and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru (who died in March).

He served 12 years as the U.N.’s No. 2 official, succeeding Ralph J. Bunche as under secretary general for political affairs in 1974, after two years as assistant secretary general. He wrote books on United Nations leaders and operations and was named a knight commander by Queen Elizabeth II in June 1986.



Image
Mr. Urquhart in 1988. He blended the qualities of a globe-trotting adventurer and a determined international civil servant.

Mr. Urquhart in 1988. Credit...Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

He blended the qualities of a globe-trotting adventurer and a determined international civil servant.
While peacekeeping was not originally envisioned for the United Nations, Mr. Urquhart, as deputy to Dr. Bunche, the American who won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediation of the 1948 war in the Middle East, firmly believed in the U.N. as an arbiter of international disputes. He was instrumental in creating its peacekeeping forces, calling them an army without an enemy — only difficult clients.
It was Mr. Urquhart who decided that U.N. troops should wear blue helmets to distinguish them from actual combatants, and he articulated the principles of their peacekeeping operations, saying they should enter a war zone only with broad political support and a mandate to remain above the conflict, to use force only as a last resort and ultimately to end hostilities and facilitate negotiations.

In a postwar era rife with revolutions, regional disputes and Cold War conflicts, darkened by fears of an East-West nuclear conflagration, Mr. Urquhart deployed and often led his lightly armed peacekeepers into war zones in the Middle East, Congo, southern Africa, Kashmir, Cyprus and other places. They sometimes failed to defuse explosive situations, but often succeeded in easing tensions and assisting refugees.

“The United Nations may have been shoved to the sidelines long ago when it came to the political ordering of the world,” Madeleine G. Kalb wrote in a New York Times Magazine profile of Mr. Urquhart in 1982. “Yet the United Nations has undeniably chalked up one proud success — peacekeeping in conflicts where the vital interests of the great powers were not directly involved.”
As the crisis negotiator in shooting wars, he was often in danger. In Congo in 1961, trying to subdue a secessionist Katanga Province, he was kidnapped, held for hours and stomped and beaten with rifles by rebel troops, until Katanga’s president, Moise Tshombe, intervened to save his life.
By 1986, when Mr. Urquhart retired, he had directed 13 peacekeeping operations, recruited a force of 10,000 troops from 23 countries and established peacekeeping as one of the United Nations’ most visible and politically popular functions. In an editorial, The New York Times hailed him as a visionary soldier of peace.
“Mr. Urquhart persists in believing that the Soviet Union and the United States may yet find it in their interest to join in peacekeeping operations that can contain local conflicts,” the editorial said. “As Mr. Urquhart asks in reflecting upon his life’s service, ‘Why should not the lion sometimes lie down with the lion, instead of terrifying all the lambs by their mutual hostility?’”
The U.N. peacekeeping forces won the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize.

Brian Edward Urquhart was born on Feb. 28, 1919, in the southwest of England, in the town of Bridport, one of two sons of Murray and Bertha (Rendall) Urquhart. His father quit the family when he was 7. His mother taught at Badminton School in Bristol and, with his brother Andrew at school elsewhere, she enrolled Brian as the only boy among 200 girls there. One of his classmates was Indira Nehru, who became Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India.
He graduated from Westminster School in London in 1937. After two years at Oxford University, he joined the British Army when World War II began in 1939. During training camp in 1942, his parachute partly failed in the last moments of a jump; he recalled looking up at its “tulip shape” as he plunged into a plowed field. Severely injured, he was told he might never walk again. But within a year he had rejoined his unit and saw action in North Africa and Sicily.

In 1944, as a senior intelligence officer, Mr. Urquhart unsuccessfully opposed Operation Market Garden, an ill-advised airborne assault to seize bridges over the Rhine. Its failure cost 17,000 Allied casualties. The episode was chronicled in a 1974 Cornelius Ryan book, “A Bridge Too Far,” and in a 1977 Richard Attenborough film of the same name. Late in the war, searching for German atomic research sites, Mr. Urquhart stumbled upon the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

His marriage in 1944 to Alfreda Huntington ended in divorce. They had three children, Thomas, Katharine and Robert. He married Sidney Howard Canfield in 1963, and they had two children, Rachel and Charles. Mrs. Urquhart, who had been in hospice care, died on Sunday at 87.
Mr. Urquhart is survived by his five children; a stepson, Thomas Canfield; and by 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Discharged as a major in 1945, Mr. Urquhart went to work in London with Gladwyn Jebb, who was director of the commission that planned the U.N. Secretariat, the civil service that would eventually carry out much of the U.N.’s work from the familiar glass skyscraper on the East River. When the Secretariat was organized in 1946, Mr. Urquhart moved to New York and became chief assistant to Secretary General Trygve Lie.
Peacekeepers were first formally deployed in the Suez Crisis of 1956, when Israel invaded Egypt and Britain and France intervened. They helped to end Katanga’s secession from Congo in 1963. They were posted to quell conflicts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in 1964 and Indian and Pakistani forces in Kashmir in 1965. They were sent into the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in 1972, and then into southern Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 to buffer Israeli-Palestinian confrontations.

After retiring, Mr. Urquhart joined the Ford Foundation and wrote books and frequent commentaries for The New York Review of Books, The Times and other publications. He lived in Manhattan and Tyringham, Mass.
His books include “Ralph Bunche: An American Life” (1993), “Hammarskjöld” (1972) and an autobiography, “A Life in Peace and War” (1987).

 

Sir Brian Urquhart, Troubleshooter for the U.N., Dies at 101​

He was best known for creating and directing the U.N.’s peacekeeping operations in conflict-filled areas around the world.
By Robert D. McFadden
  • New York Times, Jan. 3, 2021
Brian Urquhart, a troubleshooting British diplomat who joined the United Nations at its birth in 1945 and over the next four decades was a chief aide to five secretaries general while directing peacekeeping operations around the world, died on Saturday at his home in Tyringham, Mass. He was 101.

His son Thomas confirmed the death.
Mr. Urquhart (pronounced IRK-it) was no James Bond, but he was kidnapped and severely beaten by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leapt out of an airplane at 1,200 feet and survived when his parachute partly failed as he landed. He led peacekeeping forces in many war zones. He once downed a bottle of whiskey to avoid freezing on a subzero flight through a blizzard to find Yasir Arafat.
“We had a choice,” he told Mr. Arafat, the teetotaling leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, after Mr. Urquhart’s small, ice-encrusted plane landed in Beirut in 1982, “of arriving either drunk or dead.”
Resourceful, irreverent, unflappable, Mr. Urquhart blended the qualities of a globe-trotting adventurer and a determined international civil servant. In 1945, he worked for the commission that set up the United Nations Secretariat, arranged the General Assembly’s first meeting in London and settled on New York City as the United Nations’ permanent home.

Over the ensuing decades, he was a close adviser to the first five secretaries general: Trygve Lie of Norway, Dag Hammarskjöld of Sweden, U Thant of what was then Burma, Kurt Waldheim of Austria and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru (who died in March).

He served 12 years as the U.N.’s No. 2 official, succeeding Ralph J. Bunche as under secretary general for political affairs in 1974, after two years as assistant secretary general. He wrote books on United Nations leaders and operations and was named a knight commander by Queen Elizabeth II in June 1986.



Image
Mr. Urquhart in 1988. He blended the qualities of a globe-trotting adventurer and a determined international civil servant.

Mr. Urquhart in 1988. Credit...Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

He blended the qualities of a globe-trotting adventurer and a determined international civil servant.
While peacekeeping was not originally envisioned for the United Nations, Mr. Urquhart, as deputy to Dr. Bunche, the American who won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediation of the 1948 war in the Middle East, firmly believed in the U.N. as an arbiter of international disputes. He was instrumental in creating its peacekeeping forces, calling them an army without an enemy — only difficult clients.
It was Mr. Urquhart who decided that U.N. troops should wear blue helmets to distinguish them from actual combatants, and he articulated the principles of their peacekeeping operations, saying they should enter a war zone only with broad political support and a mandate to remain above the conflict, to use force only as a last resort and ultimately to end hostilities and facilitate negotiations.

In a postwar era rife with revolutions, regional disputes and Cold War conflicts, darkened by fears of an East-West nuclear conflagration, Mr. Urquhart deployed and often led his lightly armed peacekeepers into war zones in the Middle East, Congo, southern Africa, Kashmir, Cyprus and other places. They sometimes failed to defuse explosive situations, but often succeeded in easing tensions and assisting refugees.

“The United Nations may have been shoved to the sidelines long ago when it came to the political ordering of the world,” Madeleine G. Kalb wrote in a New York Times Magazine profile of Mr. Urquhart in 1982. “Yet the United Nations has undeniably chalked up one proud success — peacekeeping in conflicts where the vital interests of the great powers were not directly involved.”
As the crisis negotiator in shooting wars, he was often in danger. In Congo in 1961, trying to subdue a secessionist Katanga Province, he was kidnapped, held for hours and stomped and beaten with rifles by rebel troops, until Katanga’s president, Moise Tshombe, intervened to save his life.
By 1986, when Mr. Urquhart retired, he had directed 13 peacekeeping operations, recruited a force of 10,000 troops from 23 countries and established peacekeeping as one of the United Nations’ most visible and politically popular functions. In an editorial, The New York Times hailed him as a visionary soldier of peace.
“Mr. Urquhart persists in believing that the Soviet Union and the United States may yet find it in their interest to join in peacekeeping operations that can contain local conflicts,” the editorial said. “As Mr. Urquhart asks in reflecting upon his life’s service, ‘Why should not the lion sometimes lie down with the lion, instead of terrifying all the lambs by their mutual hostility?’”
The U.N. peacekeeping forces won the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize.

Brian Edward Urquhart was born on Feb. 28, 1919, in the southwest of England, in the town of Bridport, one of two sons of Murray and Bertha (Rendall) Urquhart. His father quit the family when he was 7. His mother taught at Badminton School in Bristol and, with his brother Andrew at school elsewhere, she enrolled Brian as the only boy among 200 girls there. One of his classmates was Indira Nehru, who became Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India.
He graduated from Westminster School in London in 1937. After two years at Oxford University, he joined the British Army when World War II began in 1939. During training camp in 1942, his parachute partly failed in the last moments of a jump; he recalled looking up at its “tulip shape” as he plunged into a plowed field. Severely injured, he was told he might never walk again. But within a year he had rejoined his unit and saw action in North Africa and Sicily.

In 1944, as a senior intelligence officer, Mr. Urquhart unsuccessfully opposed Operation Market Garden, an ill-advised airborne assault to seize bridges over the Rhine. Its failure cost 17,000 Allied casualties. The episode was chronicled in a 1974 Cornelius Ryan book, “A Bridge Too Far,” and in a 1977 Richard Attenborough film of the same name. Late in the war, searching for German atomic research sites, Mr. Urquhart stumbled upon the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

His marriage in 1944 to Alfreda Huntington ended in divorce. They had three children, Thomas, Katharine and Robert. He married Sidney Howard Canfield in 1963, and they had two children, Rachel and Charles. Mrs. Urquhart, who had been in hospice care, died on Sunday at 87.
Mr. Urquhart is survived by his five children; a stepson, Thomas Canfield; and by 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Discharged as a major in 1945, Mr. Urquhart went to work in London with Gladwyn Jebb, who was director of the

commission that planned the U.N. Secretariat, the civil service that would eventually carry out much of the U.N.’s work from the familiar glass skyscraper on the East River. When the Secretariat was organized in 1946, Mr. Urquhart moved to New York and became chief assistant to Secretary General Trygve Lie.
Peacekeepers were first formally deployed in the Suez Crisis of 1956, when Israel invaded Egypt and Britain and France intervened. They helped to end Katanga’s secession from Congo in 1963. They were posted to quell conflicts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in 1964 and Indian and Pakistani forces in Kashmir in 1965. They were sent into the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in 1972, and then into southern Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 to buffer Israeli-Palestinian confrontations.

After retiring, Mr. Urquhart joined the Ford Foundation and wrote books and frequent commentaries for The New York Review of Books, The Times and other publications. He lived in Manhattan and Tyringham, Mass.
His books include “Ralph Bunche: An American Life” (1993), “Hammarskjöld” (1972) and an autobiography, “A Life in Peace and War” (1987).


Interesting that the little paragraph below covers the fact that he knew and told the powers that be that the SS Panzer Division had recently moved into Arnhem.

In 1944, as a senior intelligence officer, Mr. Urquhart unsuccessfully opposed Operation Market Garden, an ill-advised airborne assault to seize bridges over the Rhine. Its failure cost 17,000 Allied casualties. The episode was chronicled in a 1974 Cornelius Ryan book, “A Bridge Too Far,” and in a 1977 Richard Attenborough film of the same name.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Interesting that the little paragraph below covers the fact that he knew and told the powers that be that the SS Panzer Division had recently moved into Arnhem.

In 1944, as a senior intelligence officer, Mr. Urquhart unsuccessfully opposed Operation Market Garden, an ill-advised airborne assault to seize bridges over the Rhine. Its failure cost 17,000 Allied casualties. The episode was chronicled in a 1974 Cornelius Ryan book, “A Bridge Too Far,” and in a 1977 Richard Attenborough film of the same name.
But not a word on, "Theirs Is The Glory" from 1946.

I suspect that Robert D. McFadden was dicked to quickly make an obituary because he was the duty bod rather than his knowledge of history, his take on Op Hamilcar/Musketeer is another example.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Legendary Rhodesian soldier Dennis Croukamp has passed away in Cape Town, after having contracted COVID-19 while undergoing treatment for acute leukemia.

He wrote two books, "Bush War in Rhodesia" & "Only My Friends Call Me "Crouks" about his experiences.

Croukamp's service spanned the entirety of the Bush War, and he saw the first combat of the war during the early border patrols of the 1960's with the Rhodesian Light Infantry.
He took and passed selection for the Selous Scouts during the most intense years of the war, some impressive actions including a a very long E&E in near constant hot pursuit.
Croukamp was awarded the Bronze Cross of Rhodesia but ended the war serving as a Sergeant Major with his beloved RLI. For combat gallantry, he was awarded a Bronze Cross of Rhodesia.
Even among the more famous Rhodesian troepies, few saw a career as long and varied as his, he definitely embodied the "Men Among Men" spirit.

After moving to SA he ran a diving business, dipping tourists in amongst Great Whites.


RIP Crouks, it was my honour to know you.
Hamba kahle Madala.

Croukamp.jpg


Pamwe Chete !
 

Tom Hughes, paratrooper who served at the Battle of the Bulge – obituary​

He helped Belgian villagers to recover the bodies of young men shot in reprisal by the SS and later worked for The Daily Telegraph

Tom Hughes, who has died aged 96, saw action with the 9th Parachute Battalion (9 Para) in the Battle of the Bulge and the forced crossing of the Rhine.
On Christmas Eve 1944 Hughes and his comrades in 9 Para were looking forward to their Christmas dinner the following day. Instead, he found himself sleeping on the deck of an old Isle of Man ferry bound for Calais and then travelling by lorry to Belgium.
A week earlier, the Germans had launched a major offensive through the densely forested Ardennes which became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Hughes’s Christmas dinner, he said later, was a cheese sandwich.
9 Para, part of the 3rd Parachute Brigade, established a blocking position on the River Meuse. In January 1945, Hughes’s Bn was the first Allied combat unit to reach the small Belgian village of Bande after the enemy had retreated.
Here they learnt that German troops had arrived in Bande a week after the start of the Ardennes offensive and that on Christmas Eve 1944 all the male residents of Bande and the neighbouring village of Grune had been rounded up for questioning. Earlier, in September, three Germans had been shot by the Belgian Resistance.

About 30 young men had been taken away by a unit of the SS and shot. Only one man had managed to elude his captors and escape into the woods. Hughes and his comrades helped the villagers to recover the bodies from a partly demolished house where they had been thrown.
The soldiers placed the bodies in coffins which were draped with the Belgian flag. Some of them served as pall-bearers. Others joined the relatives in the funeral procession.
Tom Hughes with members of the Poleykett family with whom he was billeted at Calne, Wiltshire, during the war
Thomas Rhys Hughes was born at Ebbw Vale, South Wales, on May 24 1924. His father was a pharmaceutical chemist who worked at Boots. When he became manager of the branch at Upper Norwood in London, his family moved there.
Thomas was educated at Dulwich College and subsequently served in the Home Guard before being called up and posted to the Royal Artillery. He volunteered for the newly formed Parachute Regiment and was near the end of a five-week course when he broke his foot in training and spent two months in plaster.
As a result, he could not accompany 9 Para in the Normandy landings in June 1944, but this may have saved his life because the unit suffered heavy casualties in the attack on the Merville Battery.
9 Para was relieved in the line in February 1945 and returned to England to reconstitute. On March 24 he took part in Operation Varsity, the daylight parachute and glider assault into Germany which forced a crossing of the Rhine.
His stick was delayed because the green light failed and the first man refused to jump. That man was pushed out of the way by the adjutant who was next. The rest followed but they landed several miles from their intended drop zone.
After landing in a field, Hughes was approached by a group of German soldiers who wanted to surrender to him. He waved them away, but when he joined up with the rest of his comrades he found that they had 30 prisoners between them.
Having secured its objectives on the Rhine, 6th Airborne Division was ordered to push on across northern Germany to Wismar on the Baltic coast in order to prevent a Russian advance into Denmark. The Division marched 278 miles in 37 days, fighting numerous battles on the way. Hughes was involved in a number of 9 Para’s fierce actions, notably at Greven and Wissingen. On May 2 the Division reached Wismar, where they met forward elements of the Red Army.
After the war Hughes went with the battalion to Palestine, where they were involved in internal security duties. In 1946 he was demobilised and joined South London Press as a district reporter.
After working as a sub-editor at Reuters, he joined the Foreign staff at the Daily Mail. For 20 years, he worked for The Daily Telegraph, variously on the Foreign desk, as Commonwealth correspondent, night foreign editor and assistant foreign editor.
This period was broken, between 1976 and 1980, for an unpaid sabbatical in the Solomon Islands, Western Pacific, as senior information officer. Hughes was also a freelance contributor to the BBC as well as national newspapers and magazines.
In 1989 he retired, but until 2015 he produced the Pacific Island Society magazine, The Outrigger. He was an active member of the 9th Parachute Battalion Reunion Club, a group of veterans and their families who travel to Normandy every year to the Merville Battery, now a thriving museum. Until as recently as August 2020 he edited The Red Beret newsletter.
In 1958 Tom Hughes married Pamela Lawrence, who died in 2018. He is survived by their three daughters. The youngest, Elizabeth, was appointed OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List for services to humanitarian crisis operations.
Tom Hughes, born May 24 1924, died November 8 2020
 
Unsure how this turned up in my FB feed, but worth a read if you have 5 minutes to learn of, and remember, an inspiring individual, even if there are some obvious 'clangers' in the commentary.

Image may contain: one or more people, hat and close-up


'They called him the Black Sparrow, and from the beginning of his life, all he wanted to do was get to France.

'He was born in Georgia, his father a former slave from Haiti, his mother full-blooded Creek. He ran away while still a child, determined to fulfill his destiny. He lived for a time with a group of English Romani, learning the art of horsemanship and working as a jockey. He kept traveling and working until he made his way to Norfolk, where he stowed away on a ship bound for Scotland. He wouldn't see America again for thirty years.

'In Glasgow he got work as a lookout for gambling operators, saving money until he had enough to get to England: one country closer to his goal. In Liverpool he did hard labor until his muscles developed and he turned to boxing. He became part of a whole expat community of Black boxers — some of the finest fighters in history — who had fled to Europe to find opportunities denied them in the States. Soon he was fighting regularly as a welterweight, racking up an impressive record, even fighting on the undercard of a few Jack Johnson bouts. His boxing career earned him a decent amount of money, and eventually took him to Paris, where he won his bout and promptly hopped off the tour. He was home.

'Imagine, if you will, being a young, handsome Black/Creek man, son of a slave, escaped from the American South, newly arrived in Paris in the springtime with your own apartment and a pocketful of money. Then imagine it is 1914.

'Fighting for France was a no-brainer. After all, in his heart at least, it was his country. He joined the French Foreign Legion, training to fight in the 3rd Marching Division alongside wealthy Ivy Leaguers, mariners, farmers, doctors, executives, refugees, cooks, and plenty of characters from all over the world running from undisclosed situations. These were Belgians, Italians, Russians, Greeks, Americans, a handful of Black Americans; Muslims, Catholics, Jews and Protestants — the legendary rabble of the Legion. Sent directly to the front along the Somme, he was thrust into a world of filthy, bloody trenches still filled with the body parts of the dead and the rancid smell of shit and blood as his unit experienced some of the worst losses of the war.

'At the end of this stint, what was left of the 3rd was disbanded and he had only the briefest respite before he joined the 170th Calvary and was sent straight to Verdun to participate in what would become one of the worst battles in the history of the human race. Now a corporal, he led a machine-gun crew and again was front-and-center for the worst of the fighting, suffering first a shrapnel wound to the face that he simply fought through, then finally sidelined by a massive, nearly fatal wound to his thigh that finally sent him away from the front. Decorated with the Croix de Guerre for his valor at Verdun — one of France’s highest military honors — he was well within his rights to find a desk job in the military.
He had other ideas. He wanted to fly.

'Already viewed as a hero, he was able to pull the necessary strings to enter flight school, and became the first Black American fighter pilot in history. He flew a SPAD VII C1 with a distinctive alteration to its appearance. Painted on the outside of the fuselage was a red heart with a dagger through it. Above the heart was his personal slogan, one he would later use for the title of his unpublished memoir: Tout Le Sang Qui Coule Est Rouge; roughly, in English: “All Blood Runs Red.” He flew with honor and distinction until his career in the air came to an abrupt halt. The Americans had entered the war and the involvement of a certain Dr. Gros, a US Army Major with racist attitudes, led to the end of the Black Sparrow's career as a pilot.

'But the French continued to celebrate him. He ended this part of his military career with the Military Medal, Croix de Guerre, Volunteer Combat Cross, Medal for Military Wounded (twice), World War I Medal, Victory Medal, Voluntary Enlistment Medal, Battle of Verdun Medal, Battle of Somme Medal, and the American Volunteer with the French Army Medal.

'And that is when his life got interesting. The Great War over, he found himself in Paris in the 1920s at the onset of the Jazz Age. He got back in shape, took work as a sparring partner and fought a few more times. But it wasn't sustainable with his injuries. So he learned to play the drums and became a jazz musician. He gigged frequently, saved money, and ended up in a business partnership with a biracial American blues singer whose birth name was Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louis Virginia Smith — known as "Bricktop" for her red hair. Together, they opened the Le Grand Duc, and thus he became proprietor of the hippest nightclub in the hippest city during the birth of hip.

'He got married around this time to a Frenchwoman named Marcelle and they had two daughters. For reasons that remained private, Marcelle ended up leaving him with their children, to whom he would remain devoted for the rest of his life, as we will see. But he had to balance the duties of being a single parent with Le Grand Duc — and later his other club, L’escradille, which was connected to a boxing gym so that patrons could party, then exercise, take a steam bath, get a massage, and start partying again.
To name the personages that frequented his clubs is basically to list the greatest names in art and culture in the renaissance that was the 1920s.

'Langston Hughes was a busboy and dishwasher. Arthur Wilson — you may know him as "Sam" of Casablanca fame — was part of the house band. Charlie Chaplin was a favorite. Gloria Swanson. Fatty Arbuckle. The Prince of Wales. Staff would move tables when Fred and Adele Astaire came in to tear up the floor. Picasso would stop by, and Hemingway was there often enough that he wrote about it in "The Sun Also Rises." Josephine Baker could not be missed, and even babysat for the Sparrow. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda were frequent, notorious guests. Cole Porter would come in; he adored the way Bricktop interpreted his songs. When Louis Armstrong encamped in Paris, he and the Sparrow became close.
But the good times couldn't last. In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. In France, the Deuxième Bureau was created as a counter-intelligence service and the Sparrow was recruited to work with the beautiful Alsatian spy, Cleopatre "Kitty" Terrier, whose father's murder by Germans in the disputed border region had instilled in her a lifelong hatred of German expansionism.

'Kitty and the Sparrow worked as a team at the club. He would serve tables and play dumb, exploiting German prejudices that would never suspect he was fluent in German. She would flirt her way into privileged information. It was a highly successful (and probably romantic) pairing, but with rationing, blackouts, and other wartime austerity measures, keeping businesses running became harder and harder.
He tried. He procured a wagon and would visit markets at the end of the day for discounted goods, throw them in a stew at the club. Come evening he would feed everyone for free, plus a free glass of wine per person and a pack of cigarettes per table. He tried. But of course, things got worse.

'He pulled his daughters out of their convent school to keep them close. Closed the club. Many were fleeing as the Nazis came storming through Belgium. He wouldn't run. He continued to work with Kitty in the Resistance until 1940, when the Nazis marched down Champs-Élysées and through L'arc de Triomphe.
Tens of thousands fled the city only to be bombed from the skies. He left his daughters in the care of Kitty, who promised to do what was necessary to keep them safe, packed his gear, and headed for the frontlines, determined, despite his age and multiple injuries, to find his old unit and rejoin the Legion.

'When he arrived, it was only to find that his unit had been destroyed. Returning to Paris, he couldn't enter; it had been completely overrun. But he heard rumors that the French 51st was holding out at Orléans. He started off on foot. The roads were full of starved, half-mad refugees. Bombings were frequent. When he got there he discovered that his lieutenant from the last war was the commander of the 51st, and, in what must have felt like the world's worst case of déjà vu, he was once again in charge of a machine-gun crew, fighting the Germans. He fought with his usual bravery. But it was a hopeless last stand. A shell that killed 11 men threw him forty feet and cracked a vertebrae. His fighting days were over. Using his rifle as a crutch, he struck out for a military hospital in Angoulême, trying to stay out of sight. But there was little they could do for him there: painkillers, some bandages, and a few cans of sardines with a suggestion to head for Bordeaux. Spain, although Fascist, had maintained official neutrality, and Franco was tacitly allowing Allied rescue efforts on Spanish soil. He made it, somehow, received his first passport, and was put on a Navy ship to finally return to the United States he had fled decades before.

'Life in Manhattan wasn't easy. He had to start from scratch. He worked odd jobs — longshoreman, salesman of French perfume. Through a contact in the State Department he was able to get in touch with Kitty, who was true to her word: his daughters were safe. They came to the States without a word of English between them and moved in with their beloved father in Spanish Harlem. He became involved in Free French groups, working to support General de Gaulle, head of the Free French government in exile, and was also filmed getting beaten by police as part of a human chain to protect Paul Robeson when his concert was disrupted by white supremacists. Times were tight but he was doing okay. His old friend Louis Armstrong came to help, hiring him as a tour manager and occasional drummer. He even tried to recover his club and gym in Paris, but the postwar situation was hopelessly complicated and he had to give up.

'In 1959, via the French Embassy in New York City, he was made a chevalier (knight) of France. He said at the ceremony, "My services to France could never repay all I owe her.” Working at the time as an elevator operator at 10 Rockefeller Plaza, he was wearing his medal on his work uniform when Dave Garroway, the host of The Tonight Show, asked him about it. Naturally amazed by what he heard, he saw that this elegant elevator operator got the day off of work so he could come to his office for an interview. It took a week to confirm facts. They all checked out: the elevator man at 10 Rockefeller Plaza was the first Black American fighter pilot in history — and a lot more. He appeared on The Today Show, which led to a slew of other appearances and speaking engagements. At least in parts of America, he became a celebrated figure, his heroism recognized. During his one return visit to Georgia, though, things were not so bright. His family has been scattered. One brother had been lynched by squatters when he'd tried to recover ancestral Creek land. He never returned to the South, living out the rest of his life in New York City.

'But there was one final honor. In 1960, General Charles de Gaulle, leader of Free France, came to visit Eisenhower. A million people greeted him in the streets when he arrived in New York. Hundreds of children sang "La Marseillaise." He gave speeches at City Hall and the Waldorf Astoria, then went where he truly belonged, to the Seventh Regiment Armory. Five thousand French were there. And the Sparrow. His presence had been requested. After de Gaulle's speech, he looked into the crowd as though searching for a friend. The thousands gathered, and assembled press, may have wondered what was going on as the general left the podium and headed into the sea of faces to find a lone Black man, his chest gleaming with medals. The man stood at attention and saluted. De Gaulle returned the salute. Then the general stuck out his hand and, when it was received, pulled the old soldier into a massive hug. "All our country is in your debt," he said. Crying, the man whose journey began as a stowaway, bound for an uncertain future, sure only that he belonged in France, could only respond, "Merci, mon general. Merci beaucoup."

'Not long after, he entered the hospital with stomach pains. He'd been ignoring them, but the insistence of his daughters finally prevailed. The cancer was advanced. He turned 66 on October 9, 1961, and died on the 12th. The woman who had been helping him with his memoirs visited him on the day he died. She was crying at the bedside where he lay, seemingly lost to the world he was leaving. Hearing her sobs, his consciousness returned from wherever it had been. He pulled the tube out of his mouth. He had something he wanted to say to her.

'The old horseman, boxer, soldier, pilot, spy, club-owner, musician, and father turned to his friend and smiled. "Don't fret, honey," he said. "It's easy."

'His name was Eugene Bullard. They called him the Black Sparrow.'


 
Last edited:
Unsure how this turned up in my FB feed, but worth a read if you have 5 minutes to learn of, and remember, an inspiring individual, even if there are some obvious 'clangers' in the commentary.

Image may contain: one or more people, hat and close-up


'They called him the Black Sparrow, and from the beginning of his life, all he wanted to do was get to France.

'He was born in Georgia, his father a former slave from Haiti, his mother full-blooded Creek. He ran away while still a child, determined to fulfill his destiny. He lived for a time with a group of English Romani, learning the art of horsemanship and working as a jockey. He kept traveling and working until he made his way to Norfolk, where he stowed away on a ship bound for Scotland. He wouldn't see America again for thirty years.

'In Glasgow he got work as a lookout for gambling operators, saving money until he had enough to get to England: one country closer to his goal. In Liverpool he did hard labor until his muscles developed and he turned to boxing. He became part of a whole expat community of Black boxers — some of the finest fighters in history — who had fled to Europe to find opportunities denied them in the States. Soon he was fighting regularly as a welterweight, racking up an impressive record, even fighting on the undercard of a few Jack Johnson bouts. His boxing career earned him a decent amount of money, and eventually took him to Paris, where he won his bout and promptly hopped off the tour. He was home.

'Imagine, if you will, being a young, handsome Black/Creek man, son of a slave, escaped from the American South, newly arrived in Paris in the springtime with your own apartment and a pocketful of money. Then imagine it is 1914.

'Fighting for France was a no-brainer. After all, in his heart at least, it was his country. He joined the French Foreign Legion, training to fight in the 3rd Marching Division alongside wealthy Ivy Leaguers, mariners, farmers, doctors, executives, refugees, cooks, and plenty of characters from all over the world running from undisclosed situations. These were Belgians, Italians, Russians, Greeks, Americans, a handful of Black Americans; Muslims, Catholics, Jews and Protestants — the legendary rabble of the Legion. Sent directly to the front along the Somme, he was thrust into a world of filthy, bloody trenches still filled with the body parts of the dead and the rancid smell of shit and blood as his unit experienced some of the worst losses of the war.

'At the end of this stint, what was left of the 3rd was disbanded and he had only the briefest respite before he joined the 170th Calvary and was sent straight to Verdun to participate in what would become one of the worst battles in the history of the human race. Now a corporal, he led a machine-gun crew and again was front-and-center for the worst of the fighting, suffering first a shrapnel wound to the face that he simply fought through, then finally sidelined by a massive, nearly fatal wound to his thigh that finally sent him away from the front. Decorated with the Croix de Guerre for his valor at Verdun — one of France’s highest military honors — he was well within his rights to find a desk job in the military.
He had other ideas. He wanted to fly.

'Already viewed as a hero, he was able to pull the necessary strings to enter flight school, and became the first Black American fighter pilot in history. He flew a SPAD VII C1 with a distinctive alteration to its appearance. Painted on the outside of the fuselage was a red heart with a dagger through it. Above the heart was his personal slogan, one he would later use for the title of his unpublished memoir: Tout Le Sang Qui Coule Est Rouge; roughly, in English: “All Blood Runs Red.” He flew with honor and distinction until his career in the air came to an abrupt halt. The Americans had entered the war and the involvement of a certain Dr. Gros, a US Army Major with racist attitudes, led to the end of the Black Sparrow's career as a pilot.

'But the French continued to celebrate him. He ended this part of his military career with the Military Medal, Croix de Guerre, Volunteer Combat Cross, Medal for Military Wounded (twice), World War I Medal, Victory Medal, Voluntary Enlistment Medal, Battle of Verdun Medal, Battle of Somme Medal, and the American Volunteer with the French Army Medal.

'And that is when his life got interesting. The Great War over, he found himself in Paris in the 1920s at the onset of the Jazz Age. He got back in shape, took work as a sparring partner and fought a few more times. But it wasn't sustainable with his injuries. So he learned to play the drums and became a jazz musician. He gigged frequently, saved money, and ended up in a business partnership with a biracial American blues singer whose birth name was Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louis Virginia Smith — known as "Bricktop" for her red hair. Together, they opened the Le Grand Duc, and thus he became proprietor of the hippest nightclub in the hippest city during the birth of hip.

'He got married around this time to a Frenchwoman named Marcelle and they had two daughters. For reasons that remained private, Marcelle ended up leaving him with their children, to whom he would remain devoted for the rest of his life, as we will see. But he had to balance the duties of being a single parent with Le Grand Duc — and later his other club, L’escradille, which was connected to a boxing gym so that patrons could party, then exercise, take a steam bath, get a massage, and start partying again.
To name the personages that frequented his clubs is basically to list the greatest names in art and culture in the renaissance that was the 1920s.

'Langston Hughes was a busboy and dishwasher. Arthur Wilson — you may know him as "Sam" of Casablanca fame — was part of the house band. Charlie Chaplin was a favorite. Gloria Swanson. Fatty Arbuckle. The Prince of Wales. Staff would move tables when Fred and Adele Astaire came in to tear up the floor. Picasso would stop by, and Hemingway was there often enough that he wrote about it in "The Sun Also Rises." Josephine Baker could not be missed, and even babysat for the Sparrow. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda were frequent, notorious guests. Cole Porter would come in; he adored the way Bricktop interpreted his songs. When Louis Armstrong encamped in Paris, he and the Sparrow became close.
But the good times couldn't last. In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. In France, the Deuxième Bureau was created as a counter-intelligence service and the Sparrow was recruited to work with the beautiful Alsatian spy, Cleopatre "Kitty" Terrier, whose father's murder by Germans in the disputed border region had instilled in her a lifelong hatred of German expansionism.

'Kitty and the Sparrow worked as a team at the club. He would serve tables and play dumb, exploiting German prejudices that would never suspect he was fluent in German. She would flirt her way into privileged information. It was a highly successful (and probably romantic) pairing, but with rationing, blackouts, and other wartime austerity measures, keeping businesses running became harder and harder.
He tried. He procured a wagon and would visit markets at the end of the day for discounted goods, throw them in a stew at the club. Come evening he would feed everyone for free, plus a free glass of wine per person and a pack of cigarettes per table. He tried. But of course, things got worse.

'He pulled his daughters out of their convent school to keep them close. Closed the club. Many were fleeing as the Nazis came storming through Belgium. He wouldn't run. He continued to work with Kitty in the Resistance until 1940, when the Nazis marched down Champs-Élysées and through L'arc de Triomphe.
Tens of thousands fled the city only to be bombed from the skies. He left his daughters in the care of Kitty, who promised to do what was necessary to keep them safe, packed his gear, and headed for the frontlines, determined, despite his age and multiple injuries, to find his old unit and rejoin the Legion.

'When he arrived, it was only to find that his unit had been destroyed. Returning to Paris, he couldn't enter; it had been completely overrun. But he heard rumors that the French 51st was holding out at Orléans. He started off on foot. The roads were full of starved, half-mad refugees. Bombings were frequent. When he got there he discovered that his lieutenant from the last war was the commander of the 51st, and, in what must have felt like the world's worst case of déjà vu, he was once again in charge of a machine-gun crew, fighting the Germans. He fought with his usual bravery. But it was a hopeless last stand. A shell that killed 11 men threw him forty feet and cracked a vertebrae. His fighting days were over. Using his rifle as a crutch, he struck out for a military hospital in Angoulême, trying to stay out of sight. But there was little they could do for him there: painkillers, some bandages, and a few cans of sardines with a suggestion to head for Bordeaux. Spain, although Fascist, had maintained official neutrality, and Franco was tacitly allowing Allied rescue efforts on Spanish soil. He made it, somehow, received his first passport, and was put on a Navy ship to finally return to the United States he had fled decades before.

'Life in Manhattan wasn't easy. He had to start from scratch. He worked odd jobs — longshoreman, salesman of French perfume. Through a contact in the State Department he was able to get in touch with Kitty, who was true to her word: his daughters were safe. They came to the States without a word of English between them and moved in with their beloved father in Spanish Harlem. He became involved in Free French groups, working to support General de Gaulle, head of the Free French government in exile, and was also filmed getting beaten by police as part of a human chain to protect Paul Robeson when his concert was disrupted by white supremacists. Times were tight but he was doing okay. His old friend Louis Armstrong came to help, hiring him as a tour manager and occasional drummer. He even tried to recover his club and gym in Paris, but the postwar situation was hopelessly complicated and he had to give up.

'In 1959, via the French Embassy in New York City, he was made a chevalier (knight) of France. He said at the ceremony, "My services to France could never repay all I owe her.” Working at the time as an elevator operator at 10 Rockefeller Plaza, he was wearing his medal on his work uniform when Dave Garroway, the host of The Tonight Show, asked him about it. Naturally amazed by what he heard, he saw that this elegant elevator operator got the day off of work so he could come to his office for an interview. It took a week to confirm facts. They all checked out: the elevator man at 10 Rockefeller Plaza was the first Black American fighter pilot in history — and a lot more. He appeared on The Today Show, which led to a slew of other appearances and speaking engagements. At least in parts of America, he became a celebrated figure, his heroism recognized. During his one return visit to Georgia, though, things were not so bright. His family has been scattered. One brother had been lynched by squatters when he'd tried to recover ancestral Creek land. He never returned to the South, living out the rest of his life in New York City.

'But there was one final honor. In 1960, General Charles de Gaulle, leader of Free France, came to visit Eisenhower. A million people greeted him in the streets when he arrived in New York. Hundreds of children sang "La Marseillaise." He gave speeches at City Hall and the Waldorf Astoria, then went where he truly belonged, to the Seventh Regiment Armory. Five thousand French were there. And the Sparrow. His presence had been requested. After de Gaulle's speech, he looked into the crowd as though searching for a friend. The thousands gathered, and assembled press, may have wondered what was going on as the general left the podium and headed into the sea of faces to find a lone Black man, his chest gleaming with medals. The man stood at attention and saluted. De Gaulle returned the salute. Then the general stuck out his hand and, when it was received, pulled the old soldier into a massive hug. "All our country is in your debt," he said. Crying, the man whose journey began as a stowaway, bound for an uncertain future, sure only that he belonged in France, could only respond, "Merci, mon general. Merci beaucoup."

'Not long after, he entered the hospital with stomach pains. He'd been ignoring them, but the insistence of his daughters finally prevailed. The cancer was advanced. He turned 66 on October 9, 1961, and died on the 12th. The woman who had been helping him with his memoirs visited him on the day he died. She was crying at the bedside where he lay, seemingly lost to the world he was leaving. Hearing her sobs, his consciousness returned from wherever it had been. He pulled the tube out of his mouth. He had something he wanted to say to her.

'The old horseman, boxer, soldier, pilot, spy, club-owner, musician, and father turned to his friend and smiled. "Don't fret, honey," he said. "It's easy."

'His name was Eugene Bullard. They called him the Black Sparrow.'



And the BLM tossers willl never have heard of him.
They don't want to hear about black heroes - just black victims.
 
Unsure how this turned up in my FB feed, but worth a read if you have 5 minutes to learn of, and remember, an inspiring individual, even if there are some obvious 'clangers' in the commentary.

Image may contain: one or more people, hat and close-up


'They called him the Black Sparrow, and from the beginning of his life, all he wanted to do was get to France.

'He was born in Georgia, his father a former slave from Haiti, his mother full-blooded Creek. He ran away while still a child, determined to fulfill his destiny. He lived for a time with a group of English Romani, learning the art of horsemanship and working as a jockey. He kept traveling and working until he made his way to Norfolk, where he stowed away on a ship bound for Scotland. He wouldn't see America again for thirty years.

'In Glasgow he got work as a lookout for gambling operators, saving money until he had enough to get to England: one country closer to his goal. In Liverpool he did hard labor until his muscles developed and he turned to boxing. He became part of a whole expat community of Black boxers — some of the finest fighters in history — who had fled to Europe to find opportunities denied them in the States. Soon he was fighting regularly as a welterweight, racking up an impressive record, even fighting on the undercard of a few Jack Johnson bouts. His boxing career earned him a decent amount of money, and eventually took him to Paris, where he won his bout and promptly hopped off the tour. He was home.

'Imagine, if you will, being a young, handsome Black/Creek man, son of a slave, escaped from the American South, newly arrived in Paris in the springtime with your own apartment and a pocketful of money. Then imagine it is 1914.

'Fighting for France was a no-brainer. After all, in his heart at least, it was his country. He joined the French Foreign Legion, training to fight in the 3rd Marching Division alongside wealthy Ivy Leaguers, mariners, farmers, doctors, executives, refugees, cooks, and plenty of characters from all over the world running from undisclosed situations. These were Belgians, Italians, Russians, Greeks, Americans, a handful of Black Americans; Muslims, Catholics, Jews and Protestants — the legendary rabble of the Legion. Sent directly to the front along the Somme, he was thrust into a world of filthy, bloody trenches still filled with the body parts of the dead and the rancid smell of shit and blood as his unit experienced some of the worst losses of the war.

'At the end of this stint, what was left of the 3rd was disbanded and he had only the briefest respite before he joined the 170th Calvary and was sent straight to Verdun to participate in what would become one of the worst battles in the history of the human race. Now a corporal, he led a machine-gun crew and again was front-and-center for the worst of the fighting, suffering first a shrapnel wound to the face that he simply fought through, then finally sidelined by a massive, nearly fatal wound to his thigh that finally sent him away from the front. Decorated with the Croix de Guerre for his valor at Verdun — one of France’s highest military honors — he was well within his rights to find a desk job in the military.
He had other ideas. He wanted to fly.

'Already viewed as a hero, he was able to pull the necessary strings to enter flight school, and became the first Black American fighter pilot in history. He flew a SPAD VII C1 with a distinctive alteration to its appearance. Painted on the outside of the fuselage was a red heart with a dagger through it. Above the heart was his personal slogan, one he would later use for the title of his unpublished memoir: Tout Le Sang Qui Coule Est Rouge; roughly, in English: “All Blood Runs Red.” He flew with honor and distinction until his career in the air came to an abrupt halt. The Americans had entered the war and the involvement of a certain Dr. Gros, a US Army Major with racist attitudes, led to the end of the Black Sparrow's career as a pilot.

'But the French continued to celebrate him. He ended this part of his military career with the Military Medal, Croix de Guerre, Volunteer Combat Cross, Medal for Military Wounded (twice), World War I Medal, Victory Medal, Voluntary Enlistment Medal, Battle of Verdun Medal, Battle of Somme Medal, and the American Volunteer with the French Army Medal.

'And that is when his life got interesting. The Great War over, he found himself in Paris in the 1920s at the onset of the Jazz Age. He got back in shape, took work as a sparring partner and fought a few more times. But it wasn't sustainable with his injuries. So he learned to play the drums and became a jazz musician. He gigged frequently, saved money, and ended up in a business partnership with a biracial American blues singer whose birth name was Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louis Virginia Smith — known as "Bricktop" for her red hair. Together, they opened the Le Grand Duc, and thus he became proprietor of the hippest nightclub in the hippest city during the birth of hip.

'He got married around this time to a Frenchwoman named Marcelle and they had two daughters. For reasons that remained private, Marcelle ended up leaving him with their children, to whom he would remain devoted for the rest of his life, as we will see. But he had to balance the duties of being a single parent with Le Grand Duc — and later his other club, L’escradille, which was connected to a boxing gym so that patrons could party, then exercise, take a steam bath, get a massage, and start partying again.
To name the personages that frequented his clubs is basically to list the greatest names in art and culture in the renaissance that was the 1920s.

'Langston Hughes was a busboy and dishwasher. Arthur Wilson — you may know him as "Sam" of Casablanca fame — was part of the house band. Charlie Chaplin was a favorite. Gloria Swanson. Fatty Arbuckle. The Prince of Wales. Staff would move tables when Fred and Adele Astaire came in to tear up the floor. Picasso would stop by, and Hemingway was there often enough that he wrote about it in "The Sun Also Rises." Josephine Baker could not be missed, and even babysat for the Sparrow. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda were frequent, notorious guests. Cole Porter would come in; he adored the way Bricktop interpreted his songs. When Louis Armstrong encamped in Paris, he and the Sparrow became close.
But the good times couldn't last. In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. In France, the Deuxième Bureau was created as a counter-intelligence service and the Sparrow was recruited to work with the beautiful Alsatian spy, Cleopatre "Kitty" Terrier, whose father's murder by Germans in the disputed border region had instilled in her a lifelong hatred of German expansionism.

'Kitty and the Sparrow worked as a team at the club. He would serve tables and play dumb, exploiting German prejudices that would never suspect he was fluent in German. She would flirt her way into privileged information. It was a highly successful (and probably romantic) pairing, but with rationing, blackouts, and other wartime austerity measures, keeping businesses running became harder and harder.
He tried. He procured a wagon and would visit markets at the end of the day for discounted goods, throw them in a stew at the club. Come evening he would feed everyone for free, plus a free glass of wine per person and a pack of cigarettes per table. He tried. But of course, things got worse.

'He pulled his daughters out of their convent school to keep them close. Closed the club. Many were fleeing as the Nazis came storming through Belgium. He wouldn't run. He continued to work with Kitty in the Resistance until 1940, when the Nazis marched down Champs-Élysées and through L'arc de Triomphe.
Tens of thousands fled the city only to be bombed from the skies. He left his daughters in the care of Kitty, who promised to do what was necessary to keep them safe, packed his gear, and headed for the frontlines, determined, despite his age and multiple injuries, to find his old unit and rejoin the Legion.

'When he arrived, it was only to find that his unit had been destroyed. Returning to Paris, he couldn't enter; it had been completely overrun. But he heard rumors that the French 51st was holding out at Orléans. He started off on foot. The roads were full of starved, half-mad refugees. Bombings were frequent. When he got there he discovered that his lieutenant from the last war was the commander of the 51st, and, in what must have felt like the world's worst case of déjà vu, he was once again in charge of a machine-gun crew, fighting the Germans. He fought with his usual bravery. But it was a hopeless last stand. A shell that killed 11 men threw him forty feet and cracked a vertebrae. His fighting days were over. Using his rifle as a crutch, he struck out for a military hospital in Angoulême, trying to stay out of sight. But there was little they could do for him there: painkillers, some bandages, and a few cans of sardines with a suggestion to head for Bordeaux. Spain, although Fascist, had maintained official neutrality, and Franco was tacitly allowing Allied rescue efforts on Spanish soil. He made it, somehow, received his first passport, and was put on a Navy ship to finally return to the United States he had fled decades before.

'Life in Manhattan wasn't easy. He had to start from scratch. He worked odd jobs — longshoreman, salesman of French perfume. Through a contact in the State Department he was able to get in touch with Kitty, who was true to her word: his daughters were safe. They came to the States without a word of English between them and moved in with their beloved father in Spanish Harlem. He became involved in Free French groups, working to support General de Gaulle, head of the Free French government in exile, and was also filmed getting beaten by police as part of a human chain to protect Paul Robeson when his concert was disrupted by white supremacists. Times were tight but he was doing okay. His old friend Louis Armstrong came to help, hiring him as a tour manager and occasional drummer. He even tried to recover his club and gym in Paris, but the postwar situation was hopelessly complicated and he had to give up.

'In 1959, via the French Embassy in New York City, he was made a chevalier (knight) of France. He said at the ceremony, "My services to France could never repay all I owe her.” Working at the time as an elevator operator at 10 Rockefeller Plaza, he was wearing his medal on his work uniform when Dave Garroway, the host of The Tonight Show, asked him about it. Naturally amazed by what he heard, he saw that this elegant elevator operator got the day off of work so he could come to his office for an interview. It took a week to confirm facts. They all checked out: the elevator man at 10 Rockefeller Plaza was the first Black American fighter pilot in history — and a lot more. He appeared on The Today Show, which led to a slew of other appearances and speaking engagements. At least in parts of America, he became a celebrated figure, his heroism recognized. During his one return visit to Georgia, though, things were not so bright. His family has been scattered. One brother had been lynched by squatters when he'd tried to recover ancestral Creek land. He never returned to the South, living out the rest of his life in New York City.

'But there was one final honor. In 1960, General Charles de Gaulle, leader of Free France, came to visit Eisenhower. A million people greeted him in the streets when he arrived in New York. Hundreds of children sang "La Marseillaise." He gave speeches at City Hall and the Waldorf Astoria, then went where he truly belonged, to the Seventh Regiment Armory. Five thousand French were there. And the Sparrow. His presence had been requested. After de Gaulle's speech, he looked into the crowd as though searching for a friend. The thousands gathered, and assembled press, may have wondered what was going on as the general left the podium and headed into the sea of faces to find a lone Black man, his chest gleaming with medals. The man stood at attention and saluted. De Gaulle returned the salute. Then the general stuck out his hand and, when it was received, pulled the old soldier into a massive hug. "All our country is in your debt," he said. Crying, the man whose journey began as a stowaway, bound for an uncertain future, sure only that he belonged in France, could only respond, "Merci, mon general. Merci beaucoup."

'Not long after, he entered the hospital with stomach pains. He'd been ignoring them, but the insistence of his daughters finally prevailed. The cancer was advanced. He turned 66 on October 9, 1961, and died on the 12th. The woman who had been helping him with his memoirs visited him on the day he died. She was crying at the bedside where he lay, seemingly lost to the world he was leaving. Hearing her sobs, his consciousness returned from wherever it had been. He pulled the tube out of his mouth. He had something he wanted to say to her.

'The old horseman, boxer, soldier, pilot, spy, club-owner, musician, and father turned to his friend and smiled. "Don't fret, honey," he said. "It's easy."

'His name was Eugene Bullard. They called him the Black Sparrow.'


Let’s hope they make a decent film or even a mini-series about his life. Nobody would believe it though.
One heck of a warrior!
 
Let’s hope they make a decent film or even a mini-series about his life. Nobody would believe it though.
One heck of a warrior!

Can't speak for 'decent', but...

In 1972, Bullard's exploits as a pilot were retold in a biography, The Black Swallow of Death. He is also the subject of the nonfiction young adult memoir Eugene Bullard: World's First Black Fighter Pilot by Larry Greenly.

In 2012–2014, the French writer Claude Ribbe wrote a book on Bullard and made a television documentary.

In 2019, a french movie director, Paul Mignot, wrote a 12'short film called: "All Blood Runs Red", about the extraordinary life of Eugene Bullard, paving the way to enter in competition for the 2021 Academy Awards in Hollywood. The movie will be promoted and distributed in the USA by french-american producer, Benoit Clair.
 

Auld-Yin

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Flight Lieutenant David Lord, VC DFC (18 October 1913 – 19 September 1944) was pilot and captain of a Dakota aircraft detailed to drop supplies at Arnhem on the afternoon of 19 September 1944 - Flt Lt D Lord VC DFC

His father was RSM John Lord MVO MBE fighting in Arnhem at the time. RSM John Lord MVO MBE


Mods - Feel free to move this if you think it should go somewhere else
I don't think he was!
 

exspy

LE
Flight Lieutenant David Lord, VC DFC (18 October 1913 – 19 September 1944) was pilot and captain of a Dakota aircraft detailed to drop supplies at Arnhem on the afternoon of 19 September 1944 - Flt Lt D Lord VC DFC

His father was RSM John Lord MVO MBE fighting in Arnhem at the time. RSM John Lord MVO MBE


Mods - Feel free to move this if you think it should go somewhere else
Sorry, but you should have read the wiki entry about F/Lt Lord. He was not John Lord's son.
 
Interesting that the little paragraph below covers the fact that he knew and told the powers that be that the SS Panzer Division had recently moved into Arnhem.

In 1944, as a senior intelligence officer, Mr. Urquhart unsuccessfully opposed Operation Market Garden, an ill-advised airborne assault to seize bridges over the Rhine. Its failure cost 17,000 Allied casualties. The episode was chronicled in a 1974 Cornelius Ryan book, “A Bridge Too Far,” and in a 1977 Richard Attenborough film of the same name.
By the merest chance, this news has just reached me.

For those interested to follow up, Al Murray and James Holland jointly covered Urquhart's part of the Arnhem story in a podcast on 5 Jan.

Link is below (you need Ep 236). Fast forward to 14m 50secs to the point where they start the piece on Urquhart

 
By the merest chance, this news has just reached me.

For those interested to follow up, Al Murray and James Holland jointly covered Urquhart's part of the Arnhem story in a podcast on 5 Jan.

Link is below (you need Ep 236). Fast forward to 14m 50secs to the point where they start the piece on Urquhart


I am a bit behind you , just listened to Ep 251 Gliders.
I enjoy their passion for the research, its presentation, the people they have interviewed during this almost 12 months of Chinese Plague.
I did detect one waffling walt interview - which they did not pick up on (because neither have served I think ) .... Old chap talking like an actor with a fruity voice , talking shite.
Most of it - very good.
 

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