Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dennis Price 1915-1973

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kenneth More 1914-1982

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Roger Livesey 1906-1976

Best known of the Livesey acting brothers, a character star more than a character player, Roger Livesey is most fondly remembered for his screen roles in the films of Michael Powell: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943, as the hero who ages through three wars), I Know Where I'm Going! (1945 - his most famous romantic role as the laird who teaches Wendy Hiller about life and love) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946, as the benign neurologist-philosopher, Reeves).
Other notable roles include the lead in Peter Ustinov's Vice-Versa (1948), the bogus clergyman in The League of Gentlemen (d. Basil Dearden, 1960), Olivier's father in The Entertainer (d. Tony Richardson, 1960) and the Gravedigger in Hamlet (d. Richardson, 1969).
He made his stage debut in 1917 and was on Broadway in 1936; often teamed on stage with wife Ursula Jeans. His last major role was in The Pallisers (BBC, 1974). His bluff presence and inimitably husky tones made him, perhaps surprisingly, a maturely attractive figure to women.

Sir John Mills CBE 1908-2005

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chris Wren - Aviation Caricatures

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thor Heyerdahl 1914-2002

Thor Heyerdahl was born in Southern Norway in 1914. After studying zoology and geography at university he married and, in 1936, travelled with his new wife to the Marquesan archipelago in Pacific.
He spent a year in the Marquesas, living off the land and studying the local flora and fauna of this remote island group, the population of which included a man whose father was a cannibal. However, he soon became more interested in how Polynesia had been originally populated. He realised that the Pacific currents ran from east to west and that many local plants were identical to those of South America.
During World War II, he returned home to fight for the Free Norwegian Forces in his occupied homeland: highly dangerous work which saw him decorated for bravery.
The Kon-Tiki expedition caught the imagination of a world enduring post-war austerity. The film of the expedition won Thor Heyerdahl an Oscar for best documentary, the book sold 60 million copies worldwide. He followed his epic journey with archaeological expeditions in the Pacific aimed at finding artefacts left by ancient South Americans. In 1953 he travelled to the Galapagos Islands, 100 miles west of Ecuador. Here he found large quantities of ceramic pottery which could be traced to Indian cultures of Ecuador and Peru. In 1955 and 1956, Thor Heyerdahl conducted the first co-ordinated excavations of Easter Island, the abandoned island whose many carved heads stand sentinel on the Pacific. Again, he found indications of early visitors from South America.
In 1970 he crossed the Atlantic in a papyrus craft, Ra II after the original Ra had disintegrated shortly after it set out. The journey, which ended in triumph in the West Indies turned the idea that Columbus was the first transatlantic navigator on its head.
Eight years he skippered another ship, the Tigris, on a journey from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, down the Persian Gulf to Oman, Pakistan and, then, across the Indian Ocean to Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. The five month journey was meant to show how the ancient Sumerians could have travelled widely. When, in Djibouti, the Tigris was prevented from entering the Red Sea by local conflicts, Heyerdahl burned it in a poignant protest against war. A committed internationalist, he always travelled with a multinational crew and always flew the flag of the United Nations. Thor Heyerdahl's expeditions fostered a close understanding of the global environment and he voiced his concern at the increasing problem of pollution which he had encountered even in the middle of the world's oceans .

Monday, June 18, 2012

Test Pilot Funeral Service

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, DSO, MC, TD 1911-1995

Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, DSO, MC, TD, Order of Suvorov (Soviet Union), Légion d'honneur (France), Croix de guerre (France) (9 July 1911 - 16 March 1995) was the 25th Chief of the Clan Fraser and a prominent British Commando during the Second World War. His friends called him "Shimi" Lovat, his name in his mother tongue. His Clan referred to him as MacShimidh, his Gaelic patronym. He is commonly known as the 17th Lord Lovat.

15th Lord Lovat. 2nd World War hero. Led the Dieppe Raid. An outstanding military leader in WWII. Described by Winston Churchill in a letter to Stalin, quoting Byron as “the mildest mannered man that ever scuttled a ship or cut a throat”

Simon Fraser was born at Beaufort Castle, Inverness, Scotland, the son of the 14th Lord Lovat (commonly known as the 16th Lord), and Laura Fraser. After being educated at Ampleforth College and Oxford University, where he joined the University's Cavalry Squadron, Fraser was commissioned into the Scots Guards in 1932. The following year, Fraser succeeded his father to become the 15th Lord Lovat (referred to as the 17th Lord Lovat) and 25th Chief of the Clan Fraser. He married Rosamond Broughton in 1938, with whom he would have six children.

World War II
Prior to the Second World War, in June 1939, Lord Lovat resigned his commission in the Scots Guards. In August, as war approached, Lord Lovat was mobilised as a captain in the Lovat Scouts. The following year he volunteered to join one of the new commando units being formed by the British Army, and was eventually attached to No. 4 Commando. On 3 March, 1941, Nos 3 and 4 Commando launched a raid on the German-occupied Lofoten Islands. In the successful raid, the commandos destroyed a significant number of fish-oil factories, petrol dumps and 11 ships. They also seized encryption equipment and codebooks. In additional to the destruction of materials, the commandos captured 216 German troops, and 315 Norwegians chose to accompany the commandos back to Britain.
As a temporary-major, Lord Lovat commanded 100 men of No. 4 Commando and a 50-man detachment from the Canadian Carleton and York Regiment in a raid on the French coastal village of Hardelot in April. Lord Lovat became an acting lieutenant-colonel in 1942 and was appointed the commanding officer of No. 4 Commando, leading them in the abortive Dieppe Raid on 19 August. His commando provided the only success of that raid when they attacked and destroyed a battery of six 150mm guns. The raid as a whole was a disastrous failure: over 4,000 casualties were sustained, predominantly Canadian.

Sword Beach. Lord Lovat, on the right of the column, wades through the water. The figure in the foreground is Piper Bill Millin.

Lord Lovat eventually became a Brigadier and became the commander of the newly formed 1 Special Service Brigade in 1944. Lord Lovat's brigade was landed at Sword Beach during the invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944. Lord Lovat reputedly waded ashore donning a white jumper under his battledress, with "Lovat" inscribed into the collar, while armed with an old Winchester rifle. Lord Lovat instructed his personal piper, Bill Millin, to pipe the commandos ashore, in defiance of specific orders not to allow such an action in battle.

Lovat's forces swiftly pressed on, Lovat himself advancing with parts of his Brigade from Sword Beach to Pegasus Bridge, which had been defiantly defended by men of the 6th Airborne Division who had landed in the early hours. Lord Lovat's commandos arrived almost exactly on time, late by about two minutes (for which Lord Lovat apologised to Major John Howard, Ox and Bucks). The scene of his commandos arriving was immortalised in the movie The Longest Day. The commandos crossed Pegasus Bridge to the sound of Bill Millin's bagpipes, however marching them across rather than having small groups scuttle across to avoid sniper fire led to the death of twelve men, most of which were shot in the head through their berets (the men crossing the bridge wore their helmets from then on). He went on to establish defensive positions around Ranville, East of the River Orne. The bridges were relieved later in the day by elements of the British 3rd Infantry Division.
During an attack on the village of Bréville on 12 June, Lord Lovat was seriously wounded whilst observing an artillery bombardment by the 51st Highland Division. A stray shell fell short of its target and landed amongst the officers, killing Lieutenant-Colonel A. P. Johnston, commanding officer of the 12th Parachute Battalion, and seriously wounding Brigadier Hugh Kindersley of the 6th Airlanding Brigade.

Later life
Lord Lovat made a full recovery from the severe wounds he had received in France but was unable to return to the army. Winston Churchill requested that he become Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms in the House of Lords; however, Lord Lovat declined the offer and in 1945 joined the Government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He later became Minister of Economic Warfare, resigning upon Winston Churchill's post-war election defeat.
Lord Lovat's involvement in politics continued throughout his life, in the House of Lords and the Inverness County Council. He devoted much of his time to the family estates. He was chieftain of Lovat Shinty Club, the local shinty team which bears his family name. Lord Lovat experienced a great deal of turmoil in his final years; he suffered financial ruin and two of his sons predeceased him in accidents within months of each other. A year before his death, in 1994, the family's traditional residence, Beaufort Castle, was sold.

Piper Bill Millin, Lord Lovat's personal piper who had piped the Commandos ashore on D-Day, played at Lord Lovat's funeral.