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Gentleman Jim: The Wartime Story of a Founder of the SAS and Special Services

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His father had taught him how to make things - that's what people did in Lincolnshire in those days - it's the practical Lincolnshire way. John Edward Almonds, the son of a smallholder, was born on August 6 1914 at Stixwould, Lincolnshire. Meet the Lincolnshire man who lived possibly one of the most extraordinary and unusual lives of anybody from our county in the last 100 years. Most of the enemy aircraft had been moved at the last moment but they destroyed those that remained.

The men saw little of their leader, who appeared to spend his time alternately browbeating the staff at MEHQ or importuning his many personal 'contacts' in Cairo with the same objective of acquiring the basic necessities required by his new unit. She said it was the wonderful conclusion of a dream that helped her father cope with solitary confinement. The decoration was announced in April 1944 after the confidential recommendation had stated: “Captured at Benghazi on 14 September 1942, this NCO was first taken to Campo 51 (Altamura). Lorna Almonds-Windmill, Gentleman Jim: The Wartime Story of a Founder of the SAS and Special Forces, Pen Sword Books Ltd, Barnsley, 2011, p 155-158. From there he masterminded a successful escape with four others, but, when one of them developed pneumonia, they decided to give themselves up.When he was not chasing outlaws, he was exploring and hunting alone in some of the most dangerous places on earth.

In July, Almonds was in the town of Montargis reconnoitring for an attack on a factory when his Jeep was stuck in slow moving traffic and he found himself in the middle of a large German convoy. At a personal level, it reveals more of the enigma of this quiet-spoken Special Forces hero and the kind of family life experienced my brother, my sister and me, as we grew up in an SAS family. Faded blue wings on the left breast of his tattered tunic meant only one thing: L Detachment, 1st SAS. Blakeney laid up until dawn and then found himself with a few survivors including the officer he had dropped with, Lt Eoin McGonigal.

Lord Ashcroft tells the story of SAS original Jim Almonds ahead of remembrance Sunday Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, philanthropist and historian Lord Ashcroft reveals the incredible story of SAS original Jim Almonds, whose fearsome reputation was combined with immense humanity and compassion. Almonds and three other Special Forces men comprised the famous “Tobruk Four” who used tactics that would later be carried into the SAS. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice.

He kept the diary for his wife, Iris May, who had a three-month-old baby son when he first went to war,” said Almonds-Windmill, a mother of two and grandmother of six. The camp commandant gave Almonds a set of civilian clothes and asked if he could go out to report where the Germans were in the area. The two men, at first stupefied, were quickly all smiles and responded with salutes and much bowing and scraping. On another raid in the Agheila area, he led a party which destroyed five heavy enemy MT and he participated in shooting up an enemy post in this locality.He, Jock Lewes and three comrades went into no-man's land at moonrise to reconnoitre the enemy positions. During the breakout, he had overpowered, tied up and gagged an Italian officer, removing the man’s teeth in the process.

He and other, rather idealistic, young men had suffered and lost together but they had not given up their ideals. By the end of Operation Gain, 16 railway lines had been put out of action and two locomotives and 46 trucks destroyed. She wrote the best selling biography of SAS hero and ‘original’ Jim Almonds entitled Gentleman Jim (Cassells). He had the job of driving a jeep packed with ammunition and limpet mines into the harbour, intending to scuttle a ship and deprive Rommel of the use of the port. But after helping found the SAS with David Stirling life as a bobby on the beat lacks a certain excitement.Jim Almonds was one of the original members of the SAS handpicked in 1941 by the founder of the regiment David Stirling. In those early days, the SAS had to use a sun compass for navigation, because the metal of the jeep interfered with the magnetic core. When news of his death was confirmed back in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, his devastated family posted moving messages in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph. Led by another founding SAS legend Jock Lewes – played by Alfie Allen in Rogue Heroes – the unit based around the besieged port of Toburk pioneered the stealthy tactic of sneaking through enemy lines to pinpoint positions or launch deadly surprise attacks. A whole crowd of other men were due to arrive soon from the old Troop of their CO (Commanding Officer) David Stirling.

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