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

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

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

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Off duty, often alone, Almonds explored the highlands of Ethiopia, navigated its crocodile-infested rivers by canoe and scoured the bush of Eritrea, West Africa and later the coasts and jungles of Asia.

A first escape – abandoned when one of the group he was leading got pneumonia after two weeks on the run in the sleeting Italian winter – had led to his solitary confinement. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. I know that each one of you has made a personal decision to be here and I am delighted to have you on board. She has enjoyed full access to Earl Jellicoe’s papers and letters and has interviewed him and many friends, acquaintances and contacts while writing this book.

He thought only of escape and the future; of his wife and baby son in England; and everything else he wanted to do. There, they were trained by Lewes how to parachute, by leaping off scaffolding and jumping off the back of trucks moving at more than 30mph, as well as mastering the art of the small bombs Lewes had invented to destroy aircraft on the ground. After thirty-two days on the run in enemy territory, he reached US forces at the Benevento front line. However, it was also renowned for the notorious incident of when Paddy Mayne and his men gunned down Germans and Italians in the officers' mess.

Jim Almonds always ran to the battle,” wrote the late Earl [George] Jellicoe, then President of the Special Air Service Regimental Association. The marauders from Kabrit prowled about in what seemed like a veritable city of British and other Commonwealth tents before getting their bearings and making for the New Zealanders' lines.However, Justin Saddington, a curator at the museum, told The Telegraph that Mayne ripping out the compass was the "kind of Herculean act which amazed his comrades". Near the river, in a small settlement, the shifta had commandeered a couple of thatched huts and lain up for the night. Cleverly, he came out at an oblique angle, running fast and almost making it between two men posted one opposite the door and one further round to the side of the hut.

The Crown agents have apparently allotted us a very low priority for supply… Urge most strongly that supply be expedited. After arriving at Mersa Brega, they spotted the lights of a large house and fort used as an enemy staging post. On the other hand, the means to train properly was vitally important; the success of the unit and possibly the saving of lives depended on it. When I purchased Almonds’ gallantry and service medals at auction in December 2007, they came with his remarkable wartime diaries of over 20,000 words and other memorabilia from his incredible military career.By the end of Operation Gain, 16 railway lines had been put out of action and two locomotives and 46 trucks destroyed.

Mr Almonds refused to talk under interrogation and as punishment he was shackled in the back of a lorry and paraded in front of the local townsfolk. He then joined the Bristol Police in 1936 and served with them until the outbreak of the Second World War when he reported back to the Coldstream Guards at Pirbright. His daring wartime exploits tearing around in a jeep armed with machine guns and blowing up bridges, aircraft and trains twice earned him the Military Medal. Most of the Kiwis were away on operations so they shouldn't have too much trouble getting what they wanted.Jim Almonds was one of the original members of the SAS handpicked in 1941 by the founder of the regiment David Stirling. Part of Stirling’s group of just 65 ‘originals’, the men’s first base in Egypt was an abandoned desert fort at Kabrit. She said it was the wonderful conclusion of a dream that helped her father cope with solitary confinement. September 1944 (Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant) (Special Air Service Regiment) commissioned Second Lieutenant [5]. And it was in Ghana that he embarked on an epic three month voyage across the Atlantic to Boston, Lincolnshire, aboard his 32-ft home-made boat.



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