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calendar   Monday - September 06, 2010

OBIT of a Battling Brit … Only Flynn could have played this guy if a movie had been made …

And when I say “battling” oh boy is that NOT simply a matter of speech and expression.  Wanna talk about your derring do ....

A sailor with a very funny sounding name.  Kinda reminds me of A Boy Named Sue who had to be tough.

Take a look.  And btw ... the photo I placed here is a dummy made in pow camp to fool the German guards. Even had working eyes. 

Lieutenant-Commander Tony Bentley-Buckle , RIP

Lieutenant-Commander Tony Bentley-Buckle, who has died aged 88, spent the last 18 months of the Second World War as a prisoner-of-war in Germany, when he and his fellow inmates of Marlag-O, a PoW camp for naval officers in northern Germany, built a man-sized dummy called “Albert RN”.

image

The dummy was hidden in towels and carried in its component parts to the wash house outside the camp, where it was assembled. It was then carried back into camp in the midst of the marching men, leaving one man to hide in the latrine while the Germans made their headcount. Later the hiding man would emerge and make his escape.

Bentley-Buckle was the camp’s watch repairer and lock picker, and he made the mechanism which enabled Albert’s eyes to blink and move, giving added realism to the dummy. In 1953 a highly fictionalised version of the episode was made into a film, Albert RN, but Bentley-Buckle’s true wartime adventures, behind enemy lines in Italy and Yugoslavia, were even stranger than fiction.

Anthony William Bentley-Buckle was born on August 13 1921, a child of empire whose early years were spent in Belgium, England and Ceylon, where his father was a tea planter; he was brought up largely by his maiden aunts. Educated at Ampleforth, he was sent out into the world with a caution about “the danger of women”.

Bentley-Buckle joined the Navy in January 1939, and his first ship was the elderly light cruiser Dunedin, on the Northern Patrol between Scotland and Iceland .

So many senior officers were away from Dunedin that Bentley-Buckle, while still a cadet, was ordered to board a Swedish cargo vessel which, after examining her manifest, he decided to take into Kirkwall. The Swedish captain refused to co-operate and took to his bunk, so Bentley-Buckle took her safely through the minefields into harbour.

Vice-Admiral Max Horton (then commanding the Northern Patrol) was so impressed that he recommended Bentley-Buckle for accelerated promotion.

On another occasion, when Bentley-Buckle boarded the passenger ship Drottingholm, he puffed out his chest and put his cap at a jaunty angle, only to be greeted by an American passenger who screeched: “Gee, honey, isn’t it a crime to send kids to war.”

Later, while serving in the battleship Revenge, he broke his arm and was landed in Durban to recover. After a few weeks he was made drafting officer, responsible for selecting officers and men for different appointments.

He immediately drafted himself home and nearer to the war.

After volunteering for special service, Bentley-Buckle was trained as a beachmaster at HMS Armadillo, the combined operations school at Loch Long, and took command of G Commando, Royal Navy.

The beachmaster’s task was to take control of the beach during amphibious landings and determine, often under heavy fire, when to call in landing craft and to order troops and supplies to advance inland — at this point the beachmaster outranked everyone else.

In June 1943 Bentley-Buckle was the first man ashore at Pachino, during the Allied landings on Sicily, and his commando took charge of the beach at Reggio during the crossing of the Strait of Messina.

At Reggio he met General Montgomery standing on an amphibious landing vehicle, haranguing the troops and blocking an exit from the beach. Much to the amazement of the soldiers gathered around, Bentley-Buckle ordered Montgomery to clear the beach. “Who in the hell are you?” demanded Monty — and when Bentley-Buckle told him he was the beachmaster, the scowling general departed inland.

After reaching Termoli on the Adriatic coast BB, as he had become known, volunteered to command a mixed flotilla of surrendered Italian torpedo boats and local fishing vessels operating behind enemy lines to rescue British PoWs who had escaped from custody after the collapse of Italy.

BB undertook nine trips, six of them on successive nights, navigating his craft in the darkness to precise rendezvous between Termoli and Ancona. Asked to bring back a German prisoner for questioning, BB set up a fake road diversion. Soon a German dispatch rider on his motorbike, following BB’s signs, drove directly onto the beach where Bentley-Buckle was waiting.

On his penultimate mission he torpedoed a German supply ship, and on his last he landed near Venice a priest who claimed he could round up many more prisoners who were hiding in the city.

Bentley-Buckle was mentioned in despatches for his skill and enterprise in rescuing prisoners from the coast of Italy

He then set up a base on the island of Lucin Piccolo, on the Yugoslav coast. A week later the Germans counterattacked and, after a brief but bloody resistance Bentley-Buckle was captured and taken to Pola.

Whilst being taken inland, he jumped from a lorry and rolled into the undergrowth. He was shot in the hand but hid until nightfall, when he approached a farmhouse and — after throwing pebbles at the window — was admitted by a couple who fed him and gave him a change of clothes.

Next morning he was taken by partisans over the hills into Trieste, where he was betrayed to two plain-clothes SS officers. Bentley-Buckle promptly seized one of their pistols and shot both men, but ran into a German army check point where he was arrested.

After a brutal interrogation, which included a beating by five German SS women, he was left with a damaged hand and swollen testicles; he was scarcely able to crawl.

THERE’S MORE HERE AT THE SOURCE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 09/06/2010 at 12:37 PM   
Filed Under: • Battling Brits OBITITUARIES •  
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