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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Celebrities in the ranks


womo

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Hi guys,

I was reading an old post earlier and started to wonder how many soldiers who served during WW1 later became celebrities?

Were there any celebrities with outstanding military records?

Apologies if this has been covered before but thought it would be an interesting topic for discussion.

Regards, Womo

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Ronald Coleman (Star of "The Prisoner of Zenda", amongst others) - in 1914, I believe he was a shipping clerk and served in 14th Bn London Regiment TF (London Scottish) - (I/14, I think)

Wounded in both legs by shrapnel/shell fragments he crawled off the battlefield backwards (so he claimed) so that, if he was killed, he would not be found apparently running away (I must say, that's not a feat I would like to try in a kilt)

Coleman was invalided out of the Army due to these wounds.

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South African born Lt. Phillip St john Basil Rathbone (Basil Rathbone), served in the Liverpool Regiment (more specifically 2nd Bn Liverpool Scottish) and was awarded the Military Cross which was gazetted in November 1918.

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Canadian Raymond Massey. At the outbreat of the Great War, Massey joined the Canadial Field Artillery served in France and was wounded, he also served in Russia.

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Nigel Bruce, Best known for his role as Dr. Watson, Born in Mexico to British parents and said to be related to Robert the Bruce. He served in the British Army. He received a leg injury and was in a wheelchair for 3 years. I'm not sure if the injury was combat related or not.

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Eric Partridge, the lexicographer, was born on the North Island of New Zealand. After moving to Australia in 1905, he studied at the University of Queensland, and served in the Australian infantry during the Great War.

Was that the kind of thing you're after?

Tom the Walrus

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I don't suppose Albert Tatlock MM counts does he?

Nigel

Possibly! There was a thread which discussed Jack Howarth the actor who played him. I can`t remember whether it was decided he did or didn`t get an MM. phil B

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Cole Porter (the US song writer) was in the Legion (I think 3REI on the Western Front, which was then known as the RMLE) and is meant to have utilised some musical themes from neighbouring Moroccan troops in his music

Victor Silvester, the dance band leader, was in the Great War as, I think was Billy Cotton also

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Patrick MacGill the writer and poet with 1/18 County of London Battalion the London Irish Rifles.

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Is the first in line to the throne automatically Prince of Wales or not? Does the title have to be officially conferred? Was George VI ever PoW? Phil B

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Cole Porter (the US song writer) was in the Legion (I think 3REI on the Western Front, which was then known as the RMLE) and is meant to have utilised some musical themes from neighbouring Moroccan troops in his music

Victor Silvester, the dance band leader, was in the Great War as, I think was Billy Cotton also

Cole Porter was definitely in the forces, however in Jan 1918 he was a Sergeant in the US Army at a training camp near New York (Camp Upton, Yaphank Long Island) where he wrote a musical based on the camp experience called Yip Yip Yaphank which was to open on Broadway in Oct 1918.

Billy Cotton was a pilot first in the RFC and then RAF. He flew an RE 8 in which he carried out some unofficial baloon busting missions (highly hazardous , especially in a 'Harry Tate') Billy Cotton went on to have a very successful TV show in the 1950 and 60s

Compton Mackenzie the author of the book on which the film 'Whisky Galore' was based was a well known best selling author and broadcaster who in WW1 was an intefigence officer running espionage missions in the Adriatic (including visiting the agents he was running). Officially I think he was in the RN

There was of course a certain midshipman who saw action at Jutland who went on to (unexpectedly) become George VI and two of his Prime Ministers also served on the Western Front (W S Churchill and C Atlee)

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Apr 24 2007, 01:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is the first in line to the throne automatically Prince of Wales or not? Does the title have to be officially conferred? Was George VI ever PoW? Phil B

George VI was never first in line or POW. As a midshipman he was in action at Jutland. He was 2nd in line at the time. His elder brother Edward (known to his family and friends as David) was POW and although in the army was never allowed to go too close to the front (Haigh's comment was "I don't mind you getting killed Sir, its the idea of your being captured that worries me") Edward was King only for a short time before abdicating on 11/12/1936 after which his brother took over.

Of course there was a certain corporal in the German army who became quite well known later.

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We seem to have forgotten a certain Cpl Hitler A

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I'm told Edward managed a Military Cross, nevertheless.

Leslie Howard, actor in Gone with the Wind, and Charles Laughton have been discussed recently.

Steve.

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Apr 24 2007, 01:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is the first in line to the throne automatically Prince of Wales or not? Does the title have to be officially conferred? Was George VI ever PoW? Phil B

I believe Prince of Wales is 'automatic', but that it has to be formally done, as in Chuzza's 'do' at Harlech many years ago.

George VI, as mentioned, was never Prince of Wales; he was Duke of York, an honorary tile conferred on the eldest brother of the Prince of Wales (as with Andrew today). This follows from Henry Tudor's victory at Bosworth, after which he married Elizabeth from the House of York and conferred the title on his brother.

I believe George was known as Prince Albert (though I'm not sure).

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Apr 24 2007, 02:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
George VI must have been first in line when Edward VIII was king? Phil B

Got me on a technicality there - but never POW

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Arnold Ridley MM,otherwise known to You and I as Private Godfrey from "Dads Army".

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Some more names

Harry S Truman served as Artillery officer in France before taking a job in government

D W Eisenhower was the officer in charge of tank training at Camp Upton.

Sir Mortimer Wheeler the world famous archeologist served on the Western Front in WW1 as well as the Western Desert and Italy in WW2 ending up as a Brigadeer

The composer Ralph Vaughn Williams served on the Western front in the field ambulance service

The composer Gustav Holst (the Planets etc etc) after much trying (he was officially unfit) got posted to the Middle East in the closing months of the war

Robert Graves The author of I Claudius (amongst others) served as an infantry officer on the Western front (and wrote a very good book about it)

John Buchan (author 39 steps etc etc) served as an officer in military intelligence - he was Lord Tweedsmuir Governor General of Canada when he died

W E Johns - the man who invented Biggles was of course himself in the RFC

Somerset Maugham - famous author was an under cover agent in Russia in 1917

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I believe George was known as Prince Albert (though I'm not sure).

Until he took the throne. To his family and his fellow midshipmen - Bertie

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Arnold Ridley has been discussed before. He definitely served, but the M.M. was his characters - conscientious objector Private Godfrey for duties as a stretcher bearer - not his.

Steve.

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Arnold Ridley MM,otherwise known to You and I as Private Godfrey from "Dads Army".

This comes up time and time again, but Arnold Ridley NEVER won the MM in the Great War, he only played the fictional Godfrey of Dad's Army, part of whose character background was that he won the MM in the Great War as a Stretcher Bearer bringing in wounded soldiers despite being underfire at the time AND a Conscientious Objector!

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Arnold Ridley has been discussed before. He definitely served, but the M.M. was his characters - conscientious objector Private Godfrey for duties as a stretcher bearer - not his.

Steve.

SNAP! Got me whilst I was reading and typing my reply.

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