Gentleman Jim: The Wartime Story of a Founder of the SAS and Special Services
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If by some miracle he got out of this spot, and if money were no object, one day he would build his own ocean-going yacht and sail it where he wanted to go. Written by Gentleman Jim s daughter and based on Almond s own diaries, various primary sources and interviews with other originals , the action throughout is vivid and immediate.
Mr Almonds' daughter Lorna Almonds-Windmill wrote to the Telegraph following the article about the compass: "My father was the only member of 'L' Detachment 1st SAS to keep a contemporaneous diary and he lived to the age of 91. Not only did they have to dig in for the tentage but, according to the CQMS (Company Quarter Master Sergeant), they were going to have get the tents from somewhere, along with other essentials. 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.I know that each one of you has made a personal decision to be here and I am delighted to have you on board. Beside them, Sergeants Bob Tait and Geoff DuVivier, of the Gordon Highlanders waited patiently with Privates Jock Byrne and Jimmie Storie. Faded blue wings on the left breast of his tattered tunic meant only one thing: L Detachment, 1st SAS. She said it was the wonderful conclusion of a dream that helped her father cope with solitary confinement. There were just the two of them but they pulled in and parked their captured lorry among the Italian and German trucks.
An official report from the day from Captain Harry Poat, the SAS second in command who took part in the fierce fight, records. While here Almonds and three others, on 4 February 1943, bribed an Italian officer and sentry with coffee and remained working in the Red Cross hut till it was dark. Written by Gentleman Jim’s daughter and based on Almond’s own diaries, various primary sources and interviews with other ‘originals’, the action throughout is vivid and immediate. But he made good his escape after he discovered that the Germans had taken over the camp, reaching American forces after 32 days on the run. A little while later, Stirling asked Almonds if he could build them some parachute training equipment.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. A few days later, twenty shifta fired on five unarmed American soldiers at Donnollo Basso on the Asmara to Massawa road. 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. Blakeley’s remains were later interred at the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Hannover along with three SAS comrades who died in the same battle and an SAS colleague killed a few days later. The hand-picked men were drilled in Stirling’s guerrilla tactics based around the actions of Blakeny and the Tobruk Four.
Jim Almonds, a sergeant in the Guards Commandos, sailed for the Middle East as part of ‘Layforce’ in January 1941 with David Stirling and others destined to become SAS ‘L’ Detachment ‘originals’. He had designed the vessel in his head during seven months' solitary confinement as a POW in the Second World War.He and other, rather idealistic, young men had suffered and lost together but they had not given up their ideals.
At her home in a Somerset village south of Bath, Lorna Almonds-Windmill, 78, an ex-Army captain, speaks affectionately of her father. On December 14, 1941, Almonds and Jock Lewes, another of the SAS originals, carried out a successful attack on the main Tripoli coastal road.Operating behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied France – an episode he dubbed “the French picnic” – he rescued a captured German motorcycle dispatch rider from the French Maquis resistance. On 6 October 1941, he wrote: “Afternoon spent jumping backwards from a lorry at twenty-five miles per hour. She wrote the best selling biography of SAS hero and ‘original’ Jim Almonds entitled Gentleman Jim (Cassells). He became a military advisor to the famed Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia and then hunted rebel bandits as second-in-command of the Eritrea Police Field Force.