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 What did they do in the War?

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Triceratops
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PostSubject: What did they do in the War?   Fri 25 May 2012, 16:00

A discussion about what well known people, actors, sportsmen, politicians etc did during World War II.

Start of with famous Hollywood actor James Stewart

Jimmy Stewart had started taking private flying lesson in 1935. By the time of Pearl Harbor, he had accumulated over 400 hours of flying time. Not surprisingly, Stewart joined the USAAF when he was called up. After training and time as an instructor in the States, Stewart was assigned to 445th Bombardment Wing, first as a captain then as a major. He flew 20 combat missions with the 445th, then was re-assigned to the 453rd as operations officer. Technically, this was a ground job, but Stewart flew an unspecified number of additional missions with the 453rd.
Stewart was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and ended the war as a colonel.


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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Sun 27 May 2012, 01:03

Actor Christopher Lee had quite an active war. He was one of the many foreign volunteers in the Finnish Forces during the Winter War 1939-40 after Finland was attacked by the Soviet Union. And later he served as an RAF intelligence officer and saw action in Africa and Italy.
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Sun 27 May 2012, 01:30

It's well known that Leslie Howard (known to me as Ashley in Gone with the Wind) was killed when his plane returning to Britain was shot down by Germans. But I didn't know till today that he took up acting after being shell-shocked in WWI and being advised that acting might help.

Not famous in Britain (or NZ for that matter) but the first director of the Carter Observatory, NZ's national astronomical observatory, Murray Geddes, died of illness in either Scotland or England while with the RNZ Navy Volunteers; he was in the Mediterranean during the Malta Convoy and had a comet named after him (not necessarily during the war).

I was quite surprised, when researching some German scientists, to see how many of them left Germany or Austria either before or during the war. Mostly to America perhaps. Einstein is the obvious one, but there were plenty of others too.
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Sun 27 May 2012, 04:52

There is quite a long list of celebs who served in WWII here

http://www.jodavidsmeyer.com/combat/military/actors_in_wwii.html
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Sun 27 May 2012, 10:21

In both world wars with all men (within the age group) being liable for military call up, and in WW2 single women too being liable for conscription into the military or for war work , it is perhaps as interesting to ask: “what did they do?” for those that didn’t serve in the forces. Apart from the obvious names of those who were part of the government, quite a few other well-known personalities come to mind:

Bertrand Russell (historian/philosopher) was called up for military service in WW1 but objected on pacifist principles – he was fined and spent most of the war in prison. Similarly the composer Michael Tippett was imprisoned in WW2 as a conscientious objector. Fellow composer William Walton might well have followed him but managed to persuade the authorities to let him serve the country composing music for propaganda films. Similarly Benjamin Britten although registered as a concientious objector was (eventually) given exemption from military service to continue composing.

The physicist and novellist CP Snow was co-opted into the civil service as technical director of the wartime Ministry of Labour, and Kenneth Clarke, as Director of the National Gallery, oversaw the evacuation of the nation’s art collections and also arranged the popular concerts in the otherwise empty gallery. He was also chairman of the War Artists Advisory Committee overseeing the deployment of limited resources to support official war artists and stage temporary exhibitions throughout the country.

Actors Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson were both in the RN but were released from military service for propaganda film work. Film producer David Lean spent the war making British propaganda films. Noel Coward was initially used in British Intelligence and later worked in propaganda and entertainment. And of course many other popular entertainers worked throughout the war in ENSA.

And there were a host of scientists and engineers who were actively denied call-up because their research and development work was deemed far more important than having them in the forces. The same can be said for those employed in Intelligence such as code-breaking. For many it cannot have been easy, unable to talk about their work for security reasons but at the same time often shunned in society as "shirking" their duty.
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Sun 27 May 2012, 17:52

Fair point Meles, with mass industrialised warfare a great number of people are required behind the lines in industry,agriculture,propoganda etc.
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Sun 27 May 2012, 18:08

Reading Max Hasting's Overlord,I discovered former Home Secretary, Willie Whitelaw, was in the Guards Armoured Brigade in Normandy.

[I take it everyone knows about JFK and PT109]
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Fri 01 Jun 2012, 21:56

Is Richard Todd the only one to later appear as a character he was in action with? "The Longest Day".
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Fri 01 Jun 2012, 23:10

What about Audie Murphy, was he the only one to appear in a movie as himself?
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Fri 01 Jun 2012, 23:26

The Australian actor M E Clifton James played himself in I Was Monty's Double (1958).
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Sat 02 Jun 2012, 09:20

Not quite as himself, but Esmond Knight appeared in Sink the Bismarck as Captain of the Prince of Wales. Knight himself was seriously wounded on PoW's bridge during the Battle of the Denmark Strait. In the same film, there is a brief cameo by Ed Murrow reading his broadcasts to the US.

The star of the film, Kenneth More, had been a gunner on one of the Defensively Armed Merchant Ships of Convoy HX84, when the convoy was attacked by the Admiral Scheer.More's ship escaped and More was sent for officer training, subsequently serving on the cruiser Orion, then on the carrier Victorious with the British Pacific Fleet.
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Sat 02 Jun 2012, 15:15

In the Soviet Union, with the large numbers of war films and docudramas produced during and after the Second World War, one would have thought that there would have been plenty of 'Soviet Audie Murphys' in evidence. After all, what better way to honour the heroes in the Great Patriotic War? Yet apparently not. The demarcation of roles in the Soviet Union seems to heave meant that acting was a job reserved for trained actors only. And so the likes of famous war heroes such as Vasily Zaytsev (the sniper of Stalingrad) didn’t feature as themselves in any of the films about the battle.

This closed-shop attitude, however, didn’t mean that those who were portrayed in war films did not take a close interest in the casting of them. Many of the junior and middle-ranking military and political leaders during the Second World War rose to great heights in the following decades. They often had no qualms in interfering in the production of films and especially when it came to casting. For example the filming of the epic television series Liberation (1970) saw the likes of Marshal Georgy Zhukov deciding exactly which actor would play the role of him while Marshal Ivan Konev even demanded that the actor playing him (whom he didn't like) be changed half way thru filming.
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Tue 13 Dec 2016, 21:50

Queen Consort Elizabeth of Great Britain spoke at the beginning of the Second World War to the nation.
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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Wed 14 Dec 2016, 09:39

In 1945 at eighteen, like all other young women, Elizabeth was also liable for war service, either in industry or the forces, and she joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service (service no. 830273). Her role was largely honorary as she had other roles - opening, visiting and launching things - but she underwent basic training and then served as a vehicle mechanic.

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PostSubject: Re: What did they do in the War?   Wed 14 Dec 2016, 23:59

Following the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939, the Kingdom of Romania under King Carol II officially adopted a position of neutrality. King Michael led a coup d'état, which deposed the Antonescu regime and put Romania on the side of the Allies for the remainder of the war.
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