Roger Field and Geoffrey
Gordon-Creed, DSO, MC
(Coronet, £18.99, *£15)
When I was at prep school, we would devour ‘trash mags’, as war comics were known, by torchlight under our blankets, with an eagerness seldom bettered by the greatest reads of later life. Rogue Male, the gripping story told by a Falklands vete-ran about a maverick war hero, induces the same sensations.
Brought up fatherless in Africa, Geoffrey Gordon-Creed was sent to Downside and, in 1940, aged 19, joined that heroically well-mannered, brave and ultimately fated band of English gentlemen who became the 2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars. On his first engagement, in Egypt, he knocked out two tanks and popped a grenade into a third after his own tank had been blown up and he had saved his men; he was awarded an immediate MC.
On leave in a Cairo brothel, he met a man who seconded him to the SOE and Greece. There, as well as seducing local beauties, ‘Mister Major Geoff’ carried off a daring raid that blew up the Asopos viaduct, adding a DSO to his tally. Of his 15 months with the Greek resistance, he wrote: ‘It was
a pit-bull fight to the death.’
Always with him was his faithful donkey Maud, eventually killed by a patrolling German aircraft. ‘I was very upset as I had come to love the old girl,’ he said. Plenty of girls had also come to love Geoff. Back in Kenya, he took a part as a film extra in Mogambo (1953) and treated himself to an eight-day affair with Ava Gardner.
In Jamaica, he sat up late and often with Ian Fleming. James Bond had more than a trace
of the courage and charisma of Mister Geoff, whose life would make brilliant cinema-somewhere between The English Patient and Lawrence of Arabia.
In this, his first book, Roger Field has shown great skill as a storyteller. As a man who saw action with the Blues & Royals in the Falklands, he is able to make his subject’s story all the more believable and brave.
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