Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Three Movie Star Veterans

Today in 1918, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, thus ending World War I. Since then the day has been observed in honour of those who have served in the armed forces, as Veteran's Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. In honour of veterans today, then, I am taking a brief at three movie stars who served in the British and United States Armed Services during the World Wars.

Basil Rathbone

Before Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes or the villain in many a swashbuckler movie, he served in the British Army during World War I.  It was in late 1915 that Basil Rathbone joined the British Army. Initially a private with the London Scottish Regiment, in 1916 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 2/10th Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment. In the Liverpool Scottish he served as an intelligence officer, often going behind enemy lines to scout the enemy's position. Such reconnaissance was generally conduced at night when it was thought to be safer, but Basil Rathbone convinced his superiors to allow him to scout enemy positions by day. Basil Rathbone proved very effective as an intelligence office and not only rose to the rank of Captain, but in September 1918 was also awarded the Military Cross for "conspicuous daring and resource on patrol.

Lee Marvin

It was in 1942, during World War II, that Lee Marvin enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He served in the 4th Marine Division, seeing action in the Pacific Theatre. He was injured in the Battle of Saipan when his unit assaulted Mount Tapochau in the  Northern Mariana Islands.  While most of his unit was killed, Priavate Marvin's sciatic nerve was severed from machine gun fire. He was given a medical discharge in 1945 at the rank of Private First Class. He received the the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

Sir Christopher Lee

With the outbreak of World War II Christopher Lee joined the Royal Air Force. Unfortunately his eyesight proved to be too poor for him to become a pilot. Shortly thereafter he applied to join RAF Intelligence. During World War II Sir Christopher Lee was attached to the Special Operations Executive (informally known as "the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare"), but always declined to discuss his involvement.  Following the war he worked with the Central Registry of War Crimes. Sir Christopher Lee was demobilised when he was 24

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