The SWW2LN’s Two Veteran Honorary Life Friends
Within the ranks of SECRET WW2 supporters, we have been honoured to number four ‘secret war’ veterans. Two, Dr. Steve Weiss, who served with the OSS in occupied France during WW2, and Geoffrey Pidgeon, a 17-year-old wartime recruit to SIS/MI6, are sadly no longer with us. But we are delighted to still count Squadron Leader (retired) Stanley Booker MBE, Légion d’honneur and Jack Mann among our number.
Jack Mann, has a remarkable service record, having served with the Long Range Desert Group and the Special Boat Squadron of the SAS during WW2.
At the end of the war he trained as an instructor with the Royal Signals and was sent first to Libya, to teach a signals course, and then to Cyprus. He was discharged from the British Army in 1947, though later rejoined as a TA soldier with 21 SAS. In civilian life Jack was employed in the shipping industry and later in the chemicals division of General Tire and Rubber, which was later part of GenCorp, now known as Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings.
He lives in Pinner in northwest London with his wife of 54 years, Helga, with whom he has four children. Jack has kept up his languages to the extent where his Italian, he says, is now fluent to the point where he has been mistaken for Italian while attending commemoration events for the special forces abroad. Alongside fellow former SAS personnel, Jack has been deeply involved in remembrance events, travelling numerous times to France and playing a leading role in commemorations at Westminster Abbey.
Squadron Leader (ret’d) Stanley Booker, MBE, Légion d’honneur, was a wartime Halifax navigator serving with the RAF when he was shot down in France in June 1944.
Picked up by the French Resistance, but betrayed, Stanley followed captured SOE agents to Buchenwald concentration camp and was fortunate to survive the horrors of that infamous establishment.
Postwar he continued in the RAF, served in RAF Intelligence and with SIS/MI6.
For many years Stanley campaigned for recognition and commemoration of the British personnel and agents who had been imprisoned at Buchenwald. He and his wife visited the camp when it was still in East Germany and maintained a positive correspondence with leading politicians of the day, including Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Foreign Secretary Lord Howe.
It is a fitting tribute to Stanley’s early and persistent efforts that two memorial plaques, listing the British and French agents murdered in the camp, were eventually placed in the cellar where many of the agents were hanged.
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