Headline: Obituary of Merlin Minshall (433)
Source: The Times ©
Issue Date: Wednesday September 23, 1987
Word Count: 424
Story Text:
Merlin Minshall, a rumbustious adventurer was born three or four years centuries too late, died on September 3. He was 81. Merlin Theodore Minshall, son of a newspaper proprietor and nephew of a baronet, had a conventional education - prep school, public school, Oxford, architectural school - and loathed it. He gave up his architectural training to spend over two years sailing across Europe in a small boat, thus coming into contact with the Nazi regime, which had just come to power. He next turned to car-racing, found himself being presented with a prize by Mussolini and went off to cross the Sahara north-to-south in a three-wheeled light truck coming into further contact with fascism. He tried to get authorities in Whitehall interested in what he had found out; without, in the floodtide of appeasement, much success. He did secure a sub-lieutenant's commission in the RNVR, but his was not in any sense a subordinate temperament. His bristly personality soon put him at odds with Admiral Godfrey, the director of naval intelligence. Luckily for Minshall, Godfrey's assistant, Ian Fleming, gave him a helping hand (Minshall is supposed to have been one of the characters from whom Fleming later drew James Bond). As he had intimate knowledge of the middle-Danube, he was sent to take part in ineffective British attempts to stop the flow of Romanian grain and oil to Germany. He returned to England after various hair's breath's escapes, and was snapped up by SOE on its formation in the summer of 1940. Late that November he ran operation 'Shamrock'. He took a small party of Frenchmen to the Gironde Estuary. They travelled by submarine and seized a fishing smack from which they studied the movements of U-boats going in and out of the estuary. They then sailed the smack back to England to report. Minshall then spent a spell in New Zealand, organizing special naval intelligence. From this comparative rest he was recalled in the autumn of 1943, promoted Commander, and sent to establish naval liaison with Tito's partisans on the coast of Yugoslavia. This provied him with a further string of adventures, recounted in his entertaining war autobiography, Guilt-edged, published in 1975 with a foreword by his friend, Len Deighton.  When the war was over, uniformed service held no attractions for Minshall. Once he tried his hand at politics. His half-brother, Lord Poole, had been chairman of the Conservative party; his own inclinations, though strongly anti-Socialist, were more Liberal. He settled in Norfolk, with his third wife and their four sons.  © The Times 1987 - 2008 End.



This page provides you with the obituary of Merlin Minshall, Peter Minshall's late father, written and kindly reproduced here courtesy of The Times ©  

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