I have had the honour and pleasure of meeting him and he really is a sweet gentle man.Originally Posted by stevie boy
He was over here during the war, on Eisenhower's staff, helping to get everything ready for D-Day. He had done a bit of amateur acting and was doing a Red Cross show for the troops when Michael Powell spotted him. He kept a diary during the filming of A Canterbury Tale and there are various extracts from that in Paul Tritton's book. He says that he found it all a fascinating experience although he soon discovered that most filming involves a lot of waiting around.
He was a teacher before the war and I think that shows in the way that he interacts with the boys. Especially when he asks them up onto "Pow wow hill" to discuss strategy. He crouches down to be at their level even though he nearly overbalances and it's not too comfortable. And then, after the boys have collected the salvage, he gives the nod to Peter and they salute the boys. Just the sort of thing that boys would love.
After he had done his bit for freedom and democracy he was released from the army again for a while to help promote the film. Especially when it was released in the States albeit in the cut down form. He made the cover of Life magazine and gave quite a few talks about his experiences.
He did consider trying acting full time. He had a few offers and did a few other stage shows, but they never came to anything much so he went back to teaching - which he thoroughly enjoyed. He had had a good life, marrying a few times and moving around the States quite a bit, when he was contacted by Paul Tritton (after a difficult search) and reminded about the film. Paul told him about the interest in it nowadays and the book he was planning.
Then in October 2000 we managed to persuade him to come back to the UK for a visit. We reunited him with his co-star Sheila Sim (Lady Attenborough) and they got the red carpet treatment when the film was shown in Canterbury. The next day we took him on a tour of the locations and he had a great time reviving 50+ year old memories.
We're still in contact with him and keep him up to date about all the nonsense we get up to - like the screening in Canterbury cathedral last week.