Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Body MC

Edward Body was a captain when he won his Military Cross in Italy. He commanded Y Company of the 5th Battalion the Buffs during Operation Diadem, the advance on Rome. On 19th May 1944 his battalion attacked Aquino when Y Company was pinned down by German machine-guns and snipers less than 100 yards away. Body moved about trying to locate the positions of the enemy, and was hit in the shoulder. He managed to remain conscious long enough to refuse help from two of his men and send wireless messages calling for an officer to relieve him. He and his men withdrew under heavy fire and he remained in command throughout.

Edward Hedley Body was born in Middlesborough on 24th May 1920 and educated at Tonbridge. He studied medicine at Brasenose, Oxford until War broke out and he had to get himself expelled so that he could enlist. He joined the Buffs, a regiment with which his family had connections, taking part in the North African landings and the Tunisian campaign. He was wounded in the leg in Sicily and recuperated in Malta. He rejoined the 5th Battalion in time for the march on Cassino. He was told to stand in a fork in the road to indicate the route to the troop convoys, but it was pouring with rain so he used an umbrella. This caused some amusement and was seen as a morale booster so he was ordered to carry an umbrella at all times.

Following his brave action at Aquino he was evacuated to England to be treated for his wounded shoulder. He was not fully fit so he was posted to the carrier Colossus to help train Fleet Air Arm pilots to recognise Army positions. As a prank he organised an 'air-raid' on a desert film set where Anthony and Cleopatra was being filmed. The actors, crew, and Egyptian Camel Corps, scattered in terror as the Navy pilots "beat them up at zero feet".

After the War he intended to try again at Brasenose but his two brothers had been killed while serving in the RAF and he inherited the family farm. He also spent time in Kenya to run an estate and join the Kenya Agricultural Department. He was Sisal Officer in Thika and later became Colony Potato Officer. He went to Sarawak to spend two years as principal of the agricultural college but returned to the UK and settled in Wales. From 1974 he ran a book shop in Brecon. In 1948 he had married Barbo Yberg, a Swedish girl whom he met in Alexandria. They had four daughters. Edward Body died in 2001 and his obituary appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 10th September.

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by Stephen Luscombe