GERALD THUBRON fought with distinction through some of the fiercest campaigns of the Second World War. A man of courage and modesty, he projected a rare blend of dignity and humour. His quick, irreverent wit, together with his looks - he stood some 6ft 5in, and was strikingly handsome - were instantly memorable.
Born in 1903, he was educated at Lancing and Sandhurst, and was commissioned in the North Staffordshire Regiment in 1924. He served in India, almost until the outbreak of the war. In 1942, he became senior General Staff Officer with the First British Infantry Division, and battled through the gruelling Tunisian campaign, in which the division's capture of the Jebel Bou Akouz heights, the last German stronghold in the central Tunisian front, opened the way to the destruction of the Axis forces in North Africa. In January 1944 he was General Staff Officer when his division spearheaded the Allied landing at Anzio, in an attempt to break the deadlock before Cassino to the south. For weeks the division defied the superior weight of German armour, with its back to the sea, before breaking out of the enemy stranglehold in the last days of May. Thubron was awarded a Mention in Dispatches.
During the ensuing Italian campaign he took command of the 2nd Battalion, the North Staffordshires, winning the DSO. He fought at the capture and defence of Florence, and northwards through the difficult terrain along 'Arrow Route', where he narrowly escaped death; and he ended the war as a brigade commander in North Italy and Austria. In peacetime he was appointed Commandant of the Senior Officers' School for two years, then Senior Army Liaison Officer in Canada. His final post before retiring in 1956 was as Deputy Director of Military Training at the War Office.
For all his sociability, he was a man of innate independence, whose deepest devotion was to his family. In 1931 he married Eve Dryden - collateral descendant of the poet John Dryden - and they remained devoted for 61 years. She bore him two children, of whom his daughter Carol sadly predeceased him at the age of 21. The end of his long life was dogged by ill-health, which he endured with stoical humour, nursed and cherished by his wife, who survives him. He also leaves behind his son, the writer Colin Thubron - and an adopted daughter, Sarah - and a memory of supreme steadfastness and dignity.
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