Miles Belfrage Reid
05 May 1896 - 06 October 1984
Information supplied by his Grandson Stephen Reid of Cumbria.
My Grandfather had an amazing military career considering he was not a regular officer. He actually trained for a career in the Navy and was a midshipman at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth where he won the Dirk of Honour and the King's Gold Medal both of which I have. He was also made mentor to his shy classmate, Prince Albert - who became George VI, and I have several letters from him written to my Grandfather. In the First World War he fought at Gallipoli (were he was wounded), The Somme (winning an MC), Ypres, Loos and Paschendale and was promoted to acting Lt Col, the youngest in the British Army. At the end of WWI he was only 22.
In WWII he pulled strings to rejoin (as he was over age) and was part of Phantom, a liaison group of multi-lingual officers who ferried messages between the French, Belgian and English armies. He retreated via Dunkirk, spent some time in North Africa and was then sent to Greece where he and his platoon were captured (he surrendered when they ran out of ammunition) trying to stop German paratroopers from seizing the bridge over the Corinth Canal. He spent most of the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps, escaping from one in the laundry for which he was sent to Colditz. He eventually escaped from Colditz by making the Germans believe he was so ill that they repatriated him just before the end of the war.
He actually wrote three books. Age Cannot Wither, a novel, written as a prisoner of war and published during the war. Last on the List, which deals with his work in Phantom during WWII up to the time of his capture. Into Colditz deals with his escape in the laundry basket, being sent to Colditz and his eventual escape from there. I'm not sure that he has ever been recognised as one of the Colditz escapers, but he definitely was - he smoked all the cigarettes he could and drank very strong black coffee for days before each medical to fake a heart condition. I also have the manuscript for his novel complete with German censor's stamps. He was awarded the MBE for his work in Greece and later became a JP and Deputy Lieutenant for Sussex.
In between fighting Germans he pursued a business career and was very successful, becoming a director of Mobil by the time he retired.
In the same cemetery, Winifred Reid was his wife and David Benedict Reid, my late uncle, was his younger son. My father, Lt Col John Willett Reid was his only other child.
H Squadron GHQLR (Phantom) 8.2.1941
POW 31.5.1941 Greece
awarded M.B.E. 29.11.45
'Last on the List' (1974)
'Age Cannot Wither'
special forces list of honour
photo donated by- Stephen Reid
photo- Donna Laycock - 5.Sep.2009
St. James churchyard, Heyshott
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 12 APRIL, 1940