Alec Anthon (my Dad)

Alec Anthon in the Army Alexander Lindsay Anthon, known as Alec born 22 July 1925 died 22 Feb 2008 14449457 non-commissioned 445280 commissioned Just at the end of the year I received an email from a comrade of my father’s which prompted me to research dad’s army record. Dad joined the army on the 23rd June 1944 when he was 18; his job in civilian life was an engineering apprentice with Vickers in Manchester. He signed on for 12 years in the GSC, General Service Corp. He served in the UK 1944 – 46 so did not participate in WW2 fighting although he was awarded the War Medal 1939/45. In 1946 he started service overseas serving in the Middle East and was awarded the GSM (Palestine) with clasp.1948 Aboukir   Then onto East Africa, it was while he was there, in 1948, he transferred to the Intelligence Corp. He served them in East Africa, the Middle East and then in BETFOR Trieste 1949-53. There is an excellent description of the work of the I-Corp http://betforassociation.org/BETFORTSO.html  “”From Stetin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended on the continent of Europe”  Winston Churchill 1946. These words made it clear that, in the new post war political landscape, Trieste was going to play an important part in the “intelligence game”. Obviously Dad must have played a huge part in events there as, according to his army records, he spoke French, German, Spanish, Italian and Arabic. The email I received was from a comrade from those times. I knew your father! Over Christmas I was thinking of past times in Trieste, as one does.  Alec sprang into my mind and stayed. Today, for some extraordinary reason I put his name into Google  – and there is your website.  I knew him in Trieste (Italy) – and there he is in one of your photographs wearing army uniform, on his shoulder the Trieste emblem of a gazelle (the one with his parents and brother).  He was a lovely man. The memory of him is vivid I was in Forces Broadcasting in Trieste – Alec, in the I. Corps,   joined us for radio plays. This is roughly 1950/51 and again when I returned to Trieste as a War Department Civilian 1952/53. I have one huge wonderful memory in 1953 when Alec told me he had never been to Venice.  I had been there and said “I’m going to take you” – and we did and had the loveliest day.  I remember it so well. Our paths afterwards never seemed to cross – but in my mind he remains as one of the very best people I ever met. I know of a Google link for you to find other I.Corps people who would have known him in Trieste.  If you would like it, I will forward to you. But just for now I cannot tell you the thrill I have had of seeing your pictures and your stories.  The sad news is that he died before we could meet again. What a thrill you have given me.   On the BETFOR website I couldn’t find any photo of dad but I did find a mention of him on the theatre playbill.   I sent this to my correspondent who replied. Jane – how brilliant of you to find the theatre programme. Names came swimming back.  Molly, Jennifer, Margot and Ken Baker (and of course Alec) I knew well. Jennifer Lane was the pseudonym chosen by a lady teacher at the Army Infants school in Trieste who came from Bolton!.  Molly was the wife of an Army Officer and Margot eventually married a well known British TV Producer (Upstairs Downstairs to name but a few!)  The play would have been done by these “amateurs” at the Army Cinema in Trieste (the AKC it was called). I wasn’t there when it was done, but I did appear in a following production of J.B.Priestly’s Dangerous Corner when Alec also had a major role.  I remember one incident – we were short of rehearsal time because people had to fit these things in with their work and a Sunday was suggested.  Alec steadfastly refused to sanction it (heavily supported by Jennifer) because he had strong Christian values about these things.  We didn’t rehearse!! I was in touch with “Jennifer” until she died (she lived in Dudley and worked as a headmistress) and she frequently talked of Alec and what a good friend he had been in Trieste. I think a good deal of Alec’s work in Trieste was highly secret and he never talked about it and I suspect he was gathering intelligence from the political factions there.  This was the time of the British and Americans making sure Tito didn’t succeed with his political expansion into Italy.  Trieste was something Tito dearly wanted to take over and that was in a nutshell why we were there to stop him chewing up territory which belonged to the Italians. Gosh, what times they were – imagine me as a national serviceman (I was 6 years younger than Alec) – working and travelling in Italy!!  Gosh, indeed.      Many thanks for reminding me of more of the times.  1946 F B S Record Library Cairo 46-47 After that correspondence I put a request up on the BETFOR forum for any other information After Trieste Dad went to I-Corp head quarters at Maresfield, by this time he was a staff sergeant. Whilst he was there (1953-1955) he attended a Russian Linguist course at Bodmin. So I think we can guess what he was involved in then, after all it was the time of the cold war. Also during this time he met my mother and they were married in 1954 and I was born in March 1955. Whether that has any bearing on his subsequent career I have no idea but in Nov 1955 he left the I-Corp, he was commissioned into the Royal Army Ordnance Corp in Strensall, Yorkshire. His short service commission finished 11th November 1957 and he went back to civi street working in Export Sales.   I have also received the sweetest letter from the man who was best man at their wedding. I do remember him as he came to their 25th wedding anniversary meal. It is quite emotional to read a letter from someone who remembers you being born. Alec Anthon Frankie letter - Copy1955 Wedding         If anyone else has any other information they can share about Dad I would love to hear from them.1955 Lt Anthon