Troubador Escaping the Ordinary

Released: 28/10/2020

ISBN: 9781800460126

eISBN: 9781788030670

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Escaping the Ordinary

How a Founder of the SAS Blazed a Trail at the End of Empire


“Gentleman Jim is a special forces hero – and he is one of mine too."
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, OBE

The trailblazing sequel to Gentleman Jim: The Wartime Story of a Founder of the SAS. Following his death-defying Second World War, Gentleman Jim Almonds would never settle to an ordinary job. The SAS was disbanded but as a thirty-year-old Captain, he still hungered for adventure. After training Emperor Hailie Selassie’s Army in Ethiopia, he went as Second-in-Command of a bandit-chasing outfit in the new ‘Wild West’ of Eritrea. He was on active service in so-called peacetime. Atrocities and killings were common, but British justice was swift during a race against time as Almonds brought terrorism under control before the implementation of a United Nations decision to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia. Meanwhile, he embarked on personal adventuring and exploration alone in the wilds, rivers and highlands of Ethiopia, sometimes coming close to death. 

He was still the great escaper. The SAS reformed in Malaya and Almonds ran straight to the battle again. Back with the Regiment, he parachuted into the jungle to clear communist terrorists out of Malaya. In the early days of the Malayan Emergency, he improvised insertion techniques, close quarter combat training and led the long slow marches out. The success of this British campaign has been largely unsung – until now. In Singapore, Almonds took time out to design and hand-build boats in which he and his family sailed around the Straits of Johor. Another opportunity took him to the Gold Coast as a Major in the West African Frontier Force. He witnessed Independence as the British Union Flag was lowered and Ghana was created. He built a riverboat and navigated the mighty Volta River, before it was dammed, through dense equatorial jungle from Yeji to the sea. He even built, by hand (no power tools), a thirty-foot ocean-going ketch – designed and memorized whilst in an Italian Prisoner of War camp. He sailed out into the mid-Atlantic and home to England. He had no modern steering aids, no health and safety and no radio – yet an uncanny sense of direction. In the dog days of Empire, the story captures the snapshot detail of the many countries he visited during his three-month intercontinental voyage. The account is set in a meticulously researched context, fully sourced and contains a comprehensive index, maps and glossaries.

Special Forces Club News

West Country Life

Bath Chronicle

Journal of the Royal Signals Institute

The Guards Magazine

The Guards Magazine

Another fantastic book by the amazing author and her amazing father, gentleman Jim almonds is my all time hero, very brave and physically fit chap who could also build and construct anything, just fantastic, well done Lorna

by Jason Barrett

Another fantastic book by this amazing author about her fantastic father, a very brave and super fit chap who could construct anything, very talented man, my hero, very well done lorna,

by jason barrett

What a fantastic book again from this brilliant author, absolutely amazing chap her father was, so good in everything he did, fab.

by Samuel j

"What did you do after the war Daddy?" was the question Lorna A-W asked her SAS founder member father. The answer was a life of adventure, daring and determination with considerable personal risk. His triumphs in fighting Shifta bandits in Eritrea and communist terrorists in Malaya or canoeing down the River Volga and sailing the Atlantic from Ghana to England across the Atlantic ocean in home built boats are experiences which few other men could match. Lorna's account is good reading and it was books like this which made me join the army many years ago.

by Mike Spence

In more than some ways ecstatic to have read this book since I have a particular interest in British Malaya and Singapore.

I must applaud the author for her accessible and engaging prose style, for it did not intimidate or deter a general reader like me despite my lack of knowledge about boats or sailing. I haven’t enjoyed a biography quite so much in a long time! The stories are nothing short of awe-inspiring! Reading this book has been an exhilarating experience for me. Thank you so much!

by Asera Lim (via NetGalley)

An excellent very readable book.

by steve iceton

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