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Airey Neave
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    (January 23, 1916-March 30, 1979)
    Born in London, United Kingdom
    Soldier, lawyer, and politician
    Member of Parliament for Abingdon (1953-79)
    Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1974-79)
    Assassinated by a car bomb by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
    He admitted that at Oxford he did only the minimum amount of academic work required by his tutors.
    His first attempt to escape from Colditz failed because the fake German uniform he wore looked bright green under the prison searchlights.
    Margaret Thatcher complained he was long-winded and prone to anxiety.
    Sensitive to slights, he felt insulted when a BBC TV drama about Colditz barely mentioned him (1973).
    He declined the offer of a police bodyguard.
    He was wounded in battle in France in World War II, captured by the Germans and imprisoned at Colditz Castle.
    He became the first British soldier to escape from Colditz. (He and a Dutch officer escaped during a theatrical production by the prisoners using a trap door beneath the stage, and eventually made their way across occupied France and Fascist Spain to Gibraltar.)
    After his return to England, he was recruited by military intelligence to support Resistance organizations helping downed airmen and escaped prisoners escape from occupied Europe.
    As both a war hero and qualified lawyer fluent in German, he was given the role at the Nuremburg Tribunal of reading the indictments to the Nazi leaders on trial.
    He managed Margaret Thatcher’s successful campaign to replace Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative Party.
    A member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (the political arm of the INLA) later said that Neave ‘would have been very successful at that job [Secretary of State for Northern Ireland]. He would have brought the armed struggle to its knees.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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