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An interesting Sinclair Obituary from last Wednesday's Daily Telegraph (UK)

 Lt-Col Christopher Sinclair

has died aged 85, was awarded two Military Crosses in 
1941 while serving in the Western Desert with the Rifle 

In February 1941, having driven the Italians out of 
Egypt and captured Bardia and Tobruk, General Richard 
O'Connor pushed his forces south of the Jebel Akhdar in 
an attempt to cut off the enemy's retreat down the 
coast road from Benghazi. 

The jaws of O'Connor's trap closed, with half an hour to 
spare, at Beda Fomm and Sidi Saleh. A thin line of 
tanks, armoured cars and infantry barred the Italians' 
escape route to Tripoli. Sinclair, in command of 13 
Company, 2nd Battalion, the Rifle Brigade, was part of 
this force, which for 48 hours was subjected to repeated 
tank and infantry attacks from an enemy greatly 
superior in numbers.

Fighting was intense, and on February 7 the Rifle 
Brigade was attacked and almost overrun at Sidi Saleh 
by a column of infantry in lorries headed by 30 tanks. 
The destruction of the last tank only yards from the 
brigade mess tent marked the final destruction of the 
Italian 10th Army. Twenty-five thousand prisoners were 
taken. For his conduct during this battle and the 
operations leading up to it Sinclair was awarded the 
Military Cross. The citation stated: "It was largely due to 
this officer's courage and example that the position was 
held, though several times penetrated."

The following November, with Rommel's Afrika Korps 
now in the field, Sinclair's company was involved in 7th 
Armoured Brigade's capture of the ridge at Sidi Rezegh 
and its airfield as part of the attempt to relieve Tobruk. 
On November 22, 21st Panzer Division attacked the 
ridge with tanks, infantry and anti-tank guns. After 
heavy fighting, Sinclair's position was overrun, and most 
of his men wounded or taken prisoner.

Sinclair was captured, but the following night he 
managed to escape, bringing with him two wounded 
men of his company. For his "magnificent leadership, 
courage and resource . . . of the very highest standard" 
Sinclair was awarded a Bar to his MC.

Thomas Christopher Sinclair was born at Woolwich, 
south London, on February 9 1916 and educated at 
Winchester and Trinity College, Cambridge. 
Commissioned into the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's 
Own) in 1937, he served with them in India and 
Palestine, and following the outbreak of war, in Egypt 
and the Western Desert.

He remained with the 2nd Battalion throughout the 
North African and Italian campaigns, assuming 
command of it in 1944. In that year his younger 
brother, Michael, "the Red Fox of Colditz", was shot and 
killed during the last of many escape attempts, and his 
youngest brother John was killed while serving with the 
Scots Guards at Anzio.

Sinclair commanded his battalion until the end of the 
Italian campaign, continuing to set the highest example 
and remaining, as a colleague recalled, "invariably 
calm, always unshaken."

>From 1945 to 1947 he was Military Assistant to Field 
Marshal Sir Henry Maitland "Jumbo" Wilson at the British 
Mission to the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington. 
After a period of service in Germany, Sinclair returned to 
Winchester to command the Regimental depot before 
going to Kenya as second-in-command of the 1st 

In 1956 he became Military Assistant to Field Marshal 
Sir Gerald Templar, making himself immediately 
popular with the staff by risking Templar's wrath to end 
the practice of working on Saturdays. On one occasion, 
while flying with Templar over Turkey, a rear door of the 
aircraft fell off and stuck in the tailplane. The pilot was 
able to save the aeroplane only by an emergency 
landing at very high speed. 

Asked what he had done when he thought he was about 
to die, Sinclair replied: "I reached up into the luggage 
rack for my Rifle Brigade hat and put it on."

In 1958, the year of his retirement from the Army, he 
was awarded the OBE. On leaving the Army, Sinclair 
began a new career with Time Life International. It was 
one well-suited to his intellect and experience. By 1960 
he was a director of the company, and by 1974 was UK 

Sinclair would often jokingly remark that his main claim 
to fame dated from his teens, when he had stayed with 
an aunt and uncle in Hyannisport, New England. The 
Kennedy family home was nearby and Sinclair made 
occasional visits. It was on one such visit that he taught 
the young Edward Kennedy, (who was only six or seven 
at the time) to dive in the family pool, an achievement 
which was the cause of much wry comment from 
American colleagues at Time Life.

In 1978, Sinclair and his wife went to live in the South of 
France. He had been a member of Her Majesty's 
Bodyguard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at 
Arms since 1965, and the move to France meant he had 
to turn down the opportunity to be its Captain. He was 
diagnosed as having cancer in 1984 and was forced to 
return to England for treatment which, though 
successful, left him severely incapacitated. 

Throughout his life Sinclair was a keen outdoorsman; a 
good game shot and fisherman, he could recognise 
most European birds by their song alone. He is 
remembered by colleagues as a great soldier, an 
outstanding leader of men and a true Rifleman.

He married, in 1947, Peggy Leigh. She survives him, 
together with their four sons.

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