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Story of a remarkable war hero revealed

By Bridget Osborne

Story of a remarkable war hero revealed 18 December 2018

I have just finished reading the biography of Mike Cumberledge SOE by local author Robin Knight. Mike was a wartime hero who was killed in the German concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Though recognized for his bravery with a Distinguished Service Order and medal bar, and with the Greek Medal of Honour, his story has not had much publicity, perhaps because he disappeared at the end of the war and was forgotten because no one knew the details of his death.

Now Robin Knight has brought his story to light in the first biography of the man who as part of the Special Operations Executive served in undercover roles based in Egypt, at Alexandria, taking part in the fighting in Greece. He attempted to blow up the Corinth Canal, escaped from Crete, was wounded and returned to the island three times clandestinely. It was on his second attempt to attack the Corinth Canal (which gives access from the Gulf of Corinth to the Aegean Sea, a vital strategic link) that he was captured.

Through a combination of meticulous research and lucky breaks Robin has been able to unearth a lot more detail of Mike Cumberledge’s life, both the charmed existence of the 1930s sailing expensive yachts around the world for rich Americans, enjoying literature and writing poetry, and the high octane adventure of the war years. Crucially he has also been able to find out more about the truly awful circumstances of his imprisonment.

Read more about Mike Cumberledge in the review of Robin’s book on The This is Chiswick Pages. You can buy the book here.