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Captain Myles Henry Scandal — Sequel

  • Posted on 03 Jul 2024
  • 14 min read

By Prosper Keating

Sitting in Bergamote, a popular restaurant in the French port of Saint-Malo where we were having lunch recently, Anna Woodroffe thumbed through the paperback edition of potboiler author Santa Montefiori’s Arnhem-related drama Wait For Me, published by Simon and Schuster UK on April 11th 2024.

A quiet victory…

Anna and her companion Chris had made a detour during their French tour to thank me for defending the memory and the honour of her father, who fell in action with the 10th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment in Holland in September 1944, and of her late mother who died in 2021.

By “me”, I must stress that I was acting in the name of the Parachute Regimental Association, which exists to defend the interests of serving and retired Airborne soldiers and their next-of-kin.

When the maroon beret went on for Chris’ photos of Anna and myself with the amended book, several fellow diners nodded approvingly and a young waiter came up to me afterwards to say that his father had been a paratrooper. This is fairly typical in France. The taxi driver who took me to meet the PRA contingent attending the French Airborne’s St Michael’s Day ceremonies last September refused payment when he saw le beret rouge poking out of my jacket. But I digress…

Published in 2023, the hardback edition of Wait For Me was the subject of a highly critical article in Hermes about the stunning lack of respect shown by Montefiori and her publishers to the memory of Arnhem casualty Captain Myles Henry, his widow Pamela Henry-Lamm and their daughter Anna. Neither the novelist Santa Montefiori nor her publishers Simon and Shyster UK responded directly to our exposé of their lack of respect for the memory of Arnhem casualty Captain Myles Henry and the use — without any permission — of his widow Pamela Henry-Lamm’s 1996 memoir I’ve Had My Dance in Montefiori’s Arnhem-related potboiler Wait For Me.

Santa Montefiori with not one but two reincarnated British paratroopers visiting their old bodies…

As those who read the article will recall, this disrespect was extended to The Parachute Regiment and British Airborne Forces in general in the form of an unauthorised publicity photo shoot around Captain Henry’s grave in the Airborne Cemetery at Oosterbeek, which was then used to promote Wait For Me on social media.

They’re all terribly, terribly sorry about these images but apparently there’s not a penny to spare for the Airborne charities or even a modest donation to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission…

Montefiori’s collaborator, former Guards officer Simon Jacobs, believes himself to be Myles Henry reincarnated, an aspect of Montefiori’s hastily-written “love story” that caused his daughter and the extended family offence and anguish. It would certainly have scandalised Captain Henry’s widow, who listened to Jacobs on the telephone and, afterwards, never had further dealings with him. Pamela Henry-Lamm certainly did not approve of Jacobs’ claims, although Montefiori gives the opposite impression in her text.

To be as fair as possible to Montefiori, she did — initially — express contrition for the anguish caused to Captain Henry’s descendants, including the daughter prematurely born to his young widow when she went into shock after receiving the War Department telegram informing her that her husband was missing in action at Arnhem in September 1944. Montefiori promised to amend future editions of the book to remove all references to Myles Henry, his family and heirs as well as contested use of material from Pamela Henry-Lamm’s privately published memoir I’ve Had My Dance.

Pam Henry-Lamm parading her husband’s medals and her own, earned serving amongst other posts as a nurse with ‘Guinea Pig’ burns surgeon Archibald MacIndoe

Montefiori and her collaborator Simon Jacobs also agreed to make “substantial’ donations to one or more Airborne-related charities. As well as Support Our Paras, it was suggested that a donation from the proceeds of Wait For Me be made to Friends of The Tenth, the charity behind the building of the memorial to the parachute battalion with which Captain Henry served and died.

However, the tone of Montefiori’s emails to Anna Woodroffe then became less conciliatory when Mrs Woodroffe pressed the author about the promised amendments and Hermes decided to intervene in the name of The Parachute Regimental Association, which looks after its own and their next-of-kin, like Anna Woodroffe who is a daughter of The Parachute Regiment.

Pamela Henry-Lamm, who died in 2021 aged 100, would certainly have approved of the donation to Friends of The Tenth, according to her daughter Anna Woodroffe née Henry. Although the two charities in question obviously respect and abide by General Data Protection Regulation, neither has been able to thank Montefiori, Jacobs or Simon and Schuster for any donations.

Perhaps Montefiori and her publishers’ corporate lawyers fear that such donations would be tantamount to admissions of guilt in relation to the apparent plagiarism contained in the first edition. Whatever the case, they ain’t saying. However, the paperback edition of Wait For Me has been amended in line, to some extent, with Montefiori’s promises.

“My parents’ honour is intact…”

For Anna Woodroffe, however, it was never about money. The lady is too classy for that. It was about righting a wrong. She placed the new paperback edition on the table and said of the amendments removing her parents’ names and any references to them — and to her — from the text: “It’s enough. My parents’ honour is intact and I thank my father’s old Regiment for that. For me, the matter is closed.”.

It is fortunate for Simon and Shyster and for Mrs Montefiori that Captain Henry’s daughter is not litigious because, as a couple of friendly barristers who gave opinions said, the paperback still relies sufficiently upon his widow’s privately published memoir to provoke a lawsuit for plagiarism and theft of intellectual property any court in any territory where it has been published.

As for Anna Woodroffe, who made a substantial detour with her companion on a visit to France from New Zealand to say thank-you in person, she is every inch the paratrooper’s daughter even though she never knew her father. Invited for tea and shortbread the next day, Anna was perfectly at home in my vintage motorcycle workshop and upon seeing my collection of knuckledusters of various periods, casually remarked: “Oh, they’re great! I used to have a collection of flick knives…”.

After Anna and her companion left to continue their tour of France, I found an ecologically friendly use for the hardback first edition of Wait For Me in my open air latrine. It is certainly more appropriate than the PR shot of it propped against Captain Henry’s gravestone. I hope this gives Simon and Schuster an idea about how they could recycle their unsold copies of the hardback edition, which is surely of little commercial value because of the amendments to the text.

Take your pick: a more appropriate setting for this book than propped against Captain Myles Henry’s grave…

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