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“When the Second World War began, Guinness stepped forward. The actor enlisted in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1941, entering the war at the age of 27. Guinness was trained on the HMS Raleigh frigate on a naval base, as well as at Hampshire and Loch Fyne.
The final practical military education he received was on the HMS Quebec. In 1942, Guinness was given the rank of officer. In 1943, the actor sailed to Boston, where he got his first command. He was in charge of a landing craft that he took through a series of German aircraft shots and successfully landed on the coast of North Africa. There, Guinness and his squad prepared for the invasion of Sicily.
On July 9, 1943, the actor managed to land 200 men on Cape Passero. During the invasion, though, the Allied army had a communication breakdown. Guinness did not receive a message that the landing of the troops had been delayed by one hour, so he arrived on the Sicilian beach alone. Later, the actor was accused of being late instead of early by a Royal Navy commander, who insinuated that his acting career made him unfit for military duty.
In response to the accusation, Guinness said, “And you will allow me to point out, Sir, as an actor, that in the West End of London, if the curtain is advertised as going up at 8:00 PM, it goes up at 8:00 PM, and not an hour later, something that the Royal Navy might learn from.”
After the invasion of Sicily, Guinness was transferred to the eastern Mediterranean front, where he ferried supplies and agents to the Yugoslav partisans.”
Running a landing craft doesn’t make you commanding officer of the invasion.