8 celebrities who had a brush with war

  1. Roald Dahl
    1. The author of The BFG and James and the Giant Peach was both a man of imagination and a man of the skies. He fought in WWII as a fighter pilot and later served as an intelligence officer in Washington DC. His writing career started when novelist C.S. Forester asked Dahl to submit an anecdote of his war experiences - Forester was so impressed by the account that he published it unchanged. This opened the gates for a literary legacy that has survived generations.
  2. James Blunt 
    1. This guitar-wielding crooner may well have prevented World War Three. James Blunt was an officer in the British Army and was deployed to Kosovo, where he strapped a guitar to the outside of his tank to play for locals. It was here that his troop led a large NATO peacekeeping force from the Macedonian border to Pristina International Airport. They arrived to find that Russian forces had taken control of the airport, but when ordered to take the airport by force, Blunt refused. And who knows what might have happened if he hadn’t - we might now be locked in a deadly conflict with Russia. 
  3. Eleanor Roosevelt
    1. A future First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, staffed the Red Cross canteen after America entered WWI. She served soldiers departing from Washington's Union Station and did some admin work for the canteen’s accounts. She also coordinated the distribution of wool to 40 knitters and collected the finished goods for the troops.
  4. James Doohan
    1. You may know him as ‘Scotty’ in Star Trek, but Doohan is also a war hero with a miracle survival story! His first experience of combat was towards the end of WWII when he landed on Juno Beach in France. After shooting down two enemy snipers, Doohan led his men through a field of tank mines before he was shot. He survived six 7.62 mm close-range bullet wounds from a nervous Canadian sentry with a Bren Gun - four in his leg, one in his chest and one in his right hand that actually took off his middle finger! A final bullet was stopped from hitting his heart by a silver cigarette case that his brother gave to him just before his Juno Beach landing.
  5. Audrey Hepburn
    1. Iconic film actress Audrey Hepburn was rated the third greatest female screen actress by the American Film Institute, and her career started in WWII when she was just a teenager living in the Netherlands. She used to dance in secret productions to raise money for the Dutch resistance movement, using the name Edda van Heemstra to conceal her English identity from the German occupiers. 
  6. Morgan Freeman
    1. Morgan Freeman was so keen to join the US Air Force he turned down a drama scholarship from Jackson State University so he could enlist. He initially served as an Automatic Tracking Radar Repairman, but he was in love with the idea of flying and wanted to be a fighter pilot. But when his chance finally came and he first sat in the cockpit of a fighter jet he had a dramatic change of heart: "I had the distinct feeling I was sitting in the nose of a bomb. I had this very clear epiphany - ‘You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this’." And he promptly left the military before ever making it to war.
  7. Jimi Hendrix
    1. Guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix was given the choice to either join the army or go to prison after being caught driving stolen cars. He chose to join the army. There, he spent most of his time playing the guitar and neglecting his duties, which didn’t go down well with the other soldiers. He was often found napping on duty and rarely followed orders. Eventually, he was discharged from the army and soon after became one of the world's most famous guitarists. His disobedience saved him from the Vietnam War and gave us the chance to fall in love with Purple Haze and Hey Joe!
  8. Elvis Presley 
    1. Even the ‘King of Rock n’ Roll’ had to join the army. He was conscripted as a private in 1958, despite being recognised as the biggest cultural icon of the twentieth century. He was offered the chance to enlist in the special services as an entertainer for the troops, but he chose instead to serve as a regular private. It was whilst serving in the army that Elvis was introduced to amphetamines - a drug that would later destroy him.