Airey Neave

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Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave DSO, OBE, MC (23 January 1916 – 30 March 1979) was a British soldier, barrister and politician.

During World War II, Neave was one of the few servicemen to escape from the German prisoner-of-war camp at Colditz Castle designated Oflag IV-C. He later became a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Conservative Party, representing the constituency of Abingdon in Berkshire.

Neave was assassinated in 1979, in a car-bomb attack at a House of Commons carpark. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed responsibility for his assassination.


Early life

Neave was the son of Sheffield Airey Neave (1879–1961), a well-known entomologist, and his wife Dorothy (d. 1943), the daughter of Arthur Thomson Middleton. His father was the grandson of Sheffield Neave, the third son of Sir Thomas Neave, 2nd Baronet (see Neave Baronets). Neave spent his early years in Knightsbridge in London, before he moved to Beaconsfield. Neave was sent to St. Ronan's School, Worthing, and from there, in 1929, he went to Eton College. He went on to study jurisprudence at Merton College, Oxford. While at Eton, Neave composed a prize-winning essay in 1933 that examined the likely consequences of Adolf Hitler's rise to supreme power in Germany, and Neave predicted then that another widespread war would break out in Europe in the near future. Neave had earlier been on a visit to Germany, and he witnessed the Nazi German methods of grasping political and military power in their hands. When Neave went to Oxford University, he purchased and read the entire written works of the prescient writer Carl von Clausewitz. When Neave was asked why, he answered: "since war [is] coming, it [is] only sensible to learn as much as possible about the art of waging it".[1] During 1938, Neave completed his third-class degree in the study of jurisprudence. By his own admission, while at Oxford University, Neave did only the minimal amount of academic work that was required of him by his tutors.

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