Alec Guinness Confessed ‘inefficient, undistinguished’



Sir Alec Guinness as a young officer of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in World War Two. 


“That of a very inefficient, undistinguished, junior officer in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve….,” he writes in his memoir Blessings in Disguise. By May of 1943, Guinness was in command of large infantry landing craft with a crew of twenty men serving under him. “….my own lack of know-how and swift rash judgments hampered the Allied Cause like small but irritating gnatbites.”

As quoted in “The Royal Navy Officer’s Pocket-Book 1944.”  Republished several years ago.

(Compiled and with a forward by Brian Lavery, who is one of the best historians of the Royal Navy writing today. I recommend all of his books.)

Guinness had a difficult life. He was an illegitimate child which was not exactly a picnic in those days and isn’t the most cheerful thing today. He never knew who his father was. He had already become famous as an actor by the time of the Second World War. He served as an officer in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and commanded a landing craft on several occasions.


Guinness as a young RNVR officer in World War Two. He is in the middle of the second row.

Photo from “World War Two actors in Star Wars”

You can read his obit here:


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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: