John Tobin Bush

Personnel header
Captain John Tobin Bush
Life dates
08 Sep 1906 - 27 Jul 1977
Profile Picture
Profile picture
Caption & credit
John Tobin Bush (SOE Identity Photo)

John Bush was born in Denmark to British parents, his father a French born Naval Commander James John Bush CBE and mother Antonia who was Danish born.

He married on 20 Jul 1933 in Bangor to Miss Pamela Vincent, daughter of Lady Vincent of Brynwydd, Tfreborth and the late Sir Hugh Vincent.


Unit or location Role Posted from until
West Kent Scout Section Scout Section Commander 02 Jul 1940 10 Dec 1940
Suffolk Scout Section Scout Section Commander 04 Aug 1940 Unknown
STS 21 (Arisaig) SOE Agent 10 Dec 1940 22 Sep 1943
Force 136 SOE Agent 22 Dec 1943 09 Nov 1945

Shrewsbury School

Brasenose College, Oxford University (Modern Greats)

General List
Military number
Commissioned or Enlisted
9 Jun 1940

Marketing and sales Lever Brothers and Unilever Limited


May 1939 Joined 274 Battery, 86th (Honourable Artillery Company) Heavy Antiaircraft Regiment as a Gunner.

Jul 1939 Attended Territorial Camp, passing Anti Aircraft Height finders test.

20 Aug 1939 Embodied (mobilised) with 274 Battery

Nov 1939 Passed Anti Aircraft Radar Operators Course (This is how it is recorded on his SOE record, however Anti Aircraft radar was not invented until 1943 and more likely this was a course for acoustic location 

16 Feb 1940 to 5 Jun 1940 Posted to 168 Officer Cadet Training Unit in Aldershot

9 Jun 1940 Emergency Commission as Second Lieutenant

He was almost immediately sent to Lochailort in Scotland to attend the Independent Company (Commando) Paramilitary Course until 23 Jun 1940.

2 Jul 1940 Promoted to Acting Captain and posted to Auxiliary Units. 

John Bush is mentioned by Andrew Croft in East Anglia. He is mentioned in the War Diary of Major Raven of Hoxne, Suffolk. He also appears to have been involved in Kent as part of XII Corps Observation Unit.

It is thought he may have had the initial role of Scout Section Officer, or possibly as a demolition training officer, travelling to the different locations.

2 Oct 1940 Promoted War Substantive Lieutenant, Temporary Captain

10 Dec 1940 Posted to STS 21 (Arisaig) as Lieutenant, Training Officer, in the role of Demolitions Instructor. He helped Colonel Munn set up the paramilitary training course there. He also liaised with Station XII (Aston House), Station IX (The Frythe) and Station XVII (Brickendonbury) as well as ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) in relation to explosives and demolitions.

When Lieutenant Ernest van Maurik arrived as an instructor in early 1941, John Bush explained the structure of the school and showed him suitable sites for demolition training. He also advised on additional techniques including a combined explosive and incendiary demolition including phosphorus.

26 Dec 1941 Promoted Acting Major on appointment as Chief Instructor to Group A Schools (Arisaig Group)

26 Mar 1942 Promoted War Substantive Captain, Temporary Major

During this period many SOE agents passed through the paramilitary training provided in the Arisaig schools, including the Czech team that assassinated Heydrich in Prague and many who would be instrumental in setting up the French Resistance and similar organisations in other countries

1943 Admitted to Drymen Military Hospital, Buchanan Castle, Loch Lomond with knee cartilage problems

Jun 1943 Warned for service in India. He made a tour of SOE HQ, signals schools, and various STSs

21 Sep 1943 Promoted Acting Lieutenant Colonel

22 Sep 1943 Posted General Service Officer Grade 1 Training for SOE (India)

22 Dec 1943 Based at HQ Force 136 Meerut, India

20 Dec 1944 Posted to HQ Force 136 Kandy

Other pictures
Profile picture
Caption & credit
John Tobin Bush wedding photo (1933)

War Diary of Major Raven of Hoxne, Suffolk

National Archives HS9/244/2…;


Liverpool Post and Mercury, 20 Jul 1933

Agent Paterson SOE, E van Maurik, 2018