Noel Andrew Cotton Croft

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Captain Noel Andrew Cotton “Andrew” Croft, D.S.O, O.B.E
Life dates
30 Nov 1906 - 26 Jun 1998
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Andrew Croft was the son of Canon Robert Croft and his wife Lottie.

After finishing education in Oxford he worked in the cotton trade in Lancashire, leaving in 1929 to go to Europe to learn French and German. In Nov 1938 he passed his pilot's licence in Cambridge in a Gypsy Moth.

Andrew Croft was already a noted Polar explorer before the war. He was a member of Martin Lindsay's three-man Trans-Greenland Expedition in 1933-4 as a dog driver and photographer. 1080 miles were covered in 15 weeks, a record for a self-supporting journey. In 1934-5 he was in India as an aide to a young Maharajah. 1935-36 in Nordaustlandet, Norway he was second in command of Sandy Glen's Oxford University Arctic Expedition for which he was awarded Polar Medal with Arctic Clasp and later Back Award of Royal Geographical Society. The next three years were spent in Cambridge as a secretary to Louis Clarke where he found time to write his book Polar Exploration (1939).

He served in Finland with 5th Battalion Scots Guards, along with many of those later to serve in various Special Forces and SOE.

He was recruited to MI(R) and started the process of setting up a Resistance network in June 1940. He transferred to Auxiliary Units and set up initial Patrols across East Anglia, not initially being confined by county boundaries. Canon Croft was the rector of St Osyth, Essex when Andrew was a boy, but moved to Kelvedon in the early 1920's. Hence, Kelvedon Vicarage became the first HQ for Essex & Suffolk Auxiliary Units.

Croft was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1945.

He married Rosalind Madden, (nee De KentZow) widow of an Irish Guards officer 25 July 1952.

He was due to to be part of the 1953 Everest Expedition but stepped down. The expedition was the first to reach the summit. After leaving the Army he was the first Commandant of the Metropolitan Police's Hendon Police College and awarded an OBE for his work in 1970.

The couple are buried at Chiswick, London.

Unit or location Role Posted from until
The Vicarage, Kelvedon, Essex Intelligence Officer 15 Jul 1940 12 Dec 1940
Norfolk Intelligence Officer 15 Jul 1940 24 Jul 1940
Suffolk Intelligence Officer 15 Jul 1940 12 Dec 1940
Essex Intelligence Officer 15 Jul 1940 12 Dec 1940
Massingham Mission SOE Agent 1943 1943
Massingham Mission SOE Agent 1943 1943

Lancing College, Sussex then Stowe School, Buckinghamshire

Christ Church College, Oxford

National ID
DDBL 299/4
The Essex Regiment
Military number

Private Secretary (1938) Museum Secretary


1940 Fought in Finland in the Winter War and Independent Companies in Norway, Military Attache to Sweden.

Dec 1942 – Mar 1943 Number 14 Arctic Commando, on missions to Norway, SOE Massingham Mission in Tunisia, then with SOE operating small boats from Corsica (Operation Balaclava), before being dropped into the south of France (Operation Snow White).

1945-46 He was assisting in Canada with Operation Musk Ox, testing arctic equipment for military use.

1949 He converted to a permanent commission from his wartime emergency one. He was Liaison Officer in the United States 1952-1954.

Subsequently he commanded the Boys Battalion at Plymouth and the Army Apprentices School at Harrogate.

Retired 23 Jun 1960.

(1938) Leckhampton House, Cambridge, later The Vicarage, Kelvedon, Essex then possibly later Berwick Hall, Earls Colne, Essex
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Captain Noel Andrew Cotton Croft (1)
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Captain Noel Andrew Cotton Croft (2)
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Captain Noel Andrew Cotton Croft (3)
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Major Noel Andrew Cotton Croft - post war
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Colonel Andrew Croft (from The Last Ditch)
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Andrew Croft cover of A talent for adventure
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Croft pilots licence
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Andrew Croft memorial

A Talent for Adventure. 1991 The SPA Ltd, ISBN 1854211390

Andrew Croft's daughter, Julia (God-daughter of Gerry Holdsworth)

Andrew Croft Memorial Fund

London Gazette Feb 1942, March 1945, May 1949, Dec 1954, June 1960, Jan 1970

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