Today is the birthday of Sir Anthony Quayle. When one thinks of Quayle, the first thing that comes to mind is the blockbuster films he was involved in: Lawrence of Arabia, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Anne of a Thousand Days (for which he was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe), Operation Crossbow, QB VII, Masada, The Eagle Has Landed, and many more.

Quayle was normally cast as the “stiff-upper-lip” type and the good-natured English gentleman.

But perhaps the most intriguing role he played in the film industry was the Guns of Navarone. In it, he portrayed a Special Forces operative, Major Roy Franklin, the commander of an ad-hoc unit sent to knock out the German guns on a fictional island. That island covers the strait through which the Royal Navy will come to the rescue of 2,000 British soldiers.

As it turns out, his playing that role is quite the coincidence. During the Second World War, Quayle was an officer in the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and was stationed in Albania.