Death at age of 102 of Dunkirk and desert hero

Major Alfred Linforth Pitman
Major Alfred Linforth Pitman

A war hero who was lifted off the beaches at Dunkirk and served in North Africa during the Second World War has died at the age of 102.

Major Alfred Linforth Pitman lived in retirement at Greyfriars Court in Lewes where he was described this week as “a real character, a true gentleman and as bright as a button”.

He was working in the intelligence department of The Times newspaper when war broke out. He joined the 4th Royal Sussex Regiment and was posted to France.

After the British retreat, he was forced back to Dunkirk and, alongside almost 350,000 Allied servicemen, taken from the beach by one the ‘little ships’.

As a fluent French speaker, Major Pitman was soon posted to Cerenaica in eastern Libya, North Africa. He served in a Free French division where he saw action in the battle against Rommel’s forces at Bir Hakeim south of Tobruk when Free French forces defended the position against a massive German and Italian attack.

Wounded when his truck hit an Italian mine, he twice spent time in the 64th General Hospital, Alexandria. When he turned up there for the second time the matron said: “Not you again!”

In later life he became estates manager at Horselunges Manor, Hellingly.