The Tank Museum | Recipient

Frank Raymond Selby

Major Selby was born in Florence on 30th November 1916 of Italian parents and was formally adopted by a British Family who lived in Italy. This resulted in him being educated in England and also being bilingual in Italian. The family were required to depart Italy in 1939. He was commissioned in the early years of the war (c. 1940) and after training in the Royal Tank Regiment he did his Parachute training. He served in the 1st Army in North Africa in Algeria. His knowledge of Italy was such that he was earmarked for special duties. He landed in Sicily and then made his way up through Italy. He attended Secret Service courses in the U.K. and was then posted as a GSO 3 (Intelligence) to the MMIA (Military Mission to the Italian Army).
Demobilised in 1946

Later his work brought him into contact with the Italian Partisans and with the Polish Forces. In 1944 at the time of the fighting in the Florence area he was part of the Staff of FM Alexander and carried out many delicate missions for his Staff in particular liaison with the Americans to stop the bombing of Florence and to achieve German withdrawal without damage to the city. In the later part of the war in Italy he was sent to command for some two weeks a major Italian PoW Camp of some 30,000 at Undine.

At the end of the war he became the British Vice Consul in Lugarno where he stayed until the 1950's. He then returned to England where for the next forty years he was a teacher of language in London.

His death is to be marked by a special service in Florence and his ashes are to be conveyed there.

1939-45 STAR