Page last updated at 06:38 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 07:38 UK

Historian 'posed as a war hero'

Mr Livesey was interviewed by the BBC during 25th anniversary commemorations of the Falklands War

A military historian who posed as a war hero has been exposed as a fantasist.

Jack Livesey claimed he won the Military Medal while serving in the Parachute Regiment.

The Cambridgeshire author's website boasted: "He joined the Army, where, thanks to his shooting skills, he found himself in the Parachute Regiment.

"This was his life for the next 20 years, including five tours of duty in Northern Ireland, where he won the MM, and the Falklands War, where he served with the 2nd Battalion."

However, the Ministry of Defence confirmed Mr Livesey served in the Army Catering Corps for less than three years.

He was exposed after an ex-Para tipped off the Cambridge Evening News.

Former veterans told the BBC they were upset by the way he paraded his medals.

'Sad memories'

He fooled the public for years and built up his career as a military author and battlefield tour guide on his Army career.

Two years ago, the former soldier was a guest of honour at the 25th anniversary commemorations of the Falklands War at the Imperial War Museum.

He spoke to BBC Look East at the time, saying: "Being here, it is very difficult because you have got lots of happy memories and also lots of sad memories and it is a day to come to terms with that particular war and that incident in my life."

Derek Cole, from the Falklands Veterans Foundation, said: "We have checked through our list of people who served there and he doesn't come up anywhere.

"I think it is disrespectful to pretend they served in the force when they haven't.

"There are painful memories that people remember. If somebody purports to have done it, it is disrespectful."

I think it is disrespectful to pretend they served in the force when they haven't
Derek Cole

Malcolm Simpson, MBE, was 2 Para RSM during the Falklands, said: "I knew every single soldier in the Parachute Regiment 2nd and 3rd that were awarded a Military Medal. He doesn't come into the picture.

"There were nine men in the regiment who were given the Military Medal and Livesey is not on the list. I knew every man in the regiment and I cannot remember him."

Jack Livesey has authored a number of military books, including Armoured Fighting Vehicles of World Wars I and II.

He has advised a number of military films, but some of those claims have also been questioned.

His website states: "Jack was military adviser for the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan."

However, his name is not included in the full cast list for the Stephen Spielberg film.

For seven years, Mr Livesey worked at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, first as a volunteer, and then as a collections assistant until 2006.

Record 'not pertinent'

A museum spokesman said: "I can't comment on his military record. That was not a qualification for the job.

"All of those roles were based on a knowledge of history, and particularly Second World War. His military record wasn't pertinent to the museum. He left of his own accord."

An MoD spokesman said: "Our records indicate that Jack Livesey (DOB 15/05/54) only served in the British Army in the Army Catering Corps from December 1971 until April 1974."

Speaking to Look East outside his home, Mr Livesey stood by the website information: "I have sent off for my military records to prove it. I have never claimed to be in the Paras. I was attached to the Paras. I was attached to the airborne brigade."

He maintains he was a military adviser to Saving Private Ryan.

He said: "I was contacted by them - the art department - of the film. They were doing the Normandy Beaches.

"They were putting up some obstacles. They weren't sure which way to put them. They phoned me up at the Imperial War Museum. There was no fee, hence I didn't get a credit."

Later Mr Livesey told us, through a solicitor, he had a letter from the Army confirming he had been in the Intelligence Corps for 20 years, but could not reveal the proof because of the Official Secrets Act.

The Army has issued a further denial to his claims.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific