Actors Who Served: Alec Guinness

Before the Force was with Alec Guinness (as Obi-Wan Kenobi), he was with his country's armed forces.

Born in England in April 1914, Guinness was eager to fight the Axis powers in World War II and served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in World War II.

He first served as an ordinary seaman and was commissioned in 1942. He was sent aboard the Queen Mary to America to take command of a Landing Craft Infantry. In December of 1942, Guinness was given leave to act in Terence Rattigan’s play "Flare Path," where he held the role of Flight Lieutenant Graham.

Once commissioned, Guinness commanded a British Royal Navy landing craft taking part in the invasions of Sicily (after surviving a hurricane in the Adriatic on New Year’s Day 1944) and Elba as well as on D-Day. Later in his military career, he ferried supplies to Yugoslav Partisans and took their wounded back to Italy. Of the war, Guinness said it “was the greatest blessing for me. I could so easily have been stuck in the West End juveniles and with people getting bored of me. I’d started to lead a rather frivolous life.”

Although Guinness became famous on stage and screen after the war, he says of his military service, “I gave my best performances during the war- trying to be an officer and a gentleman.”


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