chapter  1
16 Pages

The Life and Death of the 24th Armoured Brigade

Owen Reed was born in Putney, London, on 13 September 1910. He was youngest of the four children of Arthur Reed, a professor of English at King’s College, London, and of Esther Reed, née Casson, a younger sister of the actor Sir Lewis Casson. Reed was educated at King’s College School, Wimbledon, and read Classics at Christ Church, Oxford. Although his childhood was overshadowed by the First World War, in which he lost two uncles, he grew up very happily in a close-knit and supportive middle-class family. His parents were devoted to their children’s educational advancement but also strongly encouraged more active outdoor pursuits, such as walking and motorcycling: Reed early developed a life-long enthusiasm for motorized transport, and taught his own father how to drive. But perhaps the most profound influence on his early life was the unusually close relationship that he developed with his uncle Lewis and aunt, Sybil Thorndike. He was devoted to them, and they in turn treated him as a son. As his father was additionally an expert in Tudor drama, it is hardly surprising that by the time Reed went up to Christ Church he was already passionately interested in the theatre.