RIP, Sir James Cleminson, Leader of British Industry

James Cleminson, the former president of the Confederation of British Industry — analogous to the National Association of Industry — died last month at the age of 86. From the Telegraph (U.K.) obituary:

As chief executive of Reckitt & Colman, the household and food products manufacturer, and as both president of the Confederation of British Industry and chairman of the British Overseas Trade Board, James Cleminson was one of the most respected corporate leaders of his generation. But he was invariably modest about his soldierly exploits, which had taken him to North Africa, Italy and Norway as well as the Rhine, and included two bouts of captivity as a prisoner-of-war. If pressed, he simply described himself as “lucky”.

His experience — partially re-created in Richard Attenborough’s 1977 epic film, A Bridge Too Far — was in fact as fierce as that of any young officer in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden. Captain “Jimmy” Cleminson’s platoon led the advance of the 3rd Parachute Battalion from the drop zone towards Arnhem on September 17 1944, until progress was briefly impeded by a German staff car which the platoon enthusiastically shot up, discovering later that they had killed Major-General Kussin, the Arnhem garrison commander.

As we learn from the fascinating biography, Cleminson was a staunch supporter of the principles of free-market competition and individual responsibility promoted by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

And since skills are in the news this week, we note this from his hometown Norfolk newspaper, “Norfolk war hero Sir James Cleminson dies“:

A huge champion of British business and industry, he was keen to see schools teach the skills pupils would need in the workplace. He was president of Endeavour Training and his charity work included serving as a trustee of the Army Benevolent Fund, the Airborne Forces Security Fund and Norwich Cathedral.

He was knighted in 1982.

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