15th November 1983

Dad’s Army actor John le Mesurier died

John le Mesurier found fame as Sergeant Wilson in the long-running BBC comedy series, Dad’s Army.

Although he wasn’t born on Guernsey, he had links to the island – and a Guernsey surname, even though it wasn’t the name he was born to.

John Elton Le Mesurier Halliley was born in Bedford in 1912 to Amy Michelle Halliley. Amy had been born on Guernsey and was the descendant of the last hereditary governor of Alderney. Her maiden name had been Le Mesurier and her marriage might have spelled the end of the name in that particular branch of the family were it not for her husband’s apparent dislike of the acting profession.

A change of name

After leaving school and some time spent working in his father’s office, John le Mesurier enrolled in an acting school. He quickly found success under the name John Halliley, but in September 1937, after several seasons in the theatre, he adopted his mother’s maiden name, le Mesurier.

His biographer wrote that he hadn’t explained why he had done this, but The Rough Index to the Le Mesurier/Le Messurier Family by the Guernsey Society (PDF) states that his father “would not countenance a mere actor bearing his name. As a result John had to use Le Mesurier as a stage name.”

Thus, the le Mesurier name reappeared.

In a wonderfully self-deprecating interview given to Channel Television in 1978, he talked about his Alderney connections but explained that he had never lived in Guernsey, despite claims having been written to the contrary in the years since.

He died on 15 November 1983 of cirrhosis of the liver. He had been known to be a heavy drinker through much of his life.


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Other events that occured in November

Car plane air crash caused airport fireball 1st
A hospital worker stood accused of murder 2nd
Sark’s vineyards were vandalised 3rd
The original Torteval church was consecrated 4th
Sibyl Beaumont married Robert Hathaway 5th
The papers were excited by a Guernsey execution 6th
The States agrees to pay the Bailiff 7th
States of Guernsey hired its first independent vet
The Little Theatre was reprieved… for a while 8th
Guernsey was declared free of cholera 9th
Guernsey optician Specsavers was founded 10th
The court considered a Guernsey porn dealer’s testimony 11th
Guernsey Yacht Club was founded 12th
Guernsey aimed for equal adoption rights 13th
Jethou’s tenant fell off his own cliff 14th
Dad’s Army actor John le Mesurier died 15th
A Guernsey recruit regretted signing up 16th
Horticultural painter William Caparne was born 17th
German forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios 18th
A plane crashed on Crevichon 19th
Sark featured in the music charts 20th
Guernsey recruits caused concern in Parliament 21st
First Guernsey competitor took part in Miss World 22nd
A Lancaster bomber crashed on Sark 23rd
Sark women get the right to inherit 24th
Spanish flu arrived on Guernsey 25th
Guernsey held its first full marathon 26th
Admiral Thomas Le Marchant Gosselin died 27th
HMS Boreas sank at Hanois 28th
Radio station Contact 94 went off the air 29th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry memorial was unveiled 30th