Stuart Preston was one of the more curious figures of London during the Second World War, the U.S. Army Sergeant who featured in James Lees-Milne’s and Maud Russell’s wartime diaries and inspired “the Loot,” Lieutenant Padfield, in Evelyn Waugh’s Unconditional Surrender (retitled The End of the Battle in America), the last and best volume of Waugh’s war trilogy. Until leaving in July 1944 to take part in the liberation of France, Stuart lived in the U.S. Army Headquarters, conveniently located in North Audley Street, only minutes away from Heywood Hill’s bookshop on Curzon Street, where Nancy Mitford and Bridget Parsons were holding the fort, and the Dorchester, where Emerald Cunard...


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