The author Leslie Thomas, best known for his comic novel The Virgin Soldiers, has died at the age of 83.
Thomas, who was brought up a Barnardo’s home in Newport, south Wales, from the age of 12, was a Fleet Street reporter before he began writing novels. In 2004 he was given an OBE for services to literature.
The Virgin Soldiers, inspired by Thomas’ national service in Malaya, tells the story of a group of British soldiers based in the Far East. His success as a novelist came after a career as a journalist, starting as a reporter on a weekly newspaper before a stint on Fleet Street with the London Evening News. Among the stories he covered was the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.
He died at his home near Salisbury in Wiltshire on Tuesday after a lengthy illness. He leaves his wife, four children and four grandchildren. His wife, Diana, said: “He had a wonderful life and he travelled the world. All he ever wanted to do was write and that is what he did. He died at home with his family around him.”