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Feb 21, 2012 2:51 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Peter J. Terry Dies At 87

Feb 21, 2012 5:09 PM

Peter J. Terry, formerly of Bridgehampton and a member of infamous British Commando’s X Troop, died at his home in Greenport on Saturday, February 18. He was 87.

Born Peter Tischler in Vienna, Austria, in 1924, he and his family escaped Austria in 1940 following the Nazi invasion during World War II, and moved to London, England. At 17, he joined the British Army and was selected to join British Commando’s X Troop, an elite group of German-speaking, Jewish ex-patriots, ordered by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to “develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast.” All members had to adopt British names and falsified personal histories and were instructed to disavow any knowledge of their existence if they were caught. This secret and highly specialized troop spearheaded amphibious assaults including the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944, where Mr. Terry was severely injured just two days later. According to his son, James, the entire troop was convinced they were all going to die because of the dangers they were faced with. The X Troop had the highest number of casualties of any British military unit during World War II—only a handful of men returned from war. For helping to liberate a small town in France, Mr. Terry was awarded the French Croix de guerre. James said his father may have been the last of the X Troop—or the “Inglourious Basterds” as they’ve come to be known.

Following World War II, Mr. Terry attended Oxford and Cambridge universities, graduating with a master’s degree in history. He married Elizabeth Browne, a model and movie star in London, in 1951.

He moved to New York City in 1963, working as an executive in the screen printing industry. In 1972, he was one of the first businessmen to open up the Asian markets to mid-sized businesses, creating a global market for companies previously focused solely on national sales.

In 1995, he retired to Bridgehampton where he became an active member of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee until he moved to Greenport in 2010.

“He made a significant contribution particularly in problems along Scuttlehole Road and the obligations of the town to preserve facilities for residents,” said Ian McPherson, friend and fellow member of the CAC.

Mr. Terry’s love for traveling brought him to more than 100 countries. He was fluent in five languages and was a fantastic storyteller.

“By going to all of these countries and seeing so many different lifestyles, he really had a flavor for stories,” James said.

When James went to Europe for the first time on his own, his father knew exactly where to send him.

“My father would tell me ‘oh, you’re in Barcelona. Make a left on this street and you’ll find a really unique ice cream store,’” James said. “He loved traveling to these places and he adapted well to different environments. He had an incredible sense of humor and was really quite unique.”

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth of Greenport; two sons, James of Chicago and Stephen of Northport; and three grandchildren.

Services were private.

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