Nigel Bly was born on July 16, 1924 in the affluent London suburb of Slade Green. By all accounts he enjoyed an idyllic, privileged childhood growing up with his older brother Clifford. Their father, Winston Bly, partner in the London law firm of Eliot, Abercrombie, and Bly, was active in Englandís Conservative Party and managed the political campaigns of several members of the House of Commons. At the outbreak of war in 1939, Blyís father sought to exercise his political connections to secure young Nigel a commission to the Royal Naval College, but Nigel, not yet of age, altered his birth certificate and enlisted in the 32d Regiment of The Royal Artillery.
The 32d was attached to the 18th Army Division which was slated for duty in North Africa, but as the situation in Asia deteriorated, the 18th was diverted to Singapore. In February 1942 Bly was taken prisoner when his position outside the city was overun by Japanese troops. Bly endured a forced march to Burma where he and 60,000 other Allied prisoners were put to work building the Burma-Thailand railway. In 1944, Bly was among two thousand "healthy" prisoners packed aboard two freighters bound for Japan, where they were again to be used as slave laborers. The ship he was on, the Rakuyo Maru, was torpedoed by the American sub Sealion. Of the 1300 men who escaped the sinking ship, Bly was among the 159 who survived the ordeal and were rescued from the South China Sea by the Sealion and the Pampanito which also took part in the attack. After recuperating in Australia, Bly was attached to a special detail of the Pacific Allied Forces which located and brought emergency aid to liberated prisoner of war camps. Bly was among those who testified at the war crime trials held in Manila in 1945.
In early 1946 Bly entered McGill University in Montreal where he earned a degree in History. Bly later completed graduate work in International Relations at the University of Oxford's Balliol College. In 1951 was Bly was recruited by the Office of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs where he served as a consular assistant. Among his postings were Palestine, Argentina, Zambia, Budapest, Ottawa, and New York.
After retirement, Bly moved to Columbia County, New York to care for his ailing brother Clifford, who for many years practiced dentistry in Manhattan and Garden City, NY.
Nigel Bly today resides in Kinderhook, where he tends his garden and enjoys walks with his bull terrier Willie. Bly is a member of the Royal Philatelic Society and has published numerous articles in American Philatelist and Linn's Stamp news.
A collector of Third Reich militaria, Bly's holdings of German Army uniform ornamentation include rare examples of seldom awarded decorations.
-Victoria K. Fenwick, Hudson Register-Star