One has to feel some sympathy for the theme team Stiff Upper Lip, a line-up of 20 World War II veterans. So far two of their selections – both unique picks – have departed this mortal coil without a qualifying obituary, in the shape of Conway Berners-Lee and Jim Russell. And it was looking like Ralph Benjamin would complete the trilogy, until the Telegraph found 500 words on him down the back of a settee.
Born to a Jewish family in Germany, Benjamin was sent by his parents to a Swiss boarding school in the mid-1930s to escape the country’s political climate. They both perished at Auschwitz in the early 1940s, while a young Benjamin managed to escape central Europe via a spartan refugee camp and a distant relative in London. Such was his evident skill as an engineer he went from electricians mate to graduate of Imperial College within three years. He is one of many people credited with the invention of the computer mouse (he developed the first trackball in 1947). The same year he also developed the first naval digital data network, Link 11, which is still in use today.