Michael Argyle was born in Derbyshire in 1915. At Cambridge, he read for the Bar and was called by Lincoln’s Inn in 1938.
Commissioned into the 7th The Queen’s Own Hussars in 1942 following service in the Inns of Court TA and East Riding Yeomanry, he joined the Regiment in India and served with them in the Middle East before they moved to Italy in May 1944.
By then he was Adjutant and played an essential part in the Regiment’s battles, mainly under the command of the 2nd Polish Corps, in their advance up the Adriatic Coast.
In early 1945 he was promoted and took command of ‘A’ Squadron. They had by then converted to DD (amphibious) tanks and faced a challenging role in the Army’s advance to Venice, which entailed swimming two rivers, the Po and the Adige and supporting the infantry all the way to Venice.
Michael’s vital part in these victorious battles was marked by the immediate award of the Military Cross, which was no more than he deserved and was applauded throughout the Regiment.
After the war, Maj Argyle resumed the Law on the Midland Circuit and took Silk in 1961 becoming Recorder of Northampton in 1962. In Birmingham, where he was a Recorder for five years from 1965, he was renowned for being tough but courteous, fair and careful. It was here that he also became known as the ‘Reporter’s Judge’ as he often ensured that the press box was full before he started speaking.
A keen family man, he understood the frailties of the young offender. It was not unusual for him to give up his lunch breaks to help unemployed defendants find work. Once, an offender was up before him, an ex-7th Hussar. Argyle told him he was lucky to appear before him… ‘I led your regiment across the river Po. They are a good lot.’ He set the man free and sought help for him from the Army.
Michael Argyle was not a stranger to his comments and judgements being criticised. Still, in 1987 he was publicly reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Havers after a speech to law students in which he commented on the large number of illegal immigrants.
He was a keen boxer and racing enthusiast. He commented once, that after arranging for the Sporting Life to be delivered to a barrister and two policemen recovering from injuries sustained at the Old Bailey bombing, the whole ward became compulsive gamblers.
In his farewell speech from the Bench in 1988, he said that he felt sure that he had made some mistakes for which I apologise’, but hoped that he had done some good. Michael Argyle was a hard man softened by his experience of war and his deeply rooted religious faith.
Michael died on the 4th of January 1999.