Oliver was born in the aftermath of the First World War; he grew up on a large estate learning the skills of poachers, fieldcraft, shooting and an instinct for navigation.
From an idyllic life he was sucked into the Second World War; he joined the army where he was given a commission. He had no idea that his future was to involve high adventure, combined with a bevy of female admirers who were to affect his life.
Formal soldiering did not sit well with him so the army focused his destiny. He trained as a commando. Posted to Egypt, the Long Range Desert Group sought his military and linguistic skills; he soon found himself deep behind the enemy lines gathering intelligence. Then he was transferred to the Special Air Service, where he took part in behind-the-lines raids against enemy targets in North Africa.
As the war in the desert drew to a close, he returned to England to prepare for the invasion of Europe. He led a four-man SAS team who were dropped into occupied France. Their mission was to blow up railway lines and trains at the market town of Le Dorat in south-west France, so as to delay the German army's hasty move north to counter the D-Day landings.