WW 2 BRITISH BLACK PROPAGANDA
Black Boomerang - Chapter Four - Sefton Delmer
LEONARD INGRAMS was among the select few of my friends whom I knew to have something to do with the Cloak-and-Dagger side of the War, and he looked the part of the mysterious Mr. X to perfection. He was tall and athletic (he won a Half-Blue at Oxford for the long jump immediately after the first War), and his eyes and mouth had just the right expression of drawling sardonic pity for the world around him. Victoria, his wife, a member of the influential Baring family, was his devoted slave. So too were her brothers, and so for that matter was I. Leonard had been one of my special friends in Berlin where he was known as `the flying banker' because of his habit of piloting himself around Europe in his private Puss Moth plane on his business trips for the Chemical Bank of New York.
Hitherto, he had side-stepped all my requests that he should help me get a job more actively connected with the war than reporting defeats and retreats for the Daily Express. But now at last, in September 1940, with the bombs dropping all around us, Leonard was relenting. He had a job for me.
" How would it be," he said, "if you resigned from the Express and came in full-time on this racket of broadcasting to the Germans? It really is in urgent need of being improved and you have impressed everyone with these talks of yours." He grinned at me, and added "the money, of course is bad. Nothing like the Express." It was like Leonard to end his invitation with a sneer like that. But I told him that I would do anything he suggested, and I meant it. So Leonard got moving. Not with the B.B.C. but with the secret department that `gave advice' to the B.B.C. Leonard arranged for me to meet Valentine Williams, the secret department's deputy director, at Boodles. Valentine Williams, a former 'golden-haired boy' of Lord Northcliffe, was the successful author of such novels of suspense as Clubfoot. And Valentine saw to it that ours was the most hush-hush meeting ever just like a scene from one of his own thrillers. Stealthily the three of us crept upstairs to a card-room, assured ourselves it was empty, and carefully sat down in the comfortable chairs by the fire.
Valentine Williams was a neat, compact man with thick black curly hair, a humorous crinkly red face and laughing blue eyes. But there was no laughter in him now. He lowered his voice almost to a whisper, and started to ask me questions.
At the end of the questioning he said he would like me to join his outfit. I said I would be delighted, and I was. For I believed I was to enter the secret war at last.
" It will take a little time," Valentine whispered when I had filled in the forms. "You have to be vetted, you know. You must be patient. I'll let you know when it's all fixed."
I did not mind the melodrama. For I thought I was in at last. But I waited and waited, and nothing happened. And then I learned from hints which Leonard gave me, that much to his and Valentine Williams's disgust the Security people had turned me down yet once again.
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" It will take a little time," Valentine whispered when I had filled in the forms. "You have to be vetted, you know. You must be patient. I'll let you know when it's all fixed "