Black Boomerang - Chapter Five cont- Sefton Delmer

I never heard another word from him until the war was over. Lord Beaverbrook however so much resented what he regarded as my `patronising arrogance' that he told the story of my outrageous reply not just once, but as was many years later disclosed to me, at least a score of times.

I never heard another word from him until the war was over. Lord Beaverbrook however so much resented what he regarded as my `patronising arrogance' that he told the story of my outrageous reply not just once, but as was many years later disclosed to me, at least a score of times.

Beaverbrook had been on the point not only of making up my salary to its former total for the duration of the war, he had also been about to make me a present of some shares in the Express. But much as I regretted missing this bonus, what I regretted even more, when I learned of this background to the boss's call, was that I should have seemed ungrateful and impertinent to a man for whom I have always had affection and respect.

As I rode around in the car with the O.H.M.S. on its windscreen in those early days, I always hoped that one of my Fleet Street friends would see me and say-"That fellow Delmer must be doing something terribly important. Look at that enormous car!" Very soon, however, the glamour of the car wore off, and the cold truth was borne in on me that I had no real job and no real work.

I had a small office to myself in a hush-hush building in a cul-de-sac off Berkeley Square. It contained a couple of very hard chairs, an unvarnished deal table, an IN-tray and an OUT-tray, a filing cabinet and a set of official stationery, all impressively marked `W.D. Box 100, London S.W.1.' But, except for the `Daily Digest' with excerpts from the press of the `Enemy, Satellite and Occupied Countries' my trays were empty. And apart from writing and delivering two or three talks every week for the German service of the B.B.C. unlike the other British speakers, I wrote mine in German not in English and attending a planning committee or two at Woburn Abbey, I seemed to have no work, and certainly no importance. In my disgruntlement, I even began to think of returning to Lisbon. I had an invitation to do so from my friends at the Admiralty. Burgoyne, too, had been clamouring for me to come back.

Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence, had got to the point of asking for my transfer to his staff when at last I was offered a real job by my Psychological Warfare bosses. Leonard Ingrams did the offering. This truly brilliant man combined a key job in the Ministry of Economic Warfare with another in the Cloak-and-Dagger Organisation S.0.2 later renamed S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive) which was responsible for the organisation of resistance, sabotage, assassination and kindred enterprises. He had yet a third job in S.O. i as my department was called. In truth he was a star operative on the British side of the Secret War of wits and I had the greatest admiration for him

." How would you like to run a new R.U. Tom?" said Leonard. "What's an R.U. ?" I asked." A Research Unit-didn't you know?" "No, I didn't. What do they research?" Leonard looked at me with mock astonishment.

" I had no idea our security was as good as all that," he jeered. "Do you mean to say, you have been with us now for the best part of eight weeks, and you've still not found out what a Research Unit is? A fine reporter you are!"

Somewhat huffily I retorted that I did not now consider myself to be a reporter, ferreting out secrets, but was concerning myself strictly with my own business.

" And if you want me to take charge of any research work, for heaven's sake cut the mystery and tell me what it's all about!"

Leonard laughed. R.U.'s, he explained, had nothing to do with research. `R.U.' was simply the cover name our organisation used for its Freedom Radios, the units broadcasting from England on the special transmitters of the department and pretending that they were doing so from somewhere inside Hitler-occupied Europe.

" We used to have two German R.U.'s" said Leonard, "one was a right-wing station operated by a former Reichstag deputy of' Bruning's Centre party who is living over here now as an emigre. But that folded up when the old boy fell ill, and now we have only the left-wing station. It is operated by a group of German Marxists, and calls itself `Sender der Europaischen Revolution' (Radio of the European Revolution). It appeals to workers to shake off the Fascist yoke, and all that stuff, and preaches a doctrine of European community good will, and Marxism. Your friend Dick Crossman takes a sort of benevolent interest in it. But in point of fact the Germans are left to operate it on their own. Not really a terribly good idea."

Dick Crossman and his wife, I learned, presided over the secret house in which the `European Revolutionaries' lived and worked. Dick sat in on some of the team's conferences, but the team-most of them members of a left-wing group called `Neubeginn'-resented any kind of British editorial interference.

" We now want to start up a new right-wing R.U." Leonard went on, "and I have suggested that you take charge of it with full editorial and political control. The Germans under you would say and do what you tell them to say and do. No more nonsense about freedom and independence. What do you think of that?"

" I think it sounds fine."" Well, think it over. Then shove down on paper a plan for your R.U. One thing, by the way, that you should state is that you will work in close conjunction with 5.0.2 and fit in with their operational plans wherever required. That will enable me to give you a little protection from our woolly-minded Socialist colleagues, should they start shooting at you. And in any case there are ways in which your R.U. can help 5.0.2. You'll learn about that in due course."

Tory Leonard Ingrams was bitterly suspicious of Socialist Dick Crossman who had recently become director of the German section of our department, and he feared-groundlessly, as it turned out-that Dick would try to squash any attempt by me to introduce a fresh approach and fresh ideas.

" Oh, and one other small point," Leonard added in the offhand throwaway manner he always adopted when he thought something particularly important or particularly funny. "You know the Germans have recently launched a British left-wing Freedom Radio. `The Workers' Challenge' they call it. Old ladies in Eastbourne and Torquay are listening to it avidly, because it is using the foulest language ever. They enjoy counting the F's and the B's. Well my Minister* thinks we should reply in kind, and as he is a Socialist, he thinks a right-wing station would be the appropriate one to carry the filth."

" That's okay by me," I laughed. "If he wants ... crusty ... trenchant ... language he shall have it. I shall make a special study of barrack-room German."

" Go to it then, Tom. And let me have your paper as soon as you can. It is a great chance for you to show your ingenuity. There are no limits. No holds are barred."

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The Potsgrove transmitter, the Gustav Siegfried Eins programs were put onto disk and sent over to Potgrove for transmission - photo 1986

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