Category Archives: language

Slovenia, Misfit in Yugoslavia

From Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age, by Robert D. Kaplan (Random House, 2022), Kindle pp. 149-150:

Ljubljana: known in German as Laibach, a place more historically associated with the Habsburg Empire than with any particular nation-state. Here in 1821, one of the crucial congresses was held to stabilize Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. Thus, in the very sound of its name Laibach recalls such personages as Metternich and Castlereagh. I was last in Ljubljana in October 1989, just a few weeks before the Berlin Wall fell, on a concluding trip through Yugoslavia, from where I had reported often during the 1980s. This was still twenty months before the start of the war there. But I would ultimately leave Slovenia out of the final version of Balkan Ghosts, even though it had been a member of the Yugoslav federation, while I would include Greece in the manuscript though it was a long-standing member of NATO. Greece, I had argued to my editors, was Near Eastern despite its ties to the Western alliance, while Slovenia was Central European despite being for so long a part of the largest Balkan country.

Ljubljana in 1989 has left a deep imprint on my memory. A section of my diary from the period, published as a travel essay in The New York Times, records: “Mornings are a blank canvas. Not until 9:30 or so does the autumn fog begin to dissolve. Then the outlines of steep roofs, spires, leaden domes, statues, and willows and poplars emerge like an artist’s first quick strokes. At first it is a pen-and-ink with charcoal. By mid- or late morning come the richer colors of the palette: facades of orange and yellow ochers, pinks, sandy reds, and dazzling greens. As for the architecture itself,” I went on, “it is not only baroque and Renaissance but also Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and so forth. This was partly because, with the exception of five years of Napoleonic rule, Ljubljana between 1135 and 1918 was inside the Habsburg Empire, and thus artistic influences from the far-flung domain filtered in.” Truly, I was infatuated with the city.

But there is even more from my notebooks about Ljubljana that I did not publish at the time: Men smoking in the damp and cold hotel restaurant while waiters talked and ignored customers amid loud rock music (Blood, Sweat & Tears singing “Spinning Wheel”). People had ravaged eyes under matted hair, without the blow dryers and designer glasses that were already ever-present in nearby Austria at the time, and everyone with bad-quality shoes. It was a place where people began to drink early in the day. And yet one after another of the persons I interviewed back in 1989 complicated those initial impressions. For Yugoslavia was already starting to fall apart, even if it wasn’t yet in the news. “The Serbs look backward while we look forward: away from the archaic system” of Tito’s Yugoslavia. “In Slovenia, Tito [a half-Slovene] has been completely forgotten.” “Slovenes are like conscientious objectors in the Yugoslav federation.” “We watch Austrian television, not Serbian television.” “We are a small country that looks out, Serbia is a great country that looks in.” All in all, in October 1989, Slovenia was a poor and downtrodden place by Western standards that, nevertheless, evinced a distinct bitterness about having to prop up the even poorer and yet more powerful states within the Yugoslav federation, notably Serbia. Yugoslavia had, in a political and cultural sense, dragged Slovenia southward into the Balkans, and away from its rightful place in Central Europe, to which Slovenia’s own Habsburg legacy entitled it. Indeed, it was Slovenia’s very resentment over that fact which caused it, like Poland and Hungary, to fiercely aspire towards membership in the West, and thus towards liberalism and free markets.

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Trieste at the Edge of Empires

From Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age, by Robert D. Kaplan (Random House, 2022), Kindle pp. 103-106:

Trieste signals a fault zone. It is a city that has hosted Romans from the West, Byzantines from the East, Goths, Venetians, Napoleon’s empire, the sprawling and multiethnic Habsburg Empire, Italy, Nazi Germany, Yugoslavia, and Italy again since 1954. That last handover took years of diplomatic wrangling, as if to confirm that Trieste’s very location—on a spit of territory that could have been placed in either Italy or Yugoslavia—constitutes proof of Trieste’s unstable position on the map. The mid-twentieth-century American journalist John Gunther noted that between 1913 and 1948, Trieste lived under no fewer than five different occupations. The race between Allied and Communist Yugoslav forces for control of Trieste in May 1945 was arguably the first major confrontation of the Cold War, perhaps providing a “reference point” for President Truman in the later crises of the Berlin blockade and the Korean War.

Trieste marks the borderline not only between the Latin world and the Slavic one, but also between the Latin world and the German one. Indeed, this city of Italians, Germans, Austrians, Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and so on registers Mitteleuropa, with its own unparalleled cosmopolitanism, broadening out into an international civilization. Though, if this neoclassical, utilitarian, and commercial city has one cultural identity or spirit above others, it might be that of the Austrian Habsburgs, who ruled here between 1392 and 1918, except for a short Napoleonic interlude.

Trieste does indeed put empire on your mind. I visit the castle of Miramare, just north of the city, built with round porthole-like windows by Maximilian, the younger brother of Franz Joseph, who believed that the Habsburgs had no choice but to control the Adriatic. It is a monument to imperial delusion…. Maximilian, who believed deeply in liberal reform as a means of preserving and sustaining empire, was fated (of all things!) to go to far-off Mexico in 1864 as its new emperor—encouraged by his wife—only to be executed by indigenous revolutionaries three years later, completing his dark and tragic imperial fantasy.

Trieste reminded historian and travel writer Jan Morris “poignantly of the passing of all empires, those seductive illusions of permanence, those monuments of hubris which have sometimes been all evil, but have sometimes had much good to them.” Because empires, by definition, are often multinational and multiethnic, it is when empires collapse that “racial zealotry,” in Morris’s words, can rear its head. When the Italians seized Trieste from the Habsburgs in 1919, they closed Slovene schools in the city and tolerated violence against the Slavs. When the Yugoslavs arrived in the city in 1945, they reopened the Slovene schools and forced many Italians to change their names. In 1946, when Morris first saw Trieste, the writer “pined” for a cohesive and “distilled” Europe, and imagined this city as “the ghost of that ideal.” But the “false passion of the nation-state,” Morris continues, “made my conceptual Europe no more than a chimera.” History isn’t over, though. And as Morris says in old age, “One day the very idea of nationality will seem as impossibly primitive as dynastic warfare or the divine right of kings…a hobby for antiquarians or re-enactment societies.”

In the present day, the port of Trieste will soon sign an agreement with Duisburg, the world’s largest inland port, located at the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr Rivers in western Germany, with the aim of increasing traffic on the new Silk Road that China is organizing. Trieste will acquire through Duisburg access to the northern—land—part of the Silk Road that terminates at the Pacific; while Duisburg will acquire by way of Trieste access to the southern, maritime Silk Road that runs through the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean. A postmodern, multinational imperial system may re-emerge, this time supervised by the Chinese, and encompassing Trieste. A few months hence, I will get a message from a friend about “Chinese, Russian, American, and Mitteleuropean investors competing for bases in the port here—the second great opportunity after Maria Theresa,” during whose reign the city became a vibrant, multiethnic hub. Yes, Trieste always did prosper under a big project—this time maybe with the Chinese, who will make Trieste another imperial reference point.

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Republic of Venice, 726-1797

From Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age, by Robert D. Kaplan (Random House, 2022), Kindle pp. 74-76:

Norwich writes: “Venice, alone of all the still-great cities of Italy, was born and brought up Greek…. Long after she shed her dependence on Constantinople, she continued to turn her back on Italy and to look resolutely eastward; the nightmare tangle of medieval Italian politics, of Guelf and Ghibelline, Emperor and Pope…none of this was for her.” Doges used Byzantine honorifics. The Venetian ruler’s dress was modeled on that of the Byzantine exarch. Byzantine girls were sent to Venice to marry; Venetians sent their sons to finish their education in Constantinople. Venice’s political links with Byzantium helped shield it from the quarrels among the other city-states of Italy, with their rapidly shifting tactical alliances that were the epitome of amorality. Because a rival commercial system, run by Arabs, stretched across North Africa and the Middle East, Venice became crucial to Constantinople as a Byzantine outlet to Europe. The Venetian model of beauty, as exemplified by the low domes and small windows of Saint Mark’s, recalling Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, was mainly Eastern.

Of course, the underpinning of Venice’s fortuitous separation from the rest of Italy was at root geographical. That great lagoon, the few miles of shallow water that protected Venice from the mainland in all its aspects, allowed it to focus eastward toward Byzantium, and, in addition, was the savior against Saracens, Magyars, and other invaders in the early centuries of Venetian independence. The lagoon, by confining Venetians to so restricted a space, also fostered internal cohesion. “Among Venice’s rich merchant aristocracy,” Norwich explains, “everyone knew everyone else, and close acquaintance led to mutual trust of a kind that in other cities seldom extended far outside the family circle.” The result was efficient administration by which risky trading ventures, involving vast outlays of capital, “could be arranged on the Rialto in a matter of hours.” Neither utopian nor egalitarian, Venice represented the triumph of a closed elite. Optimism was banned, unless it could be grounded in facts and percentages. (It was from such a tightly woven merchant aristocracy that Marco Polo, the late-thirteenth-century Venetian explorer of China and Central Asia, originated—of whom more later.)

Without the lagoon and the canals—without the presence of water, that is—Venice simply would not have had the beauty that endowed its population with such love of their city-state: it was a love of the polity, rather than that of one man or king. This, and the internal peace they enjoyed, fostered a “humaneness of feeling” that, as Berenson suggests, made Venetians “the first really modern people in Europe.”

What ensues, with its succession of eighty-four doges from 726 to 1797, is a thousand-year history as long, intricate, dense, intoxicating, and overwhelming as that of Byzantium itself, mind-numbing in its constant intrigues and periodic insurrections. It is a comparatively dim and opaque canvas that produced few giants and larger-than-life heroes (Pietro II Orseolo, who governed toward the end of the tenth century, being one exception to this rule), for trade and commerce, dull as these things are, reduce the long-term impact of bloodshed and its accomplice, glory. Because it is so thematically uninspiring, Venetian history is generally hard to remember, and for the literate, non-expert public is known best through the works of Shakespeare—who uses Venice as a somewhat shameless and cynical backdrop to reveal vulnerability and passion contained in everyone, Moor and Jew alike, people otherwise depicted as one-dimensional and therefore uninteresting in his day.

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U.S & Japan Negotiate in German, 1945

From When the Shooting Stopped: August 1945, by Barrett Tillman (Osprey, 2022), Kindle pp. 206-207:

Thousands of American servicemen crowded both sides of the landing strip, watching the historic moment. Military police could barely restrain them from swarming the two planes, seeking a closer look or perhaps souvenirs.

With minimal fanfare the Japanese disembarked from the two bombers and approached MacArthur’s personal transport, the gleaming aluminum C-54 dubbed Bataan in memory of his Philippine service. Leading the delegation was Lieutenant General Torashiro Kawabe, sporting a long sword and spurs. Besides Kawabe and a major general were six other army officers including two interpreters, a rear admiral with four other navy men, and three civilians. The senior diplomat present, Katzuo Okazaki, had been a runner in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

The Douglas Skymaster loaded its human cargo and headed 920 miles south.

In Manila, skirting angry Filipino crowds, the entourage motored to an apartment building that, unlike City Hall, had survived the liberation relatively intact. The Japanese received a pointed message from the conqueror: they were not present to negotiate. Their purpose was simply to learn the specifics as to the terms of surrender and protocol of the impending ceremony. Keeping himself remote from the discussion as befitted a budding emperor, MacArthur allowed his intelligence chief, Major General Charles Willoughby, to conduct much of the meeting. Willoughby asked Lieutenant General Kawabe, vice chief of the Imperial Army, what language they should speak, to which the multi-lingual general replied, “German.” That suited Willoughby – he had emigrated from Germany as a child in 1910.

The details were thrashed out with minimal problems. MacArthur’s staff intended to land at Atsugi in four days, to which the Japanese objected for practical reasons. It was a kamikaze base and “a hotbed of revolt against the cease-fire.”

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ULTRA vs. IJN Submarine I-29, 1944

From Ultra in the Pacific: How Breaking Japanese Codes and Ciphers Affected Naval Operations Against Japan, 1941-45 (The Secret War), by John Winton (Sapere Books, 2022), Kindle pp. 294-296:

ULTRA betrayed not only convoys but single blockade runners. The fate of I-29 was a perfect ULTRA coup. I-29, named Matsu, was the submarine which rendezvoused with a German U-boat off Madagascar in April, 1943, embarked Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the movement for Indian independence and self-styled C-in-C of the Indian National Army, and took him to Penang. I-29 (Cdr T. Kinashi) left Penang, bound for Europe, early in November, 1943, and sailed from Lorient, bound for Japan, on 16 April, 1944. Among the passengers were four German technicians and thirteen Japanese Army, Navy and civilian personnel. The cargo included German anti-submarine counter-measure equipment, acoustic and magnetic torpedoes, radar apparatus, plans for the latest high-submerged-speed submarines, and influenza virus.

I-29’s passage was traced through intercepted signals from Berlin, and a Singapore broadcast in diplomatic code, addressed to I-29 only on 3 July, indicated its presence in the Indian Ocean. An ULTRA from Anderson on it July read: ‘Friendly sub [identified as probably I-29] scheduled to pass through Sunda Strait on morning of 12 July, and arrive at eastern entrance to Singapore at 1200 on 14th.’ It was later confirmed by ULTRA that I-29 had indeed arrived that day.

On 17 July, 1944, a decrypted message from Berlin to Tokyo listed I-29’s cargo in detail: five ‘special weapons’, various radar apparatus, 20 Enigma coding machines, ordnance parts, rocket-type launching apparatus, bomb sight plans, pressure cabin parts and plans, parts of a British Mosquito plane, and atabrine ampoules and tablets. Two days later, in a decrypted message, Berlin congratulated Tokyo: ‘It is indeed gratifying to learn that the MATSU has arrived safely at Singapore with her passengers and cargo. We pray for her safe voyage to Japan.’

But on 20 July Kinashi broadcast a fatal signal giving full details of his route to Japan: leaving Singapore at 1500 on the 22nd, arriving Kure at 1000 on 30 July, and giving his noon position for the 26th as the Balintang Channel [between Formosa and Luzon]. CincPac’s Bulletin for 24 July read: ‘I-29 recently arrived Singapore from Europe carrying samples and plans of many recent German developments in fields of radar, communications, gunnery, aeronautics and medicine. Left Singapore 22 July en route Kure. Believe very important cargo very likely still aboard. Will pass through posit 15 N., 117 E., at 251400 and through Balintang Channel at 261200, speed 17 arriving western channel of Bungo Channel at 291000.’

On 25 July I-29 signalled that a surfaced enemy submarine had been sighted (possibly the ‘cover story’) and gave the position, about 300 miles west of Manila. On the 26th Sawfish (Cdr A. B. Banister, leader of ‘Banister’s Beagles’) signalled: ‘He did not pass. At 0755Z [1655 local time] in posit 20-12 N., 121-55 E. [Balintang Channel] put three fish into Nip sub which disintegrated in a cloud of smoke and fire.’

On 7 August a mournful Tokyo broadcast to Berlin was intercepted: ‘All her passengers had proceeded to Tokyo from Singapore by plane, but her cargo had been left aboard. Though it is indeed regrettable, we can no longer hope for her safety. Despite the fact that we received, through your great efforts and the understanding cooperation of the Germans, many articles which were to strengthen the nation’s capacity to prosecute the war, our inability to utilize them owing to the loss of the ill-fated ship is truly unfortunate and will have a great effect throughout the Imperial Army and Navy.’

I’m pleased to see that Cdr. T. Kinashi’s name is spelled consistently in this book, and that this remarkable naval officer has a detailed article in English Wikipedia (linked above). Several other Japanese names are handled quite sloppily. For instance, the IJN destroyer Kuroshio (‘Black Current’) is consistently misspelled Kurishoyo six times on pp. 276-278, and Lt. Gen. Kuribayashi, the Japanese Army commander on Iwo Jima, is transliterated correctly on p. 304, then misspelled as Kuribayasha twice on p. 306. (The Hawaiian place name Wahiawa is also misspelled as Wahaiwa on p. 158.)

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Growth of U.S. Intelligence Staff, WW2

From Ultra in the Pacific: How Breaking Japanese Codes and Ciphers Affected Naval Operations Against Japan, 1941-45 (The Secret War), by John Winton (Sapere Books, 2022), Kindle pp. 182-183:

Radio intelligence had also improved (although ‘Joe’ Rochefort had left Pearl Harbor in October, 1942, the victim of Washington intrigues). The Allies had begun to realize the full potential of communications intelligence. ‘In my opinion, the value of Radio Intelligence has been demonstrated to the extent that we can never again afford to neglect it as we did before the war,’ said Commander (later Rear Admiral) Joseph N. Wenger, a member of OP-20-G, in a lecture on ‘Future Co-operation between Army and Navy’ on 1 June, 1943. ‘Furthermore, the difficulties of obtaining Intelligence have increased so greatly that we shall have to maintain an organization constantly at work on high-speed electronic equipment if we are to be prepared for any future wars. The equipment necessary to obtain Radio Intelligence is growing so complicated that we cannot wait until war comes to provide it. Certainly we cannot afford to risk another Pearl Harbor.’

By 1943 the Allies were also coming to realize the scale of resources needed for communications intelligence. For instance, the number of personnel involved, both US Navy and Army — 300 in 1939 — had risen to 37,000 by the end of the war in 1945. There was an enormous expansion, in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in courses to train large numbers of people, many of them university students, to speak or read Japanese; classicists and students in dead languages usually learned to read Japanese, while modern language students learned to speak it.

Techniques had improved in every respect of intelligence, from the interrogation of prisoners-of-war to the evaluation of aerial reconnaissance photographs (colour-blind men and women were recruited because their disability enabled them to ‘see through’ camouflage).

By 1943 the Allies began to sense they were really winning the radio intelligence war against the Japanese. As more codes were decrypted, over longer periods, the cryptanalysts believed they were at last beginning to feel their way into the Japanese mind. As the Japanese suffered defeats on land and retreated, there were more opportunities to capture documents, such as diaries, operational orders and, as from [beached submarine] I-1, actual code books.

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ULTRA Protocols in the Pacific

From Ultra in the Pacific: How Breaking Japanese Codes and Ciphers Affected Naval Operations Against Japan, 1941-45 (The Secret War), by John Winton (Sapere Books, 2022), Kindle pp. 16-18:

As the war went on, the flow of ULTRA swelled like some great tidal wave, giving accurate and timely information on every aspect of the Japanese war effort, from the strategic to the domestic — not only Japanese war intentions, but individual ships’ machinery defects and junior officers’ promotions. The number of signals involved was enormous: the National Archives and Research Administration (NARA) in Washington DC has 290,908 decrypts of Japanese Navy signals on file, as well as many more thousands of naval attaché signal decrypts, intelligence summaries and daily digests.

ULTRA provided information broadly in four main categories. There was information of critical operational value, such as convoy sailings, warship movements, impending attacks, tactics and battle orders for on-going operations, which was directly applicable to current operations and provided in time for action to be taken on it. There was information of strategic value, such as intelligence of future operations, supplies, reserves, reinforcements and current strategy; on orders of battle, including the strengths, equipment and disposition of ships, aircraft and troops; and on Japanese intelligence, such as the results of Japanese spy activity, interrogations of Allied prisoners-of-war, captures of Allied documents, and the Japanese’ own traffic analysis, reconnaissance, and interceptions and decrypts of Allied signals.

Special arrangements were made for handling ULTRA. It was revealed only to certain Flag and Senior Officers and selected members of their staffs who had been ‘indoctrinated’ into the secret. When Arleigh (‘Thirty-one Knot’) Burke was Chief of Staff to Admiral Mitscher in the carrier Lexington in 1944, he was at first curious and finally angered by the mysterious behaviour of a junior naval reserve Lt (jg) who, alone of everyone on board, was allowed private and privileged access to the Admiral. Burke would see the two talking in low voices on the wing of the Admiral’s bridge, or sometimes withdrawing into the privacy of the Admiral’s sea cabin.

The officer was Charles Sims, Mitscher’s ULTRA intelligence officer, a Japanese language specialist trained in codebreaking, who gave Mitscher highly classified intelligence available through ULTRA. Burke himself was eventually admitted into the ULTRA secret, despite Sims’ protests, but not until special permission had been sought from CincPac.

The US Navy, unlike the Royal Navy, permitted the use of the word ULTRA in the text of signals. They regularly used some phrase such as ‘This is ULTRA’, but not habitually at the beginning of a signal, which would render it vulnerable to cryptanalytical attack, but always somewhere in the body of the text.

When information from an ULTRA source was passed on in another signal, that signal had to be paraphrased and so worded that, if captured or intercepted by the enemy, any reference to enemy intelligence could not be traced back to ULTRA. Any reference to the name of an enemy ship was to be avoided and any positions taken from an ULTRA signal had to be given in a different way.

ULTRA was so powerful a weapon that it often could not be used. Much of the information it provided could not be acted upon. Too many U-boats sunk at their remote fuelling rendezvous, for instance, would arouse enemy suspicions and imperil the ULTRA secret. Any operation undertaken as a result of ULTRA therefore had to have a ‘cover story’ — some corroboration from another source, such as naval or air reconnaissance, to account for the presence of Allied forces on the scene and at the time of the action. It was very easy, through an excess of zeal, especially in the Pacific, to make mistakes over this vital requirement.

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Sources of (Mis)information After Pearl Harbor

From Ultra in the Pacific: How Breaking Japanese Codes and Ciphers Affected Naval Operations Against Japan, 1941-45 (The Secret War), by John Winton (Sapere Books, 2022), Kindle pp. 11-14:

In the first forty-eight hours after Pearl Harbor the CIC [Commander in Chief] had a flood of misinformation which left them ever afterwards with a healthy mistrust of ‘eyewitness’ accounts, not only from excited civilians but also from experienced Service personnel, both Allied and enemy. Japanese parachute troops were reported to have landed and to be engaged in a fierce pitched battle with US Marines. The uniforms worn by these mythical Japanese were described in the most minute sartorial detail. Strange vessels were reported arriving offshore, a large enemy fleet had been seen south of the islands and at least one Direction/Finding bearing (later judged to be ambiguous and inconclusive) was obtained. One officer sighted a dirigible over Honolulu, two degrees to the right of the moon and three degrees below it. To make matters more confusing, there were seemingly improbable reports of submarines in Pearl Harbor — but Japanese submarines did indeed take part in the attack.

In the earliest, defensive, stages of the war in the Central Pacific, radio intelligence was not just the most important source of intelligence; it was, for all practical purposes, the only source. There were no photographs of enemy-held positions. There were very few captured enemy documents and even fewer enemy prisoners-of-war. Apart from the Solomons and New Britain, spies and coast-watchers supplied no important intelligence.

Radio Intelligence embraced the interception and exploitation of all enemy radio transmissions which might yield intelligence, including the decryption of coded enemy messages; direction finding (D/F); navigational beacons and aids; enemy radar and infra-red transmissions; traffic analysis, which was the study of communications networks and the procedures, signals, callsigns and plain language messages passing over them; the monitoring of enemy radio broadcasts to the civilian population; and such refinements as the study of the types and peculiarities of particular transmitters and of the idiosyncratic morse characteristics of individual operators.

Fortunately for the Allies, distances in the Pacific were vast — by 1942 the perimeter of the area Japan had conquered was between 3000 and 4000 miles from Tokyo and overland or undersea communications, such as cable, telephones and telex, were scarce or non-existent. Thus the Imperial Japanese Navy routinely generated a huge amount of radio traffic. Again because of the distances involved, much of it was transmitted by High Frequency which was detectable at long ranges by a ring of listening stations down the west coast of the United States, in the Aleutians and Australia and, before the war, at Cavite, Guam, Shanghai and Peking.

The most valuable radio intelligence was obtained from the interception and decryption of encoded or encyphered enemy messages. The Japanese themselves regarded their language as a sacred mystery, not to be vouchsafed to outsiders. Japanese hearing for the first time a Westerner speak their language were known to shake their heads dis-believingly. Such a thing was not possible; they must be dreaming.

Learning to speak or read Japanese was in itself a formidable challenge to western minds. To unravel Japanese in code would seem a virtually impossible mental obstacle. In fact, many Allied cryptanalysts found that decyphering Japanese was a matter of persistence, of ‘quantity and time rather than difficulty’. It was, if anything, tedious rather than difficult.

That is not to say that the task was easy. Whereas the Germans used versions of the Enigma machine for encyphering virtually all Kriegsmarine, Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, SS, police and diplomatic signal traffic, the Japanese used many different crypto systems. An operational history of Japanese naval communications from December, 1941–August, 1945, compiled under Allied direction by former Japanese officers who had served during the war, lists three naval code books for strategic and administrative use; six naval code books, a joint Army-Navy code book and a Combined Fleet special code book, for tactical use; for intelligence, an overseas secret telegraph code book, two more naval code books, and five variations of a code distributed to naval officers appointed pre-war as intelligence agents stationed in Europe, the Americas and all over the Far East, and a ‘New Code Book’ for naval officers stationed on the west coast of the USA; five code books for communications with service branches outside the Japanese Navy, such as merchant ships over 1,000 tons and fishing vessels, and a standard code book used by the Navy, Army and Foreign Ministries, distributed to diplomatic officials stationed in East Asia and principal Navy and Army headquarters. There were also other publications such as books of abbreviations, address codes and call signs, and books of visual signals.

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Breaking the Ice in the Himalayas

From Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure, by Artemis Cooper (New York Review Books, 2013), Kindle loc. 6152ff.

The Himalayan party consisted of Robin and Renée Fedden, her friend Rosie Peto, Myles Hildyard, Carl Natar and Peter Lloyd, and Paddy. They flew north from Delhi, assembled a team of six Ladakhi porters and began their climb in mid-October. They were following the Beas river upstream, which marks the easternmost point of Alexander’s conquests in 326 BC. Their goal was Malana: one of the most isolated villages in the world, which lay to the north-east of the Kulu valley, dominated by the great peaks of Chanderkhani and Deo Tibba.

The people of this village worship an ancient god called Jamlu, and believe that even the sight of a foreigner, let alone his touch, risks pollution and defilement. The travellers spent their first night outside the village, waiting for permission to enter, and this permission was granted only on condition that they touch nothing, not even the walls. They also had to remove their watches, boots and belts, for leather is an abomination to Jamlu. As they entered the village ‘Men averted their gaze, children ran off as though ogres were coming down the street and the women at the spring . . . stood transfixed, and after a long disbelieving glance, turned away in a rictus of bewilderment and pain. Nearly all the village was out of bounds . . . and even along the permitted ways a flutter of anxious hands herded us innocuously into the middle.’

The holiest spot in the village was an open space, where a slab of stone lay embedded in the grass. One of the villagers, a kind man called Sangat, had made himself their guide and mentor. Under his direction the party made offerings, joined their hands in prayer and prostrated themselves before the stone. ‘Our pious homage to Jamlu had made a good impression, it seemed; and here, bit by bit, linguistic curiosity began to break the ice.’ Exchanging words was one of Paddy’s favourite games, and as usual his enthusiasm flung bridges over the chasms of fear, shyness and suspicion that separated the strangers and the local people. Soon sherpas, foreigners and villagers were swapping words in Tibetan, the Hindi dialect of Kulu, English, and Kanishta, the language spoken by the Malanis. ‘By now we were among friends.’

Malana was every bit as strange and mysterious as the travellers had hoped, but the whole expedition was overshadowed by the fact that Robin was becoming increasingly ill. He was diagnosed with cancer on his return to England, and within three months he was dead. The article that Paddy wrote about his last journey appeared two years later as ‘Paradox in the Himalayas’, in the London Magazine. It was dedicated to Robin’s memory, though neither Robin, nor Renée, nor any other member of the group was mentioned by name in the piece.

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Paddy Offends Willie, 1957

From Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure, by Artemis Cooper (New York Review Books, 2013), Kindle loc. 5015ff.

Ann [Fleming] had been invited to stay at the Villa Mauresque on Cap Ferrat by Somerset Maugham, then in his eighties and living in retirement with his partner, Alan Searle. On her arrival she found a letter from Paddy, urging her to arrange an invitation. Paddy was duly invited to lunch, and arrived (according to Ann) with ‘five cabin trunks’ (according to Paddy, all he had was one zippered holdall), ‘parcels of books and the manuscript of his unfinished work on Greece strapped in a bursting attaché case’. Paddy made himself very agreeable at lunch. He and Maugham exchanged memories of the King’s School, Canterbury, and Maugham asked him to stay on for a few days. All went well until dinner that night.

Maugham had lived with a pronounced stammer since childhood. In his novel Of Human Bondage, which deals with the misery of his schooldays, the stammer is turned into a limp. Paddy knew the book and had been hearing the stammer all day, but neither sufficed to stop him from putting his foot in it. The first jokey reference to stuttering passed without comment, but the second was more serious. Maugham had just staggered through a sentence to the effect that all the gardeners had taken the day off because it was the Feast of the Assumption. At this point, Paddy recalled being in the Louvre in front of a painting of the event, with his friend Robin Fedden (who also had trouble getting his words out): ‘and Robin turned to me and said “Th-th-that’s what I c-c-call an un-w-w-warrantable assumption.” There was a moment’s silence – the time needed for biting one’s tongue out.’

The evening was wrecked. When the other guests left, Maugham turned to Paddy and said, ‘G-goodbye, you will have left by the time I am up in the morning.’ After their host had retired, Ann described Paddy breaking the silence with a cry of anguish, as he slammed his whisky glass on the table ‘where it broke to pieces and showered a valuable carpet with blood and splinters’. Ann helped Paddy pack the following morning, and as he picked up his bag and walked to the door, Paddy heard ‘a sound like an ogre’s sneeze’. The monogrammed linen sheet had caught in the zip, leaving a great tear a yard long.

Ann Fleming and Diana Cooper, who was staying nearby, persuaded Maugham to have Paddy back to lunch to make up. ‘It was really a gasbag’s penance and I, having learnt the hard way, vouchsafed no more than a few syllables.’ Maugham was perfectly polite, but he had had enough of Paddy. He was later heard to describe him as ‘that middle-class gigolo for upper-class women’.

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