Bodyguard of Lies - Info About Winston S. Churchill

"In war-time, truth is so precious
that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies".

Famous quote of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill.

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Dedicated to Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan, GC.,CdG,
heroine of the French Resistance in 1943.
Also an author of children's stories:
"Twenty Jataka Tales" retold.

The Following is a brief excerpt from the book: "Bodyguard of Lies"
by Anthony Cave Brown.
Courtesy: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited,
Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver. P.1975

Noor Inayat Khan

Noor arrived in Paris at a dangerous time. The Prosper network had begun to collapse, and she was forced to find new lodgings, but she did keep her wireless post in the rue de la Faisanderie, even after learning of the arrests of Prosper and his lieutenants, and reported the 'ratissage' to London. London responded by telling her to lie low. This she did for a week or so; but then her inexperience and carelessness showed themselves again.

Wearing a navy blue scarf wrapped around her head like a turban, which emphasized her Indian features, she went on a sentimental journey to her home of the 1930's, visiting school friends on the way. Bodington of "F" Section, who flew to Paris to investigate the extent of the Prosper disaster, saw her briefly during this period-August 1943-and heard enough to recommend to London that she be brought home. She should have gone out on the night of August 15, 1943, but although everyone else went, Noor remained behind; she refused to obey her order to leave until a replacement operator had arrived. Almost incredibly, Noor survived in Paris for another two months, although the SD knew of her existance.

Noor was arrested in her Paris apartment on or about October 13, and within minutes found herself at Gestapo Headquarters. It was another grave loss for "F" Section, for she was the last "F" Section wireless operator in the Paris area. Princess Noor was calm when taken and calm when interrogated. Her SD inquisitor, H. J. Kieffer (the chief of the SD's counterespionage service in Paris), came to admire her and spared her much. He soon lost patience with her, however, for she made not one but two escape bids while at SD headquarters on the Avenue Foch. Both times she got only as far as the street before she was recaptured; but she was becoming a nuisance, and so soon found herself at Badenweiler concentration camp where she spent many months, most of them in chains and solitary confinement.

Noor was made of sterner stuff than her SOE instructors had realized, but she had once again been careless. For when she was arrested, her wireless, her ciphers and all her back traffic with London were also seized-everything, in fact, that Josef Goetz, the SD's wireless expert, needed to play a convincing "Funkspiele" with London. Noor had recorded all her back traffic in a child's exercise book, which the SD found on her bedside table. And with this invaluable background information, Goetz, impersonating Noor, reopened the circuit and began transmissions to London.

London responded but cautiously, for her messages did not quite ring true. Goetz needed Noor's help to ensure the success of his game, but she consistently refused to give it and the game was played without her. At Christmas. the British were still suspicious; the style of "Noor's" transmissions suggested that she was being impersonated. But Goetz pressed the game forward. Whatever the case, Goetz's "Funkspiele" now took a tragic turn-for the agents involved.

Still apparently unaware that Noor was being impersonated, the British began to send in agents-seven in all-to the false circuit. On the night of February 7/8, 1944, the first four-all of them so inexperienced and ill-trained that their mission seemed to be sacrificial-were dropped together near Poitiers.

They were
R.E.J. Alexandre, a twenty-two year old French aircraft fitter; an American, Robert Bennett Byerly who was his wireless operator; a Canadian, François Adolphe Deniset, who was to have been Noor's replacement; and Jacques Paul Henri Ledoux , an Anglo-Frenchman who was to have established a new circuit. All were immediately captured.

This hard-cover book is sadly out of print but you may find a paperback edition @ or at your local library

Finest Hour

Quotation of the Season

"If democracy and Parliamentary institutions are to triumph in this war, it is absolutely necessary that Governments resting upon them shall be able to act and dare, that the servants of the Crown shall not be harassed by nagging and snarling, that enemy propaganda shall not be fed needlessly out of our own hands and our reputation disparaged and undermined throughout the world." —WSC, House of Commons, 2 July 1943

Ypres Remembered

YPRES, AUGUST 15TH— For four long, gruesome years beginning in 1914, when German troops roared across Belgium on the way to France, this city was all but surrounded by the fetid trenches and desolate no man's land of the Ypres Salient, a critical bulge in a battle line that stretched almost all the way from Switzerland to the English Channel. Near-ceaseless shelling and three major confrontations obliterated the town and forced its inhabitants to flee. Exhibits at the museum describe the German introduction of chemical weaponry; daily life behind the front lines; the carnage at field medical stations; and the miraculous Christmas truce of 1914, when, without leave from their officers, German and Allied soldiers met in no man's land to celebrate Christmas together.

For much of the war, the Ypres salient was occupied by the Allies, especially the British, whose troops came from all over the empire: Scots, Jamaicans, Indians and Canadians, along with English, Irish and Welsh. More than 400,000 of them died here, which has made Ypres a place of special meaning to the British. "I should like us to acquire the whole of the ruins of Ypres. A more sacred place for the British race does not exist in the world," Winston Churchill said in 1919.

About 200 Great War cemeteries surround the town, including Tyne Cot just northeast of Ypres. To honor the almost 100,000 unidentified British dead from the Ypres salient, the English built a massive stone gate by the canal on the east side of town. There I saw wreaths of red paper poppies placed by people who haven't forgotten the significance of the Great War. —SUSAN SPANO, LOS ANGELES TIMES

Unsordid Correction, Part II

WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 6TH— In George Mason University's History News Network (, Professor James Lachlan MacLeod of the University of Evansville, Indiana, offered a good article explaining how widely Churchill's remark, "the most unsordid history", was ascribed to the postwar Marshall Plan, when in fact it referred to the wartime LendLease Act.

Prof. MacLeod rightly corrected Finest Hour for suggesting (in "Datelines," issue 96) that Churchill's first reference to the "unsordid act" was in 1945, when it was really in 1941, and we have corrected this on our website. But he incorrectly stated that Finest Hour"p'ms the blame" for attribution to the Marshall Plan on Dean Acheson's 1960 book, Sketches from Life. (We simply reported that the New York Times had so ascribed the error.) If any reader can direct us to a writer who credited "Unsordid Act" to the Marshall Plan before Dean Acheson in 1960, we would be pleased to know about it.

Sordid Correction

ORLANDO, FLA., OCTOBER 28TH— "News for Tuesday," in the Orlando Sentinel favorably mentions Bodyguard of Lies, by Anthony Cave Brown (1975), which, they said, "details the massive misinformation campaign waged by the Allies to win World War II. The book title comes from Winston Churchill's remark, 'In war time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.' The good achieved by the World War II deception is undeniable. But there is a cost. Any time government is less than candid, it creates a tiny doubt that can bloom into a conspiracy."

The Churchill Centre website has a rapid response section for nonsense in the media, where the Orlando Sentinel joins a distinguished list of perpetrators. FH wrote the editors:

"'News for Tuesday,' 28 October 2003, praises a book about 'good' World War II deception, Bodyguard of Lies. Good lies there may be—but you should know this is a discredited work. Among other things, it floats the ridiculous myth that Churchill let Coventry burn in a German air raid to protect his source of secret intelligence. (In fact, Churchill was headed for the country that afternoon; misinformed that the raid would be over London, he turned his car around and headed for the capital, to await the bombers that never came.)" See also "Leading Churchill Myths (3)" in Finest Hour 114.

"Churchill and the Baltic"

Bonnie L. Randall found the editors two-part article "Churchill and the Baltic" (FH 53-54) on our website, and wondered about the absence of footnotes and the author's credentials. The reply may interest readers. The back issues are available from our Washington office.

(To Ms. Randall.) Thanks for the kind words about my articles, which as printed contain eighty-two footnotes. I was surprised to learn they were not on the web version and asked our webmaster to add them to it.

My credentials to write about the Baltic are only those of a layman. I am of part-Latvian descent and own about 100 books on Latvia and the Baltic States, which I visited in 1992 and 1995. My Churchill studies led me to explore his attitude toward the Baltic; I concluded that Churchill comes in for more criticism than he deserves.

In 1995 with three colleagues I bicycled Latvia south to north, from the Lithuanian to the Estonian border, under Churchill Centre auspices. {FH 87, page 27.) The purpose was to commemorate the ongoing battle, post-VE-Day, for Baltic freedom, which continued into the mid-Fifties. We met President Ulmanis and several local officials. When we said "Churchill" they often replied, "Yalta," accompanied by hard stares. Churchill was a hard sell. They regarded the 1945 Yalta Conference as a sell-out of Baltic independence. The Mayor of Liepaja told us that it would have been best all-round if we had nuked the USSR in 1945. We said the Anglo-American public would have never stood for that. He replied, "Just think how much trouble it would have saved you, not to mention us." As a boy, he had been strafed and wounded by Soviet beach guards for violating curfew. He was lucky to have escaped with his life. It all depends on your perspective.

At Yalta, what little influence Churchill had was directed to rescuing Poland, which proved a forlorn hope. There was no chance to save the Baltic States, surrounded by a sea of Red Army divisions, though the resistance was still holding out in Courland when peace was declared on 8 May 1945. But I've always believed that in their hearts as well as officially, Churchill and Attlee fully supported the Baltic cause. Postwar British Prime Ministers preserved the independent Baltic embassies and safeguarded their gold reserves. As Larry Arnn once put it, Churchill's actions at Yalta were "the best he could do with the situation at hand." —RML

History Channel Video

WASHINGTON— Steve Goldfien advises that he ordered a History Channel DVD on Churchill which is portrayed as a "new" offering in mail-order video catalogues. However, this is the A&E Biography series narrated by Sir Martin Gilbert, marketed by the History Channel. This was not apparent from the catalogue. Steve and the editor, who made the same mistake, wish to warn that this is not "new."

Livadia Palace Library Building

WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 2ND— The Churchill Centre is helping to provide a complete set of Churchill's books for the Churchill Room at Livadia Palace, Yalta, where Lady Soames asked our help in holding the Churchillian end up against a massive exhibit dedicated to Roosevelt. Laurence Geller, Craig Horn, Devoy White, and Richard Langworth contributed books or funds to the project; provided a large number of titles they could not locate individually.

The only titles we still need are: River War, World Crisis, Unrelenting Struggle, End of the Beginning, Onwards to Victory, War Speeches, Stemming the Tide, History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Unwritten Alliance, American Civil War, Young Winston's Wars, Complete Speeches, and Collected Essays.

Lady Soames is designing a bookplate which will bear the name of the donors. If you wish to donate any books, please contact the editor.

Scarecrow Extremes

WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 28TH— As the quadrennial American Presidential campaigns heat up with only (arrgh!) a year to go, the current incumbent is being compared to Winston Churchill by his supporters and Adolf Hitler by his opponents: which puts us in mind of Churchill's 1946 remarks to the General Assembly of Virginia:

"I read the other day that an English nobleman, whose name is new to me, has stated that England would have to become the forty-ninth state of the American Union. I read yesterday that an able American editor had written that the United States ought not to be asked to re-enter the British Empire. It seems to me, and I dare say it seems to you, that the path of wisdom lies somewhere between these scarecrow extremes."

Excerpted from: The Churchill Centre


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