COMMANDO: Operation Arrowhead

Author: Jack Badelaire
Publisher: Post Modern Pulp Books
Published: August 2012

Commando: Operation Arrowhead is a rapid fire wartime thriller from author Jack Badelaire. The story concerns Corporal Thomas Lynch, and a team of British Commandos who are dropped into France to make contact and assist the French Resistance. Of course, there is a traitor among the ranks of the Resistance and the mission is compromised from the outset. What follows is a series of running battles and fire-fights that will keep most readers flicking the pages well into the night (or if commuting, possibly miss their train stop).

The story serves up more than the requisite bullets bombs and explosions. There’s a damsel in distress, a truly despicable villain, and a coterie of characters who are a joy to ride along with (as they blast Nazi scum to hell).

Badelaire’s greatest achievement, is he takes a well-worn genre – the war time ‘men on a mission’ story – and breathes new life into it. The story is fresh and exciting, and written with the pace of a modern thriller. I loved reading every word of it.

Corporal Thomas Lynch won fame at the Battle of Arras, and felt the shame of defeat at Dunkirk. A year later, as a member of Britain’s elite No. 3 Commando, Lynch wants nothing more than to go back over the Channel and kick open Hitler’s Fortress Europe, guns blazing.

Introduced by his commanding officer to the enigmatic Lord Pembroke, Lynch is offered a chance to be part of a special team of hand-picked Commandos. Their assignment: sneak into occupied France and ally with the French partisans to fight back against the Nazis.

Lynch readily accepts the challenge, but when the mission goes awry from the very beginning, and the motives of the partisan leader become suspect, the Commandos begin to wonder about their role in the mission: trusted allies with the partisans, or worms dangling as bait for a hungry fish?

COMMANDO: Operation Arrowhead is a military action – adventure novel written in the spirit of classic war movies such as The Guns of Navarone, The Dirty Dozen, and Where Eagles Dare, as well as the WW2 fiction of authors like Max Adams, James Holland, Iain Gale, and Michael Asher.

If you’re looking for informative, accurate historical war fiction, then this is not the book for you. However, if you enjoy apologetically heroic and bullet-riddled tales of derring-do, then Commando: Operation Arrowhead is just the ticket.

Commando: Operation Arrowhead is available from Amazon.

COMMANDO: Operation Arrowhead

Harry Palmer Files – 003 – The IPCRESS File: Prologue and Chapter 1

Every Sunday, we’ll be looking at the Harry Palmer series of novels (in which the character doesn’t actually have a name), their author — Len Deighton, the films based on them, the star of those films — Michael Caine, and the television movies that followed, and giving my thoughts on all I encounter. I’ll inevitably be drawing heavily on the collection of Kees Stam, author of The Harry Palmer Movie Site, and Rob Mallows, creator of the Deighton Dossier, and other odds and ends that I’ve turned up over the years.

Today I intend to start reading Len Deighton’s The IPCRESS File, and you should too! If you don’t have a copy, you should order one. And to hold you over while that one arrives, I’ve included the prologue and first chapter of the book below.


Copy to: no. 1. Copies 2
Action: W.O.O.C.(P).
Origin: Cabinet.
Authority: PH6.
Please prepare summary of Dossier M/1993 /GH 222223
for Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Defence.

THEY came through on the hot [permanently open] line at about half past two in the afternoon. The Minister didn’t quite understand a couple of points in the summary. Perhaps I could see the Minister.


The Minister’s flat overlooked Trafalgar Square and was furnished like Oliver Messel did it for Oscar Wilde. He sat in the Sheraton, I sat in the Hepplewhite and we peeped at each other through the aspidistra plant.

‘Just tell me the whole story in your own words, old chap. Smoke?’

I was wondering whose words I might otherwise have used as he skimmed the aspidistra with his slim gold cigarette case. I beat him to the draw with a crumpled packet of Gauloises; I didn’t know where to begin.

‘I don’t know where to begin,’ I said. ‘The first document in the dossier…’

The Minister waved me down. ‘Never mind the dossier, my dear chap, just tell me your personal version. Begin with your first meeting with this fellow…’ he looked down to his small morocco bound notebook, ‘Jay. Tell me about him.’

‘Jay. His code-name is changed to Box Four,’ I said.

‘That’s very confusing,’ said the Minister, and wrote it down in his book.

‘It’s a confusing story,’ I told him. ‘I’m in a very confusing business.’

The Minister said, ‘Quite,’ a couple of times, and I let a quarter inch of ash away towards the blue Kashan rug.

‘I was in Lederers about 12.55 on a Tuesday morning the first time I saw Jay,’ I continued.

‘Lederers?’ said the Minister. ‘What’s that?’

‘It’s going to be very difficult for me if I have to answer questions as I go along,’ I said. ‘If it’s all the same to you, Minister, I’d prefer you to make a note of the questions, and ask me afterwards.’

‘My dear chap, not another word, I promise.’

And throughout the entire explanation he never again interrupted.


[Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) A difficult day. You will face varied problems. Meet friends and make visits. It may help you to be better organized.]

I DON’T care what you say, 18,000 pounds (sterling) is a lot of money. The British Government had instructed me to pay it to the man at the corner table who was now using knife and fork to commit ritual murder on a cream pastry.

Jay the Government called this man. He had small piggy eyes, a large moustache and handmade shoes which I knew were size ten. He walked with a slight limp and habitually stroked his eyebrow with his index finger. I knew him as well as I knew anyone, for I had seen film of him in a small, very private cinema in Charlotte Street, every day for a month.

Exactly one month previous I had never even heard of Jay. My three weeks’ termination of engagement leave had sped to a close. I had spent it doing little or nothing unless you are prepared to consider sorting through my collection of military history books a job fit for a fully grown male. Not many of my friends were so prepared.

I woke up saying to myself ‘today’s the day’ but I didn’t feel much like getting out of bed just the same. I could hear the rain even before I drew the curtains back. December in London -the soot-covered tree outside was whipping itself into a frenzy. I closed the curtains quickly, danced across the icy-cold lino, scooped up the morning’s post and sat down heavily to wait while the kettle boiled. I struggled into the dark worsted and my only establishment tie – that’s the red and blue silk with the square design – but had to wait forty minutes for a cab. They hate to come south of the Thames you see.

It always had made me feel a little self-conscious saying, ‘War Office’ to cab drivers; at one time I had asked for the pub in Whitehall, or said ‘I’ll tell you when to stop,’ just to avoid having to say it. When I got out the cab had brought me to the Whitehall Place door and I had to walk round the block to the Horseguards Avenue entrance. A Champ vehicle was parked there, a red-necked driver was saying ‘Clout it one’ to an oily corporal in dungarees. The same old army, I thought. The long lavatory-like passages were dark and dirty, and small white cards with precise military writing labelled each green-painted door: GS 3, Major this, Colonel that, Gentlemen, and odd anonymous tea rooms from which bubbly old ladies in spectacles appeared when not practising alchemy within. Room 134 was just like any other; the standard four green filing cabinets, two green metal cupboards, two desks fixed together face to face by the window, a half full one pound bag of Tate and Lyle sugar on the window-sill.

Ross, the man I had come to see, looked up from the writing that had held his undivided attention since three seconds after I had entered the room. Ross said, ‘Well now,’ and coughed nervously. Ross and I had come to an arrangement of some years’ standing – we had decided to hate each other. Being English, this vitriolic relationship manifested itself in oriental politeness.

‘Take a seat. Well now, smoke?’ I had told him ‘No thanks’ for two years at least twice a week. The cheap inlay cigarette box (from Singapore’s change alley market) with the butterflies of wood grain, was wafted across my face.

Ross was a regular officer; that is to say he didn’t drink gin after 7.30 p.m. or hit ladies without first removing his hat. He had a long thin nose, a moustache like flock wallpaper, sparse, carefully combed hair, and complexion of a Hovis loaf.

The black phone rang. ‘Yes? Oh, it’s you, darling,’ Ross pronouncing each word with exactly the same amount of toneless indifference. To be frank, I was going to.’

For nearly three years I had worked in Military Intelligence. If you listened to certain people you’d learn that Ross was Military Intelligence. He was a quiet Intellect happy to work within the strict departmental limitations imposed upon him. Ross didn’t mind; hitting platform five at Waterloo with rosebud in the buttonhole and umbrella at the high port was Rossis beginning to a day of rubber stamp and carbon paper action. At last I was to be freed. Out of the Army, out of Military Intelligence, away from Ross: working as a civilian with civilians in one of the smallest and most important of the Intelligence Units – W.O.O.C.(P).

‘Well, I’ll phone you if I have to stay Thursday night.’

I heard the voice at the other end say, ‘Are you all right for socks?’

Three typed sheets of carbon copies so bad I couldn’t read them (let alone read them upside down) were kept steady and to hand by the office tea money. Ross finished his call and began to talk to me, and I twitched facial muscles to look like a man paying attention.

He located his black briar pipe after heaping the contents of his rough tweed jacket upon his desk top. He found his tobacco in one of the cupboards. ‘Well now,’ he said. He struck the match I gave him upon his leather elbow patch.

‘So you’ll be with the provisional people.’ He said it with quiet distaste; the Army didn’t like anything provisional, let alone people, and they certainly didn’t like the w.o.o.c.(p), and I suppose they didn’t much like me. Ross obviously thought my posting a very fine tentative solution until I could be got out of his life altogether. I won’t tell you all Ross said because most of it was pretty dreary and some of it is still secret and buried somewhere in one of those precisely but innocuously labelled files of his. A lot of the time he was having ignition trouble with his pipe and that meant he was going to start the story all through again.

Most of the people at the War House, especially those on the intelligence fringes as I was, had heard of w.o.o.c.(p) and a man called Dalby. His responsibility was direct to the Cabinet. Envied, criticized and opposed by other intelligence units Dalby was almost as powerful as anyone gets in this business. People posted to him ceased to be in the Army for all practical purposes and they were removed from almost all War Office records. In the few rare cases of men going back to normal duty from W.O.O.C.(p) they were enlisted all over afresh and given a new serial number from the batch that is reserved for Civil Servants seconded to military duties. Pay was made by an entirely different scale, and I wondered just how long I would have to make the remnants of this month’s pay last before the new scale began.

After a search for his small metal-rimmed army spectacles, Ross went through the discharge rigmarole with loving attention to detail. We began by destroying the secret compensation contract that Ross and I had signed in this very room almost three years ago and ended by his checking that I had no mess charges unpaid. It had been a pleasure to work with me, Provisional was clever to get me, he was sorry to lose me and Mr. Dalby was lucky to have me and would I leave this package in Room 225 on the way out – the messenger seemed to have missed him this morning.

Dalby’s place is in one of those sleazy long streets in the district that would be Soho, if Soho had the strength to cross Oxford Street. There is a new likely-looking office conversion wherein the unwinking blue neon glows even at summer midday, but this isn’t Dalby’s place. Dalby’s department is next door. His is dirtier than average with a genteel profusion of well-worn brass work, telling of the existence of ‘The Ex-Officers’ Employment Bureau. Est. 1917?; ‘Acme Films Cutting Rooms’; ‘B. Isaacs. Tailor – Theatricals a Speciality’; ‘Dalby Inquiry Bureau – staffed by ex-Scotland Yard detectives.’ A piece of headed note-paper bore the same banner and the biro’d message, ‘Inquiries third floor, please ring.’ Each morning at 9.30 I rang, and avoiding the larger cracks in the lino, began the ascent. Each floor had its own character – ageing paint varying from dark brown to dark green. The third floor was dark white. I passed the scaly old dragon that guarded the entrance to Dalby’s cavern.

I’ll always associate Charlotte Street with the music of the colliery brass bands that I remember from my childhood. The duty drivers and cipher clerks had a little fraternity that sat around in the despatch office on the second floor. They had a very loud gramophone and they were all brass band fanatics;

that’s a pretty esoteric failing in London. Up through the warped and broken floorboards came the gleaming polished music. Fairey Aviation had won the Open Championship again that year and the sound of the test piece reached through to every room in the building. It made Dalby feel he was overlooking Horse Guards Parade; it made me feel I was back in Burnley.

I said, ‘Hello, Alice,’ and she nodded, and busied herself with a Nescafe tin and a ruinous cup of warm water. I went through to the back office, saw Chico – he’d got a step beyond Alice, his Nescafe was almost dissolved. Chico always looked glad to see me, it made my day; it was his training, I suppose. He’d been to one of those very good schools where you meet kids with influential uncles. I imagine that’s how he got into the Horse Guards and now into w.o.o.c.(p) too, it must have been like being at school again. His profusion of long lank yellow hair hung heavily across his head like a Shrove Tuesday mishap. He stood 5 ft. 11 in. in his Argyll socks, and had an irritating physical stance, in which his thumbs rested high behind his red braces while he rocked on his hand-lasted Oxfords. He had the advantage of both a good brain and a family rich enough to save him using it.

I walked right through the Dalby Inquiry Bureau and down the back stairs. For this whole house belonged to w.o.o.c.(p) even though each business on each floor had its own ‘front’ for our convenience. By 9.40 a.m. each morning I was in the small ramshackle projection room of Acme Films.

The sickly sweet smell of film cement and warm celluloid was so strong that I think they must have sprayed it around. I threw my English B-picture raincoat across a pile of film tins, clean side up, and sank into one of the tip-up cinema seats. As always, it was seat number twenty-two, the one with the loose bolt, and always by that time I didn’t feel much like moving.

The Rheostat made that horrid squeaking noise. The room lights dimmed tiredly and the little projector clattered into action. A screaming white rectangle flung animated abstract shapes of scratch marks at my eyes, then darkened to a businesslike grey flannel suit colour.

In crude stick-on letters the film title said JAY. LEEDS. WARREN THREE. (Warren Three was the authority upon which it was filmed.) The picture began. Jay was walking along a crowded pavement. His moustache was gigantic, but cultivated with a care that he gave to everything he did. He limped, but it certainly didn’t impair his progress through the crowd. The camera wobbled and then tracked swiftly away. The van in which the movie camera had been hidden had been forced to move faster than Jay by the speed of the traffic. The screen flashed white and the next short, titled length began. Some of the films showed Jay with a companion, code-named HOUSE-MARTIN. He was a six feet tall handsome man in a good quality camel-hair overcoat. His hair was waved, shiny and a little too perfectly grey at the temples. He wore a handful of gold rings, a gold watch strap and a smile full of jacket crowns. It was an indigestible smile – he was never able to swallow it.

Chico operated the projector with tongue-jutting determination. Once in a while he would slip into the programme one of those crisp Charing Cross Road movies that feature girls in the skin. It was Dalby’s idea to keep his ‘students’ awake during these viewings.

‘Know your enemies,’ was Dalby’s theory. He felt if all his staff knew the low-life of the espionage business visually they would stand a better chance of predicting their thought. ‘Because he had a picture of Rommel over his bed Montgomery won Alamein.’ I don’t necessarily believe this – but this was what Dalby kept saying. (Personally I ascribe a lot of value to those extra 600 tanks.) Dalby was an elegant languid public school Englishman of a type that can usually reconcile his duty with comfort and luxury. He was a little taller than I am: probably 6 ft. i in. or 6 ft. 2 in. He had long fine fair hair, and every now and then would grow a little wispy blond moustache. At present he didn’t have it. He had a clear complexion that sunburnt easily and very small puncture-type scar tissue high on the left cheek to prove he had been to a German University in ’38. It had been useful experience, and in 1941 enabled him to gain a D.S.O. and bar. A rare event in any Intelligence group but especially in the one he was with. No citations of course.

He was unpublic school enough to wear a small signet ring on his right hand, and whenever he pulled at his face, which was often, he dragged the edge of the ring against the skin. This produced a little red weal due to excessive acidity in the skin. It was fascinating.

He peeped at me over the toes of his suede shoes which rested in the centre of a deskful of important papers, arranged in precise heaps. Spartan furniture (Ministry of Works contemporary) punctured the cheap lino and a smell of tobacco ash was in the air.

‘You are loving it here of course,’ Dalby asked.

‘I have a clean mind and pure heart. I get eight hours’ sleep every night. I am a loyal, diligent employee and will attempt every day to be worthy of the trust my paternal employer puts in me.’

‘I’ll make the jokes,’ said Dalby.

‘Go ahead,’ I said. ‘I can use a laugh – my eyes have been operating twenty-four frames per second for the last month.’

Dalby tightened a shoe-lace. ‘Think you can handle a tricky little special assignment?’

‘If it doesn’t demand a classical education I might be able to grope around it.’

Dalby said, ‘Surprise me, do it without complaint or sarcasm.’

‘It wouldn’t be the same,’ I said.

Dalby swung his feet to the floor and became deliberate and serious, ‘I’ve been across to the Senior Intelligence Conference this morning. Home Office are worried sick about these disappearances of their top biochemists. Committees, subcommittees – you should see them over there, talk about Mothers Day at the Turkish Bath.’

‘Has there been another then?’ I asked.

‘This morning,’ said Dalby, ‘one left home at 7.45 a.m. never reached the lab.’

‘Defection?’ I asked.

Dalby pulled a face and spoke to Alice over the desk intercom, ‘Alice, open a file and give me a code-name for this morning’s “wandering willie”.’ Dalby made his wishes known by peremptory unequivocal orders; all his staff preferred them to the complex polite chat of most Departments as especially did I as a refugee from the War Office. Alice’s voice came over the intercom like Donald Duck with a head cold. To whatever she said Dalby replied, ‘The hell with what the letter from Home Office said. Do as I say.’

There was a moment or so of silence then Alice used her displeased voice to say a long file number and the code-name RAVEN. All people under long-term surveillance had bird-names.

‘That’s a good girl,’ said Dalby in his most charming voice and even over the squawk-box I could hear the lift in Alice’s voice as she said, ‘Very good, sir.’

Dalby switched off the box and turned back to me. ‘They have put a security blackout on this Raven disappearance but I told them that William Hickey will be carrying a photo of his dog by the midday editions. Look at these.’ Dalby laid five passport photos across his oiled teak desk. Raven was a man in his late forties, thick black hair, bushy eyebrows, bony nose -there were a hundred like him in St. James’s at any minute of the day. Dalby said, ‘It makes eight top rank Disappearances in…’ he looked at his desk diary,’… six and a half weeks.’

‘Surely Home Office aren’t asking us to help them,’ I said.

‘They certainly are not,’ said Dalby. ‘But if we found Raven I think the Home Secretary would virtually disband his confused little intelligence department. Then we could add their files to ours. Think of that.’

‘Find him?’ I said. ‘How would we start?’

‘How would you start?’ asked Dalby.

‘Haven’t the faintest,’ I said. ‘Go to laboratory, wife doesn’t know what’s got into him lately, discover dark almond-eyed woman. Bank manager wonders where he’s been getting all that money. Fist fight through darkened lab. Glass tubes that would blow the world to shreds. Mad scientist backs to freedom holding phial – flying tackle by me. Up grams Rule Britannia.’

Dalby gave me a look calculated to have me feeling like an employee, he got to his feet and walked across to the big map of Europe that he had had pinned across the wall for the last week. I walked across to him, ‘You think that Jay is master minding it,’ I said. Dalby looked at the map and still staring at it said, ‘Sure of it, absolutely sure of it.’

The map was covered with clear acetate and five small frontier areas from Finland to the Caspian were marked in black greasy pencil. Two places in Syria carried small red flags.

Dalby said, ‘Every important illegal movement across these bits of frontier that I have marked are with Jay’s O.K.

‘Important movement. I don’t mean he stands around checking that the eggs have little lions on.’ Dalby tapped the border. ‘Somewhere before they get him as far as this we must…’ Dalby’s voice trailed away lost in thought.

‘Hi-jack him?’ I prompted softly. Dalby’s mind had raced on. ‘It’s January. If only we could do this in January,’ he said. January was the month that the Government estimates were prepared. I began to see what he meant. Dalby suddenly became aware of me again and turned on a big flash of boyish charm.

‘You see,’ said Dalby. ‘It’s not just a case of the defection of one biochemist…’

‘Defection? I thought that Jay’s speciality was a high quality line in snatch jobs.’

‘Hi-jack! Snatch jobs! all that gangland talk. You read too many newspapers that’s your trouble. You mean they walk him through the customs and immigration with two heavy-jowled men behind him with their right hands in their overcoat pockets? No. No. No,’ he said the three ‘noes’ softly, paused and added two more. ‘… this isn’t a mere emigration of one little chemist,’ (Dalby made him sound like an assistant from Boots) ‘who has probably been selling them stuff for years. In fact given the choice I’m not sure I wouldn’t let him go. It’s those — people at the Home Office. They should know about these things before they occur: not start crying in their beer afterwards.’ He picked two cigarettes out of his case, threw one to me and balanced the other between his fingers. ‘They are all right running the Special Branch, H.M. prisons and Cruelty to Animal Inspectors but as soon as they get into ourbusiness they have trouble touching bottom,’[The Denning report published September, 1963 revealed that the Home Secretary is in control of British Counter Intelligence.] Dalby continued to do balancing tricks with the cigarette to which he had been talking. Then he looked up and began to talk to me. ‘Do you honestly believe that given all the Home Office Security files we couldn’t do a thousand times better than they have ever done.’

‘I think we could,’ I said. He was so pleased with my answer that he stopped toying with the cigarette and lit it in a burst of energy. He inhaled the smoke then tried to snort it down his nostrils. He choked. His face went red. ‘Shall I get you a glass of water?’ I asked, and his face went redder. I must have ruined the drama of the moment. Dalby recovered his breath and went on.

‘You can see now that this is something more than an ordinary case, it’s a test case.’

‘I sense impending Jesuitical pleas.’

‘Exactly,’ said Dalby with a malevolent smile. He loved to be cast as the villain, especially if it could be done with schoolboy-scholarship. ‘You remember the Jesuit motto.’ He was always surprised to find that I had read any sort of book.

‘When the end is lawful the means are also lawful,’ I answered.

He beamed and pinched the bridge of his nose between finger and thumb. I had made him very happy.

‘If it pleases you that much.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t muster it in dog-Latin.’

‘It’s all right, all right,’ said Dalby. He traversed his cigarette then changed the range and elevation until it had me in its sights. He spoke slowly, carefully articulating each syllable. ‘Go and buy this Raven for me.’

‘From Jay.’

‘From anyone who has him – I’m broadminded.’

‘How much can I spend, Daddy?’

He moved his chair an inch nearer the desk with a loud crash, ‘Look here, every point of entry has the stopper jammed tightly upon it.’ He gave a little bitter laugh. ‘It makes you laugh, doesn’t it. I remember when we asked H.O. to close the airports for one hour last July. The list of excuses they gave us. But when someone slips through their little butter-fingers and they are going to be asked some awkward questions, anything goes. Anyway, Jay is a bright lad; he’ll know what’s going on; he’ll have this Raven on ice for a week and then move him when all goes quiet. If meanwhile we make him anything like a decent offer…’ Dalby’s voice trailed off as he slipped his mind into over-drive, ‘… say 18,000 quid. We pick him up from anywhere Jay says – no questions asked.’

’18,000,’ I said.

‘You can go up to twenty-three if you are sure they are on the level. But on our terms. Payment after delivery. Into a Swiss Bank. Strictly no cash and I don’t want Raven dead. Or even damaged.’

‘O.K.’ I said. I suddenly felt very small and young and called upon to do something that I wasn’t sure I could manage. If this was the run of the mill job at W.O.O.C.-(P) they deserved their high pay and expense accounts. ‘Shall I start by locating Jay?’ It seemed a foolish thing to say but I felt in dire need of an instruction book.

Dalby flapped a palm. I sat down again. ‘Done,’ he said. He flipped a switch on his squawk-box. Alice’s voice, electronically distorted, spoke from the room downstairs. ‘Yes, sir,’ she said.

‘What’s Jay doing?’

There was a couple of clicks and Alice’s voice came back to the office again. ‘At 12.10 he was in Lederers coffee-house.’

‘Thanks, Alice,’ said Dalby.

‘Cease surveillance, sir?’

‘Not yet, Alice. I’ll tell you when.’ To me he said, ‘There you are then. Off you go.’

I doused my cigarette and stood up. Two other last things,’ said Dalby. ‘I am authorizing you for 1,200 a year expenses. And,’ he paused, ‘don’t contact me if anything goes wrong, because I won’t know what the hell you are talking about.’

This post first appeared on the Mister 8 website, July 6th 2009.

Harry Palmer Files – 003 – The IPCRESS File: Prologue and Chapter 1

In their own (code) words: 3

Welcome back to another edition of ‘in their own (code) words’ wherein we look at the words of the world’s spymasters. I’m looking at Allen Dulles’ rather stolid The Craft of Intelligence, written in 1963. Dulles (1893-1969) had a long and storied career in intelligence, including a role as the first civilian director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

This week, we’re looking at one of the side effects of the espionage game — paranoia. Once you know that not only should you not believe everything, but that you shouldn’t believe most things, and the things that you do believe might be deliberately constructed to look like things that you shouldn’t believe, meaning that you should believe them… well, what can you really believe in at that point?

A short bit from Dulles this week:

When one deliberately misleads, sometimes friend as well as foe is misled. And later the deceiver may not be believed when he wishes to be. This is the situation of the Soviets today after Cuba.

Often the very fear of deception has blinded an opponent to the real value of information which accidents or intelligence operations have placed in his hands.

As Sir Walter Scott wrote:

Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!

If you suspect an enemy of constant trickery, then almost anything that happens can be taken as one of his tricks. A collateral effect of deception, once a single piece of deception has succeeded in its purpose, is to upset and confuse the opponent’s judgement and evaluation of other intelligence he may receive. He will be suspicious and distrustful. He will not want to be caught off guard.

This post originally appeared on the Mister 8 website (December 4th, 2009).

In their own (code) words: 3

The Two Edged Sword

Author: L.B. Earle
Publisher: Horwitz
Published: 1965
Book No: 31

Following on from Tuesday’s post about Prisoner of War pulp fiction, published in Australia in the 1960s. Here’s another one, The Two Edged Sword. Once again, I have not read this one, but it would appear that this time American Marines are the target for brutality inflicted by the Japanese.

As with all Horwitz books, there is little information available on the author (the National Library of Australia lists this as his only work).


Here, in this hell camp, the bestiality of the inquisitors revealed war in its most terrible aspect.


The two edged sword became the symbol of Captain Yakahito’s rule of terror on the lonely outpost of Wake Island, the Japanese and American marines are locked in deadly combat. The unequal struggle is soon over, the island is taken by the enemy and the surviving marines are taken prisoner by the Japanese.

Captured, interrogated, beaten and tortured, the men are taken to one of the infamous prison camps deep in the Burmese jungle on the Thai border.

Menaced by the sun, ravaged by disease, with starvation and despair their only companions, they plan to escape – but their only hope is help from the outside.

The Two Edged Sword

1966 NBC Promo Posters




These posters were part of a lot sold in May, 2011 at Heritage Auctions. The UNCLE poster is by an artist named Allison (from the signature), and went for $84. The I Spy poster is by Gustav Rehberger, and went for $179. The Get Smart is by Mad Magazine veteran Jack Davis and went for $120. Originally, these were sold by NBC for just a few bucks, apparently. The best source I’ve seen on the posters is at the I Spy forum, where Tatia writes:

“The eleven promotional posters produced to be given to NBC’s major affiliates as decorations for parties celebrating their 1966 season premieres were Bonanza, Daniel Boone, Flipper, Get Smart, Hey Landlord, I Spy, The Monkees, Star Trek, T.H.E. Cat, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. NBC did offer the Bonanza, Get Smart and I Spy for sale for a very limited time afterwards.”

This post first appeared on the Mister 8 website in December 2011.

1966 NBC Promo Posters

Beasts of Bushido

Author: Michael Owen
Publisher: Scripts
Published: 1967
Book No: 13

I have not actually read this book, which I picked up in a second hand shop last year. But I have a fascination with the strange sub-genre of war action adventure books that came out in Australia in the mid 1960s.

Rather than being stories about heroes routing the Japanese in a series of fierce encounters, these stories are more about survival. The heroes are men captured by the Japanese and imprisoned. They prove their courage and worth by being the most resilient – or even giving their lives for a just cause.

In Australia, at that time, there was a lot of resentment towards the Japanese for their treatment towards Australian (and other) P.O.W.s in WWII. As such, and I am guessing because I am too young to truly know (and understand), the popularity of these books was in part, because they celebrated those that never came back. As the blurb says, as you can read below, Of more than 2,500 men who slaved for the Bushido in Borneo only 16 survived. This is the story of one of them…

So in a sense, the books are a celebration of death. As I have mentioned before, my great uncle Jim, died working on the Burma Railway. The family has few details of what happened. I guess a book like this offers an insight into what many of the ‘boys’ went through – an ultimately a sense of closure (for some).

When I first picked up a few of these books, my first reaction was that they were slightly distasteful; exploitative; trading in human misery. But I think I was wrong – or at least that was not the writer’s intention. The Kent and Slater Nazi and Japanese romances may be an exception. But that is a discussion for another day.


An Australian P O W struggles for survival against inhuman odds in the hell camps of Malaya and Borneo.


“Saito ordered the Warrant Officer to execute the first prisoner.”

The W.O. stepped forward, raised he is sword and brought it down hard across the man’s neck. Cole closed his eyes quickly, hearing only the swish of the long sword and the dreadful hard as a connected with the prisoners neck. He tried to keep his eyes closed but some appalling force over which he had no control forced him to open them. The stroke had not severed the man’s head…”

Private James “King” Cole thought wall was hell, until he was taken prisoner by the Japanese in the fall of Singapore… And from then on and he found out what the hell was really like!

Of more than 2,500 men who slaved for the Bushido in Borneo only 16 survived. This is the story of one of them…

Beasts of Bushido

Raw Deal (1977)

Country: Australia
Director: Russell Hagg
Starring: Gerard Kennedy, Gus Mercurio, Rod Mullinar, Christopher Pate, Hu Pryce, Norman Yemm, John Cousins, Michael Carman
Music: Ronald Edgeworth

In the 1970s, two of the most popular actors in Australia were Gerard Kennedy and Gus Mercurio who starred in the television series Tandarra (1976), which was a period piece set in colonial Australia. I remember thinking it was the best show on television as a kid – I couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. It seems strange now, to realise that there were only 13 episodes made. I must have watched a lot of repeats – or get it confused with Cash and Company, which was made a year earlier, and starred Mercurio as the same character.

The chemistry on screen between Gus and Kennedy was a key ingredient to the show, and it was not so surprising that they were teamed up once again for Raw Deal, a kangaroo western. I saw Raw Deal in the mid 1980s, when it was released on VHS, and thought it was pretty damn good. But it is one of those movies that has all but disappeared off the face of the earth. I have spent the last fifteen years hunting high and low for a copy.

At last a copy has landed in my lap. Is the film as good as I remember? Short answer: Yes!

Gus Mercurio discusses the benefits of a Winchester rifle

The story starts in an un-named rural settlement. A gang of marauders, known as the Tyrones ride into town, assemble the town folk, and then begin to steal their money and jewelery. However two men refuse to acquiesce to the Tyrone’s wishes. They are Palmer (Gerard Kennedy) – a man with a reputation as a mercenary; and Ben (Gus Mercurio) – an American gun salesman, who just so happens to have a supply of the latest Winchester repeater rifles.

Naturally enough, a gunfight ensues – with Palmer and Ben, despite being outnumbered, proving their gun-fighting prowess.

Gerard Kennedy & Gus Mercurio teaching the Tyrones some manners

Palmer and Ben’s fighting prowess bring them to the attention of an English powerbroker named Sir Charles (John Cousins). Sir Charles is worried about the Tyrone’s increasing numbers. They are almost like a small army, and it is feared they may start a rebellion (remembering that when this movie is set, Australia was still an English colony). He attributes their strength to their charismatic and daring leader, an Irishman named, O’Neil (Norman Yemm). Sir Charles figures if O’Neil was assassinated, the threat would be contained.

But he needs assassins, and Palmer and Ben appear to be perfect for the job. For a hefty fee, they agree to do Sir Charles’ dirty work.

Young Dick (Christopher Pate) about to be cured of his virginity

However, as brave and undoubtedly talented with a gun they may be, two men against an army is sheer folly. So they recruit some men to assist with their daring raid. They include: womanising ‘dandy’, Alex (Rod Mullinar), seasoned soldier, Ned (Hu Pryce), and young con-man, Dick (Christopher Pate).

The five men, armed with a hearse full of dynamite, set off across the desert to take on the Tyrones. And of course, the odds are stacked against them, but never for a moment does it appear like they are outmatched.

However, as the movie is called ‘Raw Deal’, there is some treachery involved at the climax – and once again Palmer and Ben’s gun fighting skills are put to the test.

Kennedy and Gus blasting their way to freedom

As Raw Deal has no nudity, or ultra violence, it flew under the radar when Ozploitation became popular due to the documentary, Not Quite Hollywood. The film still remains MIA, but I hope someone like Madman or Umbrella choose to seek it out, and get it out there on DVD or Bluray. It’s a good solid western, that should have a better reputation, and deserves to be seen.

Thanks to ST, for helping me acquire a copy of this gem of a movie.

Raw Deal (1977)

Harry Palmer Files – 002 – The IPCRESS File Board Game

Every Sunday, we’ll be looking at the Harry Palmer series of novels (in which the character doesn’t actually have a name), their author — Len Deighton, the films based on them, the star of those films — Michael Caine, and the television movies that followed, and giving my thoughts on all I encounter. I’ll inevitably be drawing heavily on the collection of Kees Stam, author of The Harry Palmer Movie Site, and Rob Mallows, creator of the Deighton Dossier, and other odds and ends that I’ve turned up over the years.

I first saw this item in a photograph advertising the Geppi’s Entertainment Museum of Baltimore and have been curious about it since. This week, I found one online in an ebay auction. I’ve contacted the seller, Joe, and he has kindly consented to let us use pictures of the board and game pieces here for our Harry Palmer discussion.

Joe describes the game as follows:

“The IPCRESS File,” a board game issued in 1966 by Milton Bradley. Game No. 4643. A suspense / espionage game modeled after the popular 1965 British espionage film starring Michael Caine as “Harry Palmer, the cool British agent,” and Len Deighton’s 1962 novel, “The IPCRESS File.”

* For 2 to 4 players
* For ages 10 to adult
* Object: Get the “Double Agent” before he gets you
* Average play time 25 minutes

The game is 100 percent complete. It includes board, 24 cards, four agent pieces, four stands (one for each agent piece), two red-and-gold dice and original box.

IPCRESS File game box

IPCRESS File game board

IPCRESS File game pieces

Another view of IPCRESS File game box

This post originally appeared on the Mister 8 website, July 3rd, 2009.

Harry Palmer Files – 002 – The IPCRESS File Board Game

In their own (code) words: 2

Welcome to this week’s installment of ‘in their own (code) words’, one of a series of posts, featuring excerpts from the writings of the world’s spymasters.

I’m taking from Allen Dulles’ The Craft of Intelligence, written in 1963. Dulles (1893-1969) had a long and storied career in intelligence, including a role as the first civilian director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Today’s excerpt deals with the planting of Soviet spies that Dulles calls “illegals”:

…Outside the embassy and buried away under the guise of some harmless occupation, perhaps in a bookstore or a photography shop, was quite another center devoted to the “dirty” operations. This was headquarters of the “illegal residentura,” composed mainly of officers who over a period of years had carefully been turned into personages whom it would be almost impossible to identify as Soviet nationals, much less as intelligence personnel. The illegal, unless apprehended with the agent or betrayed by him, can disappear into the woodwork if something goes wrong. There will be no trail leading to a Soviet diplomatic installation to embarrass or discredit it…

…A man chosen for illegal work in any of its aspects will be sent to live abroad for as many years as it takes him to perfect his knowledge of the language and way of life of another country. He may even acquire citizenship in the adopted country. But during this whole period he has absolutely no intelligence mission. He does nothing that would arouse suspicion. When he has become sufficiently acclimatized, he returns to the Soviet Union, where he is trained and documented for his intelligence mission, and eventually dispatched to the target country, which may be the same one he has learned to live in or a different one. It matters little, for the main thing is that he is unrecognizable as a Soviet or Eastern European. He is a German or a Scandinavian or a South American. His papers show it, and so do his speech and his manners…

…When an intelligence service goes to all the trouble to retool and remake a man so that he can succeed in losing himself in the crowd in another country, it naturally does so in the expectation that the man will stay put and remain active and useful for a long period of time. There is no rotation here of the sort that is common among officials of most diplomatic and intelligence services. Also, for obvious reasons, if the “illegal” has a family, the family does not accompany him. The wives and children cannot also be “made over.” He goes alone, and even his communications to his wife and children must necessarily be limited and must pass through secret channels…

This post first appeared on the Mister 8 website (November 27th, 2009).

In their own (code) words: 2

Harry Palmer Files – 001 – RIP Karl Malden / Leo Newbegin

This post originally appeared on the Mister 8 website, July 3rd, 2009 and coincided with the passing of actor Karl Malden

Starting today, and continuing every Sunday, we’ll be looking at the Harry Palmer series of novels (in which the character doesn’t actually have a name), their author — Len Deighton, the films based on them, the star of those films — Michael Caine, and the television movies that followed, and giving my thoughts on all I encounter. I’ll inevitably be drawing heavily on the collection of Kees Stam, author of The Harry Palmer Movie Site, and other odds and ends that I’ve turned up over the years.

I’ve been intending this series of posts for awhile, and it’s unfortunate that the sad news of the death of Karl Malden serves as the kick-off to the series, but so it goes…

Karl Malden credit in Billion Dollar Brain

In the last film of the Palmer trilogy, Billion Dollar Brain, Malden played Leo Newbegin, an old acquaintance of Harry’s who wants to get him involved in a profitable venture involving a supercomputer and a megalomaniacal Texas billionaire. Newbegin’s true goals aren’t cooperative or altruistic, but self-serving. In the end, he’s brought down by that commonplace Achille’s heel, love for a cold and uncaring, yet beautiful blonde.

Billion Dollar Brain was certainly not the highlight of Malden’s career (actually, it’s hard to put a finger on a single highlight — was it How the West Was Won? On the Waterfront? Patton? His role on television’s Streets of San Francisco?), but even here, in a mostly thankless role, he excels. In his character’s debut, he’s nude in a sauna, greeting the secret agent turned detective who once saved his life:

“It’s a bit warm in here for me, Leo,” says Palmer.

“Well don’t be shy, take your clothes off,” replies Newbegin. Then, responding to Palmer’s hesitation: “Oh, come on, don’t be so British!”

In fact, why don’t we enjoy that entire scene, which may have also been, as you’ll see in the end, an influence on nude scenes in the Austin Powers films:

Malden was one of those classic character actors, always recognizable from the bulbous nose he got from twice breaking it as a youth, but also melting into any character put before him. Malden would substantially improve any film that he was a part of, this one included.

Kees was kind enough to upload an interview with Malden from the set of Billion Dollar Brain. I thought this exchange was especially interesting:

Interviewer: It seems that the heroes of films today are the new ugly so-called, as opposed to the pretty boys of yesterday.

Malden: I think they’re coming to their fore — they’re just beginning to come to their fore. I think you take a look at Burt Lancaster. You take a look at Lee Marvin, you take a look at Ernest Borgnine, who is kind of the leader of this whole thing. I think we’re gonna have our day, and I belong in that category, the leading man, the ugly leading man…

Harry Palmer Files – 001 – RIP Karl Malden / Leo Newbegin