Chapter 7 – Post-Morrison



1. Footloose in the USSR
2. Searching for D.
3. D. in Japan, with Husband

With Morrison gone and his replacement in place (a nice enough man called Pethybridge), the Embassy settled down to its regular routine of basically doing nothing much more than administer itself, issue visas, fret constantly about continued KGB efforts to penetrate its security, and then use much of its large budget to hire a bunch of KGB-supplied staff briefed to penetrate that security.

I once wrote a report querying the need to waste large amounts of money simply to park a dozen or so unhappy, run-of-the-mill, largely non-Russian speaking Australians in the middle of Moscow while surrounded by this army of KGB-briefed operatives trying hard to run entrapment stunts against them.

And if they were entrapped we would then have to go to enormous trouble to repair the damage – assuming we could discover it in the first place. 

If we were not prepared to do as the Soviets did — rely entirely on staff sent from Moscow cooped up in a big embassy – then it would be much cheaper and safer to close the whole operation down and have a couple of competent officials based in Vienna fly in every week or so to stay at a hotel, handle whatever consular, diplomatic or reporting work that was needed, and fly out.

Meanwhile we would invite the Soviets to do the same with their Canberra Embassy (they could fly in from Djakarta). In the process a large army of KGB spies and ASIO sleuths would be put out of business.

For some reason I never got a reply to my brilliant proposal (too many ASIO types having to seek new employment was the problem no doubt).

1. Footloose in the USSR.

But no matter. By this time I had realised that as the only Russian-speaking diplomat in the Embassy, and with an ambassador mainly concerned with his retirement plans, I could basically write my own ticket.

I would work hard on the language, follow the media, try to meet as many of the local inhabitants as possible (both for language and information purposes), and travel as widely as I could using the Embassy’s generous travel allowance. 

I had almost two years to educate myself and broaden my experience, largely at the expense of the Australian Government.

And in retrospect it was a very fulfilling two years, apart from the ugliness at the end

2. Searching for D.

I would also use some leave time to try to track down D., my former teenage girl-friend from Oxford days. 

We had last seen each other when we parted on that fateful Austrian mountain, with her climbing the mountain to a ski lodge house where she would be child-caring and me heading of to England and ultimately Australia,

We heard from each other three years later when she wrote me she had since gone to Germany and hinted she had a German boyfriend.

Somehow I found out later she was married to the boyfriend and they were living in Bonn’s hush-hush rocket development site in a forest outside Munich.

I found her. She said her husband was in Egypt involved with the secret rocket tests that were to create such fuss later.

She had not had children. Instead she had created an independent life for herself as a buyer for a large department store.  She had matured into a very attractive and strong-minded woman.

I was curious why her husband had left her for so long in Germany.  Later I thought I had discovered why.

Those rockets being developed in Egypt were targeted at Israel. In retirement, the former Mossad chief boasted on Youtube how not one of the German engineers sent to help that development made it back home alive.*

3. D. in Japan, with Husband

It took me some fifty years to discover my mistake. 

D. was travelling in Japan with her husband when I received her email. She had got my address from a Japanese business magazine she had picked up in which I had written a piece. 

She wrote me her husband had been working on a non-rocket business in Egypt at the time we last met, and had avoided whatever danger there was.

She sent me a photo of her attractive self and daughter, plus some comments on the international scene.

But Tokyo was not on her itinerary. 

* Years later in the book “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations.” I discovered the following: On July 23, 1962, the Mossad operative Zvi Aharoni (who had identified Eichmann two years earlier) was on a dirt road by the farm where Mengele was believed to be hiding when he encountered a group of men — including one who looked exactly like the fugitive. ….But the head of the Mossad at the time, Isser Harel, ordered the matter dropped: On the same day, the agency had learned that Egypt was recruiting German scientists to build missiles; disposing of them was Harel’s top priority.