British Element Trieste Force 1945 - 1954
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National Service swept up men from all sort of back-grounds and it has always seemed to me that the widest - and sometimes the weirdest - variety seemed to gravitate to the Intelligence Corps. I'm proposing to tell you about a few who were in TSO. Apart from those who went on to become writers, artists, barristers, headmasters, journalists, senior civil servants or broadcasters there were some whose distinction was more like notoriety.
One such was Michael Jeffery who arrived in TSO in September 1953 and stayed until the end of the AMG in 1954. He started his national service in 1951 when he, at the age of 18, he joined the Royal Army Education Corps. At some stage, he signed on for 5 years and transferred to the Intelligence Corps as a private.
He was later, as a civilian, to weave gripping tales of his deeds, “in Intelligence” grappling with and killing a frontier guard, sabotage and other forms of derring-do; so it may seem surprising that, when he entered the Intelligence Corps, instead of going on the FSS course at the School of Military Intelligence – which was regarded as good fun - he opted to go on the Russian language course at Bodmin.
There are only a few details of what he did in the short time he was in Trieste. It was hardly long enough to get to know the complexities of the political situation so it is unlikely that he would be entrusted with anything of a sensitive nature but it would be long enough to find out about IFCs (Illegal Frontier Crossers) and their use in earlier times by members of TSO to find details of Jugoslav troop dispositions, airfields etc and he later told tales of his exploits involving these.These activities had ceased some time before I arrived in TSO - although I worked with menn who had "run" IFCs. I was once asked if our work in Trieste was dangerous and I had to reply that there were certain dangers; over-eating and drinking too much were ever-present perils.
On his discharge from the forces, he ran a bar in Newcastle which became the venue for such musicians as Alan Price and Georgie Fame, who both became very well known and after a while Jeffery got into management. He became manager of The Animals.
His most notable client and associate was to be Jimi Hendrix. You may well know that Hendrix was the most famous guitarist – possibly in the world - and that he died in very mysterious circumstances, the jury at his inquest returning an open verdict.
Jeffery is said to have “been with him” when he died but I intend to leave you to read about the possible circumstances of his death and any involvement of Michael Jeffery. Google and Wikipedia give a lot of “information” or speculation.
The circumstances of Jeffery’s death are also shrouded in mystery and also the subject of speculation.
When writing about the perils we faced, I forgot to mention that I sprained my ankle on a skiing weekend.