Mick's Blog

February Catalogue – Imprimatur Military Books

Posted On Feb 18, 2017 | American Civil War 1861-1865,Aviation,Espionage,Military Biography,Military General,Napoleonic,Naval,Poetry,SIMMO,Special Forces and Airborne,The Great War 1914-1918,Vietnam,World War 2 1939 - 1945 | No Comments

Welcome to Catalogue 199 February 2017. This list, our first for 2017 will set the scene for our 200th in March which we hope will be a whizbanger! It’s a list of great books among them being one of my favourite SOE books ‘BETWEEN SILK AND CYANIDE’ by the great code master Leo Marks (whose father owner the antiquarian bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road London). Leo was a remarkable man with a genius brain for maths, puzzles and codes. His job was to organise specific codes for agents being dropped into France and Holland. Part of their training, especially the female radio operators, was to be highly proficient in secure one time letter pad and other codes. Two of his star pupils were Violette Zsabo and Noor Khan. Both were very successful but were eventually captured by the Gestapo and murdered in concentration camps. Leo produced the following code poem for Noor Khan:


The life that I have

Is all that I have, and

The life that I have, is

Yours. The love that I have, is yours and

Yours and yours. A sleep I shall have

A rest I shall have

Yet death will be but a pause, for the

Peace of my years

In the long green grass, will be yours

And yours and yours.                 Leo Marks, SOE


Leo Marks fought a running battle with the German Giskes in Holland who wrought serious damage to SOEs efforts in that country. Giskes had the upper hand for quite awhile until Marks convinced his bosses not to send anymore agents into Holland as they had been captured and turned. ‘Between Silk and Cyanide’ is listed as 199/22. Only have one copy. It’s well worth the read. As usual we launch into 2017 in the midst of the Perth Fringe Festival and the Perth International Arts Festival—a veritable festival binge. Whilst my significant other can’t get enough of the art, I’m thinking about my mates who aren’t travelling well and we remember 4 SASR mates who’ve passed away recently, Joe Rice, Richo, Skid Rowe and Barry Hollitt. Good men all. RIP men.  Death seems to come around too often. Soldiers put themselves in harm’s way and should expect to get a few years of peace at the end. But cancer is a nasty thing which may get us all in the long run. Be kind to one another.   Stay safe      Mick & Jo