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Saturday, 10 January 2009

The British & Indo-China

Below is an extract of a most interesting obituary from the DAILY TELEGRAPH web site on one of Great Britain’s more colourful colonels.
What a life the man led. He even survived to great old age.
His and Great Britain’s connection to Vietnam are in this extract although the whole article makes most interesting reading.
Very few British were involved in Vietnam over the years.


On Lord Mountbatten's orders, Smiley re-armed a Japanese company and led them against the Communists of the fledgling Vietminh (who later became the Vietcong) in French Indo-China. Among other exploits, he freed 120 French women and children who had been taken hostage by the Communists. The only British officer in an area the size of Wales, he then took the surrender of Vientiane, Laos's capital, from another Japanese general. For his activities in Siam and Indo-China Smiley was awarded a military OBE.
He later ruefully noted that, at that time, the Vietminh were backed by the American OSS (the CIA's forerunner); Smiley was wary of what he considered to be America's naïve enthusiasm for proclaimed democrats and its hostility to the British and French empires.

Colonel David Smiley

Special forces and intelligence officer renowned for cloak-and-dagger operations behind enemy lines on many fronts.

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