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'Y' Oh 'Y'

291 pages4 hours


A sometimes lighthearted, sometimes serious overview of one man’s twenty years of spying for GCHQ, as a member of the then highly secret ‘Y’ Service, beginning with his cloak and dagger recruitment after training as a telegraphist.
The first posting is Cheadle, in Staffordshire, where the Polish Air Force is the target, where lightning literally does strike, a dead body is found, and where a pop song results in a ludicrous charge of ‘Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline’.
From there, the action moves to Uetersen, near Hamburg, a station whose vulnerability so close to the East German border causes it to be moved to a safer location - Hambühren, near Celle, where the job changes to Codes and Ciphers, handling end-product Top Secret Codeword material, using the English equivalent of the German Enigma machine. A very old motor car with the strangest working brakes in the world is purchased, and a risqué liaison with a dangerous and exciting woman has comical and fascinating results, including a ‘Night at the Opera’ and a sporting brush with German nobility.
A spell back in England, at RAF Digby, intercepting Russian Air Force nets, and leading a decidedly sporting life is followed by a posting that is as unique as it is unexpected for an RAF spec-op, teamed up with two other corporals to be stationed at RAF Gatow, in Berlin, for the express purposes of intercepting the unusual ‘burst’ transmissions of Russian and East German secret agents working in the West; the conversion of those bursts into readable signals, and the attempts to locate the agents and arrest them, using triangulation from three direction-finding outstations. Berlin provides wonderful opportunities for sport and hobbies outside of working hours, and the chance to indulge in a nefarious activity, which, through an innocent contact with a Communist spy, so very nearly leads to disaster.
A spell as Chief Examiner for Trade Group 11A at North Luffenham, where another close encounter with the Grim Reaper occurs, is followed by a final tour back in Berlin, working on ELINT, and ending with the author’s exciting entry into the even murkier, but highly exciting world of HUMINT.
A bouncing bomb, which explodes in every chapter with an eclectic mix of raw humour, riveting action, personal betrayal, high success, and pathos.

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