Mystery of a 'Disgraced' war Correspondent

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by von Poop, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Evenin' all,
    I'm posting this on behalf of a member, Don North, who's had a bit of bother adding it himself ~A
    WWII Talk
    September 4/11

    Attached is an article published in the current edition of the OSS Journal.
    It is a brief synopsis of a book I have just completed "Inappropriate Conduct".
    I was particularly pleased to see that the WWII Talk forum posted and discussed my recent article on Consortiumnews.com "69 Years after Dieppe Truth is still a casualty" The mostly intelligent comments
    were obviously from members with impressive scholarship on WWII issues.

    I would appreciate it if my attached article could be put up on the forum and comment invited from members particularly Jedburgh who I understand is an expert on SOE.

    Although I have researched this story in Italy, Kew, and Canadian Archives I believe there are documents missing that could explain the curious circumstances surrounding the cavalier treatment of a war correspondent who completed a difficult and dangerous mission behind enemy lines in northern Italy with the Italian partisans and the SOE. I am hopeful there are still surviving veterans of the Canadian Army who served in Italy in 1942 and staff of the Toronto Star who know the true story behind the disgrace and destruction of journalist Paul Morton and are willing to discuss it for inclusion in my book.


    Sincerely;
    Don North
    Fairfax, VA.




    Article:
    View attachment Mystery Of A “Disgraced” War Correspondent.pdf
     
  2. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Don

    I live in Toronto and am happy to say that I have not read that rag (Toronto Star ) in 30 years. From the most prominent newspaper of its time during ww2( your facts, not mine ), the slide to a mediocre left leaning shadow of its former self is complete.

    May I suggest that you write to Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun. He is a Korean War Veteran... I believe the regiment was either RCR or PPCLI. Both regiments served with distinction during the Italian Campaign.

    Other people that could be of assistance is Jack Granatstein, one of Canada's leading military historians and Christie Blatchford of the National Post, who is the daughter of a ww2 veteran. She has written extensively on Canada's military both past and present.
    Good luck with your project.
     
  3. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Don, a very interesting article.

    I suspect their is a lot more to the story about why Morton was dropped by SOE and his sacking from the Toronto Sun. And it is very likely that it would be something to do with Morton's own behaviour. e.g. Following his mission, it was decided not to publish his articles due to the change of policy re: Italian partisans. Perhaps Morton got rather annoyed about it and threatened some form of retribution if the articles were not published? Or maybe it was as simple as Morton being indiscrete? Either would certainly invoke SOE's wrath and vengeance. SOE did drop people at the drop of a hat but usually there was a good reason for it.

    There is also another issue regarding SOE's involvement in what was referred to as "secret journalism". There were very many journalists working for SOE during the war and they had a very close relationship to various newspapers and press agencies around the world. In fact, SOE set up several news agencies of its own, the most famous being Britanova and another called United Correspondents. They even created at least one newspaper. So the relationship between journalists and newspapers with SOE was a very complicated one.

    Do you know the code name assigned to Morton's mission in Italy?

    A couple of minor corrections re your article. There was no such thing as the "Ministry of War". We had the "War Office" which later became the "Ministry of Defence".

    Also PWB/AFHQ was the "Psychological Warfare Branch" not "Bureau". Although I believe that name was once used very, very briefly.

    Regards,

    Lee
     
  4. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Don, have you seen Michael Lees SOE personal file at the National Archives?

    - HS 9/906/6, Michael LEES - born 17.05.1921 1939-1946

    Lee
     
  5. Don North

    Don North Junior Member

    Don, a very interesting article.

    I suspect their is a lot more to the story about why Morton was dropped by SOE and his sacking from the Toronto Sun. And it is very likely that it would be something to do with Morton's own behaviour. e.g. Following his mission, it was decided not to publish his articles due to the change of policy re: Italian partisans. Perhaps Morton got rather annoyed about it and threatened some form of retribution if the articles were not published? Or maybe it was as simple as Morton being indiscrete? Either would certainly invoke SOE's wrath and vengeance. SOE did drop people at the drop of a hat but usually there was a good reason for it.

    There is also another issue regarding SOE's involvement in what was referred to as "secret journalism". There were very many journalists working for SOE during the war and they had a very close relationship to various newspapers and press agencies around the world. In fact, SOE set up several news agencies of its own, the most famous being Britanova and another called United Correspondents. They even created at least one newspaper. So the relationship between journalists and newspapers with SOE was a very complicated one.

    Do you know the code name assigned to Morton's mission in Italy?

    A couple of minor corrections re your article. There was no such thing as the "Ministry of War". We had the "War Office" which later became the "Ministry of Defence".

    Also PWB/AFHQ was the "Psychological Warfare Branch" not "Bureau". Although I believe that name was once used very, very briefly.

    Regards,

    Lee
    Lee:

    Many thanks for your observations on my article. I too suspect there is more to the story although I seem to have exhausted my research sources. Interviewed veteran partisans in Italy who knew Morton. Found Morton, Lee, Major Temple files in National Archives. Also Morton file in Canadian Archives including Army/Star correspondence on his mission. And have been given Morton memoirs by his family.

    Have found references in Army correspondence to full disciplinary proceedings against Morton but have never located the document. Suspect it was expunged.

    Code name for Major Temples mission to the partisans that Morton joined was Opperation Flap.

    I suspect SOE was behind Morton being "disacredited" by Canadian Army on the
    pretect of his drunken behaviour the night before his mission began. Morton only
    correspondent WWII fired...for being drunk? Not likely. They waited until they knew
    he had survived the mission. His articles were passed through censors. One article only was published in Star. Morton seems to have achieved his mission with distinction even leading POW's to safety on his escape to France. Lee in his after action report in the archives and in his two memoirs... although he did not get along well with Morton did not write a bad report on him. There would not seem to be any
    "good reason" for SOE to drop Morton. Certainly discrediting him did not shut him up as he went home and went on a lecture tour.

    it would appear Morton did exactly what SOE wanted him to do and wrote a series
    accordingly, but based on faulty intelligence Alexanders HQ changed the attitude toward the partisans and instead of working with Morton on this sea-change decided
    to destroy him. Perhaps not the first time SOE chose draconian measures rather than doing the fair and honest thing.

    Appreciate your pointing out minor corrections. A books credibility built on such
    details.

    Even though there is still a "mystery" to the Morton case I think my manuscript at
    over 250 pages is a compelling story and my search goes on for a publisher or I am
    considering self publishing.

    Would be pleased to e-mail you draft if you have time to look it over.

    Regards

    Don North
     
    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Don,

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    I hope that you find out all the facts and that your book is a success.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  7. Don North

    Don North Junior Member

    17th Dyrch:

    Thanks for your comments on my article. I have tried in vain to reach Jack Granetstein but will renew my efforts. Worthington and Blatchford also a good idea.
    The Star acts as if they never knew Paul Morton although his articles are all posted on the internet site Star pages of history.

    Thanks

    regards

    Don North
     
  8. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Don,
    You are welcome. Peter Worthington is a journalist by trade and a Korean War Veteran.

    Would you mind posting your article about Dieppe?
     
  9. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    One comment regarding SOE it also had domestic enemies in the form of MI6 and some parts of the military and air force establishments, indeed in the period in question SOE was fighting for post-war survival therefore do not rule out behind the scenes smears by other interested parties
     
  10. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Don presumably you've seen these two SOE files at the National Archives as well?

    HS 6/860, FLAP/FIN 1945
    HS 6/861, FLAP 1944-1945; 1968

    The 1968 date is interesting, was this when Morton was asking for recognition of his SOE service?
     
  11. Don North

    Don North Junior Member

    Don presumably you've seen these two SOE files at the National Archives as well?

    HS 6/860, FLAP/FIN 1945
    HS 6/861, FLAP 1944-1945; 1968

    The 1968 date is interesting, was this when Morton was asking for recognition of his SOE service?
    Psywar.org

    Two years ago I searched Mission Flap files but found little on Morton.

    The 1968 entry is puzzling. His query re his mission to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for War...James Ramsden was in March 1962.
     
  12. Don North

    Don North Junior Member

    Don,
    You are welcome. Peter Worthington is a journalist by trade and a Korean War Veteran.

    Would you mind posting your article about Dieppe?
    17thDYRCH:

    My article on Dieppe was posted here August 21st and got a good round of comment. I presume it could still be found if you know how to navagate the site.
    Otherwise please go to Militaryreportersandeditors.com for this article.
    As a fellow Canadian I will be keen to hear your reaction.

    Regards

    Don North
     
  13. Don North

    Don North Junior Member

    One comment regarding SOE it also had domestic enemies in the form of MI6 and some parts of the military and air force establishments, indeed in the period in question SOE was fighting for post-war survival therefore do not rule out behind the scenes smears by other interested parties
    Jedburgh22:

    Morton was acredited as a correspondent to the Canadian Army in Italy when he
    accepted, at the Canadian Army urging to volunteer for the mission with SOE behind the lines. SOE had planned to publish Morton's series with the Partisan but
    this did not happen. As you suggest SOE had plenty of enemies around that time but my research shows SOE was not pleased with Alexanders orders to play down
    the partisans. So I doubt SOE would have sabotaged publication of Morton's story.
    In fact Morton wrote glowing reports of SOE work with the partisans.

    There is a query I found in Morton's file in Kew from some un-named SOE agent in
    New York about May 1945 asking SOE HQ if Morton had indeed been on SOE assignment and if so he was being "indiscreet" in some unspecified comments.

    Other than that I have not come across any valid criticism from any source toward
    Morton and his mission with the SOE.

    Regards

    Don North
     
  14. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    From reading your article again Don, is another angle the possibly that Morton's undoing was down to Canadian Army public relations, rather than SOE? It was they who removed his accreditation and could have been equally guilty of souring his relationship with Hindmarsh at the Star.

    There was a long running feud and power struggle between SOE, the Political Warfare Executive and the Ministry of Information over the responsibilities regarding propaganda and news management. It never ceases to amaze me about the petty machinations and power play that went on in officialdom during the war. It's conceivable that Army Public Relations were less than happy with SOE organising these publicity missions and perhaps were suspicious of Morton being one of SOE's tame journalists?

    SOE would not be in a position to publically defend Morton at the time or indeed later. As you say SOE were always positive about his work and wanted the articles published.

    It's a fascinating story that's for sure and hope you find a publisher for it.

    Lee
     
  15. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    I'd concur with Lee's analysis - a lot of 'back-channel' back-biting went on - with Chinese whispers and paper daggers, in some cases a written word can be more deadly than a bullet and a word in the 'right ear' back in Canada probably did the deed on Paul Morton.
     
  16. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    17th Dyrch:

    Thanks for your comments on my article. I have tried in vain to reach Jack Granetstein but will renew my efforts. Worthington and Blatchford also a good idea.
    The Star acts as if they never knew Paul Morton although his articles are all posted on the internet site Star pages of history.

    Thanks

    regards

    Don North

    Don, there is an association called the Canadian War Correspondent Association, but I am damned if I can find the website.

    For Granatstein, try Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute.

    Good luck with your project.
     
  17. Don North

    Don North Junior Member

    Don,
    You are welcome. Peter Worthington is a journalist by trade and a Korean War Veteran.

    Would you mind posting your article about Dieppe?
    17thDYRCH:

    My article on Dieppe "After 69 years truth is still a casualty" was posted on this site

    by Jedburgh22 on 21 August and was discussed. If you are unable to find it try

    Militaryreportersandeditors.com where the article and photos are posted.

    Be very keen to know your reaction as a fellow Canadian.

    Regards

    Don North
     
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

  19. Don North

    Don North Junior Member

    Psy War.org & Jedburgh22:

    We all seem to be on the same page with this analysis. From my research it would point to the Canadian Army pulling the plug on Morton and his partisan stories by staging a "parade" to discredit him for the bar incident two months earlier. They were probably encouraged to do so by General Alexanders headquarters who had just ordered all stories on the partisans to halt and were about to cut support of the partisans through the coming winter. Moves that SOE did not approve of.
    Instead of the Toronto Star editor Hindmarsh supporting their reporter they fired him without giving a reason. No doubt a word from the Liberal government or Prime Ministers office was all that was required to make the Star, a Liberal mouthpiece
    dismiss and slander Morton. It seems Morton was cought in the middle of this power struggle between Alexander and the SOE and it destroyed him. It is also ironic that Captain Michael Lees, who was Morton's escort was also destroyed by his
    SOE commanders following Lees part in Operation Tombola which is documented in
    my book.

    As Jedburgh points out "Chinese whispers and a word in the right ear" did the deed
    on Morton with no paper trail left behind in the archives. But like so many "cover ups" there are probably still some letters or documents somewhere that would reveal the truth if only they could be found or confessed by elderly Army or Toronto Star veterans who are about to take the real story with them to the grave. It would be satisfying to have the truth out about Morton. It would please the remaining Morton family and be a cautionary tale for journalists dealing with the military. I appreciate your input.

    Regards

    Don North
     
  20. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    17thDYRCH:

    My article on Dieppe "After 69 years truth is still a casualty" was posted on this site

    by Jedburgh22 on 21 August and was discussed. If you are unable to find it try

    Militaryreportersandeditors.com where the article and photos are posted.

    Be very keen to know your reaction as a fellow Canadian.

    Regards

    Don North

    Hi Don

    I did see the excellent article on Dieppe.
    Other Canadians within the forum share the same point of view. The debacle called Operation Jubilee should never have taken place. We point the finger at Lord LOOie Mountbatten for the planning and the coverup. His line that for every soldier killed at Dieppe, ten were saved on July 6, 1944 is total horse excrement.
     

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