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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRIXMIS, December 28, 2004
This review is from: Brixmis: The Untold Exploits of Britain's Most Daring Cold War Spy Mission (Paperback)
All in all, it is an excellent account of BRIXMIS history. Some of its strongest points are: 1) coverage of the period between WWII and the establishment of BRIXMIS in 1946; 2) the collation of BRIXMIS activities with major world events--Stalin's death, Berlin Airlift, Berlin riots in 52-53, Hungarian invasion, CSSR invasion, Perestroika; and 3) the melding of many "stories behind the events at BRIXMIS" with accounts from the official unit histories.
Geraghty makes, however, some errors in facts. Among them are:
1) He refers to an "Andrei" Sokolovsky as Commander in chief of Group, Soviet Forces, Germany. It should be Vasilii Danilovich Sokolovsky.
2) He places the U.S.A.F. T-39 shootdown " three months later than the 10 March 1964 RB66 shootdown. The T-39 shootdown took place on 28 Jan 64
3) He keeps referring to the 24th Air Army. It was the 16th Tactical Air Army.
4). He writes that "the missions came into being in 1946." The American and French Missions were established in 1947.
Geraghty's rendering of Russian is very bad.
1) He writes "some of them greeted us as ("usniki"), our allies." It should be "soyuzniki."
2) Throughout the book misspells "kommandatura" as "kommandantura." The Russian word is "komendatura." Even those English writers who use 'kommandatura' instead of the exact Russian term do not spell it with the added 'n'.
3) The following paragraph is beyond my comprehension. I've tried to say the phrases with a British accent quickly, but they defy definition.
"Brixmis officers' wives, who had not attended the Russian language course, were prepared to greet the guests with pidgin-Russian greetings. These easily memorized phrases were put into their mouths at a special training session and included 'Does-yer-arse-fit-yer? (said quickly, translating as 'How do you do?), or 'Manchester-Rovers' ('Your good health') and 'Dusty-dancer' ('Goodbye'). This is nonsense to a Russian speaker.
Despite these imperfections, I highly recommend this book as a valuable source of the little known intelligence collection activities performed by the British, American and French Military Liaison Missions behind "enemy" lines in East Germany from 1946-1990.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 28, 2010 1:27:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 28, 2010 5:58:17 PM PDT
Jim Holbrook was one of the first to memorialise his time as a missionary, and I am currently working on his admonition to have one of the Air Tour Officers do the same. LTC Holbrook and I actually go back a ways: when I was a candidate for servce on the Moscow Hotline, he interviewed me over lunch on my Russian skills. With all due respect to LTC Holbrook, who was one of our role models, I think the comment about the 16th TAA was a bit off the mark. The 16th Vozdushnaya Armiya (Gv) was redesignated 24th TAA in 1946, and retained that designation until 1968, at which time it was reflagged back to the 16th. This was a well-known fact in the SIGINT world, and frequently mistakes were made by both the US and the Soviet side on this point. As far as the writer's efforts to be cute with English phrases spoken with a British accent, even I, who am not "the premier Russian linguist in the Army," but only one of the premier Russian linguists in the Air Force, can get 'do svidaniya' out of 'dusty dancer' and and something 'zdorovya' out of 'Manchester Rovers.' I, too, was baffled by the first one, but my charming soul mate, who is truly a 'premier linguist', was very quick to point out that 'stravtsvujte' does in fact sound like "does your arse fit you' when mumbled. If any criticism is to be warranted, and I had numerous Russian officers comment on this one, it was the general British unwillingness to use any Russian at all, a tendency exceeded only by out French colleagues. All-in-all, every book on the topic of the Allied Missions is a welcome one. These gents are the last of the Cold Warriors.

Werner Saemmler-Hindrichs, Major USAF retired
6912th SS Berlin 1970-1975
7113th SAS Duesseldorf, Wiesbaden, JROC Berlin 1976-1980
HUMINT Collections Directorate HQ USAFE 1981-1982
Presidential Translator 1982 - 1984
USMLM Air Team 1984-1987
17th Air Force Executive Officer 1987-1988
17th Air Force Chief of Intelligence 1988
Commandant, Threat Training Facility Einsiedlerhof 1989
CF Inspector 1989
OSIA Inspector 1988-1990
Chief of War Plans, Air Force Intelligence Service 1990-1992
Task Force Russia 1992-1993
Chemical Weapons Treaty Compliance Inspector 1993-1994.

Back to you, Jim!
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