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A new book outlines the history of a group of spies posted to Hong Kong during the Cold War
A group of Cold War spies, one of whom was educated at Wanstead High School, have revealed their wartime experiences.
Old Heronian Terry Joyes, 76, who now lives in Gillingham, Dorset, was sent to Hong Kong in 1957 to spy on the Chinese and as CIA documents become declassified a fellow member of “No.2 Course” has written a book telling the group’s stories.
One of 300 national servicemen taught to speak Mandarin by the RAF, Mr Joyes, who lived in Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green, while attending the school on a scholarship, was posted to the top of a Hong Kong mountain to intercept Chinese military communications.
Working in shifts around the clock he and his fellow spies listened in on Chinese and Russian pilots and Taiwanese aircraft on pamphlet-dropping missions.
“In my first few weeks at the RAF they asked if anyone had got a distinction in French, and I put my hand up,” Mr Joyes said.
“I thought ‘Oh dear, what I am volunteering for?’ and thought I’d be washing French windows somewhere.”
But he and 24 others on No. 2 Course undertook a year-long, intensive Mandarin course and were then sent to Hong Kong for a six month deployment.
Detailing the trials and tribulations of training, learning Mandarin and service life in Hong Kong, the book, Chinese Whispers – Listening to China, tells the stories of members of one of just 14 such courses run by the RAF at the time.
Mr Joyes said the book would appeal to former national servicemen, particularly those who served in Hong Kong, as well as anyone interested in signals intelligence and Anglo-Sino relations.
Author and fellow spy Jim Wilson, 76, who now lives in Australia, said the group parted ways in 1957 and never got together again, but after his wife found Mr Joyes online they conceived the idea of a reunion, and from there the book idea was born.
Contact Lance Slater on firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
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