Beyond the Front Line

Author: Tony Geraghty

Published by: HarperCollins

Year: 1996

This book was commissioned by the Brixmis Association. It utilises considerable archive material and many primary sources – interviews with former Mission members – to construct a very useful chronology of Mission life as well as a ‘picture’ of Mission effectiveness.


One thought on “Beyond the Front Line

  1. Review extracted from by James R. Holbrook, USMLM 76-77:

    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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