In the latest issue of the London Review of Books, the essayist Stefan Collini reviews a new book by Jeremy Lewis, Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family (Cape, £25). It’s mostly about the novelist Graham Greene and his numerous brothers, sisters and cousins.
There’s masses of detail, including this, in passing, about West Dorset.
“When one of the Greenes (Hugh) was involved in interviewing captured Luftwaffe pilots during the war, we are told: ‘His life was made easier by the fact that Luftwaffe crews often carried diaries and letters in their pockets, and he made use of his fluent German and his knowledge of their country: a dead Luftwaffe officer on Chesil Beach was found to be wearing pink silk women’s underclothes and carrying lipstick and a powder puff.’
It’s a good thing, notes Collini drily, that “Hugh was on hand to bring his knowledge of the country to bear.”
Has this episode ever been reported before? I suspect probably not, because it’s the kind of story that sticks in the mind and gets repeated (as now).
Mull it over and it raises many questions.
I wonder where the officer’s grave is?