Monday, February 17, 2020

Sir Archibald Kerr

The following item was reposted in 2017 but is worth another airing for a couple of reasons:
- Kate and I had another laugh over it on the weekend.
- I love Sir Archibald Kerr's use of language in his letter.
- I am pressed for time on this occasion and a reByte is better than no Byte.

Caution: risqué content

My father in law, Noel, drew my attention to a wartime letter by Sir Archibald Clark Kerr (1882-1951). Sir Archibald was an Australian who served as a British diplomat, being Ambassador to China 1938 to 1942, Ambassador to the Soviet Union between 1942 and 1946 and to the US between 1946 and 1948. 

Tehran Conference, 1943.
The Tehran Conference (codenamed Eureka) was a strategy meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill from 28 November to 1 December 1943, after the Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran. It was held in the Soviet Union's embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first of the World War II conferences of the "Big Three" Allied leaders (the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom).
Seated from left: Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill.
Standing from left: Harry Hopkins, Vyacheslav M. Molotov, W. Averell Harriman, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, and Anthony Eden.

Despite his many years of loyal service to Britain, his friendships with Stalin during WW2 and the Kaiser’s sister before WW1, and the fact that he was a disappointed suitor of the Queen Mother, he is today also remembered for a letter he wrote to Lord Pembroke in 1943 whilst he was Ambassador to Moscow: 

A transcript of that letter is as follows:


Lord Pembroke
The Foreign Office

6th April 1943 

My Dear Reggie, 

In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow, and I do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt. 

We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that. 


Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr,
H.M. Ambassador.

Superb. One luxuriates in the beauty of the language, simple, informal, yet elegant.

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