Saturday, August 13, 2016


During a search and  discovery  tour  of  op  shops in the  North Queensland  town of  Ingham  a  recently written   book   on  the  American  journalist and  author  Ernest Hemingway  was   bought and  subjected  to  a  rapid  read .
By Peter Simon  
In the l950s , when I was a  copyboy and later a cadet  reporter on The Sun newspaper , Sydney ,  Hemingway  and   his  terse  writing style  was  popular among journalists .  One  worldly  reporter , older than I ,with a  dazzling blonde   girlfriend ,  had  been  to Spain , where  Hemingway  served as a war correspondent, and  even  had  one  or  two  bullfighting posters , the ultimate link   with   Ernest  who wrote about the  topic ,  receiving both the Pulitzer Prize  and   Nobel Prize   for  literature in  the  1950s.

Another reporter I knew , who lived in  a sparsely furnished flat , used the mantelpiece  as   an extension of  his   bookshelves  on  which  were  a  collection of   paperbacks ,  some Hemingways .

Early advice I was  given as  a cadet reporter  was  to keep everything tight ; every story, I was informed , could  be  told  in  the  first  three paragraphs , this to meet the demands  of tabloid  journalism . The  guts  of  a  story also  helped  sub editors prepare a last minute  breaking  event   inserted   in  a small space, or in  the  STOP PRESS .

On reading INFLUENCING HEMINGWAY People and Places That Shaped His Life and Work , by Nancy W. Sindelar , published by Rowland and Littlefield, USA and UK, 2014, I was surprised to learn that  when he was at high school writing for  the  school magazine,Trapeze,  the  journalism teacher, Fannie Biggs, ran the classroom like a rotating newspaper office and taught students   that  the  there were  three   criteria  in  writing  good articles... the first , tell the whole story  in  the  first  paragraph .

The  instruction  to  young  Hemingway  was  reinforced when Hemingway went to  the  Kansas City Star  as a  cub reporter  where the house style manual  emphasised  short  sentences , short paragraphs and  vigorous  English.The author quotes Hemingway as saying  his seven months  on the Kansas  newspaper with its house style  rules  were  the  best advice  he ever  received  for  writing .

Over the years, I have  collected Hemingway books, newspaper clippings,  watched documentaries  about  him   and  viewed the   movies based  on  his stories . A most unusual link with  Hemingway  turned  up  in my disorderly  collection  of odds and ends,  research resulting  in  the  following condensed  article .

During WW II , journalist Hugh Milner , left , was interviewed by Security in Australia after he wrote to Ernest Hemingway, seen here on dust jacket of  the famous   writer’s  biography, by Denis Brian, Grove Press, New York, 1988.
From an uncertain source , an old postcard tucked away in a cigar box   has revealed an intriguing story involvingKiwi spies”, an outstanding orator , Ernest Hemingway ,“ the Fairy Godmother of Malaya mining deals and Australian journalists   in   Asia  before World War ll.
While recently trying to put some order into my ephemera files , assembled over decades , I  pulled out  the cigar box and studied the mixed contents with the aid of a magnifying glass . A worn  real photo postcard [above]  showing a contemplative man with a pipe ,   attracted my attention. I vaguely recall having acquired it at a swap meeting in Adelaide or perhaps  from a Brisbane antique shop which had turned up some treasures over the years , including an early 20th century booklet about Portuguese Timor- issued by Sydney investors - who said Timor workers were paid a pittance , so  low , if  paid to Sydney paperboys there would  be a protest.  That unusual  publication went to the late  Darwin  historian   and author Peter Spillett who wrote about Timor .
There was a penned inscription on  the front of  the postcard ... To a grand wanderer , from Hugh Milner , Singapore. Dec. 1938. On the back were two discernible pencilled in names and addresses : A. H. Huntley, c/- J.B. David , Singapore   and Mr  Len Law , Carlton Hotel , Timor . Almost illegible were the names Nicol Thompson and H. Young, YMCA. Hugh Milner , the person in the postcard , it was discovered , had been a journalist in pre–war Singapore , mentioned in WATCHING THE SUN RISE : Australian Reporting of Japan , 1931 to the fall of Singapore , by Jacqui Murray .

 During WW11 , a letter Milner  wrote from  Rabaul, New Guinea, to Ernest Hemingway, describing American military activity in the Philippines and Australians fighting   in New Guinea , was   intercepted under wartime censorship and security . Hemingway covered the Sino-Japanese war from Hong Kong in 1941 and in 1942 left his Cuban villa to cover the war for Collier’s. As a result of the letter , Milner was questioned   in Sydney and Security reported that he was no risk, loyal, there being no further need to check him out.

On the other hand , Milner’s brother , Ian, became the subject of close attention by   a considerable number of security organisations and the subject of a paper about the so-called Kiwi Spies , by Dr Aaron Fox , entitled : The Pedigree of Truth : Western Intelligence Agencies versus Ian Frank George Milner and William Ball Sutch . It contains the following excerpt:
One of the  many intriguing Cold War mysteries centres on the enigmatic figure of Ian Frank George Milner. Was Milner, a New Zealand Rhodes Scholar, Australian Government and United Nations diplomat, and an academic based first in Australia and then in Czechoslovakia, falsely accused of being involved in espionage with the Soviet Union as part of the anti-communist hysteria which gripped Western democracy in the 1950s? Or did he indeed pass secrets to the Soviets while in Australia in the 1940s, before defecting with his wife to Czechoslovakia in 1950? Mirroring as it does certain aspects of the Alger Hiss perjury trials in America, the defection of the British diplomat Donald Maclean, and the treachery and defection of the British Security Intelligence Service (SIS, otherwise known as MI6) officer H. A. R. ‘Kim’ Philby, the Milner case is a classic example of Cold War intrigue. 
Milner’s guilt or innocence has long been debated in Australia. Robert Manne in The Petrov Affair, Richard Hall, in his provocatively-titled biography of Milner, The Rhodes Scholar Spy, and Desmond Ball and David Horner in Breaking the Codes: Australia’s KGB Network 1944-1950, have all concluded that he did indeed pass top-secret documents to the Soviet Intelligence Service. Milner’s reputation has been vigorously defended by left-wing Australian historians Frank Cain and Gregory Pemberton, both of whom emphasise the absence of any conclusive proof of his guilt. David McKnight, in his award-winning study of ASIO, Australia’s Spies and Their Secrets, preferred to leave the final verdict on the Milner case to the assessment of Soviet and British intelligence service archives by ‘independent historians’.

 Dramatic Darwin Airport  Petrov scene
Dr   Fox’s highly detailed  volume  contains further information about Milner ...  In 1954, following the defection of Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov, senior  intelligence service officers with  the Soviet Embassy in Canberra, the  Australian Royal Commission on   Espionage was established. On the evidence of the Petrovs’ testimony, and the Venona decrypts, the commission concluded that Milner’s access to classified documents while in Canberra ‘gave rise to grave suspicions as to the use he made of them’. This allegation, even ‘making all allowances for the impact of the “cold war” and suspicions as to my residence and University job “behind the Iron Curtain”’, came as  a severe shock to Milner. In a ‘Personal Statement’, which he signed in Prague on 1 March 1956, he denied, to the best of his recollection, ever having met ‘Klod’[ said to have been a Soviet Australian spymaster , identified as Kiwi born member of the CPA, Walter Seddon Clayton ; it was alleged Ian Milner , known as BUR, was a member of the Klod Ring ] , or having divulged ‘confidential official information to any unauthorised person’. He did not waver from this stance right up to his death in 1991.
Dr “ Bill” Such , teacher, economist, writer, diplomat, highly influential public servant and social policy analyst , an associate of Milner’s , was charged in New Zealand under the Official Secrets Act 1951 with obtaining information which would be helpful to the enemy, following a series of meetings with an official of the Soviet Embassy in Wellington. It was a sensational trial which  resulted in him being acquitted . 
Hemingway  was mentioned  recently on Magnetic Island  when talking to Dr Clive Stead   who  had  been   to  Cuba  and  visited    the writer's residence  from whence  he  made  many  fishing trips, resulting in the Old  Man and the Sea ,for which he received the Pulitzer Prize