Book ReviewsHistoryTurkey

An Irishman’s WWI East Med Memoir: Hard Lying (Eland, 2023)

In 1925, an Anglo-Irish former desert surveyor under British Egyptian colonial rule and then maritime intelligence officer in the Eastern Mediterranean, Capt. Lewen Weldon, released a memoir entitled Hard Lying. The term refers to a special compensation that officers working in the often dangerous small craft of intelligence and insurgency were awarded.

In May 2023, Britain’s Eland Publishing finally reprinted Weldon’s remarkable book, with a new Biographical Afterword by Barnaby Rogerson, the editor. My Substack review of this masterpiece of naval memoir is alive at this link on my TLS newsletter,

Weldon comes off as an affable, self-deprecating and amusing fellow with a lot of courage. He tells stories based on his diaries of serving small ships, ranging from the Gallipoli campaign all the way down to the Persian Gulf in support of Britain’s erratic Arab allies against the Ottoman,s

But most of the book consists of Weldon’s tours of duty on two ships from which he saw off French seaplanes for recon missions behind enemy lines, while e personally escprting secret agents to Levantine beaches, with the goal of gaining intelligence on Turkish troop movements,

This wonderful book (which could be a film) is of great historic importance to the study of tactics and strategies in the evolving context of maritime intelligence and warfare, at the dawn of the age of both the submarine and airplane. In many ways, the tactics undertaken here had a decisive impact on not only British strategy in WWII, but the evolution of state security visions in Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Greece. It is that most unusual of books- one that will both satisfy the armchair historian while providing great insight for specialists.