Saturday, March 18, 2023

Archie Kerr's famous note to Reggie Herbert (reprise)

Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr, British Ambassasor to Russia during WWII

The following note was written during the Second World War by the British Ambassador to Moscow, Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr, to Lord Pembroke of the Foreign Office. It was released under the Freedom of Information Act on 25 February 2000.

This is a truly excellent example of the masterful use of proper syntax in letter writing, and explains how Britain was able to colonize half the world and extend her cultural, economic and political influence across the centuries without having to miss more than an occasional tea break. This is also another damn good reason why every civilized nation must replace its Official Secrets Act with a Freedom of Information Act...



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

[First posted 14 July 2009. Kindly brought to my attention by Pat Goh... and for sure, Archie, I know exactly how you feel! Reposted 7 March 2016]