Gareth Jones

[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]

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Reviews

Gareth Jones: A Manchukuo Incident

 

On this page we have reprinted unsolicited and independent reviews of the book, therefore either scroll down the page, otherwise click on any of the names below to go directly to their review.

  1. Roman Revkniv - Ukrainian Archives And News. (2003).

  2. Terry Adams, C.M.G. (2001)

  3. Patricia Moore,  the late, Head Glamorgan Archivist. (2001)

  4. Dean Powell.  Independent Reviewer for The Western Mail, Cardiff. (Oct 2001)

  5. Dr. J. Graham Jones,  Department of Manuscripts and Records, .

  6. John Plant - New Interventions -An Independent Socialist Magazine (Autumn 2004)


  1. Reviewer:        Roman Revkniv, Ukrainian Archives and News 

CLICK HERE TO VISIT ORIGINAL SITE BOOK REVIEW BY ROMAN REVKNIV

 

'Gareth Jones A Manchukuo Incident' is a magnificent book. It reads so easily. In the first half we read Jones' own writings, and in the second we try to solve the mystery of his murder. Author Margaret Colley has made a very positive first effort to piece it all together. So skillfuly, in fact, that when you start reading you simply cannot help but recall certain fictitious scenes from an Indiana Jones adventure movie. You are lured by the seductiveness of the Orient, then empowered with historic facts as presented in TV documentaries. You meet the people that Jones met and as you share this open viewing of his letters, diaries and photographs you grow closer to him. This is indeed a very fine and delicate collection of short accounts written by an intelligent man but equally well supported and sorted in the aftermath by his intelligent, hardworking and dedicated niece - Margaret Siriol Colley.

The 1930s were the prime years of Gareth Jones' travels. He had grown very familiar with the early days of Nazism and Communism in Europe, and had now developed an interest in Mongolia, China and Japan - a nation ruled by an emperor and rapidly running out of resources to fuel the survival of its people. Jones 'the economist' was well aware of the existing third world debts to the Americans - debts that for most countries were extremely difficult (if not impossible) to repay and which would ultimately contribute to the arrival of the Second World War. But Jones 'the journalist' had the knack of travelling to the key political areas of interest just before significant historic events would clearly begin to unfold.

Gareth Jones was independent and paid for his journeying by writing commentaries and accounts that were published in a number of western newspapers. In the Far East, he was soon seen to be a man venturing across unchartered barren lands, but eventually he became more like a pawn on a chessboard loaded with evil players than a man who had always been seen to control his own destiny. There were the warmongers whom he fearlessly and effortlessly interviewed, but there were also the persons with whom he travelled and whom we now look upon as likely spies. Yet for so much of this book the Orient is revealed as a welcoming expanse inextricably woven with Jones' ever-trusting personality. Amid the excitement of meeting and interviewing new persona and dignitaries of the highest social, political and military orders we soon learn of the intents of the Russians, the Chinese and Japanese in 1935. For author Margaret Colley, however, her subsequent and unenviable task was to re-read Jones' letters and diaries minus his naiveté, and to then uncover whatever truth she could find from the filing cabinets of the UK and Germany Foreign Offices - secretly locked for 30 years.

Subsequent to his tour of the Far East, Jones had further intended to travel to America to appear on radio shows and inform the world of Japan's plans to expand it's empire. He also then wanted to write a book on the subject in order to clarify political issues of the Far East that western politicians debated or had failed to comprehend. Therein lay the key to his murder. The Japanese turned out to be the leading suspects in the [unsolved] mystery and hired bandits to do the dirty work in their newly occupied territory of Manchukuo.

From the start of Margaret Colley's presentation we learn that Gareth Jones "came from a welsh Non-Conformist family and from his father he came to believe that all men were good". Tragically, some of those men would kidnap him, demand a ransom and then send him back to his father in a wooden box. He was kidnapped by bandits in what has always looked like a Japanese-German setup, yet the UK Foreign Office would not disclose all known information concerning Jones to David Lloyd George for fear that he would embarrass His Majesty's Government. Foreign policy at the time was one of appeasement, and there would be no sense in upsetting the Japanese over anyone's dead body.

The Orient has always held an exotic appeal - places such as Bangkok, the Philippines, Singapore, Java, Japan, Mongolia... these were the very physical terrains that Jones would walk but which were unfamiliar to westerners in an age before widely available cinema and television. Gareth Jones was undoubtedly a 1930s Michael Palin [BBC TV global traveller], but without a guaranteed ticket to anywhere and his fellow travellers were not persons he had planned to travel with. One was a German called Dr Herbert Müller who was captured and released by the very same kidnappers. The other was a Russian chauffeur with the physical characteristics of a wrestler - Anatoli Petrewschtschew [Petrushchev], who mysteriously fell away from the story and never provided a testimony on Jones' final days. He was a White Russian, but the lack of his testimony leaves us seeing Red.

Part of the mystery of 'A Manchukuo Incident'

Jones took his faith with him. He was always trusting and although he showed respect for the religious, his was never to be a religious pilgrimage or soul-searching journey. He remembered his family, his friends and he wrote to them like you or I would write a postcard home from abroad ... he scribbled his diaries and he scribbled quickly because there was always someone new to meet, something new to learn, see and experience. This book is also full of photos. For Jones it must all have been like a schoolboy adventure come true for a young adult. He was indeed a talented man, but we sense that deep within his untiring enthusiasm he would remain the man that would never really let go of being the schoolboy on adventure. With this in mind, we see that he could easily be setup by the Japanese and the extremely suspicious Dr Müller who invites him on his last ever journey. Of this he finally wrote: "I jumped at the offer. I shall be away about a week. ABSOLUTELY SAFE COUNTRY, NO BANDITS". Japanese war machinery, meanwhile, was moving into Manchuria unseen around Jones on an alternative road. Japanese Intelligence will have known of Stalin's order to never issue Jones another visa to visit the Soviet Union. He knew a great deal, and they certainly would not have tolerated the idea of letting Jones talk to the west about their intentions. The Japanese could now do with him as they pleased, manipulating the invaded Chinese in the process.

Collage, tapestry, biography or book - call it what you will - we love this collection of Jones' writings not just for the coverage of a great and formerly unexplored topic - travel to the Far East in the 1930s - but for the proximity and understanding we gain of Jones the writer. He is minute, he is naive, he is innocent and polite - yet already he stood there on the penultimate rung of the World's journalistic ladder. Like a highly intelligent child his questions were always deeply inquisitive but undoubtedly far too up-front for the politicians and Eastern military powers providing the answers.

Manchukuo (the Japanese for Manchuria) is where Gareth Jones died with a bullet hole through the back of the head plus two in the back, but this book is only the first part of his full biography. More will follow, including his earlier travels to Ukraine. Like a classic film this part of the Jones biography starts at the end. His story, in full, may yet merit the making of a movie, and with just a little more imagination (and the murder investigation concluded) there is nothing but money to stop the life of Gareth Jones becoming a film of epic proportions. Ironically, it was the failure to immediately pay his ransom that saw Jones dead and buried.


 

  1. Reviewer:            Terry Adams, C.M.G.

I must admit I sat down without a break and read the book from cover to cover. It is a compelling story, and the book is to be congratulated on its presentation. It grips the reader from page one. The outcome was tragic, but was perhaps inevitable. Many questions certainly remain unanswered. Gareth Jones was clearly a remarkable young man, as well as an exceptional linguist, but it is a sad reflection that after 6 years as a student in Aberystwyth we were all blissfully ignorant of these dramatic events.

 

What is remarkable about Gareth's story is that with the benefit of historical hindsight how perceptive Gareth was in his political analysis of future events in East Asia. His assessment of the true intentions of Imperial Japan was largely out of line with contemporary thinking, or perhaps more accurately against what western politicians wished to believe would happen rather than political realities.

 

However what is harder to gauge is whether or not Gareth was directly involved with and paid for by British Intelligence during his unusual journey. It was definitely not a mainstream "year off" and involved some serious expense. His political connections and experience in London, his earlier investigative exposure in Russia and the Ukraine (with an equally unusual interest in this I am sure inherited from his remarkable mother), all before the age of 30 all placed him in a rather unique position to work for H.M.G.. His London contacts opened up some remarkably high level doors in East Asia, which would have been exceptional for even a more senior journalist from the British quality press. However the profile that this must have then attracted within the region from his unusual diplomatic contacts with the Japanese across the region suggests a personal naivety and immaturity that does not fit well with more conventional intelligence work. The absence of any confirmation of his role in the official record or from inside family insights tends to reinforce this. To me it all suggests a more casual relationship with British Intelligence which is not at all uncommon especially in the journalistic professions. However this can still carry some pretty serious consequences if matters fail to turn out as expected.

 I spent 8 years in East Asia and with the exception of "Manchukuo" traveled over most of the ground covered by Gareth in the book. In addition I was 20 years in Arabia Iran and the Caucasus. Despite having had the pleasure of being "kidnapped" 3 times in the latter region, one never felt that one's life was under threat. There were 2 serious incidents, one during the Gulf War, and one in Baku when I found myself on an opposition hit list, but both of these were political and not personal.

 However when working in remote locations in East Asia I always felt uneasy and sensed a greater threat to personal security than I ever felt in the Middle East. The people in East Asia are more suspicious, impetuous and volatile. Life there is cheap and held in some contempt. If you became a burden or a problem you would not last too long, and the circumstances surrounding Gareth's death fits such a scenario. He was after all in bandit country without the rule of law, he was under no one's personal protection and could not communicate to form any strong personal relationship with his captors (to be abandoned by his German Chinese speaking fellow traveler was unforgivable), he was young (i.e. had low status for them) and "very foreign", so one could visualise that he was killed as he became a problem and was expendable. They were short of food,  were traveling long distances across difficult terrain where speed was essential, and were anticipating a military rescue which put them all in danger. It was an area remote from outside communications and in a state of military and political flux. Gareth was in the wrong place at the wrong time with no interpersonal resources to fall back on. But who knows what the truth was?

 One still meets the "Gareth Jones's" of this world in the most unlikely places. Two spring to mind immediately. Carlotta Gall (Sandy Gall's daughter) age +/- 32, and Tom de Waal +/- 30 (a truly Gareth look-alike) were 2 young British reporters I met in 1996 when I was trying to arrange a pipeline through Chechnya when the first Chechen War broke out. They sat out much of this in Grozny and the surrounding mountains and they still traveled into the area despite the serious risks involved. They wrote a book in 1997 on it together published by Pan entitled: "Chechnya: a Small Victorious War". I tried to go there in 1998 to meet up with President Aslan Mashkadov on a mission to rehab their oilfields. He is a really charismatic and genuinely good man, but the FCO threatened to take away my passport and we (Caroline included) didn't in the end go. Tom is now back in London after spending time in Karabakh, another frozen conflict zone in the Caucasus. Carlotta was sent to Kosovo to "recuperate"!! Both are close to the FCO.

 Finally,  I know there is one short documentary on Gareth, but his story really deserves a more comprehensive effort for a wider audience. It has all the ingredients for an exciting modern travelogue that could be rerun today but with Gareth's pre-war political analysis interspersed from contemporary and WW II newsreels with all that this implied for the unreadiness of the powers that be, 5 years after he had reported on the political realities. His enigmatic death would then be as fresh for today's audiences as at the time he died. From what was written in this book would be a fitting tribute to Gareth who clearly would have been a major player on the Welsh political scene had he survived his kidnapping ordeal.


Reviewer:                     Terry Adams

 

Background of Reviewer: 

 

Terry Adams was an Aberystwyth graduate with a PhD on marine protozoans from Borth Bog and the Dovey Estuary. Afterwards he had a 35 year oil industry career with BP and Shell. and served in every continent except South America.  

 

In 1995 he set up a new oil consortium in Baku in 1995 which was the subject of the last James Bond film "The World is Not Enough". But Terry admits that he is: "certainly no Pierres Brosnan!"

 

Terry was awarded the CMG for services to the UK in the Caucasus and was awarded the Medal of Honour by Azerbaijan and by Presidential decree made an honorary citizen of Georgia. 

 

Currently he is Director of the new Caspian Energy Programme at the Department of International Energy Law at Dundee University, and a Senior Associate with CERA the Harvard energy think tank whilst trying to write a book on "Blood Oil and Politics in the 20th Century Caucasus".

 


  1. Reviewer:        The Late Patricia Moore. Former Head Glamorgan Archivist.  

 

I have been reading your book with great interest, and marvel at your knowledge of the political and geographical aspects involved - especially as its is a period (and area) which so little known. You must have undertaken a vast amount of painstaking research and the whole tale reads compulsively onwards to its tragic end - but the overriding impression is of admiration for what Gareth achieved, alas, a pawn in big political game.  How amazing his papers survived.  Congratulation on a wonderful publication.

Reviewer:                  Patricia Moore.

 

Background of Reviewer: 

 

Head Glamorgan Archivist,  

Editor of Archaeologia Cambrensis, 

Chairman Glamorgan History Society.

 


3.    Reviewer:        Dean Powell.  Independent Reviewer for The Western Mail, Cardiff.

 

Email to Margaret from Dean Powell prior to publication of review

 

Dear Margaret Colley

Just to let you know the review will appear as the main lead story of the Western Mail books page on Saturday Oct 6  [2001]. I  have decided to place the email address and telephone number for enquiries. I hope you get a good response.

May I add how much I enjoyed the book. It's fascinating. Gareth Jones is undoubtedly one of the great untold stories of Welsh history. I'm glad to see someone like yourself has shared that story at last. I'm sure he would have been very proud of it.

Thank you for getting in touch

Regards

Dean [Powell] 

 

Below is the review which appeared in The Western Mail on 6th October 2001:

 

Sixty-five years on, new light has been shed on the murder in Mongolia of a former aide to Lloyd George who wrote for ‘The Western Mail’.  Dean Powell takes up the intriguing story  

The reporter who knew too much

 

GARETH Jones devoted his life to investigative journalism. But he was destined to become the man who knew too much. It was a devotion that would lead to the most brutal of deaths in Inner Mongolia at the hands of a gang of Chinese bandits. Two shots were fired to the back of the head, another in his back, marking the tragic end to one of Wales’s most prominent journalists on the eve of his 30th birthday.

 

But 65 years later and the mystery remains whether his execution was more sinister than just a ruthless murder by a band of outlaws demanding a high ransom for his safe return. With the turning of each page of this fascinating and compelling life-story, the political intrigue and espionage is enough to convince you of a much deeper and darker reason for his “removal”.

 

Gareth Jones was no ordinary reporter. As a former Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Lloyd George, he held the key which opened doors to the highest areas of the world powers.

 

From being suspicious of Hitler after spending time with the Fuhrer on board his infamous aeroplane, the Richthofen and even predicting the Cold War, to unearthing the secret policies of Japanese expansion by Emperor Hirohito, Jones was respected, admired and possible feared.

 

As a leading Western Mail journalist he travelled extensively and won favour among world leaders. At the time of his death his family was inundated with tributes from even the likes of American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

 

Jones exposed Stalin’s Five Year Plan, predicated World War II would be instigated by the Polish Corridor controversy, expected Europe was involved in this conflict and that Japan would strike to expand the empire.

 

It was his inside knowledge of the events that would change the course of modern history that possibly led to his downfall by the people who feared the power of his written word.

 

Conspiracy theories are made with the most flippant of remarks. But Gareth Jones’s life has the hallmarks of a great story and, above all, a true one of a man who trod a perilous path in the Orient to be used as a pawn in an international game of political chess.

 

Now the story is available, thanks to the 15-year long research of his niece, Nottingham-based GP Margaret Siriol Colley, a grandmother who has obviously inherited her late uncle’s investigative talents. Along with a library of his old diaries, letters, notes and the unpublished works he hoped to save for a travel book, the truth has come to light.

 

Colley’ s investigation is widely interspersed with Gareth Jones’s thrilling account of his intrepid journey in the Far East and provides the reader with a valuable insight into the opinions of prominent people that he met in the early 1930s.

 

Devoted to his memory, Gareth Jones: A Manchukuo Incident (Colley, £12.50) is published by Dr Colley’s son and, unfortunately, has limited availability in bookshops, but can be purchased via the internet on www.colley.co.uk/garethjones.

 

London-born Colley was evacuated to Canada in 1940 where she commenced her medical education before spending the next 35 years as a GP. Although she had long-since held the memory of her uncle close to her heart, it was a burglary at the family’s Barry home which inspired her search for the truth surrounding his death.

 

His great aunt, Gwyneth Vaughan Jones still lived in Eryl, the house at Porth y Castell, which the family had called home for a century or more. After she decided to sell the property, Colley went about clearing it and unearthed a wealth of information which appears in this fascinating volume.

Below the stairs was a brown-leather suitcase containing all of Jones’s diaries, and under a bed was a black tin box with his letters and documents relating to his death. One letter in particular fuelled the spark which led Colley to the opinion that his death was not an act of local Chinese banditry, but should be seen in the light of the global events of the 1930s.

It was sent by R Barrett of The Critic newspaper in Hong Kong to Jones’s parents, whose father, a former Army major, was the adviser on Welsh programmes to the BBC while his mother was a champion of the suffragette movement in Wales

Barrett wrote, “There is no doubt that Gareth was in deep waters, for the swirl of Far Eastern politics is more ruthless and treacherous than anything conceivable in the West, more a mixture of petty interests of money and ‘face’ with the enormous clash of national interests. They knew what he had discovered in Russia and they knew what he had found out in the East.”

 

Gareth Richard Vaughan Jones was educated at County School for Boys in Barry before graduating from the University of Aberystwyth with a First in French. Followed by further studies in Cambridge, where he obtained a Master of Arts, and again in New York, he became the private secretary for Foreign Affairs to former prime minister David Lloyd George in 1930.

 

He visited Italy in an official capacity to report the measures adopted for the relief of the unemployed in the draining of the Pontine Marshes and studied conditions of living in the USSR with an incredible insight to all that was going on, which appeared frequently in the The Western Mail.

 

But it was clear he wanted to find out what Hirohito was up to by trying to rid Asia of Western influence, extend the Japanese Empire with ruthless suppression and assassination among the tactics used.

 

He left for a round-the-world trip in 1934 to work on a fact finding tour for a forthcoming book. But his position as a prominent journalist and friend to political leaders gave him entree to the presence of famous people.

 

Fearlessly he quizzed them all, by travelling to Japan and interviewing six prominent politicians, including war minister General Hayashi who was later executed as a war criminal.

 

Leaving Tokyo, he visited a number of Far Eastern countries and made exhaustive enquiries into local political opinion because it was his ambition to write a book on the intentions of the Japanese in the far East.

 

He travelled through China and his eventual destination was to be Manchukuo, from where he never returned.

 

The last words he wrote, before he was captured by bandits and held for an £8,000ransom, were, ”There are two roads to Kalgan to where we go back, over one 200 Japanese lorries have travelled. The other is infested by bad bandits.” Yet he never feared the Chinese because, as a foreigner, he never felt in danger of them.

 

Colley is convinced that the Japanese secret police followed Jones throughout his far eastern journey. When he arrived in Dolonor in China with his companion, Dr Herbert Muller they found a mass of Japanese troops who, she believes, put them on the wrong return route with the intention that the bandits, in the pay of the Japanese, would capture the pair. Muller was released two days later.

 

Using the incident as a reason to quell unrest in China, by sending in more troops, diplomatic efforts were intensified and the Japanese demanded the Chinese pay the ransom and secure his freedom.

 

But the plan to save him was foiled when he was murdered. Had it succeeded, the course of Chinese history might have been profoundly changed. At long last, his story is told and without doubt, its conclusions can only lead to the inevitable conclusion that Jones was indeed, the man who knew too much.

dean.powell 'at' wme.co.uk

6th October 2001

Western Mail, Cardiff


4)  Reviewer           Dr. J. Graham Jones

25 September 2001

Dear Siriol

Many thanks for your message. Yes, I certainly savoured every page of your wonderful book - a marvelous read which shows how much time and effort went into its research and writing. It really is most impressive and a real credit to you. 
Good luck with your ongoing research.

Best wishes and thanks again for the book

GRAHAM

Dr J. Graham Jones


Archifydd Cynorthwyol/Assistant Archivist
Yr Archif Wleidyddol Gymreig/The Welsh Political Archive
Adran y Llawysgrifau a'r Cofysgrifau/Department of Manuscripts and Records
Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/National Library of Wales
Aberystwyth


 

4)  Reviewer           John Plant  - New Interventions Magazine

 

From New Interventions, - A journal of  Independent Socialist Discussion and Opinion, Volume 11, No.4, Autumn 2004.

 

 

I ALWAYS enjoyed those nouveau anarchist ideas in the early 1970s about low level disruption at the workplace; about how you could détourn laziness and thwarted creativity into weapons of the class war. The journal Processed World I suggested that you place an 'Out of Order' sign on every photocopier you passed by. Everybody automatically believed it and walked around the building looking for a working copier. It worked wonderfully. I discovered the same thing worked for toilets, lifts, vending machines. 'Try it some time, gentle skimmer', as Samuel Beckett wrote in Murphy.

 

These days, deliberately wasting the firm's time and money on the web is probably the forefront method of low-level economic warfare in tens of thousands of offices. While indulging this pleasure recently, I discovered by chance a website devoted to the memory and history of Gareth Jones: www.colley.co.uk/garethjones.

 

(It is the very inefficiency of search engines that is their greatest value. I remember a conversation two decades ago with Jim Tyldesley who was then Deputy Curator of my local museum service, and I was Chair of museum governors. I described how I had been scanning the bibliography of an academic paper on the Russian revolutionary Diaspora in East London, and had reopened the book at the wrong chapter. In the bibliography to that wrong chapter was a reference to the diary of a seventeenth-century tour of Russia by one of the minor aristos at that time in feudal ownership of Stratford and Forest Gate. From that chance finding we traced a whole lost chapter in Newham history. I was concerned that information technology would remove the chances for that kind of serendipitous discovery; that search engines would operate like the old KWIC and KWOC systems, and only give us exactly what we asked for and not what we want I need not have worried - the world is too complex for Google to funnel it into Dewey categories. Almost every search offers the chance of delightful and irrelevant discoveries.)

 

The website contains all of Jones' published journalism for the Western Mail and the Manchester Guardian, biographical material and selected relevant correspondence. And it promotes the book that is reviewed here: Gareth Jones: A Manchukuo Incident by Margaret Siriol Colley (the niece of Gareth Jones).

 

The story of Jones' career and untimely death would in any case be of interest. It acquires a certain additional edge in the current situation of journalism in the UK, where the BBC is threatened with being dismantled for having dared to expose Blair's role in the death of a government scientist who found himself a reluctant, and not very capable, dissident.

 

Dr Colley naturally portrays her uncle's talents warmly; but they were nonetheless remarkable. Following a stellar passage through education, culminating at Cambridge, at the age of 25 he became Private Secretary to Lloyd George, with responsibility for foreign affairs. After making study visits to the USA and Italy, he went to the USSR in 1931 with Jack Heinz (of the canned soup dynasty) to evaluate the nature of the Soviet state and its implications for Western business. 

 

A journal of this visit can be down loaded from the website, and makes very interesting reading. Jones and Heinz met and talked to ordinary and extraordinary workers, and obtained (doubtless at the expense of a little soup gold) audiences with Radek and Krupskaya. This document adds usefully to the corpus of decent Western journalism on the early Soviet state, complementing Ransome, Phillips- Price at an earlier stage and of similar journalistic integrity. Heinz did not travel to Russia with a journalist's agenda. He wanted to know if he was a representative of a class doomed to extinction. He was there to see the future, and whether it would work.

 

Jones took up employment as a journalist with the Cardiff-based Western Mail In 1933, he returned to Russia and man aged to escape official supervision to travel into what was then called the Ukraine, where he witnessed the famine afflicting the peasants. His reports were met with a barrage of hostility and attempts at discrediting. A leading role was taken by Walter Duranty, who lied systematically and exploited to the full the status that the Stalinists had allowed him. Dr Colley has campaigned for Duranty's awards and prizes to be retrospectively revoked in the light of the exposure of his lying.

 

Malcolm Muggeridge was at that time in Moscow and writing for the Manchester Guardian. He came to Jones' support, and in private correspondence described Duranty as a crook. (Ukrainian nationalists on the web have recently beatified Muggeridge, but given scant attention to Jones, who took an altogether more courageous line.) There is a whole history of the Stalinist corruption of the media in the West during the late 1920s and 1930s still to be uncovered, and a slaughter of reputations to be conducted. This would be of a greater value than simply to avenge the deaths of the many victims of Stalinism; it would also be a warning to new generations of journalists that eventually, in the long run, the truth catches up with them. If they are not alive to be ashamed of them selves, their children and their grandchildren will be, even unto the third generation.

 

Fortunately for Jones, the Stalinists were not able to destroy his career, and later in 1933 he was able to do good work in Germany, reporting on Hitler's speeches and rallies.


(Dr Colley can be forgiven for not knowing of another visitor to Russia at the time, in fact a little earlier, who wrote out about the crop failure in the Ukraine, but whose name will be known to many, if not all, readers of this journal. I refer to Denzil Dean Harber, one of the early leaders of Trotskyism in Britain. I owe the knowledge of the relevant material to Barry Buitekant and John McIlroy, who researched the files of The Clare Market Review (of the London School of Economics students) in which Harber's texts appeared, and in which it was vigorously disputed by the Stalinists. In the 'Lent Term' issue for 1933, Harber published 'Seeing Soviet Russia', which reported his three-month visit of the previous summer and autumn. Like Jones, Harber spoke Russian and was able to converse directly with ordinary Russians. As a result, he was able to report on 'under-nourishment over a period of years, culminating in the last year in semi and even actual starvation, and the ruin of agriculture'. Defending himself capably against the Stalinists' response to his article, in the following issue Harber refers to 'many "non-bourgeois" accounts con firming everything that I have said'. And adds, in what might actually be a reference to Jones: 'I did not go to Russia with a millionaire: quite the contrary.')

 

Towards the end of 1934, Jones set off on a round the world trip 'in search of news'. By July 1935, he had arrived in Pekin, after extensive travels in Asia. Dr Colley's book - traces the journey in some detail, with the aid of letters and postcards from Jones to friends and family, and Jones' diary. For any journalist the centre of interest could not fail to have been the tense border between China and Japanese- occupied Manchuria ('Manchukuo'). Jones travelled across China visiting several cities and conducting interviews with officials, military commanders and diplomats, probing repeatedly into the problems for the Chinese (and the British) of Japanese expansionism.

 

In Pekin, Jones met a Baron Von Plessen, who invited him to join him and a Dr Muller in a car-borne expedition across the border into Mongolia to observe a meeting of Mongolian princes. Jones' letters home repeatedly assure his family that the country was safe, and free from bandits. Jones let it be known that for him the main purpose of the trip was to get a clear picture of Japanese strategy. He dearly suspected that the Japanese intended further expansion into and control of China, and that the treaty ceding control over 'Manchukuo' was no more than a stepping stone to wider conquests.

 

On 29 Ju1y 1935, the Western Mail broke the news that Jones and Müller had been captured by bandits. The bandits were believed to be former Chinese soldiers from the army demobilised 'at the request of the Japanese'. Müller was released the following day, in order to return to Pekin and assemble the ransom demanded for Jones. On 16 August, the news was released that Jones' body had been found, with three bullet holes.

 

Dr Colley and others in Jones' family have spent a great deal of time trying to discover exactly what happened, and have not really got to the bottom of the affair. The affair was certainly complex, and few if any of the principals emerge in a favour able light.

 

The bandits were certainly disbanded Chinese soldiers, abandoned to fend for themselves after the Manchukuo settlement They operated under the name of the Peace Preservation Corps, and no doubt extracted funds and means from the local population in exchange for their preservation of the peace. If the Chinese authorities had any residual influence with them, they signally failed to exercise it. The Japanese military authorities seized the opportunity to bully and demoralise their Chinese counterparts.

 

It emerged that Dolonor, the principal town of the zone in which the bandits captured Jones and Muller had been taken over by the Japanese only a few days previously. At about this time the bandits had been recruited by the Japanese and provided with uniforms and weapons, but apparently no body was prepared to accept their banknotes printed by the Central Bank of Manchukuo. They were employed in eliminating pro-Chinese figures among the local Mongolian tribal leaderships. Clearly Jones had walked into the centre of a further stage of military expansion by the Japanese.


Had he been set up for this? Dr Colley's contention is that Jones 'knew too much'. Certainly by the time he had seen the Japanese flag over Dolonor he did. But had Müller intended to carry him into that danger zone from an earlier stage? It would seem at least to be a strong possibility. Müller claimed that the reason he was released to try to raise the ransom was that he was German. And certainly German Japanese secret diplomacy had advanced to a high degree by that stage. Müller himself practically disappeared after the Jones incident faded from public view, and oddly never contacted Jones' family at all. He was widely believed to be engaged in intelligence-gathering for the Germans.

 

So the simplest picture is that of an early intelligence collaboration between German agents and the Japanese military, to eliminate a too-competent investigative journalist. But surely the whole set-up was too complex for that explanation? Why would the Germans have chosen to have taken Jones into such a sensitive area, let him witness obvious preparation and execution of further military expansion, when a simple bumping-off could have been arranged in any of the towns which Jones had visited?

 

Furthermore, just what was the mysterious Wostwag Company that provided the vehicle in which the ill-fated trip took place, and its driver? Dr Colley believes it was a Russian business set up to trade with Mongolia. The driver she understands to have been a White Russian, but this in itself would not eliminate the possibility of Wostwag being a KGB operation. The KGB had penetrated and deceived the White Russian Diaspora across Europe; that is well documented. The same would have been at least an objective in the East, and the KGB would have had the clear motive of revenge on Stalin's enemy.

 

Dr Colley does not claim to have found the bottom of the mystery. She does demonstrate that none of the governments involved can be said to have pursued the kidnapping and murder with any vigour, or even competence. Lloyd George certainly applied such pressure as was available to him, and he may have had some awareness of intelligence concerning developing relations between Germany and Japan.

 

Very probably, at this distance of time, the truth is beyond our ability to discover, barring the emergence of some indication in as yet unresearched archives. It is worth while however to recall the memory of Gareth Jones as a courageous and independent journalist. Wherever the ruling classes are able to be rid of such people, the working classes are the less well armed, as the recent case of Andrew Gilligan demonstrates.

 

J. J.  Plant

 

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