Cold War laid bare in Royston Pike lecture

Cold War: A fascinating period in history

Cold War: A fascinating period in history

First published in What's On Richmond and Twickenham Times: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter - Richmond and Twickenham

A former intelligence corps officer will revisit the late 1940s as part of the next lecture in the Royston Pike series.

It was at this time that Britain realised it was not prepared for a new war with their former ally, the Soviet Union.

Guest speaker, John Lyon, will give an account of how the joint services school for linguists was formed to address the country’s lack of knowledge of the capability necessary to conduct proper peacetime intelligence surveillance and provide the interrogation, field intelligence and interpretation skills which would be needed during the Cold War.

Lyon’s talk will cover political, military and personal aspects of a project which only became public knowledge a few years ago when top secret Government papers were opened to the public.

Councillor Jan Fuller, portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said: “The joint services school for linguists was a formidable initiative that saw 5,000 young national servicemen go through intensive training as Russian translators and interpreters to meet the needs of Britain’s signals intelligence operations.

“John will draw from his personal experience to explain how these incredibly talented young men played a key role in the Cold War.

“Some of them went on to pursue highly successful careers.”

Secret Classrooms: A Window on the Cold War; Vera Fletcher Hall, Embercourt Road, Thames Ditton; February 25, 8pm; £2, available on the door; for more information call 01372 474568 or visit

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