Brian Ahford-Russell grew up in South Africa where his father had business interests. At 20 years old he went to South America to work as a cattle buyer. In the 1930s he worked in Peru and Ecuador.
He returned to England shortly before outbreak of war, when he was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps.
He volunteered for commando training and sailed for the Mediterranean with Number 7 Commando as part of "Layforce", commanded by Bob Laycock.
In the Spring of 1941 he was wounded and taken prisoner during operations in the Western Desert. Yet he managed to convince the medical board in the POW camp that he should be repatriated under the Geneva Convention.
In 1943 he was recruited by the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).
Ashford-Russellís task was to establish contact with Italians able to provide military intelligence and identify targets on or behind the well-sited German lines of defence for attack by Allied aircraft or sabotage.
After the war he worked with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Italy until he joined the Information Department of the Foreign Office in 1948. Subsequently he served in Bari, Mexico, Paris, with the UN headquarters in New York, Argentina, South Africa and finally as counsellor in Rome.
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