[ Keith Douglas Young, United States intelligence officer. ] Three Typed Letters Signed (all 'Keith') to military historian Barrie Pitt, discussing topics including his military career, assassination attempts on his life, military intelligence.

Keith Douglas Young (b.1916), Australian-born United States intelligence officer, with the 15th Air Force, author of memoir 'Born to Adventure' (1945) [ Barrie Pitt (1918-2006), military historian ]
Publication details: 
All three on his letterhead, Coronado, California. The first two dating from 1977, and the last from 1989.
SKU: 17402

Three long letters, closely typed. Each 3pp., 4to. In good condition, with light signs of age and wear. Topics include: his military career; unreliability of field intelligence; the impossibility of 'training future POWs'; his career at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs. ONE: 20 September 1977. On the subject of 'intelligence garnered in the field. [...] The fact is that I cannot recall a single instance where either I or my professional colleagues were ever able in the field [...] to extract from a prisoner of war, or a civilian line-crosser, or even a defector, any meaningful piece of military information which materially affected the outcome of the war. Bits and pieces of tactical information, yes, and some of it quite useful, but course-of-the-war-changing, strategic stuff, never.' He explains the reasons why he has been 'cast into the outer darkness for number of years by the powers that be in the Pentagon'. On the topic of the training of troops against the possibility of capture: 'hang on to your seat now and reach for a restorative - you might well find yourself compelled to being thinking the unthinkable, to wit, the expendability of POWs. However, try selling that concept to the general population, not to mention the next of kin.' TWO: 6 August 1977. Regarding his wartime career he writes: 'I went through World War II as a non-commissioned officer. And as an infantryman, though I had trained in armor. My particular field of interest was intelligence and I did have certain experiences with three European "undergrounds" - French, Belgian and Dutch. [...] I am very well aware that Americans are overly lavish with their medals and ribbons. And I certainly have my share of those which "came with the rations". But there were a few which were genuinely earned and which are envied by those who do not possess them. I do admit to a slight pride in my Croix de Guerre. [...] What I am really trying to say is that I have gazed on the face of war, infantry-style. And an ugly bloody visage it is, too. Nor can it really be explained to any who have not experienced it.' He describes his career during the Korean War: 'I suppose the thing I am most proud of is the WANTED poster that was put out on me by the then (and still) Premier of North Korea, Im Il Song, offering 1 million hwan for me dead and Two million alive.' Following a 'five year spell at State-side assignments and a four year stint with NATO' he found himself 'in the early years in Vietnam (1965-66), where I had the dubious distinction of surviving two assassination attempts. [...] I had in my various wars and years of service acquired no less than seven rows of ribbons [see Item Four below], the first two rows of which I suppose I could say were honestly earned.' THREE: 24 July 1989. He explains that he has been in 'that mad-house known as Loss Angeles', where he has attended meetings of the Adventurous [sic] Club and British United Services Club. He discusses his plans, including a visit to England, 'as the guest of Commander Charles Raysbrook, USN, and currently Chief of Staff or some such at the U.S. Embassy in London'. He describes an early career as a 'professional buffalo hunter and crocodile shooter' in Australia, and again refers to the 'second assassination attempt' in Vietnam ('I was deeply into Psywar, or what Kipling was pleased to call The Game'). After some time in Mexico he found that 'the Navy was making me an offer I could hardly refuse [...] I have thus served in the three major components of the U.S. Armed Forces: the Army, the Air Force, and lastly the Navy. No, I have never served in the U.S. Marine Corps.' He next heaps praise on Pitt's book '1918 The Last Act', comparing his own experiences in the Second World War with those described by Pitt. He explains that he is sending a copy off 'a three part memoir I wrote several years ago for the house organ of the Adventurers Club and in which I chose to reveal a sort of war psychosis which I had nursed for years. I was relieved of it only a few years ago by a New Zealand doctor who had seen service in the Western Desert and at whose Christchurc, N.Z. home I happened to be staying. He, after hearing my story, was able to assure me, quite matter of factly and credibly, that it had merely been my seminal vesicle that has spasmed under stress rather than, as is more often the case, either the anal or bladder sphincters.' He clarifies some points in his article ('my rescuers stumbled [on] me lying semi-conscious in the gore and shit-filled emplacement'). He provides information to disabuses Pitt of the notion 'that amenities of all descriptions were right on the heels of advancing Yanks'. He ends with more fulsome praise of Pitt's book. FOUR: 16.5 x 11 cm black and white photograph of Young with his 'seven rows of ribbons' (see Item Two above). FIVE: Photocopy of three-part article 'Memento Mori by Keith Young' from the 'Adventurers' Club News' (see Item Three above), April, May and June 1982. FIVE: Copy of a letter from Pitt to Young. 1p., 8vo. 4 September 1977. 'Having seen quite a lot of the resistance in the Balkans at first hand I am strongly of the opinion that battles are won by organised companies of trained soldiers, be they in uniform or not, and not by intrepid individuals with or without technical gimickry.'