Relaxed, Ted seemed almost relieved to roll out much more detail, sometimes half remembered conversations, sometimes stark descriptions of places and people, often entertaining recollections, invariably with a woman somewhere or other, and I started to take notes, lots of notes, reams of them. Then it was back-tracking, asking for detail, filling in gaps, and gradually it became clear that I had on my hands an extraordinary story – a life lived so fast and so deep and sometimes so dreadful that I began for the first time to understand what I had struggled with all those years ago, when I was growing up.

Yet there was one area where I could not get Ted to open up. He kept on citing Official Secrets, even showing me papers he had signed. He would only hint at what he called the suicide mission, letting slip small clues, but never enough to reveal it all. His early life, arrest, exile to the gulag, camp, escapes, army training and everything including SOE was mine to know. The Balkan drop and the golden days were all laid bare, but that suicide mission, that was obscured. All I had were hints which suggested France, indications which suggested high rank, and the starkly obvious single fact – that this was a mission he concluded entirely on his own.

That is why one day, when I was talking to my French friends about the mystery of their town Vimoutiers, and why it was blasted by USAF bombers, I felt this was, if not the actual mission, one that so closely fitted all the facts, that it could at least exemplify the one missing piece in my otherwise completed jigsaw puzzle of Eduard’s war. But that was some time after Ted had left Wendover.