Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Remembering Ivor Porter

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 18th December, 2012

Ivor PorterMarilena Lica-MasalaI first met Ivor Porter, the British diplomat, writer and sometimes Special Operations operative, shortly after he had served as Ambassador to Senegal, at a time when I was Honorary Consul for the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to the Court of St. James’s, though the fact that we were both Liberal Democrats (as we call ourselves these days) tightened the bond. Ivor died earlier this year at the grand old age of 99 and this evening, at the Romanian Cultural Centre in Belgrave Square, a trilingual publication of tributes and his last interview — with Romanian scribe Marilena Lica-Masala — was launched in the company of his widow Katerina, various other family members, Romanian Ambassador Ion Jinga, numerous other Romanians and a good group of Kensington and Chelsea LibDems. Ivor first went to Bucarest as a lecturer at the university in 1939, but after a few months, as the Second World War took hold, he was absorbed into the British Legation, in the cypher department. He was at that time approached by the Special Operations Executive (SOE — a branch of the secret service that supported the resistance in occupied countries) before being returned to the UK in 1941, only to be parachuted back in with two intelligence colleagues in 1943. Unfortunately, they were captured, though their “imprisonment” was hardly uncomfortable, as they were held in a villa to which champagne and cavair were regularly delivered. After British planes bombed the city, Ivor’s Romanian “hosts” replaced the champagne with local firewater. The full account of his wartime exploits can be found in his entertaining memoir, Operation Autonomous. Later he would return to the country as UK Ambassador and he wrote a biography of King Michael, who had the surely unique distinction of carrying out a coup d’état against his own country’s pro-German dictatorship. Slight of build and diffidently erudite, Ivor — who liked to think of himself as training to be a Renaissance man — brought light into many people’s lives and it is good to have another slim volume to keep his memory bright.


7 Responses to “Remembering Ivor Porter”

  1. Luis Vega said

    What a wonderful story, what a wonderful life. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Maria Elena Galidescu said

    yes, it is good to read the story about my dad’s work with SOE – he was member of Romanian Intelligence Services under King Mihai I of Romania and cooperated with SOE in Cernauti, Iasi and Bucharest

  3. Marilena Lica-Masala said

    Je vous remercie, cher monsieur Jonathan Fryer, pour ce émouvant geste fraternel de publier ce texte concernant le lancement de mon livre dédié à la mémoire de Ivor Porter, en décembre passé, évènement hébergé grâce à SEM dr. Ion Jinga, dans l’espace culturel de l’ambassade roumaine à Londres.
    Avez-vous connu, s’il vous plaît, Ivor Porter ?
    Au plaisir de vous lire,

    • jonathanfryer said

      Oui, j’ai connu Ivor et sa femme Katerina pendant au mois 30 ans, a travers le PEN Club anglais et le parti Libéral Democrate.

      • Marilena Lica-Masala said

        Superbe, je vous remercie, M. Fryer, infiniment, pour votre réponse, c’est très gentil !
        Je suis en train de préparer la deuxième édition de ce livre ; aimeriez-vous nous rejoindre, s’il vous plaît, au chapitre « Évocations », avec un texte à vous concernant la personnalité de Ivor ?
        J’estime de sortir cette deuxième édition à l’occasion de son centenaire.
        Pour tout détail, n’hésitez pas de me contacter par mon mail, ci-dessous.
        Bien à vous,

      • maria elena galidescu said

        Dear Jonathan, i am looking forward to meeting you in London, next time i will come on 3-5 may – is it ok for you?. In june i am planning to go to Bucharest visit my family and meet Marilena with whom i had already a very pleasant telcon last week. My IAEA office tel is 0043 1 2600 25982 – please let me know when i can give you a call from Vienna. My father Pandele Minas Galidescu was working as SSI agent with SOE in Romania, therefore i am interested in Ivor Porter.
        Looking forward to meeting you,
        Maria Elena Galidescu;

  4. Marilena Lica-Masala said

    Hello, dear Jonathan!

    Comment allez-vous ?

    Suite à notre dialogue du 2 avril 2013, je vous recontacte pour vous rappeler
    que nous attendons votre texte concernant l’évocation de la personnalité de Ivor.

    Je suis en train de préparer la deuxième édition du livre, à l’occasion de son centenaire.

    Sera-t-il très gentil de m’envoyer votre texte le 5 août le plus tard, s’il vous plaît ; nous avons
    besoin du temps pour le traduire en roumain et en français.

    Le livre sortira en septembre, en trois langues, toujours.
    Au plaisir de vous lire,

    Marilena Lica-Masala

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