Thursday 19 May 2011
It took Bernd Debusmann a matter of hours to solve the mystery of the Lebanon correspondent who used to call on Lt Col Jean Espinassy, the French chairman of the Israel-Lebanon Mixed Armistice Commission (ILMAC) in Beirut in the late 1970s. Gavin Bell is the name Jean has been searching for all these years. Thanks to Bjorn Edlund and Paul Holmes who also came up with the answer. Now, of course, after telling me tales of his encounters with Gavin - “I think he thought I had some state secrets to leak to him” - Jean wants to know what happened to him. I gather he’s living somewhere in Scotland. Is anyone in touch with him? Jean and his wife Annie clearly have very fond memories of Gavin and I’d love to be able to put them back in touch. Jean is an interesting man who served in Berlin, Indochina, and the Sahara as well as with the UN in Lebanon. In Berlin, as a young captain, Jean tells me he was very popular with the Americans. “I had the only heated jeep and I also had camembert.” On his wall is a framed certificate attesting to the fact that he had a share in the Nobel Peace Prize won by the UN Peacekeeping Forces in 1988. “I got the certificate, he (the UN Secretary General) got the money,” he says.
[Gavin Bell’s contact details are listed in Directory - Editor.] ■