Seeking Out Xan Fielding ׀ Part Two

Stories beyond the pages, and unpublished material

Engaging with experts and enthusiasts who have a personal connection to a text allows you to uncover the many layers of a story.

In the course of my research, Harold Corbould, whose father Charles John Corbould was involved in clandestine activities alongside Xan Fielding on Crete during the Second World War, told me about a photograph of a group of partisans, mostly unnamed, which appeared in the first edition of Hide and Seek in 1954.

One of the men in that picture was Australian Private Charles Francis ‘Frank’ Ezzy. He and two of his fellow countrymen, Private Jack Simcoe and Private Charles Hunter, are the ‘three Australian stragglers’ mentioned on page 83 of our edition who volunteered to recover lost supplies after Xan and his party were shipwrecked in November 1942. They also came to Xan’s aid later by taking over the duties of a New Zealand soldier who had been arrested while organising an evacuation of allied soldiers (page 120 of the Folio Society edition).

From left to right: Private Charles Francis Ezzy (Frajo); Sergeant Charles John Corbould; Private Walter Allan; ‘Woodsie’ (probably Sergeant Keith Ledgerwood) and Cretan national Georgios Marlamas (Geo) in Cairo after their escape from Crete, May 1943. (Courtesy of Harold Corbould)

Harold requested, on behalf of the three men’s families, whose identities were later confirmed by another contact, historian Ian Frazer, that Frank Ezzy’s name be added to the caption. Sadly the picture remained elusive, but I felt these men should still be acknowledged somehow. After a discussion with the book’s editor, I was delighted to inform both Harold and Ian that we would include a footnote in our edition in recognition of the story.

Folio’s edition also includes material from the archives of Patrick Leigh Fermor and Xan Fielding, which the editor and I uncovered during a visit to the National Library of Scotland. The archivists aided us greatly in our search for material, and as a result we have been able to include a fantastic selection of photographs; pictorial endpapers of code names and places; and a reproduction of an original war office map dated 1944, which Patrick Leigh Fermor carried and annotated during his time on the island.

But there was so much more. Boxes and boxes of material – letters, draft manuscripts, and photographs – some of which may never be published. An abundance of such material sounds like a dream for any researcher, but it leads to the much more difficult task of narrowing down a selection. Many images, of course, just don’t fit the brief, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share some of them with you here.

A rare photo of Xan and Paddy together, post war in a bar (possibly Cairo).
(Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor archive, by permission of the National Library of Scotland)

Paddy, Xan and Lawrence Durrell at the ruins of Cameirus, [Kameiros], Rhodes, late summer 1946.
(Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor archive, by permission of the National Library of Scotland)

The Folio edition of Hide and Seek  Hide and Seek by Xan Fielding is now published by The Folio Society.

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