[lit-ideas] Re: Born a Plunkett or a Kyoungjong

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2013 17:52:13 -0700

I found in our local library a new book about World War Two and thought, as you 
might,  "Really?  Another?  Is that what the world needs?"  Anthony Beevor 
wrote it.  I opened at page sixteen.  "Stalin suspected, with a good deal of 
justification, that the British government was playing for time.  He was even 
less impressed by the Franco-British military delegation which departed on 5 
August aboard a slow steamer to Leningrad.  General Aimé Doumenc and Admiral 
Sir Reginald Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax lacked any power of decision.  They could 
only report back to Paris and London..."

"Goodness," I thought, "Why not call him simply Admiral Drax?"

Wikipedia says that the British man's full name was Admiral the Hon. Sir 
Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, KCB, DSO, JP, DL, and 

Sir Reginald, born a Plunkett, was christened Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly 
(Plunkett) on 9 September 1880 at Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone, 
Westminster,[3] and assumed the Ernle-Erle-Drax on 4 October 1916.[4] His long 
series of titles, Christian names, surnames and postnominals has made him 
famous beyond his career as an Admiral in the Royal Navy.[5] Elsewhere, the 
name has been cited[by whom?] as having inspired some of the more fanciful 
appellations employed by writers about the British aristocracy such as P. G. 
Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh; and in the penultimate episode of Series 2 of the 
BBC1 costume dramaUpstairs Downstairs, the storyline adopts the conceit that 
Admiral Drax was known amongst his civil servants as "Admiral Acronym". 
Upstairs Downstairsfeatures a leading character, Sir Hallam Holland, who is a 
member of the British Government's Foreign Office. The leaking of this nickname 
by Sir Hallam's lover to the German authorities forms part of the storyline of 
the final episode.

I checked Beevor's history out and spent some of today reading it.  The opening 
lines are memorable, "In June 1944, a young soldier surrendered to American 
paratroopers in the Allied invasion of Normandy.  At first his captors thought 
that he was Japanese, but he was in fact Korean.  His name was Yang Kyoungjong. 
 In 1938, at the age of eighteen, Yang had been forcibly conscripted by the 
Japanese into their Kwantung Army in Manchuria.  A year later, he was captured 
by the Red Army after the Battle of Khalkhin Gol and sent to a labour camp.  
The Soviet military authorities, at a moment of crisis in 1942, drafted him 
along with thousands of other prisoners into their forces.  Then, early in 1943 
he was taken prisoner by the German army at the Battle of Kharkov in Ukraine.  
In 1944, now in German uniform, he was sent to France to serve with an 
Ostbataillon supposedly boosting the strength of the Atlantic Wall at the base 
of the Cotentin Peninsular inland from Utah Beach.  After time in a prison camp 
in Britain, he went to the United States where he said nothing of his past.  He 
settled there and finally died in Illinois in 1942."

There's a photo of Yang surrendering in June of 1944.

Like him, do carry on.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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