1 JUNE 1991, Page 25

Old flames

Sir: Arthur Oliver of Palermo, British Intelligence officer in Sicily at the end of the second world war, and son of the ghost story writer Oliver Onions, told me strictly off the record until his death (which has since taken place) — that he and his opposite American number organised without any authority the burning of the Fascist and Occupying German archives in Palermo at the end of the war. It took a group of soldiers with lorries 15 days to accomplish. He did this because he thought the blackmail, vendetta and murder would be appalling and endless if ever it became known which Sicilians had been collabor- ators with the Germans etc. The American agreed to take responsibility for this im- proper action if ever it got out — which it never did. Mr Oliver told me in 1986 that even at that late date this 'crime' could have him deported from Italy and impris- oned in England. I've been trying to find out more about the episode, so far without success. Can any of your readers throw light on it?

Duncan Fallowell

44 Leamington Road Villas, London W11