1 OCTOBER 1988, Page 43

No braggarts

Sir: Who on earth had Frank Johnson in mind when he wrote so disparagingly of foreign correspondents and war reporters in his memoir of Sam White (10 Septem- ber)?

'The Fleet Street greats were either potentially violent or maudlin,' he de- clared. I can think of one or two who might occasionally have fitted that bill but the majority covered their difficult and some- times dangerous assignments with profes- sionalism and courage. I am thinking of journalists like Clare Hollingworth, Richard Hughes, Donald Wise, Gavin Young, Nick Tomalin and Max Hastings. None of them, as I recall, was 'invariably touchy', 'quick to take offence', or sur- rounded by 'a faint air of violence' except

that not-so-faint violence they had been sent to report.

An act of bravery I remember particular- ly was that of a Daily Express photo- grapher in Aden during the British with- drawal. When the commando rearguard was flown out, he elected to stay behind as company for a reporter from his newspaper who had been ordered to do so and, as it turned out, risk death at the hands of the Aden mob. They survived but I never heard them brag about it in Fleet Street.

Tom Pocock

22 Lawrence Street, London SW3