2 FEBRUARY 1974, Page 3

Sir Edward Spears

Sir Edward Spears had lived a full and exciting life and, though his passing is to be mourned, it must be said that, while he did not fulfil all his intense early ambition, he made a most notable contribution to the political life of his country, and to English political literature. He had the unique distinction of serving in both the first and second world wars as liaison officer between Britain and France, a double experience commemorated in two remarkable books, Liaison 1914 and Assignment to Catastrophe. He loved his adopted country of France so much that, in 1940, he had to be rebuked in London for the passion with which he advocated aid to her. He had all the qualities of a great liaison officer — he was bi-lingual, incredibly courteous, and unendingly patient, and he had an extraordinary insight into the lives and needs of both France and Britain. But he was also an accomplished observer and a superb, if somewhat baroque, writer. The great pity is that he did not live to see the publication of his own final volume of memoirs.