John Earle, a British officer parachuted behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia in World War II, died on 18th September at the age of 92 in his home in Trieste.
David Lloyd, who befriended John when British Ambassador in Slovenia, remembers him for doing honour to the forgotten Slovenes were who likewise flown in by the British to help the Partisans fight against Nazi Germany.
At the age of 23, John was sent to Yugoslavia as a liaison officer to the Partisans. He was very proud of this clandestine mission, which he described in his book The Price of Patriotism.
After the war, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Belgrade and Rome, first for Reuters and then for The Times.
David says: “John brought into the light those Slovenian patriots (the ‘padalci’) who were trained by the SOE and parachuted into Slovenia to fight with the Partisans, and most of whom were arbitrarily shot as British spies when the war ended. And forgotten. In their honour in 1997, John instigated the 11 November commemoration ceremony in the small village of Skrbina, near Komen, which continues to this day.”
David, who is Chairman of the British-Slovene Society, will attend the interment of John’s ashes at the British Cemetery in Trieste on 25th October.