A Writer in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh

Rosemary Hill writes:

On National Service in Cyprus in 1958, Auberon Waugh, having ‘miraculously’ become an officer, was sent out with his troop to cover the Nicosia-Kyrenia road between the Turkish village of Guenyeli and the Greek village of Autokoi. This was during the civil war at the time known as the Cyprus Emergency, and the aim of the mission was to prevent either village taking reprisals against the other. While his men were getting into position, Waugh noticed that something was blocking the elevation of the machine gun on the front of his armoured car. He got out to fix it, taking the opportunity to ‘seize the barrel from in front and give it a good wiggle’. As recounted in his autobiography, the incident unfolds in a laconic slow motion: ‘I realised that it had started firing. No sooner had I noticed this than I observed with dismay that it was firing into my chest. Moving aside pretty sharpish, I walked to the back of the armoured car and lay down.’ Six bullets had gone through him, inflicting injuries that compromised his health for the rest of his life and contributed to his early death at the age of 61 in 2001.

(LRB 7 November 2019)