According to the joint press release issued by Eric White Associates and Leslie Perrin Associates on July 2, 1964, a "new operation" would be operating from 6 Chesterfield Gardens in London's Mayfair district.
But neither White nor Perrin identified the name of the "new operation", although they did identify the names of both of the old operations, and their two managing directors. White and Perrin claimed that Allan Crawford and Ronan O'Rahilly had become "joint managing directors" of the "new operation".
It seems that a lot of people were mystified as to what this "new operation" was, because according to the July 2, 1964 joint press release, two sales agencies, one in the UK and one in the Republic of Ireland had decided to form a joint enterprise.
It also appears from the joint press release, that the "new operation" was going to be based in the UK because it had a London address at 6 Chesterfield Gardens, which neither of the previous entities had ever used. Those premises were tagged as "Caroline House", and according to the joint press release, both the broadcasts from the new Radio Caroline, which was the old Radio Atlanta, and the original Radio Caroline that had been moved to a position off the Isle of Man, were to be managed from this new address.
There was no mention in the joint press release about ownership of either the ships, or the radio transmission equipment; nor details concerning employers of the announcers or the technical staff, or for that matter, the crew maintaining the ships. In fact, the joint press release created more mystery than anything else, and it led to a lot of people jumping to a lot of (false) conclusions, and they rushed ahead with a stream of misleading articles, broadcasts and books about Radio Caroline; what it was, and who had created it, or why it was created.
Now a story did begin to bubble to the surface about Ronan O'Rahilly, but that was to disguise the true story. But almost everything written and said about this man was false. This propaganda was intended to deceive and to stop people from asking about the name of the "new operation".
But true to the word of the joint press release, "departments" did begin to flood the premises of 6 Chesterfield Gardens. On the ground floor ("first floor" to people in the USA), was a combined sales department with no legal name of its own. This would later become a legal cause for concern after the Board of Trade began to investigate the "new operation" at 6 Chesterfield Gardens.
However, there was also a technical and engineering department with its own departmental head named John Howard Gilman and his secretary Dorothy 'Kitty' Black. They were located at 'Caroline House on its first floor ("second floor" in the USA), they oversaw the work of the radio engineers on board both of the radio ships. One of the radio engineers hired by John Gilman and approved by his consulting overseer named Alfred Nicholas Thomas, was George Saunders.
We can't say that Saunders worked for Radio Caroline, because that is not who he worked for, and there was no company named Radio Caroline that could have employed him. In 1960, George left school and went to work for Marconi as a junior engineer. It was his first job. He was more or less an apprentice moving around the firm and learning their procedures.
His last job before being hired by Gilman in early 1964, was to write a Marconi marine radar handbook. This project did not appeal to him because, he admitted in an OEM interview during 2014, he didn't know much about radar frequencies, and consequently he had to rely upon other people for information. This resulted in George becoming disenchanted with his job at Marconi.
For a long time after Gilman hired him, George puzzled about the way in which he was paid, but later still, after leaving behind anything to do with Radio Caroline, he asked for a letter of reference to give to his new employer. This letter puzzled George even more, because it merely confirmed that he had no idea about who he had been working for, and so it prompted him to recall the cloak and dagger way in which Gilman had hired him.
George has fondly recited the same story to several people, and so we have reasonable confidence in what we think we know, is close enough to what actually happened. He says that one day after leaving work at Marconi in Chelmsford, he went to a local pub that Marconi employees tended to favor. He got his drink and looked around and saw a well dressed man in a suit who was sitting by himself at a table. George took his drink, walked over, sat down at the same table and began a conversation.
They began talking about broadcasting transmitters and the stranger asked him what he was working on. George told him about the marine radio book project, and this led to a drift in topics towards ships in which George admitted that he had some knowledge of seasickness. John Howard Gilman introduced himself and told George that George was the sort of person he was looking for to assist with a new project: Gilman wanted to broadcast commercial radio programs to the UK, from a ship anchored in the North Sea.
George admitted later that he thought this 'chance' meeting was more than coincidence, and he leaned with suspicion towards the view that Gilman, who did not live in Chelmsford, had both investigated and then targeted George to present him with his job opportunity. A few days later George called Gilman and accepted his proposition, but even then, George who had to resign from a major company and a secure job, was accepting something that he had hardly any knowledge about, or even who he would be working for.
The amount of money dangled in front of this young man must have swept away all doubts. Because according to George Saunders, the telephone call he made to Gilman resulted in a bizarre set of instructions. Gilman said that he would send George an airline ticket to fly from London Heathrow to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. Then George was to go to the railway station and catch a train heading for Belfast, but he was to alight at Dundalk where Gilman promised to meet him in a car. This schedule was very specific and Gilman confirmed that the flights and connecting train sequence were important.
Now this strange tale has been repeated by George Saunders many times to many people, and even though the entire venture sounds reckless, he claims that this is exactly what happened. He caught the plane and then got off the train at Dundalk as instructed where he was met by Gilman as scheduled.
It was the beginning of George Saunders undertaking a vague sort of engineering job with an entity that he knew nothing about. Why this entire phantom story about Radio Caroline has not been pulled apart before, is anyone's guess. It seems as though White and Perrin with the help of David Block, were exceptionally good at misdirecting every journalist from asking the most obvious questions.
As for the legion of anoraks that followed, they have just repeated what they were told, and few of them have asked intelligent questions. On the other hand, there is ample evidence to show that the Crown and some of its intelligence operatives not only knew the true story, but they were passing on information which they had gleaned, to people such as Harman Grisewood, advisor to the Director General of the BBC.
This amazing story that links to both Carrington and Sjöström will continue tomorrow.
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