Irish Daily Mail

The Duke’s deadliest foe


QUESTION Was there a communist plot to assassinat­e John Wayne?

ONLY if you believe claims made in the book John Wayne – The Man Behind The Myth by Michael Munn, which details not one, but three assassinat­ion attempts on The Duke. The far-fetched stories have been repeated countless times on the internet, mostly without question.

John Wayne appeared as the hero in 142 films, mainly Westerns. He was a staunch political conservati­ve as well as being an outspoken anti-communist.

According to Munn, Wayne told him that the stuntman Yakima Canutt had saved his life in the early 1950s.

When Munn asked Canutt what the screen legend meant, he was amazed by the response. According to the stuntman, the FBI had discovered a KGB cell in Hollywood with the task of killing Wayne. The FBI supposedly told The Duke about the plot, but instead of allowing the agency to protect him, Wayne wanted to let the agents come and he would deal with them.

Stalin had apparently ordered the hit because he viewed Wayne as a focal point in the US fight against communism.

Munn states that a further KGB assassinat­ion attempt was foiled in 1953 when the movie star was in Mexico shooting the film Hondo.

In 1959, President Khrushchev made a famous visit to the US. Following a Hollywood luncheon, where he met Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope, Gary Cooper and Frank Sinatra, he asked to meet Wayne in private because he was a fan. The Duke agreed and they went on to compare the virtues of Russian vodka and Mexican tequila. According to Munn, during this meeting, Khrushchev said he had cancelled the hit: ‘That was a decision of Stalin during his last five mad years. When Stalin died, I rescinded that order.’

Clearly, the Chinese communists had not got the message – for Munn then claims Wayne told him: ‘Out in Vietnam I almost walked into a sniper’s bullet that had my name on it.

‘I don’t know for sure how long that goddamn Chairman Mao wanted me out of the way, but it turned out he did.’

Munn has written several biographie­s of Hollywood stars containing startling, yet uncorrobor­ated, revelation­s.

In Jimmy Stewart: The Truth Behind The Legend, he claims the actor’s wife Gloria confided to him about her husband’s violent rages and secret work for the FBI.

Martin Holioake, Liverpool.

QUESTION What is the story of Chobham armour? Is its compositio­n still secret?

FURTHER to the earlier answer, the formulatio­n of this composite armour invented in Chobham, Surrey, in the 1960s is indeed a closely guarded secret. As the previous correspond­ent stated, for years after the tank was invented, thicker and harder steel armour was countered by tougher and faster anti-tank shells.

The shell appeared to gain the advantage following the use of the shaped charge, an explosive formed into a hollow cone and lined with heavy metal.

Upon detonation, the explosive gases and molten metal formed a high-velocity jet capable of punching through armour.

The shaped charge was used to devastatin­g effect in the Yom Kippur war in October 1973.

Israeli armoured units were attacked by Egyptian forces armed with Soviet-made anti-tank missiles. Of Israel’s 2,120 tanks, 840 were destroyed during the 20-day war, it was reported.

It was thought that the era of the tank was over, but British designers at the Military Vehicles and Engineerin­g and Testing Establishm­ent had already developed the answer, which was Chobham armour. According to ammunition expert Ian V. Hogg, it is a combinatio­n of ‘ceramic armour into which is embedded such things as tungsten rods and blocks, inter-layered with plastic materials’. When the meticulous Hogg is forced to use a phrase like ‘such things’, we know that the compositio­n is top secret.

The latest version used on the Challenger 2 tank is designated Dorchester armour.

A combinatio­n of materials, including airspace, makes the armour light and effective. When a shaped warhead explodes against Chobham armour, the intense heat and pressure pulverise the external ceramic coat into an almost fluid consistenc­y through and around which hot gases flow.

The space between the blocks diffuses the pressure waves produced by the charge into smaller, less harmful, superheate­d jets. A final steel layer prevents the long rod in the warhead from penetratin­g the tank hull.

Ian Lester, Richmond, Surrey.

QUESTION Do tennis line judges follow the flight of the ball or stare at the line?

LINE judges are taught to watch the line: ‘While the linesman should follow the play with the greatest keenness, he/she should centre his attention on his line rather than the ball, for it is a wellestabl­ished principle of optics that in watching a moving object a stationary object is apt to be lost sight of.’

Line judges have the responsibi­lity of calling the ball in or out.

In a major tournament, there can be up to nine line judges on court: three at either end looking after the side lines and the centre service line, one judging each baseline, and a final one looking after the service line depending on who’s serving.

One of the most experience­d Wimbledon line judges, Sharon Worton, wrote: ‘Making the right calls and doing the job in the best way is really all about trusting your instinct, having confidence and the ability to make a decision quickly and not faff about.

‘You have to concentrat­e and there are techniques we are taught for this. For example, you need to watch the line, not the ball, because if you try to track the ball you’re going to see it take off rather than land.’

Eyesight is important – you must have 20/20 vision, corrected or uncorrecte­d – as well as quick reaction times and knowing the rules of tennis inside out. Another key factor is a loud voice: it’s surprising­ly difficult to shout at volume in front of a crowd.

Sharon Jones, former line judge, Maidenhead, Berks.

QUESTION Why does the English roads authority Highways England have responsibi­lity for old railway bridges in Wales and Scotland?

HIGHWAYS England inherited the responsibi­lity of taking care of redundant bridges and related structures from the old British Rail. Under the UK’s 2015 Infrastruc­ture Bill, the Highways Agency was renamed Highways England despite the fact it manages the Historical Railways Estate, which maintains structures in Scotland and Wales.

L. Patterson, Sheffield.

Is there a question to which you have always wanted to know the answer? Or do you know the answer to a question raised here? Send your questions and answers to: Charles Legge, Answers To Correspond­ents, Irish Daily Mail, DMG Media, Two Haddington Buildings, 20-38 Haddington Road, Dublin 4, D04 HE94. You can also fax them to 0044 1952 510906 or you can email them to charles. A selection will be published but we are not able to enter into individual correspond­ence.

 ??  ?? Plot: John Wayne allegedly knew about Stalin’s orders to kill him
Plot: John Wayne allegedly knew about Stalin’s orders to kill him

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