Arthur Koestler  is being called up this week and will be drafted into the Pioneers, other sections of the forces being barred to him, as a German. What appalling stupidity, when you have a youngish gifted man who speaks I do not know how many languages and really knows something about Europe, especially the European political movements, to be unable to make any use of him except for shovelling bricks.
Appalled to-day by the havoc all round St. Paul’s, which I had not seen before. St. Paul’s, barely chipped, standing out like a rock. It struck me for the first time that it is a pity the cross on top of the dome is such an ornate one. It should be a plain cross, sticking up like the hilt of a sword.
Curiously enough, there don’t seem to have been any repercussions to speak of about that old fool Ironside taking the title of “Lord Ironside of Archangel”. It really was an atrocious piece of impudence, a thing to protest against whatever one’s opinion of the Russian regime.
 Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), novelist and essayist born in Budapest, joined the Communist Party in 1931 (from which he withdrew in the late 1930s) and spent a year in the USSR. He worked as a reporter during the Spanish civil war, was captured and condemned to death; he escaped when included in an exchange of prisoners. He was interned in France in 1940 and imprisoned by the British as an alien. Spanish Testament (1937) describes his experiences in Spain, and Scum of the Earth (1941; his first book written in English) his later experiences. Orwell reviewed his Darkness at Noon in 1941 (see 741), and they become close friends. See Orwell’s ‘Arthur Koestler’, written in 1944 and included in Critical Essays (1946), 2548; Arthur and Cynthia Koestler, Stranger on the Square, edited by Harold Harris (1984); and Living with Koestler, Mamaine Koestler’s Letters 1945-51, edited by Celia Goodman (1985).
 The Pioneer Corps was the equivalent of the Construction Battalions in the United States Navy. It was in part recruited from those whom the authorities deemed to be politically uncertain – through frequently they were Jewish refugees from Germany and elsewhere who had the strongest grounds for opposing the Nazis. Later some such Pioneers were transferred to more dangerous and politically sensitive units, where their special knowledge and intelligence could be put to more useful service.
 William Edmund Ironside, first Baron of Archangel and Ironside (1880-1959), had been commander of Allied forces sent to fight the Bolsheviks at Archangel in 1918. He was later Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1939-40, and head of Home Defence forces, May-July 1940. He was promoted a field marshal before he retired in 1940. Peter Davison