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Indiscretion

"No secret of the war

[World War I] was better kept than the departure of the British Mission to America in April 1917. Or would so have been kept, but for the indiscretion of the Chief of the Mission himself. It happened in the Station Hotel at Dumfries where the 25 members of the party waited until some activities of the U-boats off the north coast of Ireland should subside.

"After 24 hours word came to entrain once more and as the special train moved off Sir Eric Drummond said to Lord Balfour. 'Thank goodness we are off without anyone finding out that you were here.' 'Except the lift-boy,' said Balfour. 'But how on earth -?' 'Well, he brought me his autograph book, so of course I signed it.'"

[RAF Caerwent was a top secret NATO base shrouded in mystery -- until 1976, when the Forestry Commission produced a rambler's map for the district, showing every detail of the base including a highly sensitive arms depot. By the time Britain's Ministry of Defence banned the map in 1981, 2,000 copies had been sold to ramblers and holidaymakers.]

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