Retro: Wearsider captured

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A Murton man was at the centre of an international incident in 1962.

Mervyn Brown, 38, was one of four Britons captured by pro-Communist guerrillas in the Far East trouble spot of Laos in June this year.

“The British diplomat was captured while seeking to secure the release of two British doctors, who had earlier fallen into the hands of the guerrillas,” reported the Echo.

Mr Brown, then serving as first secretary at the British Embassy in Vientiane, managed to smuggle a letter out of his prison via a “rebel runner”, revealing all four captive were safe.

“A rebel runner apparently made a 30-mile journey to Thateng village with the letter, where it was given to an unnamed man,” the Echo reported.

“It revealed that all four Britons were safe, being well-treated and lacked nothing. Further details in the letter are not known.”

It would be a month, however, before the Oxford-educated diplomat, who achieved an Honours degree in history, would be set free by the Pathet Lao group.

His parents, William and Edna Brown, were kept informed of his capture and safe-keeping via telegrams sent to their home in Porter Terrace, Murton.

Mr Brown went on to become British Ambassador for Madagascar in 1967, later being appointed as British High Commissioner in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1975.