Tag Archives: Mary Sheila Dean Marshall

Vlado at work with the United Nations

A special thanks to Anna Bergman (Justice for Dag Hammarskjold on Facebook), who has been helping me identify the people in the photos of Vlado at work, which has been a challenge. Though many are still untitled, it’s made me realize just how much information I haven’t included, so I have added what I have to this collection of photos today. Click on images to enlarge.

Vlado inoculation Indonesia
Beginning with his mission to Indonesia (1948-1951), here is the bearded Vlado, grinning as he waits his turn for inoculations.

Vlado inoculation reverse
Here is the reverse of the photo, with a Slovak note written in Vlado’s script.

Vlado Round Table Conference ID 1949
Vlado’s identification card for the 1949 Round Table Conference on Indonesia.

King Throstle Beard Indonesia
The only notes on this photo is “Fabry” and a photo copyright that says “Indonesia”.

Vlado and Jan Van Wyck British Togoland April 56
The next set of photos are from his time in British Togoland (January-August 1956), as U.N. Observer – he was there to help when the people voted to join the Gold Coast. This is a titled U.N. photo from the personal collection, which says:
“PLEBISCITE FOR BRITISH TOGOLAND, British Togoland, April 1956.
Headed by the United Nations Plebiscite Commissioner, a team of U.N. observers is in British Togoland in preparation for the plebiscite to be held on May 9, in the Trust Territory.
Here, at work with hurricane lamps on the terrace of their quarters in Jasikan, Buem-Krachi district, are U.N. observers Vladimir FABRY [incorrectly identified as on the left.TB] and Jan Van WYCK, both of whom are U.N. staff members.”

Vlado British Togoland April 56
Another titled U.N. photo, which says:
“PLEBISCITE FOR BRITISH TOGOLAND, British Togoland, April 1956.
Headed by the United Nations Plebiscite Commissioner, a team of U.N. observers is in British Togoland in preparation for the plebiscite to be held on May 9, in the Trust Territory. Here, led by an interpreter, U.N. observer Vladimir FABRY is crossing the Wawa river on his way from Papase to Manida with registration assistant N.S.K. JAWUZOH.”

Vlado and R West Skinn British Togoland May 56
Titled U.N. photo, which says:
“PLEBISCITE IN BRITISH TOGOLAND, HO, British Togoland, May 1956.
The plebiscite held in British Togoland on 9 May resulted in a vote of 93,365 in favor of uniting the U.N. Trust Territory with the neighboring Gold Coast. 67,442 voters, including majorities in two southern districts, supported the alternative continuation under U.N. trusteeship pending final determination of the territory’s status.
Observer [incorrectly labled W. Fabry.TB] and U.K. Registrations Officer R. WEST-SKINN walking thru [sic] bush and cocoa plantations on their way to village of Dumevi (Akan district).”

Vlado, Bokhari, Van Wyck Jasikan
Vlado wrote a note on the back of this in Slovak, which says: “The terrace in Jasikan, with Van Wyck and Bokhari.” Bokhari is at left, Vlado is forward right, with a cigarette in his hand – he smoked about two packs a day, but I’m not judging, I love the horrid things, too – but not quite as much as he did.

Patras Bokhari was a very important person in the UN, who was also a fantastic speech writer. Here is a link to his first press conference as Under-Secretary of the United Nations – he calls himself “the poor man’s Hammarskjold”, but he tells a great story about their January 1955 trip to Peking to convince Chou En-lai to release American fliers held prisoner; who had been shot down and were being held for investigation for “violation of Chinese territorial air”. When those airmen were eventually released, it was because of the devoted diplomacy of Hammarskjold, no thanks to meddlers like John Foster Dulles – Hammarskjold said of him “the special characteristics of Mr. Dulles have made it extremely difficult for me to maintain even in the most modest way the contact which I need with Washington on the Peking issue.”

Vlado British Togoland
This is a titled U.N. photo, which says:
“PLEBISCITE FOR BRITISH TOGOLAND, British Togoland, April 1956.
Headed by the United Nations Plebiscite Commissioner, a team of U.N. observers is in British Togoland in preparation for the plebiscite to be held on May 9, in the Trust Territory.
This picture shows U.N. observer Vladimir FABRY making his way through a kapok forest neat Dumevi, in the Akan district.”

Vlado British Togoland II
One last titled U.N. photo, which says:
“PLEBISCITE FOR BRITISH TOGOLAND, April 1956.
In preparation for the plebiscite to be held in this Trust Territory on May 9, registers of voters have been on display for a period to permit claims and objections. In the town of Ahamansu in the Jessikan district the British registration officer, Mr. R. WEST-SKINN, hears a man who allegedly could not establish residence in the township. Mr. West-Skinn’s assistant, Mr. LARTEY, stands behind him, and at the left is United Nations observer Vladimir FABRY.”

Vlado on the Volta
This photo is titled “Volta” – obviously, the Volta river.

Vlado British Togoland 3
Titled in Slovak “…Togoland…15/2 [1956]”.

Vlado British Togoland 2
Untitled, found in the British Togoland collection. Those are his “quarters” behind him.

Vlado British Togoland
When you have no running water, and only a limited supply of it every day, you take advantage of a good rain shower – what a happy guy! Titled “Jasikan”.

Togoland Congress Office
Untitled, a U.N. observer gathers people together outside the Togoland Congress Office for a photo.

Jasikan
Jasikan registration
Another from Jasikan, British Togoland, February 1, 1956. I’ve included the Slovak notes from the reverse of one, which suggests the photos have something to do with registration for the election.

British Togoland - Gold Coast 1956
Untitled, in the British Togoland collection. Could this be election day?

Fabry Archive - Selected Photographs (43)
Untitled, Egypt.

Vlado in Egypt
Untitled, Egypt.

Vlado UNEF VI
This photo – and the six others that follow it – are all untitled, but it’s a possibilty that this was one of the meetings between the UNEF and the UAR.

Vlado UNEF V

Vlado UN 5

Vlado UN 7

Vlado UNEF IV

Vlado UNEF III

Vlado UNEF II

Vlado UNEF
Untitled, Egypt. Vlado is exiting the tent, far right.

Vlado in Egypt III
The two sphinxes – untitled.

Vlado in Africa untitled
Really, there are no photos from Vlado’s time in the Congo but a few. Here is an untitled photo, possibly Congo, with him arriving on a Sabena plane.

Vlado and Dag Hammarskjold Last Picture
This photo, and the following photo, were sent to Vlado’s sister Olinka by Sheila Dean Marshall in her condolence letter; which Sheila collected from the DAILY EXPRESS in London, and are stamped on the back with the copyright. This is one of the last photos taken of Hammarskjold and Vlado before they boarded the DC-6 on September 17, 1961, headed to Ndola on what would become their final peace mission. This was the first version of the photo I found.

Vlado and Hammarskjold full image
Here is the full expanded photo, which includes Sture Linner at left, reading. Found this much later. On the back, Sheila writes “Vlado before they took off in the aeroplane.”

Vlado untitled
Untitled photo, possibly from his time with UNEF.

Unknown flight
Unknown flight reverse
Photo of unknown flight – I’ve included the Slovak notes from the reverse. Help with Slovak translation is always appreciated.

Vlado UN 4
This photo and the next are both untitled, taken at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Vlado UN 3

Vlado at work
This last photo is untitled as well. I wonder why Vlado’s secretary is typing on top of a duvet? The old typewriters were so loud, maybe it muffled all the noise. I like the photo of Vlado at his desk – I have his copy of the Petit Larousse by my own desk.

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Vlado and the Suez Canal

The United Nations Suez Canal Clearance Operation (UNSCO) was one of many missions that Vlado was involved with. Interesting items have been saved from this time, including a chart of the UN clearance operation schedule from January-April 1957; which shows the names of the tugs, salvage vessels and diver’s ships, with names like “Hermes and Wotan” and “Atlas”. It’s a very large chart, but I will post it here soon.
This is a photo of Vlado taking a camel to work:
Fabry Archive - Selected Photographs (43)
Here are three letters written by Vlado from Ismaïlia, Egypt, during the clearance operation – the first letter was sent to his friend and flatmate in New York, William W. Crandall, March 27, 1957:

Dear Bill,
I am afraid I shall be late with my rent this month but I left early last week for what was supposed to be a two days inspection trip into forward positions and what eventually turned out to be nine days out in the dessert (my spelling shows to you what is uppermost on my mind after a week of field rations). (And no USArmy rations, either Yugoslav or Indian, and neither of them go for fancy stuff). Anyhow, I eventually caught up with the pouch again, and the cheque is enclosed. Next time I better start thinking of the rent by midmonth.

Most of my work here is on the problem of opening up the Suez Canal and I am thoroughly enjoying the technical side of it – I am getting to be quite an expert by now on sweeping wires, parbuckling, blowing up camels (although when I heard the term the first time I could not visualize anything else then the results of a faulty digestion of the local beasts of burden), patching and pumping, as well as on the even more complex problems of dredging maintenance, rehabilitation of workshops and floating equipment, signalling systems and traffic direction that must be solved before the Canal can be opened. Less pleasurable is the realization that notwithstanding all the efforts here and the good progress of the technical operations and negotiations on the local level, nothing will come out of it until the political issues are solved by the big boys. I also got caught up by some of the problems of the Emergency Forces, although that’s not really my job, and that was quite interesting too.

I hope all is well with you – I think a bit wistfully of New England snow, this being my second skiing season that I am missing, but basking in a reliably constant sun is not too bad either, at least now while it is not too hot. But there is not much one can do for exercise – specially so as the office hours are 8am to 10pm, Monday through Sunday – and I see myself coming back as fat and flabby as King Farouk (or even worse so unless I find some suitable partner willing to engage with me in the one kind of exercise that he was practicing quite assiduously).

With Best Wishes – Vlado Fabry

This next letter is to Mary Sheila Dean Marshall, dated March 2, 1957:

My dear Sheila,
If you should catch me off my guard and jump on me with the question “how long since you left New York”, I should quite sincerely answer that it was last week or so. I keep surprising myself each time i look at the calendar and realize how time has flown. One reason why all time conceptions become blurred may be our working hours arrangement – 8am (sic!) to 10pm, Monday through Sunday, not counting overtime -; with no weekends or even solitary Sundays to mark the full stop after another elapsed week one simply never knows that another week has begun.

This having been said I am a bit at a loss what else I can write without getting at loggerheads with the UN staff rules concerning unauthorized release of confidential information. I can’t write about my private life – not only is there none but even if I had any I’m sure it would be classified as “restricted”,- everything else seems to be, including memos telling us what to do about fleas and bedbugs and summaries of news clipped from local papers. There are flocks of correspondents swarming around and of course all of them know perfectly well what we are doing and what’s going on, but still both at UNEF HQ and at the Canal Clearance Group I have to pretend as if I was an invisible man whom they could not possibly have seen emerging from a plane or car. Maybe the story about the secrecy class of documents marked as “to be destroyed before reading” was not an invention at all.

In spite of everything, I am thoroughly enjoying life and the feeling of being in the middle of it, and I feel smug and happy whenever I get a chance to stop and realize how I feel or that I feel anything at all. I don’t know whether others feel the same when they wake up to it, but judging by the grumbling about tiredness, food, vermin, roads, dust, sleeplessness, cold, heat, dirt and everything else that one constantly hears around, I may be a blissful idiot completely unaware of the black doom around me. Of course one does get a bit discouraged from time to time when after beating for hours against a stone wall one finds the efforts rewarded by a small crack, only to come back the next day and find that the wall is as solid again as it ever was, but that’s all part of the job and is more than compensated by the absolute bliss when things do move ahead. And there is always the net profit on top of it – the new experience, in particular what I was able to pick up about the salvage and navigational aids business when working on the Canal clearance problems.

With best wishes to Desa [Pavlu] and to all other friends – Love, Vlado

This last letter, dated April 7, 1957, is to Mary Liz (still don’t know her last name, but she worked for the UN), who had a sweet romance with Vlado:

My Dear One,
Sorry for the long pause in my writing. You were just about due for a letter when things started crackling in Gaza, and what with the SG’s [Secretary General Hammarskjold] visit and the rush to finish clearing not only the physical but also political obstacles standing in the way of normal traffic through the Canal, this is the first time I have a free evening since nearly a month. But I don’t regret having been caught up in the madhouse of hectic rush and strain, far from it, I feel grateful for the chance to have been right at the focal point of world history for a while – although I would be a hypocrite not to admit the sigh of relief when Stavropolous OK-ed my actions and took over the responsibility. I always boast to be able to sleep a log in any circumstances, but there was a night when I tossed around tense with worry despite the fact that I had worked 39 hours without a break and should have been tired enough. I was the only lawyer on the spot, events moved so quickly that there was no time to set opinions into code and send them to headquarters for approval, actions were taken on papers dictated right in the typewriter without a chance to reread and revise them, and for a while I was left with the nightmare of figuring out ex-pot all that could go wrong instead of having a chance to think it over in advance. But we muddled through somehow. I admit that there were days when I did not think of you at all, or at most with a quick flash of recollection swamped away before the image could get proper hold, but I am making up for it now – I literally woke up with you on my thoughts the last three mornings and you stayed with me whenever my mind lazied away from work through the day and evening.

Not much I can write about myself otherwise. I took an apartment (top floor, of course, to have an unobstructed view) with a big terrace and a contraption for beating out carpets on it that I planned to use for some chinning up exercises, but hardly made any use of it. Nor did I find time during the last month to go for my lunch-time swim and sunbath. I stayed in Cairo during the SG’s visit, but all the time could not find an hour for myself to look into a mosque or museum. And of course no time to read – although during the first month here I managed to pense books on Islam, on the pharaonic art and history, on 17th century philosophers, on Abelard, Graves’ Sargeant Lamb, Greens’ Heart of the Matter, Weller’s mediocre but for me interesting novel on “liberation” by the Russians, Dylan Thomas’ autobiography, Faulkner’s Unvanquished, a collection of Truman Capote and a few more.

Hope to get a letter from you soon – never thought I would ask anybody to write me just for writing’s sake, but your letters are very precious to me and it feels so good to read and reread them (I got three so far). Let me know how your leg feels – will you be ready for some hikes when I come back? By the way, I shall leave here around the 20th or 25th April for Europe, reach NY probably beginning June.

All my love – Vlado

And just one more extra – the footage of Hammarskjold’s visit to the Suez Canal in 1957, thanks to HammarskjoldProject on Youtube:

Last Photo of Vlado Fabry and Dag Hammarskjöld

In my first post, I uploaded a video from Youtube by HammarskjoldProject, showing the final images of Dag Hammarskjöld and the UN members boarding the plane that would crash near Ndola, September 18, 1961. I’ve spent a good deal of time looking at images of Vlado and his most distinctive features are his ears, his broad smile and his high cheekbones, which is how I recognized him in the video, climbing the stairs for the last time.
Here is one of the last known photos of Vlado and Hammarskjöld, taken by the Daily Express, which was sent with a condolence letter by Mary Sheila Dean Marshall from Ibadan, Nigeria. The photo is of the back of his head, but the ears are unmistakably Vlado’s. The letter, and the obituary of Marshall that galvanized me to begin my research about Vlado, is posted here.
Vlado and Dag Hammarskjold Last Picture

**Update: This photo was cropped. The expanded photo and more is included in later posts, found here and here.

Vlado and Sheila

When looking up the name “Vlado Fabry” on the internet, the only thing I find, other than the details of the plane crash with Dag Hammarskjold, where he is called by his proper name, “Vladimir”, is a memoriam to Mary Sheila Dean Marshall(written by her son Chris Marshall) born in Argentina on July 18th, 1929, to British parents Austin and Ada Deane. It is also posted on the Rockville Consortium for Science website, where Sheila was founder and president . Here is the paragraph that made me laugh out loud:

“Sheila considered her time in New York to be some of the happiest days of her life. She roomed with her dearest friend, a gorgeous Czechoslovakian socialite named Desa Pavlu. The two of them must have left a trail of broken hearts throughout Manhattan. Sheila had a proposal of marriage from a young man named Arthur Gilkey . She declined, and shortly thereafter, he perished while ascending K2. Sheila was also courted by a chap named Vladimir “Vlado” Fabry. Vlado died with Dag Hammerskjold[[sic]] in The Congo. It seems that Vlado may have been connected with the CIA. Sheila said she could never see herself marrying Vlado because he had a “very round bottom.”

I was only a little annoyed that someone was using the words of one dead person to slag another dead person, because it was just too funny to read about Vlado’s “very round bottom” on the internet. I would like to point out to Mr. Marshall, though, that his statement that “Vlado may have been connected with the CIA” is, as yet, an opinion; but Mr. Marshall’s father – Sheila’s husband – was a CIA operative from 1952-1967, and that’s a fact. But now that he’s got me wondering, I’ll be checking that out, too.

In a letter, sent from Vlado in New York to his father in Geneva, December 20, 1954, he says about Sheila:

“I decided I must look Sheila over a bit better. She seems to fit not only my bill but also that of maman; gaiety, naturalness, nine years younger than me, etc, — and at the same time poise, intelligence, dependability and brains; she is of mixed culture too, — part Argentinian, part English, part US. So I shall investigate. But nothing more, don’t worry!”

I’m going to try and avoid making untrue statements here. I’ll be writing things down as I make my discoveries, which means I’ll be learning as I go – and there is much to learn. And because I appreciate the discovery of Chris Marshall, and his mother, I want to share the letter of condolence I found that Sheila wrote to my mother-in-law, and to Mrs. Fabry, after Vlado’s death (Mr. Pavel Fabry, Vlado’s father, had died only a year before this tragic event, so I can only imagine the grief of the two women); dated October 26th, 1961, and sent c/o N.I.S.E.R., University College, Ibadan, Nigeria:

My Dear Olga and Mrs Fabry,
Ever since I heard the awful news I have been meaning to write to you, but what with getting Mike’s [Sheila’s husband] three children off to boarding school, packing up the house, leaving London on Oct. 1st and then straightening our stomachs out here, this is the first day that I feel like myself again. Your letter, Olga, arrived yesterday and I was very glad to have it but of course most upset at your obvious and quite natural distress.
All the time I was packing and sewing on name tapes and travelling down I had one thought at the back of my mind:–what can I say to the Fabrys? How can anything help? But there are things to be said and I’m sure that what I have to say will have been said by Vlado’s other friends but they bear repeating this once and even more times.
The first thing is that you of all people should have been spared this tragedy and Vlado was a man that the world and his friends needed. However, I have long ago found out and I’m sure you did before me, that it is useless to question Fate or God’s judgement or what you will call it. Admitting this, we are left only one consolation, that of remembering the pleasure that we derived from sharing part of Vlado’s life. He had great personality and made an impression on many lives. In his short life he managed to accomplish far more that many do in twice the time.
The second thing that immediately comes to mind is his great generosity of spirit. Surely, remembering this, and how sad it would make him to see you so desolate, you must for his sake continue, as much as you can, to show the Fabry spirit. How difficult this will be for you! For Olga it is not so much of a challenge as for Mrs. Fabry. Time helps the young and the young must help the older ones. And I am sure, knowing Olga, that she will have the courage, perhaps not quite yet, to pick up the pieces and build up again the remnants of a very fine family. We all need people like the Fabrys.
The third thing is that none of us who knew Vlado will forget him. He leaves behind him a memory of a warm hearted, generous and very good friend. His zest for life and its challenges was amazing and a source of great inspiration to us. He was a man very much driven by a sense of destiny and how well he fulfilled his role. His capacity was enormous and he never fell short of what was expected of him, although he often expressed disatisfaction at not having been able to do more.
My parents were most distressed at the bad news and have asked me to pass on their deepest sympathy to you both.
The enclosed are letters [I have not located these letters yet.-T] I received from time to time from Vlado. At the last minute I saved them from the consignment that we have sent down here. The photographs you asked for were packed before that but I shall get them out together with others I might have when our belongings arrive in about 3 weeks.
The news photograph [have not located this photo yet.-T] I was able to get by calling up the Daily Express just before I left. They were reluctant to let me have it as it is not only the last one of Vlado but also of Hammerskjold. They said it was for your own personal use. I asked if they had any other in which Vlado might have appeared but they said not.
Thank you for your good wishes – I’ll write about my affairs later.
Lots of love to you both and all prayers for your wellbeing.
From Sheila