Waugh’s Scarf

The Croatian newspaper Jutarnji Vijesti (Morning News) published in Zagreb has a longish article about Waugh’s career in Yugoslavia in WWII and his connections with that country afterwards. The story opens with a description of a silk scarf on display in Rijeka. This is an example of a scarf worn by British aviators in WWII that was designed to be insoluble in water and displayed accurate road networks to facilitate escape routes for those in downed aircarft:

The scarf on display belonged to the English pilot [sic] and writer Evelyn Waugh who in 1944 survived a crash somewhere in the area of Petrova Gora…It is the original “escape map” that was worn by English pilots; this was confirmed in conversation with Mladen Urem, [who is related to a Dr Kučić, who in turn is said to have treated Waugh after the crash and was given the scarf.]… Urem, who donated the scarf to the museum in Rijeka, explains that the origin of the scarf is an “urban legend” but does have a factual basis.  Waugh actually survived a plane crash in 1944 in the area of Petrova Gora, and in this area a Dr. Zdravko Kučić was head of the IV. Army medical corps. Doctor Kučić after 1945 became the director of the Rijeka hospital, which now bears his name. After all, Waugh described 1944 events in Croatia in a novel–reports Urem– and this is the most interesting fact related to the story of the silk scarf.

The article goes on to describe Waugh’s service in Yugoslavia, his identification of Marshall Tito as a woman, and his preparation of a study of church-state relations in the aftermath of the war. The story also says that Waugh’s war trilogy Sword of Honour (Počasni mač) could not be printed in a Croatian (or at the time Serbo-Croatian) translation while Tito was still alive. After his death, all three volumes were published separately in a 1993 Croatian edition. The cover from volume 3, Unconditional Surrender (Bezuvjetnoj predaji), which deals with Guy Crouchback’s Yugoslavian experiences, is reproduced in the article. There are also several other interesting photographs, including one of Waugh with a group of soldiers and a detail from the scarf. The translation is by Google with considerable editing and simplification. Here’s the full translated version but, be warned, it is fairly rough.

UPDATE (11 January 2017): The translation from the Croatian newspaper has been modified to clarify that Dr Kučić was given the scarf during the war and one of his heirs donated the scarf to the museum in Rijeka.

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