Insights

Character bios

Leslie Fry

Leslie Fry

Head of the British Legation in 1956

An experienced soldier, leader and diplomat whose career had already taken him to India, where he served as colonial administrator and magistrate during the last two decades of the Raj, and in Lisbon as Deputy Ambassador by the time he landed in Budapest in 1955.
Penelope Fry

Penelope Fry

Mr Fry's Wife

Penelope Fry met and married Leslie Fry when he was Head of the Eastern Section of the Foreign Office in London, one year before his posting in Budapest. In her role as the spouse of the Head of Legation, Mrs Fry had important pastoral duties in regards to the other diplomatic families.
MR

Mark Russell

Third Secretary

Robert Mark Russell was the son of a distinguished Indian civil servant and was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond, and then took a first in Greats at Exeter College, Oxford, in 1952. He immediately joined the foreign service and his first posting, in 1956, was to Hungary as third secretary, a junior position.
NC

Noel Cowley

Military Attaché

An experienced soldier who commanded “C” squadron in the D-Day Normandy landings. After being hit in the head by a piece of shrapnel he was declared unfit for active service and transferred to the 10th Royal Hussars and served in BAOR in a number of regimental and staff positions. In October 1955 Cowley and his wife and daughter drove to Budapest, where he was to take up his position as Military Attaché. At their hotel in the capital, their arrival was watched by what he afterwards described as “a covey of tough-looking gentlemen standing about the foyer with their hats on” — the Security Police.
WDD

W.D. David

Air Attaché

Group Captain Dennis “Hurricane” David, a decorated fighter pilot from the 1940 Battle of Britain. Following the Battle of Britain David progressed up the ranks, spending time in Burma (helping to defeat the Japanese) and the Dutch East Indies. David arrived in Budapest in May 1956, five months before the start of the revolution.
Regéczy-Nagy László

Regéczy-Nagy László

Driver

László Regéczy-Nagy served in the Royal Hungarian Army during the Second World War and was captured by British forces in 1945. After returning to Hungary, Regéczy-Nagy started work in 1948 as one of the Legation’s drivers, spending his working hours in the diplomatic mission of a Western democracy and his evenings and weekends in a Communist dictatorship. He continued to work as a driver during the 1956 revolution and was an important intermediary between the Legation and Hungarian factions outside of Harmincad Utca.
Zalatnay István

Zalatnay István

Legation Staff Member and Translator

During the revolution, various members from different revolutionary groups turned up at the Legation to inform them (and through them, the West) what was really happening. Istvan was tasked with interviewing these revolutionaries, translating everything that they said and compiling reports.
JG

Jimmy Green

Radio Operator

Jimmy Green operated the Legation’s radio system, which allowed telegrams – formal reports from the Head of Legation – to be sent securely to the Foreign Office in London. He used Morse code and a ‘one time pad encryption’ system to ensure that messages were not read by anyone other than the intended recipient. He was awarded the MBE in recognition of his tireless work.