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We look at war between the two communist giants, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union – a conflict which began in March 1969. And we’re going to be joined by a special guest who, as a US air force pilot, found himself too close for comfort to the Soviet fleet off China’s coast just as they prepared to strike China in 1969…

We hear about Bruce Gordon’s experience of Pearl Harbor, what it takes to be a fighter pilot and why he learned cricket.

In 1969, Bruce was based in Osan, South Korea. One day Bruce came across a Russian fleet lying off the coast of North Korea. He buzzed the ships to see what was going on.  He watched what appeared to be a fishing boat pull away from the largest Russian warship at HIGH SPEED – he knew fishing boats didn’t travel at high speed…

And you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out more about Bruce’s story. You could also take a look at his book, The Spirit of Attack.  (On air I also mention an insightful book – Dr Li Zhisui’s The Private Life of Chairman Mao.)

This episode was first broadcast on 17 March 2016 on Noreen Mir’s 1-2-3 Show, RTHK Radio 3. Click ‘Subscribe’ to receive future podcasts automatically (or see the This Month in History website). Each month, Paul Letters examines events from this month in history. Recorded at Radio Television Hong Kong Studios, Broadcast Drive, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Paul Letters is a historian, journalist, educator and novelist. See paulletters.com for more history, including a daily ‘On-This-Day-75-Years-Ago’ Twitter feed and photographs. Plus the novel that combines: the real history of the Allies’ first strike against Nazi Germany; Paul’s granny’s escape (as a teenager) from 1939 Poland to 1940 Paris to wartime London; the ‘Double-Cross System’, the Special Operations Executive and assassination in Prague (aChanceKill.com).

Podcast cover work by Gill Bertram.