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Born in Cawdor, Nairnshire, in December 1892, Vass enlisted in the Cameron Highlanders in November 1909, serving in India, France and Salonika. He went on to serve with the King’s African Rifles in East Africa from May 1917 to October 1919, and was posted to the army reserve upon his return to the UK. In November 1921, he was discharged and pursued a career with the Post Office, joining the Cameron Highlanders as a territorial in April 1924. Vass joined SOE in December 1941. Fyffe recalls that he was ‘a great help, my Adjutant, very fatherly figure.

Cpl Mendes reported an ‘outburst’ which occurred on 30 October: Would very much like to lay hands on those responsible for his presence back here. Expressed himself in unusually violent terms on this subject. 76 Such outbursts continued. 78 The metalwork was made possible due to a combination of the scrap metal found nearby and the fact that Purisiol was a qualified engineer. Fyffe recalled how he ‘scoured the countryside with these boys’:79 All around the Lochaber area there was an abundance of metal which was the left-over debris from the various constructions connected with the Aluminium works and the tunnels for the conveyance of water to the works at Fort William.

While The Cooler has faded into obscurity, the influence of Inverlair can also be seen in the cult television series The Prisoner, which Markstein developed with the show’s star Patrick McGoohan. The SOE reality was far less sinister than the nightmare vision of ‘The Village’ faced by McGoohan’s character ‘Number 6’, from which escape was impossible. As the Security History emphasised, the Cooler was ‘in no sense a punishment or detention camp’. Rather, it was intended for the housing and employment of alien personnel who, for security reasons, had to be removed from the Training Courses, but who, on account of the knowledge which they had gained, had to live in retirement for some time.

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