My Mentor: Charles Wheeler on Mark Arnold-Forster

The stories he was after weren't those the other correspondents were chasing

I first met Mark in Berlin, very soon after the Second World War. In 1950, we were working together - I with the BBC, he for the Manchester Guardian. Mark was untypical of the foreign correspondents of those days; self-effacing, modest, a loner when pursuing a story. Never one of that often hard-drinking crowd, he stuck out because one had the feeling (at least I did) that the stories he was writing were not those others were chasing. He would go off to pursue a subject on his own.

No one knew that at the age of 21 he had been a naval officer, operating out of Dover. I met him briefly in 1944, as a passenger on his night patrol across the Channel. He never spoke of his wartime experiences and made the switch to civilian life without hesitation.

He was labour correspondent at The Guardian before moving to The Observer as political correspondent. In 1963, there was a Tory leadership crisis. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, ill and unable to attend the party conference, had resigned and, without consulting his cabinet, recommended Alec Douglas-Home to the Palace. Mark, for The Observer, predicted that Douglas-Home would get the nod. His editors changed Mark's copy to read Rab Butler, which turned out to be wrong. Mark resigned in disgust - and after a spell without a job returned to The Guardian as chief leader writer.

Mark later moved to ITN, as deputy to editor Sir Geoffrey Cox, making the switch to television without any difficulty. In the 1970s, he wrote the series The World at War, with narration by Laurence Olivier and Jeremy Isaacs producing.

We lost touch, and our paths rarely crossed again. He died of cancer at 61. His name was forgotten, but not by those who knew him. He was the kind of person I would like to have been; that's why I describe him as my mentor.

Charles Wheeler celebrates 60 years as a BBC correspondent next year

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot