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"The Dreamers" brings memories flooding back for Vietnam correspondents

Chris Nixon reports that the old Reuters office in Saigon has been turned into a cake shop called “The Dreamers”.  What a suitable name for all the young journalists who passed through the doors of the Reuters Saigon bureau during the Vietnam war.

When I worked in Vietnam in the early 1960s the office was in an old French villa shared with the Vietnam Press Agency.  Reuters Correspondent Nick Turner moved it in 1963 to the chic shopping street of Rue Catinat or Tu Do, above Messageries Maritime, the French merchant shipping company with a history as old as Reuters (See photo). 

It was near Café Givral, the legendary Saigon rumour mill frequented by foreign correspondents and Pham Xuan An, the Reuters reporter who was in fact a Viet Cong intelligence colonel promoted to the rank of general after the war.

Hugh Lunn, who wrote the book Vietnam A Reporter’s War, says: “It does seem all like a dream now.” He was in Saigon with Jim Pringle during the 1968 Viet Cong Tet offensive in which two of their Reuters colleagues, Bruce Pigott, aged 23, and Ron Laramy, 31, were killed.

Robert Hart says: “My 18 months in Vietnam 1966-7 left me a load of memories - - many good and a few a bit scary -- that old age has not erased. And that house/office in Han Thuyen was certainly a key part of life in Saigon. I am sure Steve Somerville and Hugh Lunn would feel the same. I did get back to Saigon (sorry HCMC) a few years ago and stood outside the smartly refurbished door of no.15. Still a private house then. Obviously ‘The Dreamers’ were yet to come.” ■