Adolf Hitler… in a house in Perpignan, France

BY RICHARD MADDOX

A RECENT TALK ABOUT CONSPIRACY THEORIES surrounding Adolf Hitler at the UK National Archives (1) focused on the enduring theories about his possible survival after April 1945.

As a prelude to the talk, the Archives exhibited copies of some documents that related to rumours – or ‘alternative facts’ concerning Herr Hitler.

One concerned him living in Perpignan two weeks after D-Day 1944.

An image of The National Archives copy of Alfred Duff Cooper’s signal alerting the Secretary of State to the fact that he had been told that Adolf Hitler was in Perpignan.

According to various internet sources the general story has been in the public domain for a while (2) (3) (4) but is interesting and illustrates what with hindsight are clearly outlandish rumours have a way of gaining credence in times of conflict or under other pressures.

Further research on the Internet brought up a memo to the Prime Minister from General Hastings Ismay, Churchill’s senior military advisor at the time mentioning the plot and Alfred Duff Cooper the British Ambassador to France (then based in Algeria). (5)

Hasting Ismay’s memo to Churchill concerning a letter from SOE and Duff Cooper’s signal on the subject of the killing of Adolf Hitler. Image from http://www.paperlessarchives.com/wwii-d-day-assassinations.html#VIEW

In his diaries (6) Duff Cooper notes that on 19 June 1944 a French army Colonel Dur (who was on the staff of General Georges Catroux, the commander of Charles De Gaulle’s Free French Forces in North Africa).

Dur told the British Ambassador that the Adolf Hitler was in Perpignan until 24 June, the following Saturday, that he was there to assess the military situation and to reconnoitre escape routes to Spain if the war situation required.

The French colonel proposed this would be an ideal opportunity to ‘bomb’ the house where the Führer was staying – disguised as a Polish Jew.

Perpignan had been occupied by German troops since 12 November 1942 and by June 1944 following the landings in Normandy, allied troops were expected to land in the region. Operation DRAGOON – the start of the Liberation of Southern France began on 15 August with troops coming ashore between Hyeres and Cannes.

Although Dur had many details concerning Hitler in France – including that he was staying in a house at 2 Avenue Wilson – Duff Cooper was not entirely convinced.

Dur refused to name his source or to adequately explain why he had come direct to the British rather than taken the matter through his own French Army chain of command.

Duff Cooper spoke to Commander Francis Brooks Richards (7) who was head of ‘F’ Section SOE Algiers. That evening he came to see Duff Cooper and said that SOE were concerned regarding planning an attempt on the Führer and how this would affect British policy, whether the attack would make a martyr of Hitler and indeed if he had the authority to start making a plan. The Ambassador said he would take responsibility to authorise the plan.

The next day (Wednesday  20 June) Duff Cooper was having further doubts and could not reconcile Hitler being away from Berlin so soon after the Allies had landed in northern France.

Meanwhile Brooks Richards told Dur that an aircraft was standing by – but that the operation would only proceed if Dur revealed his sources.

The Head of ‘F’ Section, Algiers had also spoken to Henri Frénay a senior French Resistance figure who had fled to Algiers in July 1943 and it was decided that Dur must reveal his sources for the sake of credibility.

When this was put to him again Dur asked for 24 hours to think the matter over. And then promptly disappeared.

Duff Cooper concluded that Dur had come up with the plan as a way of revenging himself on enemies in the southern French town.

Meanwhile the General Hastings Ismay had received both Duff Cooper’s signal and (it appears from his letter to Churchill) information from SOE on the possible assassination plan.

It’s interesting that (in the same letter to Churchill) he remarks that the view from the British armed forces Chiefs of Staff was that ‘it was almost an advantage that Hitler should remain in control of German strategy, having regard to the blunders that he has made but that on the wider point of view, the sooner he was got out of the way the better’,

SOURCES

(1) Hitler Lives! Alternative facts and conspiracy theories – a talk by Sir Richard J Evans, FBA, FRSL, FRHistS, FLSW, President Wolfson College, Cambridge and Provost of Gresham College, London, 30 August 2017.

(2) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/10073759/Intelligence-archive-Hitler-helped-Allied-case-late-in-war-due-to-blunders-he-was-making.html – retrieved 3 September 2017

(3) http://www.midilibre.fr/2013/05/24/en-juin-1944-les-anglais-pensaient-que-hitler-se-cachait-a-perpignan,703094.php – retrieved 3 September 2017

(4) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/rommel-plot-revealed-plan-to-assassinate-the-desert-fox-and-why-mi6-abandoned-it-8628024.html – retrieved 3 September 2017

(5) http://www.paperlessarchives.com/wwii-d-day-assassinations.html#VIEW – retrieved 3 September 2017

(6) The Duff Cooper Diaries, 1915 – 1951, edited by John Julius Norwich https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=uXLhAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT320&dq=duff+cooper+perpignan&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=duff%20cooper%20perpignan&f=false – retrieved 6 September 2017

(7)
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/sep/19/guardianobituaries – retrieved 6 September 2017

Part way through an incomplete story

BY RICHARD MADDOX

IN 1999 IWM ACQUIRED THE REMAINS OF AN IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY MITSUBISHI A6M3 ‘ZERO’ FIGHTER, the sort of aircraft that was launched from aircraft carriers to attack Pearl Harbor and which fought so tenaciously in later battles.

Japanese Mitsubishi Zero A6M3 Imperial Naval fighter IWM Catalogue number: 2012.220.2
Image from: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/70000201

Placed in store at IWM Duxford it would wait until IWM London reopened after modernisation in 2014 before it was put on public display in the Second World War Gallery at IWM London almost (except for some conservation work on its fragile frame) as it was found. (1)

Built around May 1943 this example was served as assigned to Naval Air Group 252 at Taroa airfield on Maloelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific where the Air Group were based between February and July 1943. (2)

Damaged in combat – repair patches can be seen on the fuselage around the lower cockpit area – it was finally decided that the aircraft was beyond repair given the resources available at the time and so it was probably stripped of usable parts and then dumped at the edge of the jungle. (3)

Forgotten after the Islands fell to the Americans and with the jungle camouflaging it better than any human hand ever could, that should have been the end of the story.

But of course it wasn’t.

The airframe was recovered by John and Tom Sterling and their team in 1991, along with several other Japanese aircraft. Some of these were used to rebuild another Zero (A6M3 3148) which was placed on public display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum, Oregon before being sold on. (4) (5)

Work underway to conserve IWM’s Mitsubishi Zero A6M3 Imperial Naval fighter at Duxford, Cambridgeshire. Image from: http://blogs.iwm.org.uk/transforming-iwm-london/2012/09/work-is-already-underway-at-iwm-duxford/conservation-work-on-zero-figther-at-iwm-duxford/

Interestingly while the IWM airframe was being conserved at Duxford the dried remains of a Lotus flower – a Buddhist symbol of enlightenment – were found in the cockpit.(6)

That together with a British bullet lodged in the forward part of the airframe (7) point to a fascinating and as yet incomplete story.

SOURCES

(1) http://www.axtd59.dsl.pipex.com/zero

(2) https://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/marshalls/taroa/index.html

(3) https://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/a6m3/3685.html

(4) https://www.pacificwrecks.com/people/restore/sterling/index.html

(5) https://www.pacificwrecks.com/restore/usa/evergreen.html

(6) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/70000511

(7) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/70000510

Mallock and Paulin – a story of the Royal Tank Regiment Memorial in Whitehall Court, London

BY RICHARD MADDOX

SCULPTOR VIVIEN MALLOCK FRBS is well known for her public and private figurative work, much of which is of military or political subjects.

Working mainly in bronze her sculpting career started almost 30 years ago with a commission from the Museum of Army Flying in Hampshire, England to sculpt portraits of a number of well-known Second World War aviators to mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Since then she has produced a wide number of pieces ranging from small animal and bird pieces, through statues and busts of subjects as diverse as the Queen Mother, English football manager Brian Clough and player Arthur Wharton – the first professional black football player in the world – to military commanders.

She also sculpted the ‘Closing the Gates’ piece at Hougoumont Farm on the Waterloo battlefield site in Belgium unveiled on the bi-centenary of the battle in 2015 (1).

As well as these ‘heroic’ pieces, her work is often reflective such as the Soldier of World War One at Tidworth in Hampshire and Soldier of World War Two; pieces that show respectively a WW1 British soldier returning home and a seated soldier resting, having read a letter.

Placed outside the D-Day Museum in Southsea, near Portsmouth this second work acts as a counterpoint to the statue of Field Marshal Montgomery (a second casting of another of her works installed at Colleville in Normandy) nearby.

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Her Royal Tank Regiment Memorial in London was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on 13 June 2000 and depicts the crew – Commander, Main Gunner, Loader, Driver and Machine Gunner of a British ‘Comet’ tank from the late Second World War (2).

The sculpture is based on a maquette made by fellow artist and sculptor George Henry Paulin ARSA in 1953 and in her interpretation are approximately 11/2 life size.

HighlanderPaulin

Mr Paulin at work on the 51st (Highland) Division Monument before its installation at Beaumont-Hamel

Like Mallock, Paulin made many examples of public art, including those with a military theme. Having served in the First World War he worked on a number of war memorials including the massive 51st (Highland) Division Monument (unofficially known as ‘the Stane Jack’) (3) as well as those in a number of Scottish towns.

20170709_131945Ared

The legend at the base of the RTR Memorial (‘Through mud and blood to the green fields beyond’) is an interpretation of the Regimental colours of brown, red and green and signify the ‘journey’ of tanks in battle (4).

When the Tank Corp (the direct antecedent of the Royal Tank Regiment was first formed in 1917 it had no Corp colours. Just prior to the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 Brigadier General Hugh Elles, Commanding the Tank Corps in France wanted to make his tank visible to his troops.  Obtaining some coloured remnants his wife sewed them together to make a flag that could be flown from ‘Hilda’ Mk IV tank and the lead tank of ‘H’ Battalion his selected command vehicle.

The original flag in is the Tank Museum’s collection at Bovingdon in Dorset, England (5).

Paulin is said to have modelled the Commander figure in the maquette on his own son. It is also said that  when she came to make the finished sculpture, Mallock  used Paulin’s grandson (himself as former member of the British Army) as the model for the same figure (6).

SOURCES:

(1) http://www.vivienmallock.co.uk/ retrieved 13 July 2017

(2) http://www.royaltankregiment.com/en-GB/rtrmemorialstatue.aspx retrieved 13 July 2017

(3) http://www.mcjazz.f2s.com/WW1_WarBonds.htm retrieved 13 July 2017

(4) http://www.royaltankregiment.com/en-GB/regcolours.aspx retrieved 13 July 2017

(5) http://www.tankmuseum.org/museum-online/medals/recipient/B495 retrieved 13 July 2017

 (6) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Henry_Paulin retrieved 13 July 2017