A disappearing wartime witness

BY RICHARD MADDOX

ARRIVING EARLY to study documents in IWM’s collection recently, I spent time wandering around the local area.

This was no idle walk but a chance to hunt down something I have been looking for years.

Literally.

I am on the hunt for the type of low-rise 1930s social housing once common all over Greater London.

More than that I am looking specifically for the fencing that surrounds these estates.

Just off  busy Kennington Lane I think I can see my quarry off to my right across the road.

I thread my way through traffic and walk down White Hart Street.

When I get there I meet a steady stream of people going to work approaching me, one behind the other, plugged into their music and staring straight ahead. I am the only one going against the stream.

Not for the first time.

I am invisible to them. Only an old man with a stick and a dog look at me suspiciously as I take pictures and touch the steel frames.

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Former ARP stretcher converted to railings post-war at a 1930’s social housing development in Kennington, South London. Image © R Maddox 2017.

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Note the bends in the tubing that served to lift the patient off the floor as wel as raising the ‘handles’ making it easy to pick up the stretcher. Image © R Maddox 2017.

Not very exciting are they?

Perhaps not. But these are genuine wartime witnesses.

According to the Museum of the St John Ambulance – a long-standing civilian first-aid (first response) organisation – the stretchers are some of the 600,000 which were produced for the Air Raid Precautions organisation in readiness for the anticipated Second World War (1).

This time everyone knew that this war was going to be different. Britain (including the capital) had been bombed sporadically but increasingly from 1915 during the First World war by airships and aircraft (2).

Often the targets of these raids had been hit more because of luck than judgement.

But this was enough to shake the authorities. Now and in the future any nation could attacked with almost absolute impunity as they crossed the skies far above defending armies and ships.

British politician Stanley Baldwin encapsulated much of the thinking at the time when he said in a speach in 1932 ‘the bomber will always get through’ (3).

Luckily London did not endure the number of casualties expected and at the end of the war there was a huge stockpile of stretchers. These could be used as replacement for the railings that had been removed from the capital’s parks and other places to make munitions.

Today the stretcher railings are a rarity.

Some were replaced when the social housing they surrounded were modernised, others were taken away because they had been unsafe.

There is even an organisation to preserve them. For more details visit https://www.stretcherrailings.com/ .

 

SOURCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION:

(1) http://museumstjohn.org.uk/post-war-upcycling/

(2) http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-air-raids-that-shook-britain-in-the-first-world-war

(3) https://airminded.org/2007/11/10/the-bomber-will-always-get-through/

 

 

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When IWM lent some of its collection… to the Home Guard in case of German attack

BY RICHARD MADDOX

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An example of a First World War trench club in IWM’s collection. These and similar weapons were used by raiding parties to enter enemy trenches and capture items and personnel for intelligence purposes. Images © R Maddox 2017.

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IT CAME TO LIGHT IN THE PRINTED MEDIA and online that certain aspects of the Falklands conflict were – as the Duke of Wellington may or may not have said about the Battle of Waterloo – ‘a damn close-run thing’ (1).

I’m thinking particularly about the seals in the inflight refuelling equipment fitted to the Vulcan bomber were not performing as they should and how redundant aircraft at museums and the entrances to air bases overseas had RAF technicians descend on them and ‘borrow’ items for the duration (2).

Nowhere near as dramatic is the fact that after British forces had withdrawn from Europe in June 1940 and left an enormous amount of materiel, the military actually asked the Imperial Museum to use some of its equipment for the war effort (3).

A number of artillery pieces and a quantity of optical equipment left the collection about that time, as well as items such as trench clubs that were loaned to the Home Guard, a volunteer organisation set up in 1940 that came under military control. Its purpose was to alleviate the regular army of many non-frontline duties such as guard military installations, maintaining road blocks, and to act as a first line of defence against invasion (4).

 

SOURCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION:

(1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11665619/Victory-at-Waterloo-did-not-spoil-the-Duke-of-Wellington.html
(2) http://www.vulcantothesky.org/history/articles-of-interest/black-buck.html
(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_War_Museum
(4) http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-real-dads-army

Another London Cenotaph – the Guards Division Memorial and the story of the Irish Guardsman statue modelled on two men.

BY RICHARD MADDOX

THE GUARDS DIVISION MEMORIAL (literally a five minute walk from Imperial War Museum’s Churchill War Rooms) stands on the edge of St James’ Park and faces London’s Horse Guards Parade. It can often be seen in the background of the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony and other events held there.

The design is the work of Harold Chalton Bradshaw and Gilbert Ledward – two Englishmen who had met while studying in Rome before the First World War – and an architect and sculptor respectively.

It commemorates the not just the 14,000 Guardsmen who died in France and Belgium between 1915 and 1918 but also their fellow soldiers of the Household Cavalry, Royal Regiment of Artillery, Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps and other units that served with them.

A later inscription remembers the casualties in the Second World War.

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The unveiling of the Guards Memorial October 1926, showing Chelsea Pensioners and Yeomen Warders from the Tower of London. Image by Mrs Albert Broom. © IWM (Q 66230)

After six years of fund raising and five years since the design had been approved  the Memorial was unveiled on 16 October 1926 by the His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, Senior Colonel of the Guards.

He was accompanied by General George Higginson who served in the British Army for 45 years and was a veteran of the Crimea War, which ran from 1853 to 1856.

Gilbert Ledward (who had served in the artillery during World War 1) was briefed that his statues were to be realistic depictions of typical soldiers.

Subsequently five Guardsmen were selected, each a serving soldier with either the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish or Welsh Divisions (1).

It is said that Guardsman Simon McCarthy became so frustrated and impatient with the whole process that he walked away when the moulding was only partly completed, leaving Lance Sergeant W. J. Kidd to act as the reference for the legs of the Irish Guardsman statue (2).

During the Second World War, the Memorial suffered bomb damage and although most has been repaired a small hole in one of the statues (measuring 7 foot 3 inches, 2.2 metres high) has been deliberately left (3).

Each of the statues and the accompanying panels are cast from captured German guns.

SOURCES:

(1) https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1231315

(2) http://www.roll-of-honour.com/London/GuardsMemorialHorseGuardParade.html

(3) https://www.royalparks.org.uk/media-centre/factsheets-on-the-royal-parks/monuments/monuments-in-st-jamess-park#guards-memorial

Why the British copied a German medallion marking the sinking of the RMS Lusitania and then sold copies

BY RICHARD MADDOX

Image: A British version of the German medallion commemorating the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. The medal and its box are owned by a staff member at the UK National Archives at Kew, England and are on public display. TNA catalogue reference: FO 395/42 Image © 2017 R Maddox.

MONDAY 7 MAY 1915. A German submarine is at periscope depth off the coast of Ireland when at around 13:20 it sights a large merchant ship.

Initially the captain felt a torpedo attack wasn’t possible but the submarine continued to track the merchantman.

And then the ship changed course.

Submarine U-20 fired a single torpedo at RMS Lusitania as she was nearing the end of her voyage from New York to Liverpool.

The ship, together with almost 2,000 passengers aboard – including 128 American citizens – was doomed (1). There were less than 800 survivors (2).

Germany had renewed its declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare only a few months before on 1 February 1917. It had previously dropped the tactic in September 1915 (which had been in retaliation for the Royal Navy blockade of Germany) after protests from neutral America.

Artist Karl Goetz designed medallions for a variety of clients and he produced an initial small limited run of a medallion marking the sinking.

His intention wasn’t to praise the actions of the crew of U-20, but to draw attention to what he saw as America’s naivety in ignoring clear warnings about sailing in the waters around Britain (advertisements were published in New York newspapers on the day RMS Lusitania set sail setting pointing out the fact that Germany was at war and the risks that would-be passengers could face).

In addition he believed that passengers who chose to sail on a ship that had been taken over by the Admiralty as an armed merchant auxiliary – although her armament wasn’t fitted (3) – were displaying arrogance, that the USA was not neutral in the conflict but actively supporting Britain and that Allied eagerness for wealth through trade had contributed to the RMS Lusitania’s loss.

The face or obverse of the medal shows the sinking ship complete with an aircraft and an artillery piece on its deck – clearly intended to highlight the military connections of the ship – under the heading ‘KEINE BANNWARE’ (‘No contraband’).

The reverse of the medallion is full of symbolism. The figure of Death is shown selling tickets at a Cunard Line counter. A newspaper warns of ‘U-boat Danger’. The German Ambassador to the USA is shown raising a warning finger and the scene is entitled ‘GESCHÄFT ÜBER ALLES’ – ‘Business above all’ (4).

The medallion came to the attention of Captain Reginald ‘Blinker’ Hall (5), the first Director of Naval Intelligence. He and his colleagues noticed a mistake on its design and an opportunity for a potential propaganda coup.

It bore the wrong date for the sinking – 5 May and not the 7 May.

The depictions and the date error could be used to point to a clear German and premeditated intention to attack the ship and only some unforeseen factor had prevented it going ahead on the date planned.

And of course (in the British argument) this wasn’t an artist expressing his view through a medallion but a medal commemorating and glorifying the deaths of civilians – many from a neutral country that had clear ties with Britain.

This was in turn was seen as similar to the case when in 1914 a medal – as opposed to a medallion – was struck in anticipation of the German capture of Paris for issue to German forces. The medal was never issued as the Battle of the Marne halted the German advance on the French capital, although a few have survived. (6)

The British Lusitania Medallion’s Explanatory Leaflet. IWM catalogue reference: Art. IWM MED 861 2  © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/43641

Around 300,000 British versions – they are not exact copies – of Goetz’s design were made, boxed and together with a leaflet (7) explaining the sinking as a pre-planned act.

They were sold in aid of the Red Cross and St. Dunstan’s, a charity set up in 1915 to care for blinded military personnel. Now called Blind Veterans UK it continues to support visually impaired ex-servicemen and women (8).

Although a second corrected version of Goetz’s medallion was issued in Germany the damage was done.
On 6 April 1917 after an overwhelming Senate majority (9) America entered the First World War.

Despite claims at the time and on occasions since it appears that the Lusitania was carrying munitions (10) (11) (12).

SOURCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION

(1) http://www.rmslusitania.info/u-20/

(2) http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/archive/info-sheet.aspx?sheetId=46

(3) http://www.merseyside-at-war.org/story/lusitania/
(
4)
http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-a-german-medallion-became-a-british-propaganda-tool

(5) http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/room-40-s-brilliant-world-war-i-codebreakers/

(6) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30105231

(7) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/43641

(8) https://www.blindveterans.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are-what-we-do-etc/

(9) http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/america-enters-world-war-i

(10)  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/01/lusitania-salvage-warning-munitions-1982

(11) https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/no-smoking-guns-the-100-year-controversy-about-what-the-lusitania-was-carrying-1.2197203

(12) http://www.centenarynews.com/article?id=1616

The ‘Welbike’ – probably the smallest vehicle in the IWM collection

BY JACKIE DALY and RICHARD MADDOX

At recent meeting at IWM, fellow volunteer Jackie Daly told me that she was going to write a post on a military motorcycle she had seen three days before at the National Motorcycle Museum (1) at Solihull, near Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Coincidently at the same time, I had been researching a totally different topic at IWM’s Research Room that lead me to the mysterious-sounding Inter Service Research Bureau at Station IX and a different example of the same motorcycle on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

So we decided to jointly write this post.

Richard Maddox

A FIRST GLANCE IT LOOKS LIKE AN EXPENSIVE TOY rather than the military vehicle it is.

Excelsior ‘Welbike’ folding motorcycle (4110.90.2) Air dropped folding motorcycle used by British airborne forces during the Second World War, powered by Villiers 98cc single-cylinder 2-stroke engine. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/70000389

The ‘Welbike’ was the idea of Major John Dolphin (2) a keen motorcyclist, engineer and designer who was in charge of Special Operations Executive  (SOE) Station IX or ‘The Frythe’ – a former country mansion and hotel set in almost 50 acres of grounds, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire about 30 miles (50 km)  north of London.

Together with many similar houses, ‘The Frythe Residential and Private Hotel’ was requisitioned by the British War Office at the beginning of the Second World War.

Here in the extensive grounds and huts that sprang up in the shadow of the main house, a range of laboratories, offices and workshops produced prototype vehicles, weapons and camouflage methods were designed and tested for primarily for use by sections of SOE – a secret British organisation that operated in Occupied Europe using male and female agents inserted into the local population to organise and conduct espionage, sabotage and resistance (3).

Most of the weapons that were designed at Station IX had the prefix ‘Wel’ in the title – these include a series of guns, ‘Welrod’(4), ‘Welpen’, and ‘Welgun’ – together with the ‘Welman’ (a one-man submarine tested in the lake at the Frythe and later used only once operationally on an SOE in Norway) the ‘Welfreighter’ and of course the subject of this post the ‘Welbike’, lightweight folding motorcycle (5).

Amongst his post-war ventures he took the ‘Welbike’ design and made a commercial version of the bike called the ‘Corgi’ (6) as well as designing an air-portable folding jeep (called the ‘Harrier’) for the Hunting Percival Aircraft Company (6) (7).

The main requirements for the ‘Welbike’ were that it had to be man- and air-portable and capable of being delivered by the various aircraft of the RAF Special Duties flights and fit into the CLE Canister Mk1 tubular containers that were dropped on supply missions to Resistance groups in Occupied Europe.

British Paratroops on exercise retrieve ‘Welbikes’ from air-dropped equipment containers, Bulford, 9 June 1943. Image: © IWM (H 30628).

The aircraft container was around 6 foot (1.8 m) long with a diameter of around 14 inches (0.35 cm). They had a collapsible nose to absorb the impact of an airdrop and a parachute was fitted to slow it down. This of course meant that the internal dimensions were much smaller and the bike appears to have been a tight fit.

Besides being issued to British paratroops, the bike was also used operationally by Royal Marine Commandoes on D-Day as the images below show.

Royal Marine Commandos of Headquarters, 4th Special Service Brigade coming ashore from landing craft onto the ‘Nan Red’ sector of Juno Beach at St Aubin-sur-Mer on the morning of 6 June 1944. Note the last Royal Marine wading with an assembled ‘Welbike’ on his shoulder. Image: © IWM (B 5217).

Another view of Royal Marine Commandos of Headquarters, 4th Special Service Brigade coming ashore at St Aubin-sur-Mer, again showing troops manhandling a ‘Welbike’. Image: © IWM (B 5218).

The ‘Welbike’ folded as it would be when packed into the air-portable container. Image: © IWM (KID 5359)

The production versions of the bike were manufactured by the Excelsior Motor Company, Birmingham, England and had 12.5 inch wheels and a 98 cc two-stroke engine. It had no lights or susension and only a single brake.

The fuel tank held about 7 pints (0.8 imperial gallons, or around 3.7 litres) of fuel. The machine was designed to travel for around 90 miles at 30 miles an hour on flat ground.

Weighing 70 pounds the motorcycle was intended to be assembled in around 10 seconds from the air-dropped canister being opened.

The ‘Welbike’ on display at the National Motorcycle Museum at Solihull near Birmingham. Note the metal air portable container, different to that shown above. Image: © Jackie Daly, 2017.

As designed for SOE a radio battery could be recharged using the ‘Welbike’.

SOURCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION

(1) http://www.nationalmotorcyclemuseum.co.uk/about-us/

(2) http://www.unithistories.com/officers/Army_officers_D03.html

(3) https://www.wpag.org.uk/the-frythe-a-brief-history/

(4) http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a21255/forgotten-weapons-the-welrod/

(5) http://specialoperations.com/28958/station-ix-place-inventions-dark-arts/

(6) http://jalopnik.com/look-at-this-amazing-folding-jeep-1570919316

(7) http://www.militaryvehicle-photos.net/picture/show/11420/Harrier-Folding-Car

 

The Wing Commander’s sugar, the Red Baron and ‘our little war in the Middle East’

BY RICHARD MADDOX

Sugar cubes belonging to Wing Commander John Heagerty. © IWM SITE CWR 389

Sugar cubes belonging to Wing Commander John Heagerty RAF. © IWM SITE CWR 389

THE MAP ROOM AT CABINET WAR ROOMS was once a secret place at the heart of a very secret place.

Here the war was charted, briefings were prepared for Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and secret papers littered desks. Telephones were connected by operators instantly to both neighbouring offices and far flung units at home and abroad at any time of day or night.

And long after the war ended it still kept a secret about a key man working there.

Portrait of Wing Commander John Heagerty, Map Room Officer, Cabinet War Rooms, c 1940. © IWM HU 46096

Wing Commander John Heagerty, around 1940. © IWM HU 46096

Wing Commander John Seymour Heagerty RAF manned the Map Room Air Desk for more than five years co-ordinating information about air operations.

And he kept part of his sugar ration – a scarce commodity both during the war and after until 1953 – in an envelope marked with his name and pushed to the back of a desk drawer.

For almost four decades after the War Rooms were vacated in 1945 the sugar remained as it was left, found only when the site was surveyed by IWM staff before opening to the public in 1984.

It has been suggested that the sugar’s shape is because Heagerty shaved or broke off pieces for his beverages. (1) (2)  However, it is also possible that he had access to slab sugar – some of which was made to be sent to British prisoners of war – and simply cut his own (irregular) cubes.

At the moment we don’t know for certain.

What we do know is that these humble blocks of sugar show a very human side of the war. And perhaps a very British belief that a cup of tea will make things better – even just for a few moments.

And the Red Baron?
During the First World War Lieutenant Heagerty was a pilot with No. 43 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

Joining the British Army on 29 August 1914 – little more than three weeks after war was declared – he served in 25th (County of London) Cyclist (Home Service) Battalion, London Regiment, as a cyclist and transport driver.

On 11 May 1915 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into 9th Battalion, East Kent Regiment and in March 1917 he was attached to 2/4 Royal West Kent Regiment, joining that regiment at Fayoum (Al Fayyum) in Egypt on 16 March 1917.

Six months later on 3 September 1916 he boarded a ship from Alexandria back to England. He was to going to join the RFC (3) and after training he was sent to France. (4)

According to a post-war report, on Easter Sunday, 8 April 1917 the newly appointed Flight Lieutenant Heagerty RFC and his observer, Lieutenant Leonard Heath Cantle, RFC were patrolling near Vimy when their aircraft – a two – seater Sopwith 11/2 Strutter biplane, serial A2046 (5) – was attacked by two enemy aircraft.

In the ensuing battle Cantle was wounded. Heagerty broke away but with the aircraft’s controls shot away ‘came down out of control’. (6)

Although unscathed in the attack, Heagerty was injured when the aircraft crash at Farbus, about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from Vimy. (7)

Cantle died as a result of the crash and his battle wounds. He is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. (8) (9)

Heagerty was captured and while recovering after the crash was visited by the pilot who claimed the victory Manfred von Richtofen – the famous ‘Red Baron’). (10)

He was to spend the rest of the war a prisoner, being repatriated at its end and arriving back in Britain on 19 December 1918. (11)

In August 1919 an Army Council Committee of Enquiry found that ‘no blame attaches to him [Heagerty] in the matter’ of the loss of the aircraft and the death of Lieutenant Cantle. (12)

Just over a year after his downing of Heagerty and Cantle, the 25 year-old Manfred von Richtofen scored his 80th and last victory on 20 April 1918. He was killed the next day.

Heagerty and Cantle’s aircraft had been his 38th victory and the first of two that day. (13)

For each of the first 60 of his victories, Richtofen commissioned a silversmith to make a small silver ‘victory’ cup from which he could toast his foe. Each one was sequentially numbered, dated and engraved with details of the enemy aircraft he had downed.

There is some confusion regarding The Red Baron’s victory cups

ate that pewter examples were made. (15)

 Today very few are known to exist.

According to the description accompanying unedited footage made in or around 1977 by Anglia Television (a British television production company) now in the IWM collection, Heagerty attempted to acquire the victory cup relating to the shooting down of his aircraft from von Richtofen widow. (16)

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This cup commemorates the Red Baron’s 12th victory, the downing of Lieutenant Benedict Philip Hunt on 11 December 1917. The one marking The Red Baron’s victory over Heagerty and Cantle would have been generally similar. Image http://www.warmuseum.ca/deadlyskies/

CWR and ‘… our little war in the Middle East’

August 15, 1945 is generally accepted as the last day the Cabinet War Rooms were in operation. However, a letter from Air Marshall William F Dickson RAF to Heagerty and held in the IWM Collection may indicate differently.

According to his private papers now in the IWM Collection, Heagerty left the Cabinet War Rooms (as CWR was known during the war) around the end of July 1945. He was to remain connected with the site for many years, organising dinners and reunions into the 1960s.

On 22 November 1956 Dickson wrote to Heagerty declining an invitation to a CWR dinner as he was ‘dining with the Queen and the Army Council!’

He would go on to say in the same letter…(17)

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Extract from letter dated 22 November 1965 to Wing Commander Heagerty from Air Marshall Dickson mentioning CWR and ‘our little war in the Middle East’. Image from IWM Collection http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1030002942 Image 7: Letter from Marshall of the Royal Air Force William F Dickson, GCB, KBE, DSO, AFC dated 22 November 1956.

A coalition of Britain, France and Israel were involved in the ‘Suez Crisis’ – a military operation to take possession of the Suez Canal which Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser had nationalised, it had been run by the Suez Canal Company. The French and British together launched ‘Operation MUSKETEER’, while the Israeli operation was known as ‘KADESH’ on 29 October 1956.

Hostile pressure from the United Nations, Soviet Union and United States caused the military action to be halted and a ceasefire was put in place on 7 November 1956.

NOTE:

* At least one source uses Heath-Cantle  for the name of the observer (5), however Heagerty uses ‘Cantle’ in his report of the incident (7), as does Charter House school (8) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. (9)

SOURCES

 (1) http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-sugar-cubes-reveal-churchill-war-rooms-well-preserved-past
– retrieved 19August 2017.

(2) http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/nine-secrets-from-churchill-war-rooms – retrieved 19August 2017.

(3) Air 76/219/42 – UK National Archives.

(4) Air 76/219/42 – UK National Archives.

(5) http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/serial_numbers.php?pageNum_serials=883&totalRows_serials=16893&q=&sortby=2 – retrieved 19August 2017.

(6) Air 76/219/42 – UK National Archives.

(7) https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=79813 – retrieved 19August 2017.

(8) http://charterhousewarmemorial.org.uk/RollofHonour.aspx?RecID=109&TableName=ta_factfile – retrieved 19 August 2017.

(9) http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/743623/CANTLE,%20LEONARD%20HEATH – retrieved 19 August 2017.

(10) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060000127 Description after Slate 52/ Take 1: more about his combat career. Squadron leader was Sholto Douglas. Nearly all flying done over enemy lines. Easter Sunday 1917, shot down behind those lines. Pilot comes to visit him in his sickroom (von Richthofen). Moved to hospital – retrieved 20 August 2017.

(11) Air 76/219/42 – UK National Archives.

(12) Air 76/219/42 (enclosure 2A) – UK National Archives.

(13) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_victories_of_Manfred_von_Richthofen  – retrieved 19 August 2017.

(14) https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2016/08/schnapps-to-mark-100th-anniversary-of-red-barons-first-victims/ – retrieved 19 August 2017.

(15) http://www.warmuseum.ca/deadlyskies/ – retrieved 20 August 2017.

(16) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060000127 Description after Slate 54/ Take 1: von Richthofen’s sickroom visit. After the war, Mr Heagerty tries to get a small commemorative trophy (bearing his name) from von Richthofen’s widow – retrieved 20 August 2017.

(17) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1030002942
Image 7: Letter from Marshall of the Royal Air Force William F Dickson, GCB, KBE, DSO, AFC dated 22 November 1956. – retrieved 21 August 2017.

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.

20170709_131933red

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

A significant little strip of paper – the obituary of three British prisoners of war shot at Stalag VIII B on 19 June 1943

BY RICHARD MADDOX

THE SLIP OF PAPER SHOWN BELOW was taken by RAF prisoner of war, 516826 Sergeant Ernest George Rawlinson of No. 952 Squadron, RAF Balloon Command, from a notice board at Stalag VIII B POW camp outside Lamsdorf, now within the boundaries of Poland and about 350 km southwest of Warsaw.

The obituary notice kept by Sergeant Eric Rawlinson RAF relating to the shooting of three British prisoners of war while escaping from Stalag VIII B. Image © R Maddox 2017.

The site was the location of one of Germany’s biggest POW camps and had originally held men captured during the Franco-Prussian War (1850 – 51) as well as housing prisoners in World War 1.

During the Second World War Polish and then British and Commonwealth (together with Soviet and men from all the Occupied European countries) were incarcerated there. (1)

According to his Liberated Prisoner of War Questionnaire, Ernest Rawlinson was captured at Dieppe on August 19 1942, having enlisted in the Royal Air Force in December 1933.

He writes that he was ‘Slightly injured’ when captured and after a period in hospital (and an initial spell at the ‘Dulag Luft’ aircrew interrogation centre near Frankfurt) he was sent to Stalag Luft VIII B sometime in September 1942. (2)

In June 1943 he and at least one other prisoner – Sergeant Alan Ronald Cook, RAF who was part of a Vickers Wellington crew from No. 101 Squadron RAF that crash landed near Mannheim with mechanical problems on 28 August 1942 while on a low-level raid to Nuremburg (3) (4) (5) – planned an escape.

They may have been joined by Sapper Douglas Hugh Arthur of 42 Field Company, Royal Engineers and Private Albert Francis Kitchener Parker, 2 Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment (6).

On or about 19 June they made their attempt.

Cook made it past the camp gate with (presumably) fake identity documents. Rawlinson was stopped.

A man of few works. Sergeant Rawlinson’s handwriting succinctly indicates that he attempted to escape. It appears that the details were filled in by his interviewer (at or shortly after his interview) and who also pinned the obituary notice Rawlinson gave him to the questionnaire. Image © R Maddox 2017.

What happened next is not clear but Cook and the two soldiers were shot while escaping, their deaths promulgated in an obituary notice dated 30 June 1943 and posted on a camp notice board.

Rawlinson took it down.

Coincidentally, on 5 June 2017 – almost 74 years after the three prisoners were shot and the notice was typed – I stumbled across Sergeant Rawlinson’s questionnaire.

The pin holding the slip of paper was tarnished and slightly rusty.

I look at it for a while.

Then I gently pulled it out, slowly unfolding the slip of paper Ernest had probably kept hidden until he had sat with an interviewer from Military Intelligence on April 17 1945, completed his form and (so it seems as part of the section is written in another hand) was coaxed to tell the story of his attempted escape and the deaths of his three fellow prisoners.

It’s easy to imagine the tension and sadness in that room on that Tuesday in April as Rawlinson recalled what had happened.

Perhaps only when his story was committed to paper, did he shift slightly in his seat and pull out his wallet, glanced one last time at the little folded strip of paper and handed it across the desk.

It’s easy too to image the intelligence officer unfolding it, reading it and perhaps asking if he could keep it and then – when Ernest had said his goodbyes and the interview was over and as the office door closed quietly- picking up a bright shiny pin from the dish on his desk and attaching the strip to the completed questionnaire.

And finally it’s easy to imagine Sergeant Ernest George Rawlinson RAF, walking down the stairs of the ministry building with a mixture of sadness and a feeling of accomplishment, that now, almost two years later the story of the deaths of Sergeant Alan Ronald Cook, Sapper Douglas Hugh Arthur and Private Albert Francis Kitchener Parker was finally known to the authorities.

In my mind’s eye he stands in the doorway for a moment, ignored by the people behind him briskly walking by with their files of papers, the April sun on his face.

Then he puts on his hat, and strides out into the London streets.

 

Carefully I let the paper strip fold itself again. I put it back as I found it, making sure the pin went back in the same holes.

It was the least I could do.

 


POSTSCRIPT

The three shot men now lie not far from each other in Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery. Search for their details at  http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx  or use the individual links below.

Although this account has Arnold Cook‘s rank as Sergeant RAF he was apparently promoted to Flight Sergeant in the Supplement to The London Gazette dated 14 January 1944, page 279 (retrieved 15 August 2017).

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/36329/page/297/data.pdf

This is the rank used by CWGC, shown on his page at the CWGC website and also on the Grave Registration and Grave Concentration documents relating to him and downloadable from his CWGC page.

Interestingly he is the only one of the three that is shown as ‘K/A’ (killed in action) on all his documents.
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2193588/COOK,%20ALAN%20RONALD – retrieved 15 August 2017

Documents relating to Private Parker at his CWGC page (Grave Concentration Forms – downloadable from the page) show him as having ‘Died’ .
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2193823/PARKER,%20ALBERT%20FRANCIS%20KITCHENER – retrieved 15 August 2017

Sapper Arthur is listed as a correction to an ‘Unknown’ serviceman and having ‘Died’ on the Grave Concentration documents relevant to him dated 18 January and 25 January 1949.
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2193515/ARTHUR,%20DOUGLAS%20HUGH  – retrieved 15 August 2017

Perhaps Ernest’s information went some way to giving Sapper Arthur back his identity and to again showing how both he and Private Parker had their lives ended.


SOURCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION

(1) http://www.lamsdorf.com/welcome.html  – retrieved 17 August 2017

(2) WO 344/264/1 – The UK National Archives, Kew England

(3) http://www.156squadron.com/101Sqn/display_missionhdr.asp?MissionId=455 – retrieved 17 August 2017

(4) http://www.156squadron.com/101Sqn/display_missiondet.asp?pMissionId=455&pAircraftId=1332 – retrieved 17 August 2017

(5) http://www.156squadron.com/101Sqn/view_aircrew.asp?pCrewId=15733 – retrieved 17 August 2017

(6) Commonwealth War Graves Commission website – Find War Dead – various pages retrieved 15 August 2017