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Evidently we must “pull forward” everything that...
The new disaster which has overtaken the Halifax convoyEvidently we must “pull forward” everything that can be made
effective in the next five months, and accept the consequent
retardation of later production, but there is no reason whatever
to alter, so far as I can see, the existing approved schemes for a
three years’ war. Indeed, they will be more necessary than ever if
France drops out.
Pray let me have your views.
I am much grieved to hear of the further delay in the proximity
Considering the enormous importance of this, and the directions I
have given that all possible pressure should be put behind it, it
Prime Minister to Professor Lindemann.
Prime Minister to Professor Lindemann.
Prime Minister to Professor Lindemann. (Secret.)
would surely have been right to have two or three firms
simultaneously making the experimental pattern, so that if one
failed the other could go on.
Please report to me what has been done.
You have not given me yet either a full statement of the
production which is already ordered in rockets for the proximity
fuze and in rockets for the ordinary fuze before we get the P.F.
It is of the utmost importance that you should go forward with
the stabilising bomb-sight, as we must knock out their aircraft
factories at the same rate that they affect ours. If you will gather
together (a) all the people interested in the P.F. and (b) all those
interested in the stabilised bomb-sight, I will next week receive
their reports and urge them on.
It was decided on December 22 at a conference on bomb-sight
design that urgent action should be taken to convert two
thousand six hundred A.B.s, Mark II, into stabilised high altitude
bomb-sights, over ninety percent of the drawings then being
completed. Please let me know exactly what followed. How is it
that only one bomb-sight was converted? I should be very glad if
you would look at the files and ascertain who was responsible for
This report 2 is most interesting, and I shall be glad if you will
arrange to use the squadron you mentioned yesterday for the
purpose of infecting the reaches mentioned, where the traffic is
reported to be so heavy. We do not need to ask the French
permission for this, but only for the continuous streaming of the
naval fluvials. This I am doing. Meanwhile you should act as soon
as you can on the lower reaches. Kindly report what you will do.
Prime Minister to Minister omove thither? Anyhow, we cannot go on like
this. How is the southern minefield barrage getting on? Would it
not be possible after a while to ring the changes upon it for a
short time and bring some convoys in through the gap which has
been left? This is only a passing suggestion.
There were always increased dangers to be apprehended from
using only one set of approaches. These dangers cannot be
surmounted unless the protective concentration is carried out
with vigour superior to that which must be expected from the
enemy. He will soon learn to put everything there. It is rather like
the early days in the Moray Firth after the east coast minefield
was laid. I am confident the Admiralty will rise to the occasion,
but evidently a great new impulse is needed. Pray let me hear
I encountered resistances. The Admiralty accepted my view in September of
moving from Plymouth to the North, rightly substituting the Mersey for the
Clyde. But several months elapsed before the necessary headquarters
organisation, with its operation rooms and elaborate network of
communications, could be brought into being, and in the meantime much
improvisation was necessary. The new Command was entrusted to Admiral Sir
Percy Noble, who, with a large and ever-growing staff, was installed at
Liverpool in February, 1941. Hence-forward this became almost our most
important station. The need and advantage of the change was by then
recognised by all.
Towards the end of 1940 I became increasingly concerned about the ominous
fall in imports. This was another aspect of the U -boat attack. Not only did we
lose ships, but the precautions we took to avoid losing them impaired the
whole flow of merchant traffic. The few harbours on which we could now rely
became congested. The turn-round of all vessels as well as their voyages was
lengthened. Imports were the final test. In the week ending June 8, during
the height of the battle in France, we had brought into the country 1,201,535
tons of cargo, exclusive of oil. From this peak figure imports had declined at
the end of July to less than 750,000 tons a week. Although substantial
improvement was made in August, the weekly average again fell, and for the
last three months of the year was little more than 800,000 tons.
The new disaster which has overtaken the Halifax convoy
requires precise examination. We heard about a week ago that as
many as thirteen U-boats were lying in wait on these approaches.
good troops should be directed upon Narvik forthwith, and should
reach there by the end of the first week in May at latest. The orders for this
should be given now, as nothing will be easier than to divert the troops if in
the meanwhile the situation is cleared up. It would be a great administrative
advantage if these troops were British, but if this cannot be managed for
any reason, could not the leading brigade of the Second French Light
Division be directed upon Narvik? There ought to be no undue danger in
bringing a big ship into Skjel Fiord or thereabouts.
3. I should be very glad if the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff could consult with
an officer of equal standing in the War Office upon how this need can be
met, together with ships and times. Failure to take Narvik will be a major
disaster, and will carry with it the control by Germany of the ore-field.
The general position as it was viewed at this moment cannot be better stated than in a
paper written by General Ismay on April 21.
The object of operations at Narvik is to capture the town and obtain
possession of the railway to the Swedish frontier. We should then be in a
position to put a force, if necessary, into the Gullivare ore-fields, the
possession of which is the main objective of the whole of the operations in
As soon as the ice melts in Lulea in about a month's time, we must expect
that the Germans will obtain, by threats or force, a passage for their troops
in order that they themselves may secure Gullivare and perhaps go forward
and reinforce their troops at Narvik. It is, therefore, essential that Narvik
should be liquidated in about a month.
The object of operations in the Trondheim area is to capture Trondheim, and
thereby obtain a base for further operations in Central Norway, and Sweden
if necessary. Landings have been made at Namsos on the north of
Trondheim and Andalsnes on the south. The intention is that the Namsos
force will establish itself astride the railway running eastward from
Trondheim, thus encircling the Germans there on the east and northeast.
The force landed at Andalsnes has as its first role the occupation of a
defensive position, in co-operation with the Norwegians at Lillehammer, to
block any reinforcement of Trondheim from the main German landing at
Oslo. The road and railways between Oslo and Trondheim have both to chanel coin purse be
covered. When this has been achieved, some troops will work northward
and bring pressure to bea
Prime Minister to C.I.G.S.
close-up information about the relative merits of the two armies.
I expect to have a good wire every day or so, telling us exactly
what is happening, as far as the Greeks will allow it.
There is no objection to two battalions going to Freetown,
pending their relief by the West African Brigade, after which they
can go on to Egypt. They are not to leave England until it is
agreed that the West African Brigade is to go to West Africa.
Both Crete and Malta come before Freetown in A.A. guns, and I
cannot approve of this diversion at the present time. Neither can
I agree to the diversion of a fighter squadron [for Freetownhave to keep in
6 battalions of infantry
9 regiments of yeomanry
8 battalions of Australian infantry
– the whole probably more than twenty thousand men. This is
the price we have to pay for the anti-Jewish policy which has
been persisted in for some years. Should the war go heavily into
Egypt, all these troops will have to be withdrawn, and the
position of the Jewish colonists will be one of the greatest
danger. Indeed I am sure that we shall be told we cannot
withdraw these troops, though they include some of our best,
and are vitally needed elsewhere. If the Jews were properly
armed, our forces would become available, and there would be
no danger of the Jews attacking the Arabs, because they are
entirely dependent upon us and upon our command of the seas. I
think it is little less than a scandal that at a time when we are
fighting for our lives these very large forces should be
immobilised in support of a policy which commends itself only to
a section of the Conservative Party.
Prime Minister to Secretary of State for the Colonies (Lord Lloyd). 28.VI.40.
I had hoped you would take a broad view of the Palestine
situation, and would make it an earnest objective to set the
British garrison free. I could certainly not associate myself with
such an answer as you have drawn up for me. I do not at all
admit that Arab feeling in the Near East and India would be
prejudiced in the manner you suggest. Now that we have the
Turks in such a friendly relationship, the position is much more
* * * * *
For the first time in a hundred and twenty-five years a powerful enemy was
now established across the narrow waters of the English Channel. Our reformed
Regular Army, and the larger but less well-trained Territorials, had to
be organised and deployed to create an elaborate system of defences, and to
stand ready, if the invader came, to destroy him – for there could be no
escape. It was for both sides “Kill or Cure.” Already the Home Guard could be
included in the general framework of defence. On June 25, General Ironside,
Commander-in-Chief Home Forces, exposed his plans to the Chiefs of Staff.
They were, of course, scrutinised with anxious care by the experts, and I
examined them myself with no little attention. On the whole they stood
approved. There were three main elements in this early outline of a great
future plan: first, an entrenched “crust” on the probable invasion beaches of
the coast, whose defendgo down during this process should it result adversely,
but in no conceivable circumstances will we consent to surrender.
If members of the present Administration were finished and
others came in to parley amid the ruins, you must not be blind to
the fact that the sole remaining bargaining counter with Germany
would be the Fleet, and, if this country was left by the United
States to its fate, no one would have the right to blame those
then responsible if they made the best terms they could for the
surviving inhabitants. Excuse me, Mr. President, putting this
nightmare bluntly. Evidently I could not answer for my
successors, who in utter despair and helplessness might well
have to accommodate themselves to the German will. However,
there is happily no need at present to dwell upon such ideas.
Once more thanking you for your good will …
* * * * *
Far-reaching changes were now made by M. Reynaud in the French Cabinet
and High Command. On the 18th Marshal Ptain was appointed Vice -President
of the Council. Reynaud himself, transferring Daladier to Foreign Affairs, took
over the Ministry of National Defence and War. At 7 P.M. on the 19th he
appointed Weygand, who had just arrived from the Levant, to replace General
Gamelin. I had known Weygand when he was the right-hand man of Marshal
Foch, and had admired his masterly intervention in the Battle of Warsaw
against the Bolshevik invasion of Poland in August, 1920 – an event decisive
for Europe at that time. He was now seventy-three, but was reported to be
efficient and vigorous in a very high degree. General Gamelin’s final Order
(No. 12), dated 9.45 A.M. on May 19, prescribed that the Northern Armies,
instead of letting themselves be encircled, must at all costs force their way
southward to the Somme, attacking the Panzer divisions which had cut their
communications. At the same time the Second Army and the newly forming
Sixth were to attack northward towards Mzires. These decisions were sound.
Indeed, an order for the general retreat of the Northern Armies southward
was already at least four days overdue. Once the gravity of the breach in the
French centre at Sedan was apparent, the only hope for the Northern Armies
lay in an immediate march to the Somme. Instead, under General Billotte,
they had only made gradual and partial withdrawals to the Scheldt and formed
the defensive flank to the right. Even now there might have been time for the
ships steaming in company at only fifteen knots. Yet at the same
time we are asked to spend vast sums fortifying a large part of
the western coasts of Britain against what the Admiralty declare
is a possible invasion by twelve thousand men embarked and
shipped [from the River
In my view Admiral Stark is right, and Plan D 20 is strategically
sound, and also most highly adapted to our interests. We should,
therefore, so far as opportunity serves, in every way contribute to
strengthen the policy of Admiral Stark, and should not use
arguments inconsistent with it.
2. Should Japan enter the war on one side and the United States
on ours, ample naval forces will be available to contain Japan by
long-range controls in the Pacific. The Japanese Navy is not likely
to venture far from its home bases so long as a superior battle -
Prime Minister to Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Prime Minister to First Lord and First Sea Lord. (General Ismay to
fleet is maintained at Singapore or at Honolulu. The Japanese
would never attempt a siege of Singapore with a hostile, superior
American Fleet in the Pacific. The balance of the American Fleet,
after providing the necessary force for the Pacific, would be
sufficient, with our Navy, to exercise in a very high degree the
command of all the seas and oceans except those within the
immediate Japanese regions. A strict defensive in the Far East
and the acceptance of its consequences is also our policy. Once
the Germans are beaten the Japanese would be at the mercy louis vuitton back pack of
the combined fleets.
3. I am much encouraged by the American naval view.
There seems to be great disparity in these sentences [on A.F.S.
men for lootingcan
be spared without prejudice to the Libyan pursuit battle. The
Dodecanese will not get harder for a little waiting. But neither of
them ought to detract from the supreme task of inflicting further
defeats upon the main Italian army. I cannot, of course, pretend
to judge special conditions from here, but Napoleon’s maxim,
“Frappez la masse et tout le reste vient par surcroit,” seems to
ring in one’s ears. I must recur to the suggestion made in my
previous telegram about amphibious operations and landings
behind the enemy’s front to cut off hostile detachments and to
carry forward supplies and troops by sea.
Pray convey my compliments and congratulations to Longmore
on his magnificent handling of the R.A.F. and fine co -operation
with the Army. I hope most of the new Hurricanes have reached
him safely. Tell him we are filling up Furious again with another
even larger packet of flyables from Takoradi. He will also get
those that are being carried through in [Operationshould be most leniently viewed,
even if the consequences are not pleasant.
1. Mr. Dulanty is thoroughly friendly to England. He was an officer under me
in the Ministry of Munitions in 1917/18, but he has no control or authority in
Southern Ireland (so-called Eire). He acts as a general smoother,
representing everything Irish in the most favourable light. Three-quarters of
the people of Southern Ireland are with us, but the implacable, malignant
minority can make so much trouble that De Valera dare not do anything to
offend them. All this talk about partition and the bitterness that would be
healed by a union of Northern and Southern Ireland will amount to nothing.
They will not unite at the present time, and we cannot in any circumstances
sell the loyalists of Northern Ireland. Will you kindly consider these
observations as the basis upon which Admiralty dealings with Southern
Ireland should proceed?
2. There seems to be a good deal of evidence, or at any rate suspicion, that
the U-boats are being succoured from West of Ireland ports by the
malignant section with whom De Valera dare not interfere. And we are
debarred from using Berehaven, etc. If the U-boat campaign became more
dangerous we should coerce Southern Ireland both about coast watching
and the use of Berehaven, etc. However, if it slackens off under our counter -
attacks and protective measures, the Cabinet will not be inclined to face the
First Lord to First Sea Lord and others. 24.IX.39.
First Lord to First Sea Lord, D.C.N.S. and D.N.I. (For general
guidance.) (Most secret.)
serious issues which forcible measures would entail. It looks therefore as if
the present bad situation will continue for the present. But the Admiralty
should never cease to formulate through every channel its complaints about
it, and I will from time to time bring our grievances before the Cabinet. On
no account must we appear to acquiesce in, still less be contented with, the
odious treatment we are receiving.
While anxious not to fetter in any way the discretion of C.-in-C., Home Fleet,
I think it might be as well for you to point out that the sending of heavy
ships far out into the North Sea will certainly entail bombing attacks from
aircraft, and will not draw German warships from their harbours. Although
there were no hits on the last occasion, there might easily have been losses
disproportionate to the tactical objects in view. This opinion was expressed
to me bycruisers; having regard to the vast ocean spaces to be
controlled, the principle was “the more the better.” In the search for enemy
raiders or cruisers, even small cruisers could play their part, and in the case
of the Emden we were forced to gather over twenty ships before she was
rounded up. However, a long view of cruiser policy would seem to suggest
that a new unit of search is required. Whereas a cruiser squadron of four
ships could search on a front of, say eighty miles, a single cruiser
accompanied by an aircraft carrier could cover at least three hundred miles,
or if the movement of the ship is taken into account, four hundred miles. On
the other hand, we must apprehend that the raiders of the future will be
powerful vessels, eager to fight a single-ship action if a chance is presented.
The mere multiplication of small, weak cruisers is no means of ridding the
seas of powerful raiders. Indeed they are only an easy prey. The raider,
cornered at length, will overwhelm one weak vessel and escape from the
Every unit of search must be able to find, to catch, and to kill. For this
purpose we require a number of cruisers superior to the 10,000-ton type, or
else pairs of our own 10,000 -ton type. These must be accompanied by small
aircraft carriers carrying perhaps a dozen or two dozen machines, and of the
smallest possible displacement. The ideal unit of search would be one killer
or two three-quarter killers, plus one aircraft carrier, plus four ocean-going
destroyers, plus two or three specially constructed tankers of good speed.
Such a formation cruising would be protected against submarines, and could
search an enormous area and destroy any single raider when detected.
The policy of forming hunting groups as discussed in this minute, comprising balanced
forces capable of scouring wide areas and overwhelming any raider within the field of
search, was developed so far as our limited resources allowed, and I shall refer to this
subject again in a later chapter. The same idea was afterwards more fully expanded by the
United States in their task force system, which made an important contribution to the art of
* * * * *
Towards the end of the month I thought it would be well for me to give the House some
coherent story of what was happening and why.
First Lord to Prime Minister. 24.IX.39.
Would it not be well for me to make a statement to the House on the anti -
submarine warfare and general navalwould be a complete impossibility; it
would be a bluff; such a thing could not be done. So he [Schuschniggwas
told that it was unfortunately arranged thus, and it could not be changed
any more. Then Mussolini said that Austria would be immaterial to him.
Hitler: Then please tell Mussolini I will never forget him for this.
Hitler: Never, never, never, whatever happens. I am still ready to make a
quite different agreement with him.
Hesse: Yes, I told him that too.
Hitler: As soon as the Austrian affair has been settled, I shall be ready to go
with him through thick and thin; nothing matters.
Hesse: Yes, my Fuehrer.
Hitler: Listen, I shall make any agreement– I am no longer in fear of the
terrible position which would have existed militarily in case we had become
involved in a conflict. You may tell him that I do thank him ever so much;
never, never shall I forget that.
Hesse: Yes, my Fuehrer.
Hitler: I will never forget it, whatever may happen. If he should ever need
any help or be in any danger, he can be convinced that I shall stick to him
whatever might happen, even if the whole world were against him.
Hesse: Yes, my Fuehrer.7
Certainly when he chanel bag black and white rescued Mussolini from the Italian Provisional Government in 1943, Hitler
kept his word.
* * * * *
A triumphal entry into Vienna had been the Austrian Corporal's dream. On the night of
Saturday, March 12, the Nazi Party in the capital had planned a torchlight procession to
welcome the conquering hero. But nobody arrived. Three bewildered Bavarians of the
supply services who had come by train to make billeting arrangements for the invading
army had, therefore, to be carried shoulder-high through the streets. The cause of this
hitch leaked out slowly. The German war machine had lumbered falteringly over the
frontier and come to a standstill near Linz. In spite of perfect weather and good conditions,
the majority of the tanks broke down. Defects appeared in the motorised heavy artillery.
The road from Linz to Vienna was blocked with heavy vehicles at a standstill. General von
Reichenau, Hitler's special favourite, Commander of Army Group IV, was deemed
responsible for a breakdown which exposed the unripe condition of the German Army at
this stage in its reconstruction.
Hitler himself, motoring through Linz, saw the traffic jam, and was infuriated. The light
tanks were disengaged from confusion and straggled into Vienna in the early hours of
Sunday morning. The armoured vehicles and motorised heavy artillery were loaded onto
the railway trucks, and only thus arrived
1. As a measure of retaliation it may become necessary to feed large
numbers of floating mines into the Rhine. This can easily be done at any
point between Strasbourg and the Lauter, where the left bank is French
territory. General Gamelin was much interested in this idea, and asked me to
work it out for him.
2. Let us clearly see the object in view. The Rhine is traversed by an
enormous number of very large barges, and is the main artery of German
trade and life. These barges, built only for river work, have riot got double
keels or any large subdivision by bulkheads. It is easy to check these details.
In addition there are at least twelve bridges of boats recently thrown across
the Rhine upon which the German armies concentrated in the Saarbrueck-
Luxemburg area depend.
3. The type of mine required is, therefore, a small one, perhaps no bigger
than a football. The current of the river is at most about seven miles an
hour, and three or four at ordinary times, but it is quite easy to verify this.
There must, therefore, be a clockwork apparatus in the mine which makes it
dangerous only after it has gone a certain distance, so as to be clear of
French territory and also so as to spread the terror farther down the Rhine
to its confluence with the Moselle and beyond. The mine should
automatically sink, or preferably explode, by this apparatus before reaching
Dutch territory. After the mine has proceeded the required distance, which
can be varied, it should explode on a light contact. It would be a
convenience if, in addition to the above, the mine could go off if stranded
after a certain amount of time, as it might easily spread alarm on either of
the German banks.
4. It would be necessary in addition that the mine should float a convenient
distance beneath the surface so as to be invisible in the turgid waters. A
hydrostatic valve actuated by a small cylinder of compressed air should be
devised. I have not made the calculations, but I should suppose forty-eight
hours would be the maximum for which it would have to work. An
alternative would be to throw very large numbers of camouflage globes– tin
shells – into the river, which would spread confusion and exhaust remedial
5. What can they do against this? Obviously nets would be put across; but
wreckage passing down the river would break these nets, and except at the
frontier, they would be a great inconvenience to the traffic. Anyhow, when
our mine fetchedThe Cabinet, including the Foreign Secretary, appeared strongly
favourable to this action.
It is therefore necessary to take all steps to prepare it.
First Lord to First Sea Lord and others. 19.IX.39.
1. The negotiations with the Norwegians for the chartering of their tonnage
must be got out of the way first.
2. The Board of Trade would have to make arrangements with Sweden to
buy the ore in question, as it is far from our wish to quarrel with the
3. The Foreign Office should be made acquainted with our proposals, and
the whole story of Anglo -American action in 1918 must be carefully set forth,
together with a reasoned case.
4. The operation itself should be studied by the Admiralty Staff concerned.
The Economic Warfare Department should be informed as and when
Pray let me be continually informed of the progress of this plan, which is of
the highest importance in crippling the enemy's war industry.
A further Cabinet decision will be necessary when all is in readiness.
On the twenty-ninth, at the invitation of my colleagues, and after the whole subject had
been minutely examined at the Admiralty, I drafted a paper for the Cabinet upon this
subject and on the chartering of neutral tonnage which was linked with it.
Norway and Sweden
Memorandum by the First Lord of the Admiralty
September 29, 1939.
Chartering Norwegian Tonnage.
The Norwegian Delegation is approaching, and in a few days the President
of the Board of Trade hopes to make a bargain with them by which he
charters all their spare tonnage, the bulk of which consists of tankers.
The Admiralty consider the chartering of this tonnage most important, and
Lord Chatfield has written strongly urging it upon them.
German Supplies of Iron Ore from Narvik.
2. At the end of November the Gulf of Bothnia normally freezes, so that
Swedish iron ore can be sent to Germany only through Oxelosund in the
Baltic, or from Narvik at the north of Norway. Oxelosund can export only
about one-fifth of the weight of ore Germany requires from Sweden. In
winter normally the main trade is from Narvik, whence ships can pass down
the west coast of Norway, and make the whole voyage to Germany without
leaving territorial waters until inside the Skagerrak.
It must be understood that an adequate supply of Swedish iron ore is vital to
Germany, and the interception or prevention of these Narvik supplies during
the winter months, i.e., from October to the end of April,all Mediterranean
difficulties. So great a prize is worth the risk, and almost equal to
It is of no use giving me these reports five days late. The
Admiralty know every day exactly the state of the flotillas. I do
not know why this matter should go through the War Cabinet or
Defence Ministry. Pray tell the Admiralty to send direct to me,
every week, the state o their flotillas.
I am much concerned that the patrols on the western approaches
should only have gone up to thirty effective. Let me see the chart
showing previous weeks tomorrow.
I shall be obliged if you will let me know the present
unemployment figures, divided into as many categories as is
convenient, and compared with (a) how they stood at the
outbreak of war, and (b) when the new Government was formed.
It is to me incomprehensible that with the 50 American
destroyers coming into service we should not have been able to
Prime Minister to General replica rolex submariner Ismay.
Prime Minister to Minister of Labour.
Prime Minister to First Sea Lord.
raise the total serviceable to above 77 by November 23, when
they stood at 106 on October 16. What happened between
October 16 and October 26 to beat down serviceable destroyers
by 28 vessels, and why did they go down from 84 to 77 between
November 16 and November 23? – just at the very time when
another dozen Americans were coming into service.
I have authorised the ringing of church bells on Christmas Day,
as the imminence of invasion has greatly receded. Perhaps,
however, you will let me know what alternative methods of giving
the alarm you would propose to use on that day, and, secondly,
what steps would be taken to ensure that the ringing of the bells
for church services and without any invasion does not in fact lead
to an alarm. There must certainly be no relaxation of vigilance.
All this talk about Atlantic operations and Atlantic islands is most
dangerous, and is contrary to the decision to describe such
operations as “Shrapnel.” I see no need for these long and
pointless telegrams, and it is becoming quite impossible to
conduct military operations when everything has to be spread
about the Departments and around the world like this.
Kindly give me the assurance that there will be no further
discussion of these matters by telegram without my seeing the
messages before they are multiplied.
Let me also know exactly the lists of officials and departments to
whom these telegrams have been distributed.
Prime Minister to C.-in-C. Home Forces.
Prime Minister to4 have been a great disappointment
so far this war. The question of their alternative uses ought to be
considered by the Admiralty. I expect they have a large number
of skilled ratings on board. Could I have a list of these ships, their
tonnage, speeds, etc. Could they not carry troops or stores while
plying on their routes?
* * * * *
My indignation at the denial of the Southern Irish ports mounted under these
* * * * *
Prime Minister to Minister of Transport.
Prime Minister to First Lord.
Prime Minister to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The straits to which we are being reduced by Irish action compel
a reconsideration of these subsidies [to Irelandto debate
the general issues of policy, programmes, and all else connected with the air
My invitation was not intended as a muzzle, but as a gesture of friendliness
to an old colleague.
Accordingly, for the next four years I attended these meetings and thus obtained a full view
of this vital sphere of our air defence, and built up my ideas upon it year by year in close
and constant discussion with Lindemann. I immediately prepared a memorandum for the
Committee which embodied the thought and knowledge I had already gathered, without
official information, in my talks and studies with Lindemann and from my own military
conceptions. This paper is of interest because of the light which it throws on the position in
July, 1935. No one at that time had considered the use of radio beams for guiding
bombers. The difficulties of training large numbers of individual pilots were obvious, and it
was generally held that at night large fleets of aircraft would be led by a few masterbombers.
Great advances into new fields were made in the four years which were to pass
before the life of the nation was to be at stake; and meanwhile the adoption of bombing
guided by radio beams caused profound tactical changes. Hence much that was written
then was superseded, but a good deal was tried by me when I had power– not all with
23 July, 1935.
The following notes are submitted with much diffidence, and in haste on
account of our early meeting, in the hopes that they may be a contribution
to our combined thought.
General tactical conceptions and what is technically feasible act and react
upon one another. Thus, the scientist should be told what facilities the air
force would like to have, and airplane design be made to fit into and
implement a definite scheme of warfare.
At this stage we must assume a reasonable war hypothesis, namely, that
Great Britain, France, and Belgium are allies attacked by Germany.
After the outbreak of such a war, the dominating event will be the
mobilisation of the great Continental armies. This will take at least a
fortnight, diversified and hampered by mechanised and motorised inroads.
The French and German General Staffs' minds will be riveted upon the
assembly and deployment of the armies. Neither could afford to be markedly
behindhand at the first main shock. It may be hoped that Germany will not
be ready for a war, in which the Army and Navy are to play an important
part, for two or three yon Thursday, saw the gunner in
question and had a rocket fired off. Moreover, it was the
Admiralty Committee over which I presided early in the year
which produced the idea of using these distress rockets. I am,
therefore, well acquainted with the subject. The Air Ministry, not
for the first time, spread itself into very large demands, and,
using its priority, barged in heavily into other forms of not less
important production. I agree that P.A.C.8 rockets may be a good
interim defence against low-flying attack, but they have to take
their place in the general scheme. I thought myself about five
thousand a month would be sufficient, but I am willing to agree
to fifteen hundred a week, or six thousand a month. This figure
could be somewhat extended if the wire -recovery projects you
mention were further developed and proved an effective
(Action this day.)
Prime Minister to General Ismay. 25.VIII.40.
Prime Minister to Secretary of State for Air.
(Action this day.)
Prime Minister to Secretary of State for War. 25.VIII.40.
War Office have accepted from the War Cabinet the responsibility
of dealing with delayed -action bombs. This may become a feature
of the enemy attack. A number were thrown last night into the
City, causing obstruction. They may even try them on Whitehall!
It seems to me that energetic effort should be made to provide
sufficient squads to deal with this form of attack in the large
centres. The squads must be highly mobile, so as not to waste
men and material. They must move in motor lorries quickly from
one point to another. I presume a careful system of reporting all
unexploded bombs and the time at which they fell is in operation,
and that this information will be sent immediately to the delayedaction
section of Home Defence, which has no doubt already
been established, and also the various local branches. The
service, which is highly dangerous, must be considered
particularly honourable, and rewards should follow its successful
I should be very glad to see your plans for the new section,
together with numbers, and it will also be interesting to have a
short account of the work done up to date and the methods
employed. I presume you are in touch with all the scientific
authorities you need.
On the other hand, I am asking the Air Ministry for information as
to their reciprocating this process on the enemy.
(General Ismay to see.)
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