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41

Monday, September 18th 2017, 9:07pm

To be honest I wasn't sure what the “Holy Mother Russia” item was Brock posted, it seemed more like a crazy editorial in a newspaper or a satirical piece than a formal diplomatic document!

42

Monday, September 18th 2017, 10:12pm

To be honest I wasn't sure what the “Holy Mother Russia” item was Brock posted, it seemed more like a crazy editorial in a newspaper or a satirical piece than a formal diplomatic document!

The official note delivered by the Russian ambassador would be written in the nice official legalese; but I didn't feel like writing that. :P I wrote it late at night, and was going more for levity than anything else. One of the true joys of playing Russia is having fun with some of the tropes that have developed... :D

More seriously:

The Russians did contact the Danish naval attaché as early as April 13th asking if they'd spotted a submarine transiting the Belts. (I noted Kozyukhin saying that almost immediately, before they even knew it was a British submarine.) The Russians would try to inform the Danes quite quickly so that, in the event the Wolverine tried to sneak back through the Great Belt submerged, Danish naval forces would be alerted to try to spot it. So, while Minister Rasmussen might not have heard it yet, Danish MOD would have known before April 16th that Russian destroyers encountered a British submarine, and how the Russians suspect it got there. What the Danes choose to do then is entirely up to them.

As I noted, the Russians don't really give a flying foxtrot whether the British send submarines into the Baltic. It's why - having established the Wolverine's identity, the Russian destroyers broke off the chase: they've got better things to do than watch a submarine that has every right to be in international waters as they do. What the Russians really care about is equality - specifically, they want to have the same rights as everyone else - so if the Danish allowed a British submarine to pass the straits submerged, then Russia's going to either demand that the Danes stop it, or they're going to insist that they be allowed the same rights. As the Danes have very good reason to block submerged submarine transits of such busy waterways, the Russians prefer to have the rules enforced, rather than having the rules adjusted.

43

Wednesday, September 20th 2017, 5:42pm

A Conspiracy at the Barley Row?

Michael Braithwaite decided to take the relatively risky step of gaining access to Mrs Thornton’s house while she and Aston were both out. The opportunity would have to be carefully chosen but even then gaining entry without detection from her neighbours wouldn’t be easy. Also, there was no guarantee that they would find anything of use. Aston was probably not likely to leave anything incriminating lying about and since it didn’t appear that he was being passed material directly (as far they could tell at this stage) it seemed unlikely a cache of secret material would be found.

Then a breakthrough happened. One night while Henry Golding and Michael were shadowing Aston back from the Barely Row, both men taking over a part of the route. Aston suddenly made an unexpected detour and finally stopped and got off his bicycle near a telephone box. He propped the bicycle against the red booth and stepped inside. Henry made sure he kept in the shadows. Ashton was inside only a few moments before he got back onto his bike, reversed course and then continued home, Michael picking up his trail as expected a few moments later. Henry wondered what he had been up to, had he made a telephone call or had he perhaps dropped a little package for collection? He was about the step forwards to investigate when he heard footsteps on the pathing stones in the night air. Henry stopped and hid behind a tree, a figure emerged from down the road, a large set man with a heavy overcoat and a hat. He just caught sight of the man in the light of the gas streetlamp before he stepped into the telephone box. He took even less time than Aston had inside and was soon heading back down the road. Henry made to follow him but by the time he had passed the telephone box and gotten a little further down the road the man had disappeared down a ginnel and was gone. Henry stood a moment pondering what to do before deciding the best thing to do was head for the planned rendezvous with Michael.

Tom Measure picked them both up as arranged in the car and drove them back to their safehouse.
“Aston seemed a little later tonight,” Michael mused.
“He took a turning and stopped off at a phone box not far from the station,” Henry pulled out a notebook.
“Odd, he’s never done that before,” Michael stroked his chin, “did he make a call?”
Henry shrugged his shoulders, “it would have been a quick call if he did. He was soon back out and peddling back up the road. Anyway…” he spoke faster to cut off Michael’s next question, “not more than a couple of minutes later another man turns up, enters the phone box and seconds later makes off down the road.”
“A dead-letter dropoff, I’ll bet” Tom said, briefly turning his head towards the back seat.
“Obviously,” Michael raised an eyebrow, “did you follow him?” he asked Henry.
Henry shook his head, “I lost him in an alley. It was too dark to see where he went.” He then gave Michael a rough description of the man.
“Could be one of a million men in Lancashire,” Tom mused from the front seat.
“The important point is we might have located his drop, unless they change locations for safety but Aston isn’t a trained agent so he’s likely to be sloppy. They probably think a midnight rendezvous is safe. Totally mistaking quiet for safety.” Michael knew sooner or later, perhaps once a month, Aston would make another drop and next time they would be ready.

44

Sunday, September 24th 2017, 6:25pm

British Foreign Policy 1900-1950 by Edward. G. Forth, Longman, 1988
Chapter Eight: Mediterranean Policy


The April 1948 tour of Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin was one of the most decisive undertaken throughout the period. At a time of turbulent international politics Britain sought both to maintain its control of the Middle East and lessen the jealousies of the region at the same time. The government also wanted to refocus its military energies elsewhere and as its policy of giving the various protectorates greater self-security began to gather momentum it made sense to lessen defence spending in certain areas.

The first stop of Bevin’s flying tour was Cairo. He arrived on 17th April and for three days was engaged in talks about what the future of a post Anglo-Egyptian Treaty relationship might look like. Britain was keen to keep her armed forces in the Canal Zone. Egypt was keen to reduce British military presence but also feared Italian motives should Britain leave altogether. Talks ranged from whether Egypt should gain a 25% stake in the Suez Canal, (equal shares for Britain, France, Italy and Egypt), whether Britain would grant Egyptian governmental control of the Sudan and whether Egypt’s armed forces could be wholly independent. No firm conclusions were reached at this early stage, Bevin feeling the Iraqi unrest had emboldened Cairo’s demands but also hinting that Cairo feared the unrest their own population might make if something wasn’t done. Political reform did not come easily and sometimes having a British prop was useful for legitimacy and holding onto power. Even so these discussions would shape future agreements.

Ever since the talks to renew the Anglo-Iraq Treaty Iraq had become unstable. In part the demonstrations were anti-British but also it provided an opportunity for frustrations about the lack of social change and the poverty much of the population endured. The Iraqi government had reacted brutally and Britain tried its best to moderate events by carefully advising against further bloodshed and keeping its troops off the streets. When Bevin arrived in Baghdad on the 21st it was for a brief twenty-four hour visit. Its main aim was to show the Iraqi government had London’s support but also that changes would have to be made. The biggest concession was a change in Article IX. The Labour Party uneasy that an Iraq starved of funds would become too unstable proposed to increase Iraq’s share of profits from oil produced from Iraqi wells under British ownership to 35%. In return Bevin made it clear London expected the funds to be used wisely and not to disappear into the bureaucratic system to sustain the ruling class. London was attempting to walk a tightrope, to maintain her economic and military rights but trying to create stable enough conditions to let the Iraqi people choose their own stable government.

Re-entering Europe, Bevin landed in the Greek capital Athens on 23rd April for a three day visit. Bevin’s first task was to formally renew a naval co-operation agreement with the Greek government.
On 1st January 1929 a naval co-operation agreement was signed between Britain and Greece. The agreement brokered the potential for joint exercises with the Greek Navy, an officer exchange programme and in return for access to all British naval bases in the Mediterranean the Greeks agreed to upgrade the facilities at Alexandria and Suda Bay. Other clauses stated that both nations would co-operate in time of war in the Mediterranean, whilst Greek forces would take on many of the roles filled by the Royal Navy should it be required to operate out of the area. Although the officer exchange programme was never initiated, several joint exercises had occurred and Britain was satisfied that the balance of power in Mediterranean was safe. Since the heady days of the 1920s Greece had slowly succumbed to financial pressures and her navy was scarcely growing let alone keeping pace with developments elsewhere. Britain offered modern technology such as radar to help refit their navy and Greece at least took comfort that Britain was still a guarantor to her safety and that access to British bases gave her a regional power reach otherwise beyond her means. With Greece's full backing, Bevin signed the renewal and the naval agreement was renewed for another twenty years.

After the Greek talks Bevin flew to Naples for a four-day summit.
In March 1929 at the end of the Copenhagen Naval Treaty Limitation Talks side discussions with the Italian delegates led to the taking up of Italian shares in the Suez Canal with partial membership. Other agreements such as British safeguarding of Italian and territories in Eastern Africa and Italian, in conjunction with Iberia, oversight British interests in the Mediterranean were soon forgotten as naval limitation failed and the rise of the AEGIS bloc tended to increase insecurity on both sides. Within five years Italy declared herself encircled by enemies and both sides settled into a diplomatic impasse until eventually AEGIS fell apart and Italy left to her own devices struggled with political and economic problems at home.

Yet the overall trends that had made Britain seek to use her precious and expensive military assets elsewhere and the relative security and understanding of the status quo in regard to North African and Middle Eastern colonies had remained unchanged. Indeed Italy and Britain had had no quarrel or diplomatic incident during this time. Yet as the Grand Alliance grew stronger the tensions along the Alpine borders with Germany and Yugoslavia had grown and Italy seemed unable to react in a manner to lessen the tensions. Britain too was feeling a resurgent Germany was beginning to threaten her economically and possibly militarily and the tensions in the Far East had never ceased to be a concern. The Labour government now determined to see if a lasting deal could be done.

Bevin’s tour had been building up to this important summit. The result of discussions was the Naples Agreement, it basically confirmed that both Italy and Britain would maintain the status quo and that neither nation would attempt to interfere with the sphere of influence of the other. The Italian delegation raised the sale of jet technology and arms to Yugoslavia, Bevin offered to sell military technology to Italy, with the proper safeguards, and loans to prop up her stagnating economy. But Bevin made it clear that Italy had to resolve matters with Yugoslavia by giving up her demands on the disputed enclave of Vlore. Bevin didn’t press the matter to entirely make British aid conditional but it was clear London would become more generous the more Italy abandoned territorial expansion in the Balkans. The question of whether Vlore would go back to Greece or Yugoslavia was side-stepped, that was a matter for the League of Nations. The Italian foreign minister Carlo Sforza knew that Athens had British support, could he buy British support? Shrewdly he made no immediate concessions but secured a £150 million loan with the acceptance of the status quo in the spheres of influence, an agreement to reduce military forces in Libya, some naval reductions and minor economic trading favours for both nations and the Middle Eastern sterling bloc. Bevin shrewdly drew back from any military or security undertakings to avoid upsetting the Grand Alliance partners of France and Germany. London desired good relations with both and lacking any flashpoints there seemed no reason why Britain, France, Italy and Greece could not co-exist peacefully. For their part, both Bevin and Sforza knew that their interests had never been divergent and that the 1929 Copenhagen talks were a missed opportunity. The Naples Agreement was formally signed in May 1948.

45

Monday, September 25th 2017, 1:47am

Since the heady days of the 1920s Greece had slowly succumbed to financial pressures and her navy was scarcely growing let alone keeping pace with developments elsewhere. Britain offered modern technology such as radar to help refit their navy...

Since you mention this, Back right about the time Sachmle dropped to silent running (probably about 1942, IIRC), I'd started offering him the option of buying French radars, aircraft, tanks, etc - same as I'd offered to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Romania. The Greeks and Romanians are NPCs by this point, but both took me up on the topic of radar, accepting French assistance to assemble a radar defense warning system. I'd probably suggest that, although NPC, the Greek Navy's probably been refitting their major warships with radar over the last few years.

Not to say it isn't nice to have more than one option. :)

46

Wednesday, October 4th 2017, 4:22pm

A Conspiracy at the Barley Row? Pelicans and Telephones

That Henry Golding had witnessed a dead-letter drop and pick-up was undeniable. But that only led to more questions in Michael Braithwaite’s mind. What information was Aston passing? Where was he getting that information? Who was the person who made the pick-up? All of these would have to be answered.

A telephone call the next day to his Section Head in London elicited the gruff response to “sort it out” the best he could. Within hours he had a call from the Divisional Chief and soon knew that the news had swept up the chain of command. His brief was to provide evidence and bring Ashton in, the sooner the better. He had to inform the Head of Security at Risley of the leak, but there was no indication yet of whether Aston had a contact inside the plant or whether he was picking up bar talk. They could warn off the technical staff going to the pub but that would risk a leak and could compromise Michael’s desire to catch Aston red-handed. For now they decided to put on another security lecture and heavily hint that, “walls have ears”.

Tom Measure suggested they might stop the leak by getting the pub landlord to sack Aston, but as Michael patiently pointed out that would, “scupper our effort to nab him and his accomplice red-handed.”
Tom sighed, “it might be weeks before Aston makes another drop, we can’t sit around staring at a phone box for ever.”
Henry mused how Aston was getting the information. By all accounts he was no scholar, so how would he understand the content of anything he did pick up? Henry felt it was more likely that someone inside was doing the “brainy” part of the work. Tom disagreed however and came up with an idea.

The next day Tom went to the main Warrington Library. On seeing the pretty young librarian he put on the charm and tried his best to chat her up in a congenial way that was seemingly innocent. He asked if they had any books on nuclear physics. He played her a line that he needed something to help his son with some homework he was having trouble with. The librarian chewed her pencil while she thought and then moved across the counter and read out a couple of titles. Tom shook his head at the long wordy scientific titles she read out.
“Or there’s the Pelican Book Why Smash Atoms? by A. K. Solomon?” she said hopefully.
Tom nodded, “yes, that one sounds just the ticket. Where might I find it?”
The librarian looked down her file and cross-checked with her file index, she pulled a face, “sorry, it’s currently checked out. It’s an overdue book actually, we’ve been waiting six weeks for it.”
Tom tutted in mock disappointment, “that’s a pity. I bet that’s quite a fine for six weeks overdue.”
As the librarian sighed in agreement and flicked the card over to put it back into the card index he saw the name on the docket, ‘Mr Michael Aston’. The librarian helpfully pointed him in the direction of a bookshop down the road where he might buy a copy. To his surprise Tom actually did go and buy a copy. When he showed it to Michael on his return to the Risley office, he knew his boss was pleased.

Michael thumbed the little blue hardback book, impressed by the content. Enough for the layman to understand the basics of the subject.
“It seems likely our friend has been schooling himself so he knows what to listen out for and can use some big words in his report so his handler thinks he’s a genius.”
Henry was sceptical and the evidence was flimsy but the name seemed to fit. Tom offered to break into Mrs Thornton’s house and bring the overdue library book back. Michael felt that bravado wasn’t needed but was still curious about what may lie in Aston’s room at his lodgings. In any case it seemed to rule out a leak from the inside, for which there was no evidence anyway. For the moment they cooled off on going into the Barley Row.

The following Tuesday they made their move. Tom and Henry donned the disguise of telephone workmen. Aston had left the house as usual and headed to the bookies for the afternoon races. Michael sat guard outside in the car in case Aston should make for home. Meanwhile Tom and Henry appeared in an old van and knocked on Mrs Thornton’s back door. After a moment a plump lady in her forties and wearing an apron appeared.
“Hello, we’re from the GPO,” Tom theatrically tugged on his cap, “we’ve had reports of faults on the lines in this area and we’d like to check your telephone.”
Mrs Thornton hadn’t reported any fault but it seemed better to be safe than sorry and invited the workmen in. They wiped their feet on the doormat and she showed them to the black telephone sitting on a small table in the hall by the stairs. “Of course I don’t use it much, but my sister lives in Stafford and it’s so nicer to have a chat than sending letters don’t you think dear?”
Henry smiled and nodded in agreement as he lifted the headpiece and clicked the receiver and then scurried around on his knees looking at the wire.
“My lodger sometimes uses it,” she continued.
‘I bet he does’, Tom thought to himself, “Trunk calls or local?”
Mrs Thornton flicked at some dust on the table, “Does it matter for a fault with the line?”
“Oh yes,” Henry nodded with a serious face, “especially with these new automatic exchanges.”
She looked a little shocked at the technical words, “well local mainly, I think. Does my sister in Stafford count as a trunk or local? I can never remember.” She flicked at some more imaginary dust.
Sensing she was a talkative woman Tom swung his charm into action and distracted Mrs Thornton, “I must say I noticed as we came up the garden that your Auriculas are looking splendid, mine never come up as good. You must tell me your secret.”
“Well…” she drifted back into the kitchen and Henry followed her with his back in the doorway.

Henry sensing his moment slipped upstairs onto the landing. Choosing one of the doors to the back of the house he swung it open. The room was small but untidy, it looked most likely to be Astons. He crept in and cast his eyes over the dresser. On it were a few dusty books and, to his surprise, there lay the blue Pelican Book. There were a few scraps of paper, he inspected them, but they seemed to be scribblings and a pile of old betting tickets. Opening the drawer he found the usual items one finds in a dresser, comb, hair cream and spare razor blades. But also some oddities, a tatty London guidebook, a stick of blue chalk and tightly bound in an elastic band was a bundle of fivers. Henry smiled to himself, Aston probably had another drop-off in town where he picked up his pay. There was a spare jacket hanging up behind the door, he rifled the pockets but they were empty. He could still hear the gardening conversation in the kitchen below but he thought it wiser not to be much longer and he slipped back out of the room and downstairs. He taped Tom on the shoulder and he let him pass into the kitchen, “all done Missus, nothing much really but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” he smiled.

47

Sunday, October 8th 2017, 4:12pm

24 April
Manchester United defeat Blackpool 4–2 in the FA Cup final at Wembley to claim their first major trophy for 37 years.

The first prototype Miles M.73 Herald, registered G-AODE, flew today. Developed as a private venture, the Herald is an enlarged Marathon with a pressurised cabin for 36-44 passengers. A large split passenger/ cargo door is fitted in rear fuselage to port and the aircraft is fully convertible to full and mixed cargo carrying. It is powered by four 875hp Alvis Leonides Major radial engines and is designed for a cruising speed of 224mph and a range of 1,640 miles. BEA has orders for 25 and other private airline orders total 20 so far.


29 April
The British Refractories Research Association, a materials testing, analysis and consultancy organisation based in Stoke-on-Trent, and the British Pottery Research Association have merged to form the British Ceramic Research Association.

48

Friday, October 20th 2017, 1:19pm

Berlin, Wednesday 21 April
Captain Alfred Burcough as Britain’s Naval Attaché to Germany had had an uncomfortable fortnight. Kept scooting around Berlin to pick up any intelligence of Germany’s intentions he had been tired out. The Germans for their part had put up an effective smokescreen in the shape of the Wolverine. Privately he cursed London for not keeping him in the loop. The main outcome of the exercise was some dissatisfaction that the Royal Navy had not acted in the way Berlin had planned. Alfred mused how the methodical Germans had been annoyed that their plans hadn’t gone entirely to their wishes. The Admiralty had seen Operation Thunderclap for what it was and acted accordingly. In his view the Germans had tipped their hand too soon and revealed too much.

Alfred lunched with the Nordish Naval Attaché Captain Erik Torbenssen. They took care to eat outside and take advantage of the spring weather. Erik too had a busy time, the scale of the German exercise having surprised them, so much so that little response was made at first.
“How is your government taking things now the exercise is over?” Alfred asked.
“Pragmatically,” Torbenssen shrugged, “the Navy is still annoyed that the Germans felt they could practice minelaying to keep us bottled up.” He sighed, “it seems the peaceful days of the thirties when we all had non-aggression pacts and hopes of co-operation have faded, still my government knows her iron and timber resources are too vital to Germany to make her act foolishly.”
Alfred could only agree, on both counts. He mused how not many years before the Kriegsmarine had notified London about all their U-boat constructions to avoid misunderstandings and even the Sachsen class battleships had been open for inspection when they were built.
“But speaking of foolish, what was you government thinking when they sent the Wolverine into the Baltic like that?” Torbenssen asked.
“An unfortunate business, I know little about it.” Alfred responded.
“The Danes are upset, we know they tried to intercept her on the way back but they seem to have had problems. I heard a rumour that the commander of the coast defence squadron at Korsør has been sacked.”
Alfred was surprised at the latest piece of news, the Danes had been caught napping. It seemed likely they wouldn’t be so easily deceived again.
“Even some in my own Navy are worried that your submarine may have been spying on us,” Torbenssen continued.
Alfred shook his head, “No, the only intent was to observe German manoeuvres. We know they have submarines off our own harbours much of the time. Tit for tat. The Admiralty had no interest in collecting intelligence on Nordish or Danish dispositions, so you can put your superiors’ minds at rest on that matter.”
“And how is your Navy now? Back in harbour?” Torbenssen was fishing for information.
“Oh the Home Fleet is mainly in harbour, it’s not long before the exercise season starts you know,” Alfred replied noncommittally.


Copenhagen, Asiatisk Plads, Friday 23 April

Sir Alec Randall, the British Ambassador to Denmark, sat waiting in the ante room outside the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs office. Eventually he was shown inside by an aide. Niels Rasmussen rose from his seat and greeted him warmly and they shook hands and Rasmussen showed him to the more informal chairs in the corner of the room.
“Alec, I have an official response to your informal offer which you made during your last visit.” Rasmussen as usual came directly to the point. Alec was pessimistic that the Danes would have accepted such a flimsy undertaking.
“We have considered your proposal that if we approved transits of your submarines in return for a share of the intelligence gained,” Rasmussen paused to build the tension slightly, “but in view of the current situation I regret that we cannot agree to such a proposal.”
Alec nodded, “I fully understand.”
“There were some calls in the government to impose a temporary restriction on Royal Navy vessels but I do not think this will materialise given your government’s prompt admission of guilt.”
Alec was relieved, “my government undertakes not to conduct submerged voyages through any of your territorial waters. There will be no repeat of the incident I can assure you.”
The air was still tense, “personally speaking, I think the proposal from my government was clumsy and ill-advised,” Alec confessed.
Rasmussen smiled, “and had we succeeded in holding your submarine that too would have been regrettable.”
Alec smiled knowingly. “You would have had a hard time proving she had done anything illegal Niels.”
Rasmussen sighed, “We will of course continue to monitor all naval traffic very closely. I would advise not sending any warships through the Belts for the next couple of months or trying to drag us into your games with Germany.”
“I will pass this onto London of course,” Alec paused, “I only hope your government does not allow itself to be bullied into making decisions.”
Rasmussen looked at Sir Alec quizzically, “what do you mean?”
“Our military attaché in Berlin informed me this morning that elements of two German armies have begun exercising in Schleswig-Holstein,” Alec knew that Rasmussen could not be unaware of the fact, “one might say ‘Force Majeure’?”
“And a hundred bombers off our North Sea coast is not the same thing?” Rasmussen clipped back, “we are a small nation and always at the mercy of bigger ones. We try to stay neutral. You know the laws of physics, every action has an opposing force. That is why I request that if you want to play games with the Germans that you should do so elsewhere.”
Alec nodded in agreement, he hoped with time the incident would recede and he felt that Rasmussen’s advice was indeed sound.

49

Saturday, October 28th 2017, 10:12am

4 May
Today Laurence Olivier's latest film, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, has been premiered in London.

10 May
The Belstaff company, an English brand founded in Longton, Staffordshire and best known for producing waterproof jackets as well as goggles (primarily for the growing aviation market) and gloves has been acquired to became a subsidiary of the James Halstead Company.

13 May
The National Assistance Act from today officially supersedes the old Poor Law system.
The National Assistance Act 1948 formally abolishes the Poor Law system that had existed since the reign of Elizabeth I. It establishes a social safety net for those who have not paid National insurance contributions (such as the homeless, the physically handicapped, and unmarried mothers) and were therefore uncovered by the National Insurance Act 1946 and the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946. It also provides help to the elderly who required supplementary benefits to make a subsistence living, and obliges local authorities to provide suitable accommodation for those who through infirmity, age, or any other reason are in need of care and attention not otherwise available] The legislation also empowers local authorities to grant financial aid to organisations of volunteers concerned with the provision of recreational facilities or meals.
The National Assistance Board, which administers the National Assistance scheme, operates scale rates which are more generous. The previous rate for a married couple before the new service was launched was 31 shillings a week and is now 40 shillings a week, together with an allowance for rent.
Under Section 29 of the Act, the power is granted to local authorities to promote the welfare of physically handicapped individuals. The social needs of the mentally handicapped are the responsibility of mental health departments which, being part of the new National Health Service, provide its services to all those needed it, regardless of ability to pay.

Squadron Leader Trevor ‘Wimpy’ Wade achieved a London-to-Paris flight record of 21minutes 27 seconds giving an average of 617.9mph while flying the prototype Hawker P.1052 VX272. The P.1052 has swept wings and is powered by a 5,000lb Rolls-Royce RB.41 Nene II turbojet.



In other aeronautical news, the first prototype Westland Canberra jet-powered tactical bomber made its maiden flight from Yeovil. VN799 making a very successful first flight. It is powered by two of the new 6,500lb Rolls-Royce R.A.2 Avon axial-flow turbojets and will be followed by three more prototypes later this year. The Canberra is subject to several large orders covering tactical bomber and reconnaissance variants to enter service in the early 1950s.

50

Friday, November 10th 2017, 4:49pm

A Conspiracy at the Barley Row?
The Snatch


While the search of Aston’s room had uncovered little of note, it increased Michael Braithwaite’s suspicion that he was passing information regarding the activities of the Risley facility via information he was picking up at the Barley Row and perhaps other open sources.

The next move was to intercept the dead-letter box pick-up. Henry Golding and Tom Measure had been practising the manoeuvre on paper for several days before getting fully acquainted with the locality of the telephone box, both on foot and in the car. Michael’s plan was to wait until Aston had made the drop and bicycled out of sight before Henry and Tom grabbed the contact when he made the pick-up. If all went well Aston wouldn’t be aware of the snatch and he could be rounded up later.

The trouble was London was getting impatient and wanted results. If Aston was an agent then they wanted him muzzled as soon as possible. Michael’s section head proved more amenable when he pointed out that they could get the second man too and perhaps roll up the entire network in the area. Even so his patience wouldn’t last forever.

As luck would have it, two days after Michael had secured a brief extension to carry out their plan, Aston instead of cycling directly home from work, made his detour to the telephone box. Michael and Henry were waiting in the car just up the road. From their position near the junction they could see Aston cycling down the road behind them heading towards the telephone box. Also, they could cover the road Aston normally took on the direct route home. As Aston passed, Henry silently slipped out of the back door and made his way on foot to the next street along, where he hoped to cut off the second man at the end of the alleyway if anything when wrong. Tom was already waiting behind a large Lime tree further down the road, handily shadowed from the street lights.

Aston got off his bicycle and propped it against the side of the telephone box. He gave a quick look over his shoulder and opened the door. He opened his raincoat and took out of his inside pocket an envelope which he put onto the ledge beside the telephone. He then closed the door, got astride his bicycle and set off back up the road before altering direction to his usual route home. Michael in the car watched him cycle away and felt sure that he wouldn’t hear or see anything of the commotion to come.

Henry found himself cursing how slow time was running as he waited for the second man to appear. The wind rustled through the leaves of the tree, a branch creaking slightly. Somewhere a cat meowed. A hundred things were running through his mind in case something had gone wrong. Should he try and grab the package himself? No, he had the self-control to wait. Then, seconds later, he heard footsteps tapping along the pavement somewhere behind him. He cautiously peered over his shoulder and saw the other man approaching on the opposite side of the road. The man had his jacket collar turned up and a large trilby pulled down low. He got to the telephone box, gave a brief look around and opened the door. Seeing the envelope he stuffed it into his pocket.

The man then set off back down the road, heading for the little alleyway. Henry waited until the man had passed his vantage point and he crossed over the road and started to trail the man. It was then that a piece of gravel or a stone crunched loudly under Henry’s right shoe. The man turned his head sharply and made out Henry’s dark figure coming down the pavement towards him. The man quickened his pace and as he reached the entrance of the ginnel he began to run. Henry chased after him. Tom was waiting at the other end and the man almost ran straight into him in the darkness. Tom grabbed hold of the man’s coat and in the few moments they tussled, Henry had emerged to lend his weight to the struggle. Within seconds Michael pulled up sharply in the Humber saloon, Henry grabbed the rear door handle with one hand and yanked it open before pulling the man inside with his other arm, Tom also pushing. The door slammed shut and Michael let the clutch out and they sped off down the road with a little wheel spin disturbing the peace.

51

Friday, November 10th 2017, 5:19pm

OOC:

Good stuff - glad to see this picking up again.

52

Monday, November 13th 2017, 6:11pm

20 May
In an effort to stabilise the situation in Iraq, the Iraqi government has promised wage and food price reforms and funding for additional food imports. It is widely believed that a General Election will soon be called.

24 May
The Coastal Command Development Unit at RAF Ballykelly has been re-designated as the Air-Sea Warfare Development Unit.

26 May
The prototype of the new Saro P.104 four-engine maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine flying boat made its maiden flight today. Designed to meet Spec R.2/45 is the produce of Saunders-Roe’s investment in cutting edge research into hullforms to design a narrow fuselage that offers superior aerodynamic and hydrodynamic drag. The aircraft will be powered by four Rolls-Royce Griffon V-12 engines. Two prototypes will be made, no decision has yet been made on whether the type will be ordered into production.

53

Tuesday, November 14th 2017, 11:59am

30 May
Today Reid and Sigrist Ltd., manufacturer of precision aircraft instrumentation and operator of a flying training school, unveiled their latest aircraft creation which flew earlier this month. The R.S.4 Bobsleigh is a converted R.S.3 Desford twin-engine trainer fitted with a prone pilot station in the fuselage nose. The aircraft will be operated by the Institute of Aviation Medicine for research into G-force resistance, the prone position in theory offering pilots a more comfortable position when fighting the effects of gravity during fast combat manoeuvres.



The Army has sent several teams to represent Great Britain in the competitions of the 1948 Militariad held in Russia against some of the best military completion teams from across Europe.

Two teams drawn from the 1st Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers and the 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters, of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, took part in the Grenadier Challenge which tests the skills of an infantry squad in a series of events including; team obstacle course, relay obstacle course, 10km run and a shooting range. Teams consisted of at least five individuals including one rifleman, one sharpshooter, and one machine gunner. One of these teams emerged victorious to claim the gold Grenadier's Medallion and three thousand roubles of prize money.

Two teams drawn from The Grenadier Guards The Coldstream Guards participated in the Presentation, a series of judged events including military marching drill and rifle display team. One team took second place, being beaten by Germany.

A team drawn from the 4th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery participated in the Thunderbolt / Artillery Biathlon. They took with them their standard equipment including a Morris C8 ‘Quad’ artillery tractor and a QF 25pdr Mk I field howitzer. The trial tested the skills of gunners in transporting a field howitzer across unimproved terrain and then firing at a target 7km away. The team claimed second place, trailing a very good Yugoslav team.

Two teams drawn from The Blues and The Life Guards joined the Equestrian Patrol which tested the skills of horsemen in a patrol, obstacle course and team relay. The Blues managed to achieve third place behind Belgium and the defending champions Poland.

Other teams who participated in other events were; a team drawn from The Special Boat Squadron, 1st Special Air Brigade in the Frogman Challenge, a team from the 1st Battalion of The Parachute Regiment in the Parachute Raid, a team from the 1st Battalion, 12th (Prince of Wales's) Royal Lancers in the 1200km Military Rally, a team from the 4th Royal Tank Regiment with four A30 Centurion Mk IV tanks in the Armoured Spearhead and two teams drawn from 1st East Riding Yeomanry and the 1st Battalion, 12th (Prince of Wales's) Royal Lancers in the Flying Column. Overall Britain achieved a respectable fourth-place table finish.

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Friday, November 17th 2017, 3:36pm

Operation FOREMAST
28th April to 10th May

Exercise Commander: Commander in Chief North Atlantic, Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton
The broad area of the exercise zone was a 250nm radius arc centred on coordinates 52° 10' 0" W 22° 0' 0.

Phase I: 28th April to 1st May
Transit to exercise area, full scale fleet manoeruves, defence against aerial attacks.

Phase II: 2nd May to 4th May
Formation of large-scale carrier fleet (three strike and two escort carriers) and practice of mass formations in long-range aerial strike and ship-controlled fighter interception.

Phase III: 5th May to 6th May
Anti-submarine excercises, tactical dispositions for covering convoys.

Phase IV: 7th May to 8th May
Full scale fleet manoeruves, defence against surface attacks, live firing practice.


Operation MAINMAST
9th May to 14th May

The broad area of the exercise zone was a 250nm radius arc centred on coordinates 44° 06' 0" W 30° 0' 0.

The units attached to Operation FOREMAST became Blue Fleet.
A force of three carriers, three battleships, eight cruisers, ten submarines and supporting ships of the Mediterranean Fleet under the command of Commander in Chief Mediterranean: Admiral Henry Daniel Pridham-Wippell arrived in the area on the 9th as Red Fleet.

Phase I: 9th May to 12th May
The aim was a full-scale fleet versus fleet action, the Red Fleet was deemed to be twice its real size and all combat outcomes were factored accordingly. The aim for Blue Fleet was to inflict enough serious damage to Red Fleet to destroy its offensive capabilities and inflict serious enough losses for it to withdraw or change its operational aims. Blue Fleet had to limit its losses wherever possible as long as this did not hamper its attempts to achieve its objective. The aim for Red Fleet was to destroy the defensive and offensive striking power of Blue Fleet.

Phase II: 13th May
The aim for Red Fleet was to infiltrate waters known to be patrolled by submarines and aircraft and attempt to transit these areas and balance the demands for strike airpower against defensive cover. Blue Fleet's aims remained the same.

Phase III: 14th May
Live firing practice for Red Fleet ships. Blue Fleet ships practiced anti-submarine sweeps.