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61

Saturday, July 28th 2018, 11:55am

10 Downing Street, Whitehall, London, Saturday 9 October
Attlee had seen the morning papers and slammed them down on the baize-covered desk. He picked up the red telephone in front of him and spoke to the operator to make his call.
"Morning James. I trust you've seen the papers?"
On the other end of the phone, the Home Secretary Chuter Ede picked up his copy of The Times, "Morning Clem. It take it you mean the Channel business? Yes i have."
"How did the press get this past the D-Notice Committee?" Clem asked sharply.
Chuter Ede "From what I hear the daily papers have largely made up the stories. Apparently last night half of Fleet Street rushed down to the south coast hoping to see something but in the absence of news they called in phoney stories, mostly gossip from over-wrought housewives or men who had too many down the pub. The Committee is designed to censor sensitive news, not to proof read fiction."
Attlee grunted a little and flicked over his copy of the Daily Mirror, "Wedgie will make a statement today outlining the facts. Do you think the press barons deliberately put these stories out to discredit the government?"
"Its a possibility, but they will look foolish when their stories are proved false. Do you want me to call the Secretary?" Chuter Ede asked,
"Yes, as soon as you can. I want it impressed on the Press Association representative that air force operational movements and exercises remain firmly under the D-Notice and that reporting on foreign military movements must be cleared with the FO and WO before publication will be allowed. We can't afford a repeat of this."


Admiralty, Whitehall, London, Saturday 9 October
Alexander, the First Lord looked up from his cup of tea, "I can't make out their intentions. Its almost as though it was deliberate provocation."
The First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Bruce Fraser, examined the map on his desk of the plot of the aerial events of the previous day. "It was a plain enough signal for us to keep off the grass."
"But we did," Alexander sighed, "we didn't interfere with their recent naval exercises, the second provocative exercise this year. They have stalked our coasts with submarines, sortied almost the entire German battlefleet and now have conducted joint exercises with the French and Russians, even intercepting merchant traffic in the North Atlantic. We sat back and yet four of our planes over the Channel get up half the French air defences."
Fraser put the map down, "True it seems an ominous chain of events. But the Wolverine Incident was ample opportunity for them to make a big deal of it if they had wished to, but they didn't. They seem very defensive to whatever we do. They seek confrontation with us."
"What do you expect us to do?" Alexander asked "If we do nothing we look weak, they will push and push."
Fraser smiled, "sometimes its better to walk softly with a big stick. They know we have a big stick. We still have one advantage. Every exercise tips off their war planning, their operational dispositions, their inter-operability, they try to probe our reactions of course, we have adopted several different responses to keep them guessing. My advice it that next time we don't react and make our response somewhere else." He jabbed his finger on the map.
"Perhaps, your right. The Cabinet have no appetite to get into an arms race with the continent. During this session of Parliament the proposed maritime zone changes will come up for discussion, there could be political repercussions, although the French raised the possibility first." Alexander put his cup down and looked at his watch.
"I'm sure all this will blow over, the blue boys got their bit of fun and while they may have felt harassed by us at least they missed observing our latest exercise." Fraser picked up the file on Exercise WASHTUB."
Alexander smiled, "From the initial reports it seems to have gone very well. Are you pleased."
Fraser nodded, "It went perfectly , Plans are drawing up a report on the conclusions and how we might apply them."

62

Sunday, July 29th 2018, 6:50pm

The North Sea, 51 dgs 45 min North 2 dgs 54 min East, Saturday, 9 October 1948

It was not long after local dawn that the Dornier 330 J-for-Josef spotted the four British destroyers trailing the Alliance task force, which was busily assuming its three-column formation, there being sufficient sea room to do so. J-for-Josef closed with the British formation and assumed a racetrack course above them, keeping a respectful altitude and distance – close enough to make observation easy, far enough to reassure the British that they were not under attack. Moments after taking up its position, J-for-Josef was joined by several of its mates from Marine-Aufklärungsstaffel 241 – B-for-Bruno, G-for-Gustav, V-for-Viktor. Below them the crews of the British destroyers might have wondered what the Germans were up to.

63

Saturday, August 4th 2018, 7:27pm

The North Sea, 52 dgs 10 min North 3 dgs 16 min East, Saturday, 9 October 1948

The Dorniers continued to fly their racetrack pattern above the British destroyers as the latter continued to follow the track of the Alliance task force to the northwest. Several hours after their arrival the navigator in Dornier 330 J-for-Josef notified the pilot that they had passed the three-degree east of Greenwich mark. The pilot noted the fact but took no immediate action, waiting for the morning’s weather to fully clear. Eventually he picked up the aircraft’s wireless telephone.

“Kühlbox Leader to all Kühlbox aircraft. Execute Anton Einz. I repeat, execute Anton Einz.”

To an outside observer, nothing much happened. Below the circling Dorniers though the operators of the Type 278 radar on the Vigo, Albuera, Barrosa, and Mons all faced a most unexpected prospect.



Electronic noise blanketed their position-plan-indicator scopes.

64

Wednesday, August 8th 2018, 8:17pm

HMS Albuera, North Sea, 52 dgs 10 min North 3 dgs 16 min East, 9 October 1948

The operator fiddled with the cathode ray controls. "It makes no difference, every sector is the same."
The Chief Petty Officer picked up the telephone to the bridge "Direction room to bridge, we are still being jammed. Yes Sir, we've tried but it made no difference. No, we can't pick out any echos. Yes, Sir, right away."
The CPO hung the phone up and walked across to another console and flicked some switches, bringing another tube alive with spikey traces."


On the bridge Captain Johns looked at the bridge repeater over the shoulder of one the Lieutenants on duty.
"Its a fine mess. No hope of seeing anything through that fuzz. Must be some form of aerial jamming from an aircraft."
"Should we counter-jam?" the Lieutenant asked.
The Captain shook his head. "No we will monitor the signal and signal the flagship for instructions."

HMS Vigo
"HMS Vigo to C-inC Channel Command repeated Admiralty.
Am encountering heavy RDF interference at position 52 dgs 10 min North 3 dgs 16 min East. Interference from German DO330 type aircraft. Will continue to comply with current orders unless advised otherwise."

65

Monday, August 13th 2018, 3:03pm

The North Sea, 52 dgs 11 min North 3 dgs 19 min East, Saturday, 9 October 1948

The quartet of Dorniers maintained their position above the British destroyers for some time before there was an overt reaction from the trailing ships. As the Alliance task force continued its course to the northeast, the destroyers made a course change, first to the north-northeast and thence turning back to the west, heading in the general direction of Harwich. The Dorniers adjusted their own track to maintain position above them until the British ships had completed their course change.

“Kühlbox Leader to all Kühlbox aircraft. Cease Anton Einz. I repeat, cease Anton Einz.”

The position-plan-indicator scopes on the destroyers suddenly cleared, and after a few moments more, one by one the Dorniers broke from their racetrack and headed northeast towards their home base. Admittedly, in sending the message to the British shadowers, some disclosure of the Marineflieger’s capabilities had been revealed. But that was a price to pay to convey the news that Britain’s dominance at sea had been tested.

66

Saturday, August 18th 2018, 1:33am

Aircraft Carrier Wallenstein, 54 dgs 8 min North, 5 dgs 10 min East, Sunday, 10 October 1948

Signal flags fluttered at the mastheads of the flagship, and with well-drilled precision the task force split into two; the French and Russian vessels continued on their now easterly course, heading for Brunsbüttel and the entrance to the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal. They would be returning to the Baltic to resume their part in the Grand Alliance joint training scheme. The two aircraft carriers and their escorts shaped a course for Wilhelmshaven, where they would re-join the main striking force of the Atlantic Fleet.

In his cabin Admiral Engel began the lengthy process of composing his report on the successes, and disappointments, of Pegase. In some days’ time the commanders and senior staff would gather to assess the results, the lessons learned, and begin development of new tactics and techniques to overcome any significant failures. This Engel looked forward to, for despite the achievements of the task force he wished to hear the opinions of his Russian and French subordinates as well as the shore-based staff – any intelligence they may have gathered during the exercise was, of course, still unknown to him – and that knowledge would inform the ultimate success of their efforts.

And it would be good to return home, where no doubt a warm welcome awaited.

67

Saturday, August 18th 2018, 2:30pm

The Foreign Office, Whitehall, London 11:00am, Monday 11 October

Ernest Bevin looked at the letter on his desk. He adjusted his spectacles and skimmed the letter.

Quoted

Therefore His Majesty's Government must protest in the most strongest terms possible at the blatant attempt to electronically interfere with navigational devices of ships belonging to His Majesty's Royal Navy in the vicinity of busy shipping lanes where there was nearby traffic in international waters whilst the ships were going about their lawful and peaceful occasions and threatening to cause incidents with possible collision and liable to cause damage.


Bevin turned to his Private Secretary and the two Under Secretaries of State seated before him.
"Remember Clem wants to keep this low profile. The letter you have drafted up is acceptable. At the very least we should seek a formal apology. The question is can we prove this if it ever comes to an international case?"
One of the Secretaries nodded and opened his paper file "One of our destroyers made a film recording of the cathode ray tube output and we have tracks taken by Chain Home of the German aircraft racetrack pattern. The jamming was picked up from our shore stations and cross-located as well. There is no doubt."

Bevin grunted, "Very well, contact the Embassy and arrange an appointment for Prince von Bismarck." He scrawled his signature on the bottom of the letter.

68

Saturday, August 18th 2018, 6:25pm

The Foreign Office, Whitehall, London 7:00 PM, Monday, 11 October 1948

Otto, Prince von Bismarck had expected a summons to the Foreign Office for the last several weeks – in some respects he was surprised that the English had not raised objections to the latest Alliance naval exercises sooner. The thought of foreign warships calmly sailing through waters the English considered to be their own was no doubt a blow to their amour-propre.

The usher opened the door to admit him to the Foreign Secretary’s office, and closed it behind him. Bevin did not bother to rise but glowered from behind his desk. Bismarck made a mental note of the lack of courtesy but sat, uninvited, in the chair placed opposite Bevin.

“I am given to understand that His Majesty’s Government has a letter it wishes to convey to the German Government.”

“Yes, we do.” Bevin’s voice was laced with distaste – as if he wished to come right out and speak his mind instead of limiting himself to the language of diplomacy. He took from his desk an envelope and offered it to Bismarck. “I haven’t an idea what your Government is up to but we will not be played with.”

Bismarck casually opened the envelope and scanned its contents. It held little in the way of surprises. The ambassador folded up the letter and returned it to the envelope, which he then placed in the inner pocket of his coat.

“I shall convey to my Government His Majesty’s Government concerns in this matter, and shall return with their answer upon its arrival. If there is nothing further, I will take my leave.”

“Please do.”

Bismarck arose and left Bevin’s office. He considered the letter remarkably restrained in its language, and wondered how the Wilhelmstraße would react. He could cable a precis of the note tonight and perhaps receive preliminary instructions by mid-morning.