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Sunday, August 18th 2019, 12:33pm

4 May
Three men stood on the windy foreshore looking out to sea. The area was the most northernmost and remotest point in the British Isles, to the east lay the town of Thurso. The men were trying to unfold a large sheet of paper.
"So this will be the site?" one of the men asked.
One of the other men, in the uniform of the Royal Navy replied, "Yes, this is a suitably remote and secure place. And being not far from Scapa affords us excellent cover."
The third man nodded, "Once the Treasury is squared away we can begin cutting turf."
"The Treasury?" the first man grappled with the wind swept plans "I thought this project was secret?"
"Don't worry, only a handful of people know its true purpose, even only three of the Cabinet are in on the secret."

6 May
At Cambridge University the first practicable stored-program computer, called EDSAC, has run its first program, calculating a table of squares and a list of prime numbers. The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was inspired by John von Neumann's seminal First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC, the machine was constructed by Maurice Wilkes and his team at the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory.
EDSAC uses mercury delay lines for memory, and derated vacuum tubes for logic. Input is via five-hole punched tape and output is via a teleprinter. The available main memory is 512 18-bit words.

7 May
Tate & Lyle have introduced its Mr Cube brand of sugar cubes to shops across the country.

9 May
The Royal Air Force Gliding & Soaring Association has been formed at RAF Detling to provide recreational flying to all RAF servicemen, in particular those normally employed in ground duties.

10 May
The House of Commons was packed. The mood has been febrile for some time, the Conservatives know that Labour is likely to call a General Election within the next twelve months and has recently been struggling with economic and foreign policy headaches and despite the popularity of the new Welfare State, its not certain that Labour will be able to carry enough momentum to win the next election.
The Member of Parliament for Woodford stood up to speak. This redoubtable political figure is a stalwart of Westminster, sometimes a loose cannon and in most quarters seen as a rabid Germano-phobe, but impressively connected and a vocal critic of the Labour Party, Winston Churchill was about to launch his broadside at the government.
Churchill who had once been First Lord of the Admiralty retained a key interest in naval matters and was well-connected with the Admiralty too.

"Nobody can fail to notice any longer Germany's build-up of arms and ships. Most worryingly the creation and growth of a formidable fleet of amphibious invasion ships that dwarfs that of the Royal Navy. In the last month alone four new ships have been added to this fleet. According to the latest intelligence estimates the German Navy has fourteen large assault transports, two engineer support ships, two specialised mobile base ships, twelve landing ships plus perhaps the same number again in the shipyards as I speak and no less than 270 landing craft of all types. Such ships of course must rely on bigger ships to escort them and all the little but vital ships of the lifeblood of any navy, the doughty destroyers and frigates. Germany is not short of these either, twleve new escorts have been recently completed plus two powerful anti-aircraft cruisers. Members of this House of course cannot be unaware that Germany has recently recalled elderly reservists to man old destroyers taken from mothballs to further grow the fleet. Make no mistake, this is no defensive fleet, such vessels are built for attack. Her erstwhile allies France and Russia also have large fleets of such vessels. Who you may ask is this fleet directed at? Nordmark has much to fear, indeed sources there tell of incessant naval exercises off the German and Russian Baltic coasts, disgorging tanks and men onto beaches and creating a super-navy welded from the three main states of the Grand Alliance. But the ultimate purpose of such a fleet can only be the invasion of our own island, for Germany knows to win any war with Britain would take more than reliance on his U-boat fleet to starve us into submission. The Hun knows he must invade and conquer these islands. [loud cheers and jeers from the house] Some of my right honourable members across the House may say I am alarmist [laughter from the Tory seats] but there is uncontrovertable evidence, even from the German chancellor's own mouth, that Germany is secretly hording millions of tons of raw materials and millions of gallons of oil to feed her factories and armies and navy in the event of a war. I do not say Germany intends to invade tomorrow but each day that passes Germany and her allies grow stronger while the socialists sit on their hands and refuse to act. Their inactivity is negligence of the highest order and I call on the Government to do what it is supposed to do, to act and govern. If it cannot then it should make way for those who are willing to. [loud cheers and jeers from the house] "

The Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, rose to the dispatch box to make his reply.
"My right honourable friend makes his case as robustly as ever. But this government is not inactive nor unaware of what is going on. The previous Tory governments largely cooperated with the Germans, showing them battleship plans and making little deals while turning a blind eye to Germany's annexation of Austria and her growing thirst to dominate the European mainland and largely wipe out her perceived poor treatment at the hands of the Allied powers in 1917 when a harsh peace was forced upon her. Germany has been driven by threats from the previous Tory government into preparing for the worst case scenarios. That she chooses to pump so much of her resources into building up her armaments and raw materials is a sign of fear and weakness, not strength. It is Germany's population who can look to our Welfare State while they wonder why their government chooses guns over butter and why stockpiling of raw materials is driving world commodity prices higher and causing the price of goods in the shops to rise further and further. The Admiralty is maintaining a close eye on German naval developments and our Navy continues to grow with continued investment. At this moment in the shipyards are four of largest aircraft carriers in the world, twelve cruisers and destroyers and five submarines. Our Seaward Defence Programme continues to provide our colonies and allies with the protection of the Royal Navy that encompasses still the entire globe and which is freeing up frontline ships to further strengthen the core fleets of the Navy. As the House knows, Canada has agreed to form in this country a powerful second airforce of fighters and heavy bombers to bolster further our defences. And to those who say this Government sits on its hands, I can confirm that talks have been held with several leading powers about defensive alliances, but of course secrecy prevents me of course from providing details at this stage. I still feel our best course is to follow diplomatic courses that reduce the tensions between us. The age of Grand Alliances makes less sense in the new modern free-market world, no nation can gain by war. If Germany cannot see that then it is her ruin and not this country's for Britain is a member of the world open to all and not a closed shop. [cheers from Labour benches]"


Sunday, August 18th 2019, 11:09pm

It is Germany's population who can look to our Welfare State

Stop, stop, you're killing me! :D


Sunday, August 18th 2019, 11:16pm

It is Germany's population who can look to our Welfare State

Stop, stop, you're killing me! :D

A most interesting set of speeches.


Saturday, August 24th 2019, 10:38am

14 May
The 1949 British Grand Prix was held at Silverstone today. This is the second race in this year’s inaugural World Championship for Drivers Season. No less than 28 drivers were entered into the race, Team Toyota Racing making their first appearance at a British racing circuit.

The race was a punishing event and no less than 15 cars failed to reach the chequered flag. Poor Bob Ansell never made it to the start when engine problems with his privately-entered Maserati 4CM forced him to retire. On lap 15 Tony Rolt in the Alfa Romeo B suffered a rear axle failure and had to retire. The next lap saw George Nixon’s supercharger blow on his private ERA A car. Another Englishman fell by the wayside on lap 25 with Cuth Harrison’s ERA having technical problems. The Maserati team lost Luigi Villoresi, who had been leading the race, when his engine failed on lap 36. On lap 39 another Maserati was out, Anthony Baring’s private 4CM suffered a water leak and he was unable to return to the pit lane in time before the engine overheated. On the same lap Yves Giraud-Cabantous in the Talbot-Lago-Talbot T26C suffered an oil leak which the mechanics could not fix and he had to retire. The Talbot-Lago team suffered another blow just two laps later when Louis Chiron’s car suffered engine failure. Team Toyota’s B. Bira was driving hard, but trying to overtake Peter Walker in the ERA B the two men touched, Bira spun off the track and ended up in a tyre wall, his front suspension crumpled. There was some consolation for Bira when Walker retired three laps later with failed brakes. Three laps later another BRA team car had an accidenct, John Bolster misjudging a turn and ending up stuck in a gravel trap. Three more Maserati’s retired during laps 64 to 69, private entrants David Murray and Roy Salvadori having engine problems and Scuderia Ambrosiana’s first driver, Reg Parnell suffering transmission failure, limping back to the paddock in first gear. The final retirement was on lap 82 when the Thinwall Special Ferrari driven by Raymond Mays and Ken Richardson suffered a spin and was damaged sufficiently to prevent it continuing.

The race was won by Swiss driver Emmanuel de Graffenried driving his own Maserati 4CLT. Bob Gerard was runner-up in his own ERA B and Frenchman Louis Rosier driving one of the three Toyota TFO-I cars took third place.


Sunday, September 1st 2019, 11:18am

22 May
The second batch of four of the revolutionary Town Class cruiser-destroyers have been commissioned today. HMS York, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham have formed the 21st Destroyer Flotilla at Gibraltar and they are perfectly placed to patrol far out into the Atlantic as well as countering potential threats within the Mediterranean.

25 May
The Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh receive the freedom of Belfast during a visit to the city today.

27 May
The Emerson Cavitation Tunnel propeller testing facility in the department of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University has begun operating. The tunnel is the third largest in the country and consists of a vertical loop tunnel, pitot tubes, a tachometer, stroboscopic lighting equipment, contact meters and a vacuum pump. The university is hoping to attract research grants from the Admiralty to assist in research.

30 May
The second prototype Armstrong Whitworth AW.52 jet-powered laminar-flow flying wing aircraft has been destroyed in a crash. Hawker Siddeley test pilot J.O. Lancaster was flying TS363 when the aircraft suffered a violent pitch oscillation at 320mph (the first time such a speed was attempted in this aircraft). Lancaster descended but had to eject on his Martin-Baker ejection seat. He is the first British pilot to make such an escape from an aircraft. The aircraft recovered after the pilot had left but it crashed landed ripping the engines away. The first prototype has been temporarily grounded until the exact cause for the oscillation is established.


Sunday, September 29th 2019, 5:11pm

1 June
The hospital ship HMHS Saviour commissioned at Portsmouth today. Based on the design of the Royal Yacht Britannia, this purpose-built ship is among the best of her kind afloat and is equipped with the latest medical equipment. She replaces the aging HMHS Oxfordshire which has been laid up for several years.

2 June
Transjordan has officially changed its name to the Kingdom of Jordan today.

5 June
The meeting at MI6 reflected the busy months that had occurred since the war scare in the Far East. There was much to catch up on as intelligence and counter-intelligence efforts continued. Control wanted the latest update and the main department heads were present as well as a representative from D Division, which served as part of the Far East Intelligence Staff.
ANGEL ONE, a group of spies and saboteurs in Thailand had been partially activated back in early February in case of Chinese invasion but had now been stood down, but one of that network's sub-agents TROLLOPE had recently sent a useful report on the activities of Chinese merchant sailors ashore and their possible use as couriers from Chinese military intelligence. PEANUT, a disinformation source in Penang who indiscreetly discusses naval affairs was deemed as having been of use in inflating the Royal Navy's response and who now was being directed to drop hints that Britain was likely to station two additional battalions of Royal Marines in Malaya. Perhaps even more important was the effort to distract the Indians to keep them neutral in any conflict. SILVER, an up-country Hindu able to pass himself off as a Muslim tribesman of the north-western hill country is an Indian nationalist with Marxist sympathies and was recruited in Kabul, Afghanistan. Obviously a double-agent SILVER is fed very high-grade information via false documents and the use of OLIVER radio station in Kabul.

Control then turned to the next item on the agenda, the operational losses and lack of success in Austria trying to discover the extent of German oil reserves. Concerned that such a heavy-handed approach would invite a German response he ordered the immediate efforts to penetrate the facilities to cease and to rely on different approaches to gain economic information. Control had ordered a personnel file to be pulled, that of BARONESS, a Russian (naturalised Swedish) businessman and long resident of Istanbul who had recently returned from business in India. He looked an ideal candidate to run a new operation, NOMAD.

7 June
Dock workers in many ports across the country have gone on strike, causing delays in the supplies of goods, both imports and exports.

8 June
George Orwell's latest novel Nineteen Eighty-Four has been published by Secker & Warburg and is now on sale. The book is a dystopian look at what a future world ruled by dictatorships may look like and the book is a critique of several trends which have become apparent in society and politics across the world. The story takes place in an imagined future, the year 1984, when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda. Great Britain, known as Airstrip One, has become a province of a superstate named Oceania that is ruled by the Party who employ the Thought Police to persecute individuality and independent thinking. Big Brother, the leader of the Party, enjoys an intense cult of personality despite the fact that he may not even exist. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a diligent Party member who secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion and he enters a forbidden relationship with a co-worker, Julia.


Saturday, October 12th 2019, 11:15am

11 June
The armoured vehicles of the British Army continue to multiply in type and function. This year two further variants of the FV300-series light armoured chassis have been introduced into service. The FV307 is an RDF-equipped vehicle using the taller hull of the FV302 and FV306 to accommodate the operators. The FV311 armoured load carrier is a variant of the FV310 armoured infantry carrier but fitted to carry cargo and ammunition. Two further variants of the FV200-series heavy armoured chassis have also been introduced into service. The FV3806 is a self-propelled gun using Centurion components and mounting a rearwards facing 7.2in Howitzer No.1 Mk II. The FV4224 is a replacement for the Armoured Engineer Chassis (A26) fitted with the same 6.5in demolition gun in a modified Centurion turret and also equipped with a hydraulic bulldozer blade and attachment points for various equipment to be pushed or towed.

12 June
Britain’s first all-world Muslim conference has been held in Cardiff today.

14 June
The charter airline Airflight Ltd., based at Heathrow has been awarded government contracts for trooping charters to Egypt. The airline currently has two Avro 711 Tudor III aircraft.

16 June
The Ealing Studios comedy film Whisky Galore! is released to cinemas.
Whisky Galore! was directed by Alexander Mackendrick, this is his debut film, and the screenplay is by Compton MacKenzie, based on his 1947 novel Whisky Galore. The film stars Basil Radford, Bruce Seton, Joan Greenwood and Gordon Jackson. The story concerns a shipwreck off the fictional island of Todday in the Outer Hebrides, the inhabitants of which have run out of whisky. The islanders find out that the wrecked ship, the SS Cabinet Minister, is carrying 50,000 cases of whisky, which they salvage, against the opposition of the local Customs and Excise men. The film was filmed on the island of Barra; the weather was so poor that production overran its ten week schedule by five weeks and went £20,000 over budget.


Wednesday, October 23rd 2019, 9:29pm

19 June
Hawker test pilot Trevor ‘Wimpy’ Wade has taken the prototype P.1081 swept-wing jet fighter on its first flight. The aircraft is actually the second P.1052 prototype VX279 which has been rebuilt with a completely new rear fuselage with a tail jet-pipe and more use of magnesium alloys to reduce weight. A new swept tailplane was also added as is the Rolls-Royce Tay turbojet featuring reheat. Sidney Camm is hoping this fighter will interest the RAF as an interim type until the advanced F.3/48 type is ready in the early 1950s. The P.1052 is being brought by the FAA for its carrier fleet.

A short-running BBC television series has been aired. ‘Authors in Focus’ consisted of four episodes, in each episode, a book would be discussed by a spokesman and a critic. The books discussed were; ‘The Triple Challenge’ by Francis Williams, 'The Theory of the Leisure Class' by Thorstein Veblen, 'Time was Away' by Alan Ross and ‘Managers, Men and Morale’ by Wilfred Brown and Winifred Raphael.

21 June
The Ealing Studios dark comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets is released to cinemas.
Kind Hearts and Coronets was directed by Robert Hamer and stars Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood, Valerie Hobson and Alec Guinness (Guinness playing nine characters!). The plot is loosely based on the 1907 novel ‘Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal’ by Roy Horniman. The film concerns Louis D'Ascoyne Mazzini, the son of a woman disowned by her aristocratic family for marrying out of her social class. After her death Louis decides to gain revenge on the family and take the dukedom by murdering the eight people ahead of him in succession to the title. The film was partly shot at Leeds Castle and other locations in Kent.


Saturday, November 2nd 2019, 10:53am

25 June
The dock workers’ strike has finally ended after weeks of disruption. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Dalton has been anxious in negotiations to reach an agreement in an attempt to reduce the economic damaged caused.

28 June
Four more Seaward Defence Boats, HMS Muda River, Linggi River, Pahang River and Kerian River, have been completed. This quartet has formed the 5th Seaward Defence Flotilla at Penang and hopefully will form the basis of a Malayan unit. Earlier this month HMS Sandwich Harbour and Lake Guinas formed the 6th Seaward Defence Flotilla at Walvis Bay on 20 June, the first permanent naval unit to be stationed in Namibia since Britain took on the League Mandate following the Great War. On the other side of the continent the new dry store and ammunition transport RFA Fort Rosalie arrived in Mombasa, Kenya on 24 June to support the vessels of the African and Arabian Stations.


Friday, November 8th 2019, 4:53pm

Operation Nomad

The street was crowded and it was a relief to get into the shade and away from the bustle. Baghdad was very hot this time of year. Esterhase hated the heat and dirt and irritably scanned the room, one of Baghdad’s most upmarket coffee houses. In the appointed niche he spotted a balding man sipping a cup of coffee though the haze of cigarette and hookah smoke and he headed towards him.
“Mister Bulganov, what a delight to see you, it must be five years since we last met,” he beamed.
The man looked up and his eyes roved over the man in front of him, “Doctor Fischer, yes it has been a long time since we last met at the Vigadó my friend.”
Satisfied that the contact was made satisfactorily, Esterhase took a chair and caught the attention of the waiter and ordered a Mandheling blend. Confident that they would not be overheard and with a sturdy partition between them and the next table he began outlining his purpose to the Russian sat opposite.
“Are you settled comfortably in your hotel?” Esterhase asked, “I hope your trip from Mosul went well.”
“My hotel is very nice, your taste is obviously to be reckoned with,” the Russian replied, his face still looking suspicious of Esterhase, “the train from Mosul was very slow and rough, but I have endured worse.”
Esterhase smiled, “I am glad you approve of your accommodation here, one has to be careful. You are lucky that your cover requires a certain veneer of respectability.” Images of some of the rougher safe houses he had endured flashed across his mind as the waiter returned with the coffee.
“I hope your time in Mosul has been fruitful, somewhat different from your usual line of business I believe but hopefully very profitable for us.”
The Russian offered a black cigarette, Esterhase refused and he lit one up for himself before he spoke, “I am no engineer, but it was enlightening, I think I am ready, its not as if I don’t have experience in selling things in this part of the world.”
Esterhase was unsure how things were going to pan out, but it wasn’t his idea and all he could do was manage the job as best he could.
“Well you will hopefully be talking stocks more than oil wells,” he smiled, hoping to put the Russian at ease, “now listen carefully, in your hotel room there is a lamp on the table. Remove the bulb and socket and you will find a piece of paper wrapped around the wire inside the shaft. It is a ticket from the lost luggage desk at the main railway station. You will be handed a small red leather case, inside it will be the credentials for your cover story.”
“How will we communicate once I get to Germany?” the Russian asked.
“Through a courier, there will be a dead letter box. In Vienna there is a little café called
‘Der Lachende Husar’. On the last Thursday of June go into the gents toilets, last cubicle on the left, there is an air brick in the wall, inside one of the bottom row of holes you will find a tiny slither of paper stuffed inside. My advice is make sure you take a pair of plyers. It will have details of where the dead letter box is and when it will be used.”
The Russian nodded, “I understand, ‘Der Lachende Husar’, what if I get into trouble and need an urgent contact?”
Esterhase shrugged, “Don’t get into trouble, your job is to find out information, heroics aren’t needed, don’t be silly and blow any safes eh? If London thinks it needs doing they will send a professional to do it.”
“Like you perhaps?” The Russian bristled. “Perhaps?” Esterase smiled and then got up, “Well I hope we meet before another five years pass.” They exchanged a farewell and Esterhase vanished into the crowd outside.


Saturday, December 14th 2019, 12:56pm

Operation NOMAD: Arrival

Nikolai Andreev, alias Sergei Bulganov, alias BARONESS settled into his hotel room in Vienna. He had been impressed by the background work to make his cover so plausible.
Back when his father had been a young man, in a far away corner of newly-acquired Russian territory there has been a big oil boom as the Caspian oil deposits were commercially exploited. Ivan Kartashov had set up a company to repair and later manufacture drills bits, derricks and other apparatus. Old Kartashov, one of the pioneers, had died a decade ago. His small firm, the Kartashov Neftyanaya Masterskaya struggled to remain in business and lurched from cashflow crisis to cashflow crisis. Eventually the company was sold, its assets acquired and the workshop re-opened. The company was perfectly reputable, the dependable clerk Ivan Nikonorov who had been behind his dusty desk could attest to Bulganov being a salesman and company representative sent to Germany to get new business for the company. He had a stack of letter headed paper and a reliable cover story.
Tomorrow would be the last Thursday in June, he hoped the message from his courier would be there as arranged.


Sunday, December 29th 2019, 10:31am

14 July
Kathleen Ferrier performed the world premiere of Benjamin Britten's Spring Symphony in Amsterdam, with Eduard van Beinum and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, this evening. The piece is a work written specifically for her.

19 July
Aquila Airways Ltd. based at Southampton, which uses two ex-BOAC Short S.45 Solent flying boats mainly for freight work, has obtained an association agreement with BEA under which they are permitted to operate scheduled services from Southampton to Lisbon and Madeira.

20 July
The Duke of York School has been founded in Nairobi, Kenya by governor Philip Euen Mitchell. The first students will be housed at the Governor's House until the new buildings are ready. The founding headmaster is R.H. James. The school is reserved for white students only, being drawn from the sons of British settlers, most of whom are farmers in outlying areas. The school is a boarding school although a few day students are expected. The school is being modelled on the British public school system.


Sunday, January 26th 2020, 11:43am

27 July
Miles Aircraft have flown their experimental M.69 Marathon II prototype today. The M.69 is a variant of the M.60 feederliner powered by two Armstrong Siddeley Mamba turboprops but lacking pressurisation to avoid the need to design a new fuselage.

30 July
Legal Aid has come into force today in England and Wales under the provision of the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949. The Act extends the welfare state so that those unable to pay for a solicitor are able to access free legal help. Its precursor was the Poor Prisoners Defence Act of 1930 which introduced criminal legal aid for appearances in magistrates’ courts. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.


Saturday, February 15th 2020, 12:41pm

1 August
The Nigerian Tribune is a new English-language newspaper published in Ibadan in Nigeria. It has been established by Obafemi Awolowo as the mouthpiece for his populist welfare programmes. As a politician he is Nigeria's foremost federalist and his Path to Nigerian Freedom published last year, is the first systematic federalist manifesto by a Nigerian politician. He advocates federalism as the only basis for equitable national integration.

7 August
The Institute of Commonwealth Studies has opened its doors as the only postgraduate academic institution in Britain devoted to the study of the Commonwealth across a wide variety of social, cultural and political subjects.

8 August
Whitehouse Industries has acquired the Pollard Bearing Company and production of bearings and fasteners will be moved to Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire from their original Reading, Berkshire factory. The company’s fasteners business began as Philidas Limited, founded in 1942 by Jack Philips and Mr Dundas, the original patentees of the self-locking nut, with funding and support by the Miles Aircraft Company.

9 August
The RAF has officially placed an order with Hawker Siddeley Aircraft for 120 Hawker P.1081 swept-wing jet-powered fighters, now named the Kestrel, with the first to hopefully enter service next year.


Friday, February 21st 2020, 11:57am

Operation NOMAD

Nikolai Andreev, alias Sergei Bulganov, left his hotel after breakfast, he strolled around the main part of the city, taking in its architecture as he strolled around, not heading to the office as usual. He brought a paper and sat on a park bench to pass some time. There was no hurry, but even so he was nervous, unsure whether everything would come off as planned. Certainly a lot of care had been taken in the arrangements of his arrival and being a cautious man himself he had timed out the route. Looking at his watch he rose from the bench, tucking the newspaper under his arm. He crossed the road and hopped onto a tram. It was only a short trip but he made sure to slip unnoticed down a side street before emerging into a small street where he took another tram to double back on his trip. He wanted to be sure if he had a tail that he would lose him. There was no reason to suppose he was being tailed but being a White Russian and naturally suspicious he took no chances.

Emerging from a crowd he no longer had a newspaper and he had hidden his hat under his coat. Finally he saw the sign of the café, Der Lachende Husar’, swinging in the breeze outside. He went inside, brought a Viennese coffee and a slice of [i[Sachser Torte[/i]. He sat down at a table with a good view of the door. He spent a congenial ten minutes enjoying his cake and coffee before rising from his table and heading to the toilets at the back of the cafe. Esterhase's words rang through his head; '"go into the gents toilets, last cubicle on the left, there is an air brick in the wall, inside one of the bottom row of holes you will find a tiny slither of paper stuffed inside. My advice is make sure you take a pair of pliers."

The door creaked open, the sound of dripping cisterns but the room was thankfully empty. He walked past the urinals and selected the last cubicle, swinging open the wooden door. He went inside, closed the door behind him and looked up, no air brick. He looked down, ah there is was, near the floor. He sat on the toilet lid and bent over the peer into the holes. Most were clogged with years of dust and a spider. But one of them had a little white slither of paper rolled up into a tube inside it. He took out his pliers from his coat pocket and carefully teased out the piece of paper. He opened it, on it was a location in the north of the city. He slipped the paper into his wallet, put his pliers away, flushed the toilet and walked out. Leaving the cafe he gave a smile and a nod to the owner behind the counter and walked out into the city, keeping an appointment with an optician, his cover story for being late at the office.


Saturday, February 29th 2020, 10:50am

12 August
The Army's Anti-Aircraft Command has submitted its latest operational plan to the War Office. Operation Igloo is linked to Operation Rotor, the modernisation of entire early-warning RDF and interception network in the British Isles. Operation Igloo features 684 heavy AA positions and 310 light AA positions located in 39 sectors, each to be equipped with a new semi-submerged command bunker linked to the RAF Sector Operations Centres. All the heavy AA sites will be armed with 3.7in Mk VI guns and all light AA sites with 57mm Mk IV guns. The new Orange Yeoman tactical control RDF will be linked to control 16 remote AA gun sites. Opinion is divided on whether the War Office will back this ambitious and expensive scheme, RAF critics have observed that faster and higher-flying jet-powered bombers will make the scheme obsolete before its completion.

20 August
Three new aircraft have recently entered RAF service; the first of 200 Percival P.56 Provost T.Mk.I two-seat basic trainer with side-by-side seating and powered by a 550hp Alvis Leonides V 9-cylinder radial and the first of 72 giant four-engined Blackburn B.101 Beverley C.Mk.I tactical transport with clamshell doors accessing a 36ft (11m) long cabin with 6,003 ft³ (170 m³) of space on two floors and the ability to carry 94 troops or 70 paratroopers. The third new aircraft is the turboprop-powered Boulton Paul Balliol T.Mk.I advanced trainer powered by a 1,475ehp Armstrong Siddeley ASM.3 Mamba 3. 177 are on order for the RAF (T.Mk.1)and 30 for the FAA (T.Mk.21).

Meanwhile the Royal Navy’s Seaward Defence Programme continues to progress rapidly. HMS Arnik River, Cuyuni River, Ekareku River and Kurubrang River have commissioned today with the 7th Seaward Defence Flotilla at Georgetown, Guiana. This is first time that the Royal Navy has provided adequate protection for the colony.

22 August
T. S. Eliot's comedy The Cocktail Party premieres at the Edinburgh Festival.
Elements of the play are based on Alcestis, by the Ancient Greek playwright Euripides. It focuses on a troubled married couple who, through the intervention of a mysterious stranger, settle their problems and move on with their lives. The play starts out seeming to be a light satire of the traditional British drawing room comedy. As it progresses, however, the work becomes a darker philosophical treatment of human relations. As in many of Eliot's works, the play uses absurdist elements to expose the isolation of the human condition. In another recurring theme of Eliot's plays, the Christian martyrdom of the mistress character is seen as a sacrifice that permits the predominantly secular life of the community to continue.

The former Kent Class heavy cruiser HMS Sussex has recommissioned following an extensive rebuilding as a Weapons Trials Ship and has been assigned to the Gunnery Establishment HMS Excellent at Portland. She will trial several new gun armaments for future naval projects.

In Aden, the 24th Independent Brigade has been put on alert following reports of violence and the danger of civil war in Yemen. So far there has been no unrest in Aden but the authorities are remaining vigilant and patrols are being mounted along the border to intercept any gun runners or fleeing rebel forces.


Friday, March 20th 2020, 10:15am

26 August
The waters of the Solent were stirred by a beautiful new silvery flying boat. The prototype Saro SR.55 Duchess, registered G-ALUR,first flew today. Saro has based their design on the larger Princess but is powered by six de Havilland Ghost turbojets in the wing roots and has a cabin for 74 passengers and 3,500lb of cargo. Retractable floats form the wingtips and the whole design is streamlined for economic operation. The estimated cost per passenger mile is just over 1d for routes with a stage-length of 1,300-1,500 miles, and 2d on a stage distance of 2,000 miles. The cost per ton mile is just over 1s for 1,300-1,500 miles stage-length, and approximately 1s 6d for 2,000 miles. That would make this the most economical medium-jetliner yet built. BOAC currently have ten on order to replace some of their current flying boat fleet for colonial routes.

27 August
The Army has begun taking deliveries of two new light armoured vehicles. The Carrier Tracked No.3 FV401 Cambridge has been designed by Rolls-Royce as an improved Carrier Tracked No.2 Oxford with a simpler box hull with sloped frontal glacis and new torsion-bar suspension and a 160hp Rolls-Royce B80 petrol engine. The Cambridge can carry eight infantry and two crewmen with provision for one machine-gun for self-defence and has 25-12mm thick armour. Maximum speed is 33mph and range 145 miles. The Daimler Scout Car No.2 FV701 Ferret has been in development since to replace the ‘Dingo’ introduced in the mid-1930s. The Ferret carries two crewmen and is armed with a single .303in Vickers MG in a turret. A Rolls-Royce 129hp B60 petrol engine is fitted for a maximum road speed of 57mph and a range of 190 miles. The armour is 16-8mm thick.

28 August
The defence boats HMS Lake Oponona and Lake Otjikoto have commissioned with the 6th Seaward Defence Flotilla at Walvis Bay, Namibia. Around 180 local men have so far been recruited for the naval force.

Today has brought much good news for airline BEA and the aircraft manufacturer BCAC. The prototype BCAC V700 Viscount turboprop-powered airliner made its maiden flight. The V700 has a longer cabin for 48 passengers and extended-span wings. BEA has ordered 20. Earlier this month BEA began commercial operations with the first of twenty BCAC Type 630 VC.2 Viscounts, the original version of the Viscount. Around six of these 32-seat airliners have been delivered so far and will serve BEA’s routes across Europe.

30 August
The Harwell Synchrocyclotron particle accelerator at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment campus near Harwell, Oxfordshire has become operational. Construction of the accelerator began in 1946. The machine has a 1.62T magnet of 110in (2.8m) diameter allowing protons to be accelerated to energies of 160-175MeV. Accelerator physicist John Adams was instrumental in the design and construction of this machine. Its main function is basic nuclear and particle physics research, with a focus on proton-proton and proton-neutron scattering.

The Finanical Times - Amazon Basin Investment Special
One of the most competitive markets for investments in the past two years has been the Great Amazon Basin, which is attracting investments in land, logging and minerals from several nations as the region slowly become more accessible to proper exploitation. Being close to the Sterling bloc, Brazil has always enjoyed easy access to investment from London but today the scale of the competition demands fresh thinking and bold investments in the many areas of opportunity now available.
The Bank of London and South America, Banco de Londres y América del Sur (also known simply as Banco de Londres), has been a provider of good solid capital investment in loans and bonds across South America since 1923 and today is offering good terms on sound business propositions and recent forecasts for the bank show at least £200 million of investment likely to pass through its hands during the next five years.
Blue Circle, the more familiar name of British Portland Cement Manufacturers Limited, has recently expanded its cement works in Brazil and is now looking at ways of expanding its business in the Amazon and producing suitable cements for use in construction in the Amazon region.
British Guiana Timbers Limited has recently begun to investigate cultivating various hardwoods from the Amazon region and Avon Rubber is looking at the Para rubber tree as another investment opportunity.


Monday, April 6th 2020, 6:21pm

2 September
The London Films production The Third Man, with a screenplay by Graham Greene and set in Vienna is released in cinemas. The Third Man was directed by Carol Reed and stars Joseph Cotten, Valli (Alida Valli), Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. The film takes place in post Great-War Vienna. It focuses on Holly Martins, an American who is given a job by his friend Harry Lime, but when Holly arrives he gets the news that Lime is dead. Martins then meets with Lime's acquaintances in an attempt to investigate what he considers a suspicious death.
The film features an atmospheric use of black-and-white expressionist cinematography by Robert Krasker, with harsh lighting and the distorted "Dutch angle" camera technique. Greene wrote the novella of the same name as preparation for the screenplay. Anton Karas wrote and performed the score, which featured only the zither. [The Third Man was the most popular film at the British box office for 1949.]

3 September
Rotary-winged aircraft development is slowly taking hold in Britain after a long and slow development process. BCAC's Filton Division has flown the prototype Type 171 Sycamore Mk 2. Developed from the original Mk 1 which first flew during July 1947 the Mk 2 has seating for a pilot and three passengers and is powered by a 550hp Alvis Leonides and has been billed as BCAC as production ready.
Weir has also recently delivered two modified W.14 Skeeter helicopters. The two Skeeter 3 were completed for official Ministry of Supply trials and feature further modifications from the Skeeter 2 which was destroyed by resonance during ground trials.

4 September
The Cardiff College of Music has opened today and is based at Cardiff Castle.

Flt. Lt. Eric ‘Red’ Esler took the radical Avro 707 experimental aircraft VX784 aloft from Boscombe Down today. The 707 features a single Rolls-Royce Derwent turbojet with a scaled Type 698 delta wing. Many items from several Hawker Siddeley designs have been used to reduce development time and costs. The first prototype is intended for aerodynamic research for the Type 698 jet bomber now under development.

5 September
The first five of the new Ton Class minesweepers have entered service. HMS Wilton, Bildeston, Gavinton, Kirkliston and Alfriston commissioned with the 5th Coastal Minesweeper Flotilla at Cromarty. Later this month their sisters HMS Laleston, Upton and Bronington will commission with the 1st Coastal Minesweeper Flotilla on the Clyde.


Tuesday, April 14th 2020, 10:55am

Operation NOMAD

Nikolai Andreev, alias Sergei Bulganov, alias BARONESS, had been busy. As an employee of Kartashov Neftyanaya Masterskaya, selling their wares and making contacts he had plenty to do. His crowing glory was to secure a contract from Ostmärkische Mineralölverwaltung for pumping equipment. He had been able to confirm for London that the company's three refineries at Wien-Floridsdorf, Wien-Lobau and Wien-Schwechat were each producing 25,000 tonnes a month. He was anxious to find out more about their storage facilities, but he hoped that the order for pumps would allow him a site visit to supervise their installation in due course. The Zistersdorf Oil Field was easily producing 120,000 tonnes, but so far he had not had chance to get to visit the larger Matzen Oil Field and he hoped to visit the Saxony producers with a sample of new drill bits. Synthetic oil production was also of close interest to London, but being in the natural oil business he had no means to pry into the large synthetic plants. So far after three months he had provided some useful information, not copious amounts but enough to keep his pay coming.


Saturday, April 25th 2020, 12:22pm

6 September
Ahead of Farnborough Week Auster has been advertising its two latest products. The J-5F Aiglet Trainer is a two-seat aerobatic development of the basic Autocar and Aiglet design with smaller wings, side-by-side seating and full dual controls. All-up weight is 1,950lbs and a 130hp DH Gipsy Major I is fitted. The B.4 is a cargo/ ambulance aircraft broadly based on the Autocrat series but with the tailplane carried on a boom and clamshell rear doors fitted for access to the cabin and two small tail wheels, one either side of the rear fuselage. It can carry three passengers, freight or two litters. Reports indicate the type will be trialled by the RAF. The 180hp Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier engine provides a maximum speed of 121mph and a range of 280 miles.

10 September
A new BBC television series was broadcast last night. Made by Hand is a series showing the work of British craftsmen. It airs in a 15-minute time-slot and is similar to a series titled Craftsmen at Work which ran from 1939 to 1942.
Another recent new series is Your Wardrobe, the first fashion television series in Britain. Featuring Margot Lovell and Mary Malcolm, topics vary in the series and focus on particular items and styles.

12 September
The first pair of the new Fleet Aerial Direction Escorts designed to vector carrier-based aircraft have commissioned with the Royal Navy. HMS Tiger and Cougar have joined the 6th Carrier Squadron at Cromarty.

The Berkshire Institute of Agriculture opened its doors today. The college provides a training centre for agricultural workers and is located on 450 acres of farm land with residential accommodation for over 70 students.

14 September
The Marsabit National Park and nature reserve has been officially dedicated. The 600 square mile park is located at Mount Marsabit in northern Kenya, near the town of Marsabit in the Eastern Province and its reserve is noted for its zebra population and bird sanctuary.