An Opportunity Missed by the Luftwaffe ?

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    On the 11th June 1940 British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill along with the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, General Ismay the Secretary of the War Cabinet and General Spears , Liasion Officer with the French Government arrived at the town of Briare on the Upper Loire, France to discuss with the French Premier, Reynaud, Marshall Petain, General Weygand and De Gaulle about a major review of strategy.

    Needless to say the meeting didn't go particularly that well and the following day after a short meeting Churchill and his entourage left for England. The party had arrived the following day with a fighter escort of 12 Hurricanes but due to cloud they were not present for the return flight. Churchill was assured that there was likely to be cloud cover all the way back to London so they decided to leave without an escort.

    As Churchills plane reached the coast the cloud cover cleared and two German fighters were spotted. Fortunately for Churchills party the two German pilots were too busy engaging fishing boats to notice the Flamingo transport plane and Churchill reached Hendon Airport unscathed.

    I know it is a bit of a 'what if' and 'we' don't do 'what if's' but one can not help but wonder if Britain would have continued fighting if Churchill and Eden were killed.

    Sourced from: Dunkirk and the Fall of France
     
  2. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Depends who ended up as PM....

    HALIFAX was still the major contender...AND at that point was still pursuing peace feelers with the Germans via mutual Washington embassies - despite the Cabinet voting NOT to accept Italy's roundabout offer to mediate...

    And historically Halifax was on the edge of getting involved in a very stange and badly-recorded episode of WWII that not many people know about...a possible bloodless coup by Bill Tennant (of recent Dunkirk fame) and Ralph Edwards, DNO at the Admiralty IIRC.
     
  3. slaphead

    slaphead very occasional visitor

    There you go Phylo. Piquing my interest again.

    I have not heard of this one. Please tell us more!
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Does anyone have anymore info on the flight or the two pilots before this goes off on a 'political what if' that 'we' don't do ;)
     
  5. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    No info to add mate, just wanted to say that he must have had angels watching over him that day.

    Pretty mad stuff when you think about it.
     
  6. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    ATB's The Battle of France goes into some detail regarding the meeting and gives the location as Chateau du Muguet which was Weygands' HQ but no mention of the return flight.
     
  8. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

  9. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Don't worry, I'm about to take this more in the direction of a David Tennant-style...."WOT???"....rather than a "what if?" :lol:...

    Here's the "plot" (sic)...

    The year is 1940....and immediately after Dunkirk, THIS man returns to London...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William..._Navy_officer)
    Quote:
    On 26 May 1940, Captain Tennant was dispatched onboard the destroyer HMS Wolfhound to Dunkirk to aid in the evacuation of more than 300,000 British and French troops left stranded when France fell to the Nazis. Tennant's task was to organize these dispirited men and get them onto the boats waiting to take them. Tennant stayed right up until the last boats left on 2 June, patrolling the beaches of Dunkirk with a megaphone searching for British troops.

    Tennant was lauded for his efforts at Dunkirk, and was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath on 7 June 1940. The ordinary sailors under his command took to calling him "Dunkirk Joe".[1]

    On 28 June Tennant became captain of the battlecruiser Repulse, taking part in battles against the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and later in the hunt for the battleship Bismarck


    All looks peachy, doesn't it? Apart from the fact we were at war with Germany, and under threat on invasion, and about to be plunged into the Battle of Britain! [​IMG]
     
  10. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    But that brief Wiki entry does NOT tell the whole truth about Bill Tennant....

    ....because what he REALLY did after Dunkirk was trawl around London telling ANYONE who would listen that Churchill was mismanaging the war badly, leading to the defeat in france and the panic evacuation from Dunkirk.

    In fact - SO much so that

    1/ he sat down in a couple of very sghort weeks he dashed off a book voicing all his opinions that became very "popular" in London, but you'll find it hard to get your hands on a copy now. There USED to be a copy on the Net - but I noticed a couple of years ago it had been taken down???

    2/ HE DIDN'T JOIN HIS SHIP! [​IMG] Although given command of the Repulse, he DIDN'T immediately travel to Scapa Flow, but continued his rounds of what fashionable cocktails parties were left in wartime Britain - and with a purpose...

    ...for as a researcher called David Pounder found out several years ago - he immediately became embroiled in a plot - a proposed coup! - to oust Winston Churchill!

    It was managed by Walter Monckton - a relative of Tennant's and Equerry to the Queen - and the driving force behind the coup plot was the then Queen, latterly the Queen Mother Queen Elizabeth!

    The main sources are the diaries of a Royal Naval Captain at the Admiralty, a Captain Ralph Edwards - one of THREE RN officers who were proposing that a change in war policy I.E. to make peace with Hitler - and Edwards, Ernie Spooner - the THEN captain of the battlecruiser Repulse before Tennant was promoted - and Bill Tennant were brought to a meeting with the Queen in late June.

    The Edwards diaries are at Churchill College Archives in Cambridge, and are publically accessible.....just not often read! [​IMG] Entries in the Diaries record SEVERAL meetings between Mockton and Tennant and co., at which Monckton is recorded to have stated that Max Beaverbrook (who had a stormy on-off relationship with Churchill) and the senior conservative MP Leo Amery were supporters of the proposed coup and that they planned to install Lord Halifax as Prime Minister....

    Halifax is famously the appeaser who as Churchill's Foreign Secretary carried on negotiating with Hitler even though Churchill ordered him NOT to - and who in early May 1940 Churchill had become PM instead of [​IMG]

    Now....what OTHER evidence is there for this plot to get rid of Churchill and make peace with Hitler? Apart from a few personal diary entries?
     
  11. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Ralph Edward's diaries record that the conspirators planned to be in such a position by the 28th of June that on THAT date they would issue peace proposals to Germany...

    ...and seem also to have been in contact with the Swedish Ambassador in London Bjorn Prytz - who sent a telegram to Stockholm regarding the political situation in Britain, and reported the proposed coup on the 28th!

    This telegram remained secret in Stockholm until 1965 at the request of the British government...but is now in the Swedish diplomatic correspondence records.

    But that's not all....[​IMG]
     
  12. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    For some reason - apparently Edwards' diaries don't say why - the coup did not happen....

    Well - we KNOW that! [​IMG]

    But it ALSO appears that for whatever reason the coup didn't happen - Churchill didn't become aware of the plot - THEN! [​IMG]

    Bit it DOES appear now - that all along and in line with both the plans of the conspirators AND his own personal beliefs, Lord Halifax was CONTINUING to negotiate peace terms with Hitler!

    In very early June, after the British had received preliminary overtures for peace via the Swedes and the Vatican, halifax had headed the group of ministers inside the inner "war cabinet" that tried to persuade Churchill to acquiesce and listen to the GErman proposals that would comme via Mussolini's Italy. In the end Churchill - after some major and acrimonious discussions during the Dunkirk evacuation - decided NOT to, and with the agreement of the FULL Cabinet he ordered Halifax to totally reject the German overtures and NOT to have anything more to do with them....

    Halifax complied...

    THEN started approaches to the Germans via WASHINGTON instead! He ordered the British Ambasasador in the U.S. Lord Lothian, to continue talks via the German Ambassador THERE! WITHOUT CHURCHILL BEING MADE AWARE, and totally against Churchill's orders not to have ANYTHING more to do with the plan.

    Unfortunately - Churchill found out! [​IMG] What Halifax DIDN'T know was that the British were already reading starting to read German diplomatic radio traffic at Bletchley Park under the PANDORA operation, and copies of messages from German embassies were being passed to Winston [​IMG] Churchill as given confirmation of these talks on the 19th of July, and he had a "stormy" meeting with Halifax, at which he ordered Halifax AGAIN to have no further contact with these proposals, and to order Lothian not to pursue contacts...

    ...and to make sure Halifax obeyed him, Churchill telegraphed Lothian HIMSELF! Bypassing Halifax, who obviously NOW - as far as Winston was now aware - couldn't be trusted. And that's a HELL of a slap in the face for a senior minister, then or now :mellow:

    Both telegraphs still exist in the numbered Foreign Office correspondence records.

    Halifax didn't last much longer as Foreign Secretary. before the end of the year he had been effectively demoted and sent to Washington as Lothian's replacement.

    BUT THE ORIGINAL MYSTERY DOESN'T REST THERE...
     
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  13. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    The Independent on Sunday
    March 5, 2000

    Queen Mum wanted peace with Hitler

    By Sophie Goodchild,
    Home Affairs Correspondent

    When Oxford University's Bodleian Library released a tranche of papers relating to the royal family last week, one box of documents was missing, the rapidly notorious Box 24.

    Experts assumed that the papers had been suppressed because they contained vitriolic remarks by the Queen Mother about the Duchess of Windsor. This, senior government sources have told the Independent on Sunday, is not the case. The reason that papers were withheld is potentially far more embarrassing: they spell out the true extent of the Queen Mother's pro-appeasement views on the brink of the Second World War.

    The papers, part of a collection of letters belonging to the first Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, a close friend of Edward VIII, dwell on the relationship between the Queen Mother and the pro-appeasement foreign secretary Lord Halifax (left). The letters are said to show her hostility towards Churchill and her desire that the deeply unpopular Halifax be Prime Minister instead.

    The letters, which include private correspondence between the Queen Mother and Halifax himself, suggest the battle to preserve the monarchy was a concern which weighed above all others. As leader, Halifax was likely to have sued for peace with Hitler on the understanding that he allowed the monarchy to continue under a Nazi occupation.

    Lord Halifax was foreign secretary between 1939 and 1940 but was sent to Washington by Winston Churchill to be British Ambassador from 1941 to 1946. He died in 1959.

    Philip Ziegler, who wrote the official biography of Edward VIII, said he had seen only the letters relating to the abdication but confirmed that the Queen Mother had a close relationship with Halifax. "She was known to be very fond of Halifax indeed," he said.


    David Pounder ALSO tried to get access to Sir Walter Monckton's private papers in Box 24 as late as 2005 but ALL requests for access were (are?) STILL being refused...

    At the time, I suggested he submit a FOIA request...but to do THAT you have to KNOW the day/date/ref.number of an individual document, which he couldn't do as he didn't know what exactly was IN Box 24 I.E. how it was catalogued/numbered etc.
     
  14. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    So what do we have?

    A "war hero" who along with others was involved in a plot to remove Winston Churchill - with the acquiesence if not outright support of Queen Elizabeth...to replace him with a Foreign Secretary who was ALSO negotiating with Nazi Germany AGAINST Winston's direct orders...with the existance of the proposed coup confirmed by the Swedish Ambasador's telegram to Stockholm.

    And right in the middle of the plot - the Queen.

    oh dear...:D

    I wonder if we'll EVER be allowed to see Box 24... ;):rolleyes:
     
  15. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    How many times did Churchill visit France during this period?
     
  16. nicks

    nicks Very Senior Member

    I'm sure there's mention of this flight in Fighter Pilot by Paul Richey, my copy is at work for some reason, so I'll check it tomorrow.
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    How many times did Churchill visit France during this period?

    Not sure Craig, but the one I've mentioned above is the second to last accordingv to the same source. He visited again a day or so later and like the meeting above it wasn't very productive.

    I know he visited Paris on at least one occassion prior to this trip so that makes atleast three.

    Cheers Nicks-it would be interesting to get some more details on it.

    Andy
     
  18. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Don't worry, I'm about to take this more in the direction of a David Tennant-style...."WOT???"....rather than a "what if?" :lol:...

    Here's the "plot" (sic)...

    The year is 1940....and immediately after Dunkirk, THIS man returns to London...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William..._Navy_officer)


    All looks peachy, doesn't it? Apart from the fact we were at war with Germany, and under threat on invasion, and about to be plunged into the Battle of Britain! [​IMG]
    Phylo, this is a bit off-topic dont you think? Great info - but start a fresh thread!!!
     
    Drew5233 likes this.
  19. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    LOL is it? ;)

    As Churchills plane reached the coast the cloud cover cleared and two German fighters were spotted. Fortunately for Churchills party the two German pilots were too busy engaging fishing boats to notice the Flamingo transport plane and Churchill reached Hendon Airport unscathed.

    I know it is a bit of a 'what if' and 'we' don't do 'what if's' but one can not help but wonder if Britain would have continued fighting if Churchill and Eden were killed


    Halifax WAS the next most likely Conservative candidate for PM - as we know. If Winston and Eden hadn't made it home - HE was the next and probably only Conservative Cabinet member with a chance of forming a government...except for the possible but highly unlikely return of Neville Chamberlain! Who after all was still in the govt.!

    Except - THIS was the kind of man Halifax was. Willing to secure power by a non-democratic coup de main...

    That day we were saved by fortune from a LOT!!! More than we might normally assume...
     
  20. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    I'm sure there's mention of this flight in Fighter Pilot by Paul Richey, my copy is at work for some reason, so I'll check it tomorrow.

    Thanks Nick, it was doing my head in trying to remember where I had read it.
     

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