B.G.S.?!?...

Discussion in 'General' started by arnaud, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. arnaud

    arnaud Junior Member

    Hello,

    I'd like to know a bit more about that abbreviation "B.G.S." reported in this document:

    "14.00 Commandant Darnoux (liaison officer from général Georges) had received instructions from generals Gamelin and Georges to approach A.M. Barratt to ask him to get in the Metropolitan Air Force. The French were doing the same. B.G.S. was asked to confirm this request as it would need a decision of the British Cabinet".

    Bye
     
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Brigadier, General Staff is the common one, and it seems to fit in the context.
     
  3. arnaud

    arnaud Junior Member

    Thanks

    Who is the B.G.S. during the Battle of France in the B.E.F.?

    bye
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    What file is the original quote from? I suspect there may have been at least one at Division level with every division and then you have the Corps.
     
  5. arnaud

    arnaud Junior Member

    This original quote comes from:

    Wo 167/41 : General Headquarters (GHQ): 2 Military Mission

    This B.G.S. is a high commander. He took a important decision instead of the British Cabinet... I hope you could identify him...

    Bye
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Does the entry you are interested in have a date? I only ask as Swayne gets a few mentions in Major General Spears two volumes (Assignment to Catastrophe) and I'm happy to look and see if there is anything related in there to do with Swayne around the same time.
     
  8. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

  9. arnaud

    arnaud Junior Member

    Dated May 14th 1940 to engage all Air Force from Champagne airfields and some bombers from England on pontoon bridges at Sedan...

    Chief of Air Staff was informed too...
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    There isn't much in the Spears book Vo.1 :

    It was evident also that the RAF must be taking a considerable part in the Ardennes fighting as the British communique announced the loss of 35 aircraft there. (In reality, on the 14th alone we lost 67 machines.)*


    * "That night there remained in France of the Royal Air Force only 206 serviceable aircraft out of 474." The Second World War, Vol. II.

    Knowing you have a copy have you checked After The Battles-The Battle of France?
     
  11. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    What file is the original quote from? I suspect there may have been at least one at Division level with every division and then you have the Corps.

    There were no B.G.S. at Divisional level I think. The relevant post would have been held by a Lt. Colonel or a Colonel as GSO 1. B.G.S. as far as I know only at Corps and upwards (and Brigades would of course have Brigade Majors).

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  12. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    This original quote comes from:

    Wo 167/41 : General Headquarters (GHQ): 2 Military Mission

    This B.G.S. is a high commander. He took a important decision instead of the British Cabinet... I hope you could identify him...

    Bye

    Salut Arnaud

    Technically, he is not taking a decision based on the text you have there, he is only confirming that he has received the request for such a decision.

    Amities

    Andreas
     
  13. arnaud

    arnaud Junior Member

    Thank you Andreas for this comment...

    Could you explain how you understand this sentence: ”B.G.S. was asked to confirm this request as it would need a decision of the British Cabinet.”
    (Full text : "14.00 Commandant Darnoux (liaison officer from général Georges) had received instructions from generals Gamelin and Georges to approach A.M. Barratt to ask him to get in the Metropolitan Air Force. The French were doing the same. B.G.S. was asked to confirm this request as it would need a decision of the British Cabinet".)

    I do not understand why a army high commander has to confirm a request for a air force mission asked to the Advanced Air Striking Force based in Champagne...

    I found some Brigadier General Staff from I. Corps (B.E.F.) here:
    http://www.unithistories.com/units_british/british_corps.htm
    Brigadier General Staff (BGS)
    03.09.1939 - 04.02.1940
    Brig. A.E. Percival
    05.02.1940 - 07.06.1940
    Brig. W.C. Holden
    22.06.1940 - 31.05.1941
    Brig. W.D. Morgan

    Bye
     
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The key, I think is the Metropolitan Air Force (a term new to me) which is actually the RAF at home for the 'Air Defence of Great Britain'. The French want to ask Air-Marshal Barratt to send what I would have called Fighter Command over to France. That's why it would be a cabinet-level decision.

    Also, from Andy's other thread on the Military Missions, Swayne/No.2 was only a conduit between British GHQ and the French NE Front (from memory - really should be off to work) so they may have had no direct responsibility for talking to the AASF (the job of the Air Mission?)

    It may be that the Mission is trying to direct the French request to the right link in the British chain of command and is checking this with their higher HQ. Or, it's a ploy to stall the French requests for more RAF, rather than actually having to say 'no' and deal with the fallout.
     
  15. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Salut Arnaud

    My reading of this is that the French command wanted it on the record that the request had been received, and that the 2 Military Mission took responsibility for taking the appropriate action on it (passing it on to London).

    As a note, the B.G.S. was not a commander, but the highest staff officer in the mission. He would not have been able to take any decision on action.

    So I think idler has it completely right.

    Amities

    Andreas
     
  16. arnaud

    arnaud Junior Member

    Interesting... :

    Why asking the B.S.G. to confirm this request ?
     
  17. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Here is the background to Brigadier Percival:

    Arthur Percival - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Here is the background to Brigadier Holden:

    http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/aqadmin/media/uploads/4cc69dda4e734_HOLDEN%20Major%20General%20William%20Corson.pdf

    Brigadier Morgan by the end of the war had risen to Lieutenant General. He was Chief of Staff of Allied Force HQ at the German surrender in NWE, and became Supreme Commander Mediterranean in October 1945:

    HyperWar: US Army in WWII: Washington Command Post: The Operations Division [Appendix B]

    Berlin garrison surrenders | 1940-1949 | Guardian Century

    My Google-Fu is strong today.

    Amities

    Andreas
     
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList

    From: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/UK-NWE-Flanders/UK-NWE-Flanders-2.html
    By the end of 1939 it had been decided to unify the command of the two British air forces in France and early in January 1940 Air Marshal A. S. Barratt was appointed to the new command. From that date the Air Component ceased to be part of Lord Gort's command (though it remained under his operational control) and the Advanced Air Striking Force ceased to be part of Bomber Command. Both came under Air Marshal Barratt as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, British Air Forces in France.
    Air Marshal Barratt was made responsible for seeing that the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force had at all times 'full assurance' regarding air support and he was instructed to place at Lord Gort's disposal 'such bomber squadrons as the latter may, in consultation with him, consider necessary from time to time'. But the Air Ministry's directive also laid it down that as the British Expeditionary Force held only a fraction of the Allied front the British bombers in France should be required to operate 'in accordance with the day-to-day needs of the Allied situation on the western front as a whole'.[23] In other words Air Marshal Barratt must do his best to satisfy the demands of both Lord Gort and the French High Command. It says much for the qualities of the two British Commanders-in-Chief that this somewhat ambiguous directive led to no friction in battle, though at home the War Office and the Air Ministry found it impossible to agree what air support was necessary for an army in the field.
    Before being appointed to the new command, Air Marshal Barratt had been head of the British Air Mission at the headquarters in Coulommiers of General Vuillemin, Commander-in-Chief of the French Air Forces. Headquarters of the British Air Forces in France were now established so as to facilitate Anglo-French cooperation. At the same time Air Marshal Barratt decided that his advanced headquarters in battle would be Chauny, where the French Air Commander of the Northern Zone (General d'Astier) had his headquarters and where there had been constituted a British Air Intelligence Centre which developed into the Allied Central Air Bureau—the nerve centre of air operations throughout the first critical stages of the campaign. A further measure in which the Army and Air Force combined was the constitution in November of a joint mission to gather information of the progress of the battle if German invaded the Low Countries. This Air Mission under Wing Commander J. M. Fairweather, 'No. 3 Air Mission', was to establish itself alongside the Belgian Army Headquarters where it would act in air liaison matters and would sift information from this and other sources before passing it on to Air Marshal Barratt and to Lord Gort's Headquarters. The Military Mission under Lieutenant-Colonel G. F. Hopkinson, 'the Hopkinson Mission', was a ground reconnaissance force in armoured cars, trucks and motor cycles whose task was to gather information from formation headquarters and supply this to the Air Mission and to General Headquarters. Both missions were fully mobile and both were supplied with high-power wireless sets and mobile wireless stations. They were thus well equipped for their task, and when the time came the work they did was of great value to the British Expeditionary Force and to Air Marshal Barratt.

    Barratt's British Air Forces in France (BAFF) were not under GHQ, they were a parallel organisation, and both BEF and BAFF were operationally subordinate to their French opposite numbers. As there was no British supreme commander to coordinate/mediate between BEF and BAFF, any issues would have gone back to the UK for the War Office and Air Ministry to argue over. As luck would have it, Gort and Barratt managed quite nicely between themselves.

    Back to the original question: the French delegation had two requests: i) to approach Barratt, ii) to ask Barratt if the Metropolitan Air Force could be deployed to France. 'BGS was asked to confirm the request' is an ambiguous statement, but most probably relates to the first question: can they approach Barratt? No. 2 Mission was not in a position to give a decision on this, all it could do was to pass the request on to its masters: GHQ. The BGS at GHQ may have had a direct route to ask the staff at BAFF and get an answer, or he may have had to go the War Office-Air Ministry route.

    As the French already had fairly direct access to Barratt through their own air force, I feel it was just an exercise in bringing extra pressure to bear. Perhaps the French thought or hoped that the BEF might support their call for BAFF to be reinforced? Luckily they didn't...
     
  19. arnaud

    arnaud Junior Member

    Dear Idler,

    You have indeed a good knowledge about High Command in 1940... I publish here all messages relating to my original question... After reading them, could you confirm your last message? Better would be a good translation of those messages in simple words. I try to undertand what B.G.S. really did in relation with French and British authorities...

    Thank you...

    14.00
    Commandant Darnoux (liaison officer from général Georges) had received instructions from generals Gamelin and Georges to approach A.M. Barratt to ask him to get in the Metropolitan Air Force. The French were doing the same. B.G.S. was asked to confirm this request as it would need a decision of the British Cabinet.

    14.15
    B.G.S. visited General Georges and found that there was a misunderstanding. The French counter-attack in the morning had failed but another attack with the Armoured division was due to start now (souligné dans le texte). General Tétu and general d’Astier were organising the air support and had been told to ask A.M. Barratt’s assistance with all the air force at his disposal including those based in England. there was not at the moment any question of asking for the intervention of the whole of the Bomber Command which would necessitate a cabinet decision. It was necessary for the air support to be co-ordinated with general Huntziger (Cmdg 2nd Army) who was arranging the counter-attack.

    14.35
    The above information telephoned by B.G.S. to Lt.-Colonel Woodall at North Eagle;

    15.20
    A.V.M. Evill called to give an impression of the actual state of affairs at sedan and to find out whether in the minds of G.Q.G. there was any special target there which the air force could concentrate on. B.G.S. pointed out that this was difficult to say from here as the battle was being fought from general Huntziger’s H.Q. The bridge over the Meuse and columns advancing East of the Meuse to reinforce the attack. A.V.M. Evill was also contemplating moving some of his more advanced squadrons East of Rheims, back to alternative aerodromes.

    18.45
    Telephoned B.G.S. Lt.-Colonel Woodall – 79 Battles took part in air preparation for counter-attack Sedan. 26 not returned from two wings; results 3rd wing not known.

    22.00
    Telephone message from Lt.-Colonel Morel that counter-attack at Sedan went in this afternoon with some tanks, and enemy has been stopped. A lieutenant taken from German Armoured division said they were worn out and had been on the move for five days.
     
  20. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Such good knowledge that I missed the post that said it was 14 May! I've been assuming that it was later in the campaign and the French are trying to get the British to throw good money after bad.

    Anyway, here's a chunk from The War in France and Flanders on Hyperwar:

    By the end of 1939 it had been decided to unify the command of the two British air forces in France and early in January 1940 Air Marshal A. S. Barratt was appointed to the new command. From that date the Air Component ceased to be part of Lord Gort's command (though it remained under his operational control) and the Advanced Air Striking Force ceased to be part of Bomber Command. Both came under Air Marshal Barratt as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, British Air Forces in France.
    Air Marshal Barratt was made responsible for seeing that the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force had at all times 'full assurance' regarding air support and he was instructed to place at Lord Gort's disposal 'such bomber squadrons as the latter may, in consultation with him, consider necessary from time to time'. But the Air Ministry's directive also laid it down that as the British Expeditionary Force held only a fraction of the Allied front the British bombers in France should be required to operate 'in accordance with the day-to-day needs of the Allied situation on the western front as a whole'.[23] In other words Air Marshal Barratt must do his best to satisfy the demands of both Lord Gort and the French High Command. It says much for the qualities of the two British Commanders-in-Chief that this somewhat ambiguous directive led to no friction in battle, though at home the War Office and the Air Ministry found it impossible to agree what air support was necessary for an army in the field.
    Before being appointed to the new command, Air Marshal Barratt had been head of the British Air Mission at the headquarters in Coulommiers of General Vuillemin, Commander-in-Chief of the French Air Forces. Headquarters of the British Air Forces in France were now established so as to facilitate Anglo-French cooperation. At the same time Air Marshal Barratt decided that his advanced headquarters in battle would be Chauny, where the French Air Commander of the Northern Zone (General d'Astier) had his headquarters and where there had been constituted a British Air Intelligence Centre which developed into the Allied Central Air Bureau—the nerve centre of air operations throughout the first critical stages of the campaign. A further measure in which the Army and Air Force combined was the constitution in November of a joint mission to gather information of the progress of the battle if German invaded the Low Countries. This Air Mission under Wing Commander J. M. Fairweather, 'No. 3 Air Mission', was to establish itself alongside the Belgian Army Headquarters where it would act in air liaison matters and would sift information from this and other sources before passing it on to Air Marshal Barratt and to Lord Gort's Headquarters. The Military Mission under Lieutenant-Colonel G. F. Hopkinson, 'the Hopkinson Mission', was a ground reconnaissance force in armoured cars, trucks and motor cycles whose task was to gather information from formation headquarters and supply this to the Air Mission and to General Headquarters. Both missions were fully mobile and both were supplied with high-power wireless sets and mobile wireless stations. They were thus well equipped for their task, and when the time came the work they did was of great value to the British Expeditionary Force and to Air Marshal Barratt.

    According to this, Barratt's British Air Forces in France (BAFF) sat beside the BEF, they were not under its command. The BAFF and BEF were effectively under command of the corresponding French formations and there was no British 'supreme commander' to coordinate or mediate between BEF and BAFF - any disagreements would be passed up for the War Office and Air Ministry to argue over.

    Getting back to the original question, the additional information is very relevant in interpreting the line: "B.G.S. was asked to confirm this request as it would need a decision of the British Cabinet".

    This is how I read it:

    Darnoux, on Georges' behalf, contacts No.2 Military Mission (2MM) and asks for air support - including UK-based aircraft - for a counterattack against the German breakthrough.
    Knowing that Barratt doesn't control any UK-based aircraft, 2MM are not sure what Darnoux/Georges/Gamelin are asking for.
    2MM ask BGS to confirm (clarify) what the French want.
    BGS visits Georges and gets a different story.
    BGS passes confirmed information on to Lt Col Woodall (a liaison officer at a BAFF HQ somewhere??)
    BAFF provide the support and lose a lot of Battles.

    I'm now thinking that Swayne is the BGS the diarist refers to: he is a Brigadier in a staff role, after all. 2MM was at Georges' HQ, explaining how BGS can visit Georges less than 15 minutes after the question was first raised. Like any other organisation, junior officers would handle the day-to-day stuff but the boss gets called in to deal with important or sensitive issues. The diary/log is the voice of the duty officer, not the main man (I'm trying to avoid using the word commander after all we've said!)

    The odd aspect is that support could have been requested - even demanded - through the French chain of command to whom BAFF were subordinate, yet the seemingly convoluted British route was preferred.
     

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