HM the King Visits North Africa & Malta

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Charley Fortnum, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    George VI visited North Africa & Malta in June 1943 as shown here:

    And mentioned here:
    King George VI visits North Africa and Malta - WWII Today

    A number of questions:

    Photographs I have suggest he was in Tripoli with Monty on the 19th, the 21st & 22nd, but in Malta on the 20th.

    a) Can anybody manage more details on his itinerary?

    From Macmillan's War Diaries I know that he arrived in Algiers on June 12th (under the codename 'General Lyon') and that he was accompanied by Piers 'Joey' Legh (an Equerry) and Alexander 'Alec' Hardinge (his Private Secretary--soon to resign). He stayed there with Ike and many others on 13th, visited the 'American Army' on Monday 14th and hosted a garden party at his villa on the 15th. He was scheduled to fly to 'Tunisia etc.' on the morning of the 16th, but his departure was postponed (unclear how long) by a thunderstorm. The next I have him is sailing from Tripoli for Malta at 10 p.m. on the night of Saturday, 19 June and arriving there at 9.30 a.m. the following day. He stayed for the day, departed at 10 p.m and returned to Tripoli at 7 a.m. on Monday 21. He is then back in Algiers on the night of 23 June for dinner, review French troops (somewhere) on the morning of 24 June and leaving for home that night.

    This book suggests that he was away for two weeks in total and returned to Britain from Fez and landed at Northolt at 6 a.m. on June 25th to be met by Churchill:

    Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

    I'd like to know the various specific locations he toured from 16th to 23rd excluding Malta.

    b) Who traveled with him in his entourage? Which army figures did he meet?
    Anyone in addition to the names given above?

    c) Can anybody identify the figure in the rear of the car with him in this photograph?
    (or, for that matter the driver and the unit greeting him?)

    THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH AFRICA 1943 (E 25431) [you can zoom a long way]

    d) Does anybody know of any memoirs or autobiographies that cover this visit apart from Macmillan's and Cunningham's?

    Last edited: Feb 3, 2017
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  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Hello ‘Charley’, bet you have wondered where we have all gone! To kick this one off see the following extract from 56 Recce War Diary:

    Location Guelma
    14 June 43
    Rehersal with Divisional Commander of Ceremonial Road Lining in anticipation of the visit of HIS MAJESTY THE KING.

    15 June
    Repetition of previous day’s Road Lining Rehersal. Routine Normal. Representatives of the Regiment visited Phillipeville to see various types of landing craft.

    17 June
    His Majesty the King visited the Division. The Regiment lined part of the route into Guelma. Lead by the Commanding Officer the Regiment provided an escort of 5 LRCs.

    There is also the following mention in the 56 Recce History, regarding a presentation made to their Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Kendal G F Chavasse DSO, when he left the Regiment in March 1945:
    “The Green and Yellow Pennant flown at RHQ which was also flown on his Recce car “Faugh & Ballagh” when he escorted HM The King George VI during his visit to the 78th Div on the 17th June 1943 at the end of the North African Campaign, and afterwards in Sicily and Italy”.

    Finally the following article in the Regimental Orders:

    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Charley & Tony56

    Thanks for this info and particularly the newsreel shot which I hadn't seen before.

    Thought I'd resurrect the following posting I once made on the forum:

    I first arrived in North Africa on April 13th 1943 but didn't join my unit (The 49th LAA) until the 22nd of May.

    On the 17th June, the King, George VI, flew to Tunisia to inspect the 78 Div and my unit proudly marched in front of him through the streets of Tunis.

    As a comparative newcomer it was deemed appropriate that I, and the other reinforcements, should guard the vehicle park to ensure that the local citizens didn't make off with sundry parts, including all the tyres.

    When we were being given our instructions as to the exact parameter of the sentry beat it was also pointed out to us that we should be keeping a close eye on the latrines.

    When I queried this last point it was explained to me that it was common practice for the local gentry to steal the by-product of bodily functions which were in great demand for spreading on the nearby fields.

    To this day I can proudly claim, that whilst my comrades-in-arms marched in triumph through the streets of Tunis I guarded a pile of sxxxt !

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  4. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    So much for the honour of guarding the King's bedchamber, Ron! Well, I suppose all these seemingly little things are all part of the overall plan during when a Royal is on an official visit!
  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Cheers, chaps. HM's itinerary coming together--he was clearly busy as a lot of units were inspected by him.

    If I may refer you to the photograph and question c) in my first post. I have a beautiful photo (alas, can't post here) of the King inspecting 1/4th Essex, but I can't identify the driver or third passenger -- Monty is the other.
  6. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Charley, if you do a search on the IWM collections page using the following:

    “king george vi” “north Africa”
    “king george vi” “algeria”

    You will get plenty of results and it may be able to piece his itinerary together. Although you can’t view the film it is worth looking at the films as they often come with a good description, like this one:
  7. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Sorry to hear of Ron's predicament..

    A couple of entries from various war diaries...not adding much but does mention Sir James Grigg, Secretary of State for War.
    38th (Irish) Brigade:
    17th June 1943:
    1100 Visit of HM the King to 78 Division. All available HQ personnel took their place lining the Bone – Guelma road. The King, accompanied by Sir James Grigg, passed at 1345hrs on his way to lunch at HQ 78 Division. After lunch, the visitors returned to Bone.

    2 LIR;
    stated as 18 June ..but must be 17th, I think.
    HM The King visited the Division. The Battalion lined the route to Divisional HQ and the King spoke to Brigade Command Group including the Commanding Officer – Lieutenant Colonel T P D Scott.

    1 RIrF
    17th June – GUELMA.
    Bttn lined the route for the visit of His Majesty the King.

    6 Innisks:
    17th June – HELIOPOLIS.
    The Bttn lined the road outside the camp on the occasion of the visit of HM the King to inspect 78 Division.
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  8. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Now that is interesting--I didn't know he was there. I've been meaning to pick up a copy of his memoirs Judgment & Prejudice for some time now, but it's an elusive publication.

    Will investigate further--thank you.
  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Courtesy of DBF:

    June War Diary, 6th Motor Battalion Grenadier Guards, 1943

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  10. hboardk

    hboardk Member

    I see this is an old thread however I have some information that may be of help. In my Grandfather's war diary, he mentions seeing the King on June 18th. He was in the Pioneer Corps, stationed at Algiers.
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  11. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    I have a couple of my dad's photos (although I doubt he took them) one shows the King in the same open topped car (with very flat rear mud-guards) that appears about 40seconds into the video in the 1st post.

    From the 59th HAA DRAMA Report:-
    On 17 Jun King George VI visited the area. All defences were at full manning during the visit.
    Enemy aircraft were often seen but the level was that of single aircraft or pairs flying over Bone at dawn and dusk.

    From the 59th HAA War Diaries (17th June 1943):-
    All guns in the area "stood to" {on duty} on occasion of the visit of H.M. the King to the area.

    Dad recalls the King's visit while stationed at Bone:-
    Whilst on site, which overlooked a main road, King George VI and Winston Churchill made a visit; who remembers having to attend the reception party?

    Looks like dad was mistaken about Churchill, but I'd love to know whether Winston ever visited this area while the 59th were there. Also, dad's comment about the 'party' may have been an 'in-joke' for his comrades during the 1980s/90s, who used to hold annual reunions.

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