The Azores.

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Smudger Jnr, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    After reading a recent thread by one of our new members regarding weather forcasting units in wartime, it got me thinking.

    I had two uncles in the RAF during the war, one in North Africa as ground crew mechanic and the other stationed on the Azores for weather forcasting dutie.

    The Azores are Portugese and I cannot help but wonder what arrangements were made with Portugal to have British servicemen stationed on a Neutral Island during the war.

    As an Island goes it is perfectly situated in mid Atlantic for meteorlogical work.

    There was an RAF airbase there which was greatly enlarged during the war. Which again was excellent for reconnaissance/anti submarine and shipping patrols.

    I cannot help wondering how this was achieved without causing a diplomatic incident with the Germans.

    Has anyone any knowledge on this subject that they would care to share as I find it most intriguing.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It does indeed make you wonder what hold, if any the British had over the Portugese. Perhaps there was just too many other bigger 'fish' to fry at the time and it was far down the pecking order of concern?

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  3. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    The Azores are Spanish and I cannot help but wonder what arrangements were made with Spain to have British servicemen stationed on a Neutral Island during the war.
    Regards
    Tom

    Hi Tom,

    As Drew has stated in post two, The Azores were Portuguese Territory. The was a 600? year old agreement between Britain and Portugal which led to Britain being allowed to use the Azores.

    I started a thread about this so will try and find it again.
     
  4. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Yes, thanks guys I realised my gaff after posting when trying to find a photo.

    Thanks for the clarification, appreciated.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Spidge...Interesting indeed. I wonder if the Ascension Is. were of a similar importance or were they too far South?


    Tom,

    With regards to weather etc on the Azores. I remember ready in ATB's D-Day about weather reports prior to a decision being made coming in from the Atlantic to Stagg and his team. I suspect that the Azores was where the info was probably coming from.

    Ref the Spain bit I never noticed. I only knew they were Porto because of a google map search to see where they are in relation to the Ascension Is.

    Cheers
     
  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Andy,

    Thanks for the information.

    I suspect that the Azores was a very important and strategic place for the Allies.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  8. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Not much on Lajes War Cemetery however I found this.

    Lajes Field - Story Media

    I said the Aussie flyers got around in ww2 as there are two buried here as well.

    They were both lads from 220sq RAF.

    Lajes War Cemetery was established during the Second World War, when Commonwealth forces were stationed on the island and the aerodrome was used by the Commonwealth and American air forces. Originally it contained both Commonwealth and American war graves - some of which were moved in from the town cemetery at Angra - but the remains of the American servicemen were later repatriated. Lajes War Cemetery now contains 47 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, one of which is unidentified. Nineteen of the graves are those of the passengers and crew of a Liberator which crashed into the hills when taking off on 14 March 1945. There is also one Polish war grave and one non-war burial in the cemetery.
    When the time came for a major service of 220 Squadrons Fortresses, every 800 hours, they were ferried to Thornaby. F/O. Desmond E. Morris lifted Fortress FK206 'K' off the planked runway at Lagens at 03:26 hrs in the early morning of 4 December 1943. Thirty seconds later the Fortress plunged into the Atlantic with the loss of all on board.
    The official likely cause was loss of control following the change from visual flight to instruments on a very black night. The bodies of three crew members were recovered - two Canadians and one Australian - to be buried in the civil cemetery at Angra and later moved to the Lajes War Cemetery.

    Extract from 'Unsung Sentinels' - R. Stitt.
    F/O. Desmond E. Morris is listed on the Runnymede Memorial.

    Tom,

    This is the list of your RCAF lads.

    BOUDREAULT, JOSEPH EDOUARD ROCH, J E R Warrant Officer Class II ( W.Op/Air Gnr. ) R/125388 RCAF 4/12/1943
    FLACK, CARL THOMAS, C T Warrant Officer Class II ( W.Op./Air Gnr. ) R/121119 RCAF 4/12/1943
    MACHAN, WILLIS ELNOR ROSS, W E R Warrant Officer Class I ( W.Op./Air Gnr. ) R/90316 RCAF 13/12/1943
    YORKE, JOHN HASWELL, J H Warrant Officer Class I ( W.Op./Air Gnr. ) R/90160 RCAF 13/12/1943
    LARONDE, HARRY DEMERSE, H D Flying Officer ( Nav. ) J/36819 RCAF 8/03/1945
    JARVIS, LEONARD FITZGERALD, L F Flight Lieutenant ( Air Gnr. ) C/8309 RCAF 14/03/1945
    HOLOWATY, WILLIAM, W Flight Sergeant R/257034 RCAF 18/06/1945
     
  9. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    If I may speak as one of the Aboriginals, the joke at the time was that Portugal was following what was called a Testicular Strategy: "We cooperate but do not participate".

    There were for times immemorial (since the early 18th century at least) very strong economical ties between both countries, which were still ongoing at the time of WW2. The Napoleonic order of a Continental Blockade against England was refused and we were invaded as a consequence, leading to the Wellesley/Wellington expedition. At the time of WW2 a British defeat would be a disaster for Portugal as the UK was the biggest partner, both for imports and exports. We were extremely lucky to have that crazy Franco and his Spaniards in between, or Hitler would have made this into a heck of a ghetto and treat us no better than Poles or Balkans.

    In the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, with the Francoist victory, Portugal as a neighbour was very much oriented to the Axis side, we were ordering a few airplanes from both Germany and Italy (Ju 52, Breba 65 - Jeez!), artillery, etc, etc. This to the extreme displeasure of His Maj. Gov.

    The Portuguese politicians themselves were very much divided, swaying between support for the ideologically closer Axis, or the more pragmatic support for the Allies. In the end the pro-Allied side won, and as they had made it clear they were going to invade anyway, the Portuguese government made a few noises but went all along, the pro-Axis faction being defeated. After Stalingrad all Portuguese mineral exports to Germany dried out anyway.

    In exchange the Portuguese government received a cornucopia of military equipment (Spitfires, Hurricanes, Helldivers, Valentine tanks, my father's 3.7"" AAs :) , etc, etc) plus a lot of much needed economic help, as well as a promise to liberate Japanese occupied East Timor.

    An interesting tidbit I found :
    During WW2 both Churchill and Roosevelt were anxious for the two countries to have access to the facilities of the Azores for Naval and Airforce use. Their strategic placement in the Atlantic Ocean, would be of great benefit in Britain's fight against the U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic. Very early in the war, Churchill had talked to the Portuguese President about using the Azores, and Portugal had indicitated that should Hitler overrun their country, his Government would most likely withdraw to the Azores to carry on from there.
    At one stage, in considering the necessity for Britain to survive, and for America to use the British Isles as a springboard to invade Nazi occupied Europe, Churchill and Roosevelt did talk about just invading the Azores.
    It did not become necessary, as negotiations with this old ally, Portugal gave approval for the use of their Azores Islands by British and American Naval and Airforces in 1943. This agreement stemmed from a treaty signed in the year of 1373, yes back to 1373.
     
  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The requisition of the Azores was part of the strategy to defeat the U Boat in the Battle of the Atlantic as has been referred to above. It meant that there were no gaps left in patrolling the airspace between the US and North Africa on the southern route.Complete air cover along with the introduction of ASV ensured that the U Boat force threat was negated.Not forgetting the information from Ultra which resulted in a "no hiding place" for the U Boat fleet in the Atlantic.

    Portugal could never have been an ally of the Axis powers had it wished to be.It was situated in an geographical area which Britain and later, the Allied powers had the greater balance of military power.For Germany it would have been very difficult to support the regime if it had been invaded by Britain or later,by the Allies, something akin to Great Britain's assurance of help to Poland,if invaded.In reality, as regards a presence in Poland by the British or a presence by Germany in Portugal,could only be a potential military operation failure.
     
  11. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Here's a picture of the WW2 airfield at Largens,Azores. The two runways were still under construction.

    Regards
    Tom
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  13. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Thank you for your posts, there has been some recent literature on Portuguese wartime diplomacy over here lately, but to be frank I haven't been able to read it yet. I'll move them closer to the top of the pile.

    And the airfield name is Lajes, it's still in use by NATO :)
     
  14. orionabelt

    orionabelt Junior Member

    The Complete roll of the RAF in the Azores is now published in a new book
    'Boeing B17 Fortress in Coastal Command Service' By Robert M Stitt with the help of my Dad and others Airman / Aircrew from 220 and 206 Sqdns
    ISBN 978 8389450 883.

    My dads Picture in flight kit is opposite the Contents page.
    This book has had excellant reviews and tells the full story and answers a lot of your queations.
    Rdgs
    ***
     
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  15. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    welcome to the forum
     
  16. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Should be an interesting read, I'll put that one in my list.
     
  17. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    The Complete roll of the RAF in the Azores is now published in a new book
    'Boeing B17 Fortress in Coastal Command Service' By Robert M Stitt with the help of my Dad and others Airman / Aircrew from 220 and 206 Sqdns
    ISBN 978 8389450 883.

    My dads Picture in flight kit is opposite the Contents page.
    This book has had excellant reviews and tells the full story and answers a lot of your queations.
    Rdgs
    ***

    Listed here:

    Boeing B-17 Fortress in RAF Coastal Command Service - Casemate Publishers

    [​IMG] Boeing B-17 Fortress in RAF Coastal Command Service

    Robert M. Stitt
    8.25 x 11.75, 248 pages, 272+ b/w historical photos, 17 color pages with color profiles, 9788389450883, $59.00, paperback, MMP
    August 10, 2010
     
  18. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Thank you for the information on the book, which I will pass on.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  19. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    And here goes a little green box for your effort :)
     
  20. robstitt

    robstitt Junior Member

    Reviews for the Fortress book can be found on the publisher's site at:
    MMP Books
    About 40 of the book's 248 pages relate to operations from the Azores.
    Cheers:
    Robert Stitt
     

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