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Sunday, 18 March 2012


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Well, I have read Dr. North's book and very good it is too. He certainly does not belittle the fighter battle over South East England but places it in the setting of the larger battle which included the equally crucial naval campaign and the unsung heroes who manned the coastal convoys on which the supply of coal and much else depended.

He puts the Blitz centre stage as a form of "shock and awe" designed to achieve "regime change"- a government willing to respond to the many peace feelers which the Germans were putting out at the time. Government air raid precautions were thoroughly inadequate. It was the voluntary organisations who made the running. The people themselves had to force their way into tube stations from which the authorities wanted to exclude them - and so on.

North's thesis is that the focus on "The Few" was a propaganda presentation which suited Churchill's romantic view of war - the elite knights of the air defending a helpless people and shifted emphasis away from the "People's War" narrative which was beginning to create the ethos from which the Labour victory of 1945 eventually emerged.

He also shows that Duff Cooper, the Minister of Information, was peddling a vision of a politically united Europe as a possible war aim. With regard to the threat of invasion, he demonstrates pretty conclusively that the Germans regarded it as another form of psychological pressure which might just turn into reality as a demonstration of total defeat to a nation whose will had been broken. As Churchill said "Those who knew the most were the least scared" - but it was very useful for keeping the public keyed up behind the government.

North reckons that the credit for the victory was "stolen" from the people and transferred to "The Few", as a deliberate manipulation of the narrative.
He certainly doesn't rubbish "The Few" though he has some very hard things to say about the "office politics" of the RAF at the time.


. . and John of Gaunt's speech ends

"This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leas'd out, - I die pronouncing it, -
Like to a tenement, or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watr'y Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots, and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!"

North's views are worthy of serious consideration although, as you assert, the power of myth may be irresistible. Unfortunately, the present reality is that, to our eternal shame, the nation defended by The Few and The Many has been sold down the river.

Please be a bit clearer in your labelling of illustrations. When you said

"On the other hand, I suppose I might have got over my claustrophobia!"

I thought you were referring to the fact that you would not have minded being crammed into a narrow shelter with those rather plain Windmill Girls.

David. It would have been my pleasure to share the sink with those burds. I noted a bit of lead piping needed replaced. Aye!!

Edward, you have the advantage over me on RN's book which I have not yet read. I'm not sure that one can place much certainty on Hitler's 'strategy' given that he was an opportunist of the first order. I suspect that had the Luftwaffe succeeded in shooting the RAF out of the sky he might well have chanced his arm on an invasion because the Royal Navy would have been forced to operate without command of the air, an intolerable situation as they found out when the Prince of Wales and the Repulse were sent to the Far East! Even so, it is obvious (now) that always and forever his main physical and ideological target was Marxist Russia.

I am glad Richard has not denigrated the airmen involved. Their's was a great and brave fight of which we can all be proud even if, as usual, those wily politicians took advantage of it. Also, from my general readings of WWII I would agree with anyone who suggests that, with one or two brilliant exceptions, the upper echelons of the RAF high command were filled with useless idiots!

'W', I am sure those lovely ladies would have soothed my fevered brow, or something!

Oi, Jimmy! You're not the bloke that's nicking all the lead off the churches , are ye?

Bongers, sorry, I missed a response to your comment. Not that I have much to say except to nod my head slowly and sadly in agreement.

David. Never a church. The tenements yes! Lead and also the iron bars that balanced the windows were popular. Blocked tin pipe that was used for the gas mantles were very very popular but took ages to dig out from the plaster.

"Never a church." Well, that's alright, then!

Aye David it was all right. The slum landlords did not bother a bit.
They made their money during the industrial revolution in the East End of Glasgow. They had more important things to worry about than scrap metal.

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