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The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Markus Becker on 15 Dec 2010 20:42

takata_1940 wrote:Maybe some production issue related to this specific export engine serie? It seems that all other series (A7-A8-A9) with the same Wright engine were also affected. All were produced in a row. It might be due also to this airframe fittings. I believe that the exact cause was never sorted out.
S~
Olivier


I thought of something like this too. The export Buffaloes and the 4th batch of Hawks had Cyclones of the G-series: R-1820-G205A/G5/G105A/G5E. The Seahawk, TBD, SBD. F2A and FM-2 had Cyclones with number codes only.
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Graham B on 10 Feb 2011 13:32

Getting back to the topic of Meaher's book and the great betrayal myth. Having now read it, I can't recommend it but would say that yes, it is one point of view.
He sets out to debunk three myths - the aforementioned betrayal, plus another that Japan planned to invade Australia and thirdly that Australia was 'armed and ready' for any such invasion. I can't agree with his myth claim, but he takes it to task in any case.
On betrayal, his central argument is that Australia did not exert its independence from Britain (it did not enact the Westminster Statute that gave it an independent foreign policy), acted as an immature dependent colony through the 1920-30s and thus must accept British foreign policy decisions and Churchill was quite right to assume that it would. Another major element is that Australia misunderstood Imperial Defence, especially her own responsibility for local (home) defence.
On Japanese plans to invade Australia, again there is nothing new uncovered here. He fails to mention IJN plans that have been well documented in several of the accounts he cites and he overlooks the reports and estimates of the time by military, including US, commanders.
On 'armed and ready' he has only one target, a book of the same name by A.T. Ross. That book, which is not well known and certainly not of mythical proportions, is about the only one I've ever read that claims Australia was well prepared (and then but barely).
In sum, I found that he created an argument when there really wasn't one to be had, more so as I've read most of his references that he says have endured the myth (Day, Freudenberg, Ross, Horner, Wurth, Williamson to name a few).
He claims they are selective - but be assured, so is he. Some examples - he twice quotes an order by Australia for ten Demon fighters in 1936 (the same year Britain ordered Hurricanes and Spitfires) as evidence of Australia's sad state of readiness and planning. He overlooks the 58 other Demons ordered (the ten was a top up) and ignores the impossible task Australia faced in obtaining aircraft from anyone (especially Britain). He claims Australia's refusal to contribute $$ to the Singapore base and to the Royal Navy as evidence that it ignored local defence. He does not mention that Australia, in spite of Britain's request, raised her own Navy instead (how is that ignoring local defence?), and no mention of Australia's contribution in manpower. He uses the very late despatch of reinforcements to Singapore (though he does not mention timing, merely they wre coming) as evidence that, had Japan delayed hostilies a few months, there might have been a different outcome in the Far East. Even at a stretch, that's an impossible claim.
He is certainly out to promote conservative politics in Australia's pre-war history, even blaming the left wing party in opposition for not developing defence capability. He's harsh on all politicans (no disagreement there) but particularly/very harsh on the non-governing party.
I was disappointed to reach the end - because I was still waiting for the point. But his point really is in 1930s politics and he doesn't venture much into the war period (except for a couple of very carefully selected points).
The title is indicative of the quality of this book - on the cover it is 'The Road to Singapore' while on the title page it's called "Australia's Road to Singapore'. Similar with the Prologue, confusingly called Introduction in the Notes section (and he uses the two titles interchangibly in his Prologue.Introduction). Ok, that's pedantic but for this he is awarded a PHd.
The concluding paragraph angers me - suggesting (vaguely, but nonetheless) that Australia still needs to learn that it must play its role in the world if it seeks protection from a greater power - has this man not heard of Vietnam, Somalia, Cambodia, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan but to name a few.
At best, it provides another point of view, but I'll be returning my copy to the library and leaving space on my bookshelves for more credible writers.
Last edited by Graham B on 11 Feb 2011 11:34, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Fatboy Coxy on 10 Feb 2011 21:34

Graham B wrote:Getting back to the topic of Meaher's book and the great betrayal myth. He uses the very late despatch of reinforcements to Singapore (though he does not mention timing, merely they wre coming) as evidence that, had Japan delayed hostilies a few months, there might have been a different outcome in the Far East. Even at a stretch, that's an impossible claim.


I'm not going to defend Meaher's book, but I'd make a strong argument that Singapore was left "unguarded" for a short period of time, and Japan acted opportunistically. I do think they (Japan) had to act when they did. The defences in Malaya/Singapore, the Philippines, and even Pearl Harbor were all improving fast, and at sometime in 1942, Japan would have failed.

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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Graham B on 11 Feb 2011 11:51

Fat boy Coxy
I think the main point to take from Meaher is that Australia can blame itself as much as anyone else, for its ill-preparedness for WW2. Maybe I didn't make that clear above, but it is a point that most historians writing on the pre WW2 era agree on. Not that Australia is unique in this sense.
As much as I'd like to agree with your suggestion that defences were fast improving in Malaya/Singapore as I don't like being too disagreeable all the time, I can't. Reinforcements weren't tagged for Singapore until late December/early January, weeks after Japan started hostilities. There is no indication that existing plans were to be improved (airfield siting and capability, army numbers and equipment (eg. no tanks were planned), passive defences on Singapore and Johore, modern aircraft, more aircraft, radar and early warning, anti-air artillery, operational plans by Percival, etc).
Sure, if Japan had not attacked and the time lag following the end of diplomatic ties with the US had extended, Great Britain and her Allies might have done something, but there is no evidence (that I'm aware of anyway) that they would have.
I think they had too much else going down and basically could only be reactive in the Far East.
I hope you can prove me wrong.
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Andy H on 28 Feb 2011 02:57

I thought this maybe of interest to this discussion:-

Part of a paper within The International Affairs Journal Oct'71 written by Lawrence Pratt called:-
The Anglo-American Naval Conversations on the Far East of January 1938

General Policy

Both parties agree that, in principle, political movements should keep step with the Naval situation, but it is realised that this may be difficult to accomplish. Ioth parties also agree that the political ancl Naval measures of each nation should be kept in step with those of the other nation. To this end it is agreed that it is desirable that the arrival of the British Fleet at Singapore and the U.S. Fleet at Honolulu should, as far as possible, be synchronised. Nevertheless, it is realised that the circumstances, and particularly any incidents primarily affecting one nation rather than both, may make it difficult to carry out the above policy.

It is assumed that all waters of the British Commonwealth, including the Dominions, will be available for use of U.S. Naval Forces and that all waters of the United States, including the Philippines, will be available for use of the British Naval Forces.

It is understood that the Government of the United Kingdom cannot definitely commit the Governments of the Dominions of the British Commonwealth to any action in concert with the United Kingdom. The Admiralty feels sure, however, that Canada, Australia and New Zealand would co-operate with the United Kingdom against Japan in the circumstances under consideration.

The Admiralty is not at the present time anticipating any direct aid from the French or Dutch in the Far East, but they consider that it is possible that the latter might adopt a benevolent attitude of nieutrality. The Admiralty are not counting on any aid from Russia.

In the event of Germany proving hostile a most serious problem would arise. The Adniralty is not so seriously apprehensive of submarines as they believe that they can successfully deal with them. They are, however, seriously appre- hensive of British trade routes in the Atlantic, should the Gernans use their 3 Pocket Battleships and the 2 new 27,000 ton ships as commerce raiders.

An even more dangerous situation would arise should hostilities with Italy also supervene after the greater part of the British Fleet had proceeded to the Far East. It would be necessary for the Admiralty to rely entirely on the alternative route to the East via the Cape of Good Hope. In these circumstances the main problem in the Mediterranean would be to hold the Suez Canal and Egypt. The Admiralty would have to depend on the French Navy to hold the Western Mediterranean and some of her Naval Forces would have to be based on Gibraltar to secure the Western entrance. They would themselves, however, keep anti-submarine forces at Gibraltar. In this connection the Admiralty is of the opinion that the Straits of Gibraltar can be made hazardous for the passage of enemy submarines.

In the event of such a general European war it would almost certainly be necessary to effect a considerable reduction in the British strength in the Far East. With the reduction of British strength in the Far East under these condi- tions the possible necessity of direct tactical co-operation between the U.S. and British Fleets would require further consideration.

Policy with regard to Forces now in the Far East

U.S. Forces
It is understood that the U.S. Navy Department would like the U.S. garrisons now in North China to be withdrawn and that in emergency the U.S. Asiatic Fleet would withdraw from Northern Chinese Waters.

British Forces
The Admiralty is also concerned regarding the British garrisons in North China. Should parallel action in regard to the movements of the two Main Fleets be decided upon, consideration would have to be given to the accurate timing of the withdrawal of the British troops in North China to Hong Kong, and the major units of the British China Fleet would also have to withdraw to that place or to Singapore.

Arrangements for inter-commiunication betweeni British and U.S. Fleets

It is agreed that since the two fleets will be widely separated at first and probably for some time there could not be unity of command in a tactical or strategic sense in the near future. It is, however, agreed that strategic co-opera- tion will be necessary and that such co-operation will require common com- munication facilities.

The following arrangements have been agreed upon to this end:-
(a) The Admiralty will distribute to all ships of the British Fleet, and arrange to deposit at the British Embassy in Washington, at Gibraltar and in the Far East for issue to the ships of the U.S. Navy, the necessary copies ot the following books:-
(1) A suitable Code
(2) Re-cyphering Tables for use with the Codle by the Higher Command.
(3) Re-cyphering Tables for use with the Code by the other Flag Officers.
(4) Re-cyphering Tables for use with the Code by all ships.
(5) A Key Memorandum containing simple recognition signals for use by both Fleets.
(6) A book of War W/T Call Signs for both Fleets.

(b) A copy of the British Naval W/T organisation wiVL be issued by the Admiralty with the books to be distributed to the U.S. Fleet.

(c) The U.S. Navy Department will make available the necessary copies of their Pacific and Asiatic Fleet W/T Organisation for distribution to the British Fleet. These will be deposited as soon as practicable with the U.S. Embassy in London, on board the Flagship of the U.S. Squadron in the Mediterranean, and on board the Flagship of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet.

(d) Commercial W/T procedure will be used for inter-communication.

(e) The Admiralty will propose frequencies for inter-communication if and when the occasion arises.

(f) Direct inter-communication by W/T between individual ships of the two Fleets will not normally be necessary unless tactical co-operation is envisaged.
The inter-communication procedure outlined above will be subject to adjust- ment between the Commanders-in-Chief of the two Main Fleets.

Interchange of Communication Personnel


To facilitate inter-communication between the two Fleets it is agreed that the following inter-change of personnel with experience in WIT would be desirable:
(a) 1 Officer and 1 rating from U.S. Asiatic Fleet to be lent temporarily to both Hong Kong and Singapore W/T Stations. (b) 1 Officer, if and when available, and 1 Chief Petty Officer Telegraphist to be lent temporarily from the British China Fleet to the U.-S. Asiatic Fleet Flagship.
(c) 1 Officer and 1 rating to be lent from the British and U.S. Navies to the U.S. and British Main Fleet flagships respectively.
(d) 1 British Officer to be appointed for duty with the U.S. Navy initially at Washington. One officer from U.S. Navy to be attached to the staff of the U.S. Naval Attache in London -and to be available for communi- cati on duties.

General Liaison

Both parties agree that no further measures for general liaison purposes are necessary at the present time. Should, however, parallel action be decided upon by the two Governments, it would be necessary to appoint a British Officer with knowledge of war plans to Washington and a U.S. Officer with similar knowledge for duty in London.

Strategical Policy

Should the Governments decided that a distant blockade is to be established, the British Naval Forces will be responsible for the stoppage of Japanese trade on a line running, roughly, from Singapore through the Dutch East Indies past New Guinea and New Hebrides, and thence to the Eastward of Australia and New Zealand.
The U.S. Navy will be responsible for operations against Japanese trade throughout the WVest Coast of North and South America, including the Panama Canal and the passage round Cape Horn.
The U.S. Navy will also assume responsibilitv for the general Naval defence of the West Coast of Canada. In these circumstances it is agreed that no hard and fast line of demarcation between the areas in which the two fleets will. operate need to be laid down at this stage.

(Sd.) R. E. Ingersoll, Captain, United States Navy.
(Sd.) T. S. V. Phillips, Captain. Royal Navy.
13th January, 1938.


Regards

Andy H
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ReE The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal".

Postby Robert Rojas on 28 Feb 2011 08:16

Greetings to citizen Andy Hill, the forum's British Commonwealth constituency and the community as a whole. Howdy Andy! Well sir, in light of your installment of Monday - February 28, 2011 - 2:57am, old Uncle Bob would like to convey his appreciation for your timely decision to include your excerpt entitled as THE ANGLO-AMERICAN NAVAL CONVERSATIONS ON THE FAR EAST OF JANUARY 1938 within the body of this particular thread. The contents of this excerpt are certainly relevant to the general thrust of this geopolitical discussion. Thank you for not monopolizing the contents of this eye opening excerpt within the COULD JAPAN HAVE WON THE WAR thread over on the adjacent WHAT IF section of the forum. Old yours truly is supremely confident that the technical information within this excerpt will breathe new life into this controversial subject without interjecting any of the asinine rancor which is becoming an odious hallmark within the COULD JAPAN HAVE WON THE WAR thread. Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this expansive topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day no matter what shore of the pond that fate or happenstance might have taken you. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN - not to mention everybody else.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :) :wink: 8-)
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby John McCarthy on 05 Jul 2011 01:38

I have been following this debate with interest. I have yet to get hold of a copy of Meaher's The Road to Singapore: The Myth of British Betrayal but from the reviews I cannot see what he has to say is new. I have a little scholarly stake to admit. There is mention of 'Singapore Strategy' and I wonder if I am responsible for first using this term mainly in my 'Australia and Imperial Defence: A Study in Sea and Air Power' (University of Queensland Press, 1977). Still wondering, but I would like to know if any have an earlier reference. Thank you all though for your insightful debate. John McC
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Graham B on 24 Jul 2011 10:05

and a fine book it is to John. It sits rather legendary-like on my shelves, among Day, Horner, Warren and a few others.
Can't say my collection is complete by any means, but yours' is the oldest that I have on this theme and seems to have paved the way for the many that followed. Louis Alan wrote Politics and Strategy of World War 2: Singapore 1941-1942 about the same time as yours, but his theme is quite broad and I don't think he uses the term Singapore Strategy as such.
On Meaher's account, there are quite some differences in the review that kicked this topic off, and the book itself. The reviewer has added considerably to give his own take on history.
So what are you writing these days?
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby John McCarthy on 02 Sep 2011 07:59

Thank you Graham for your kind words. I am still doing all sorts of things-running a course for the RAAF on air power and national strategy for one thing. Writing a book would you believe on an unsolved murder in Sydney in 1932 plus a biography of Richard Williams the first CAS of ter RAAF. Gave up full time university teaching when my dear late wife became ill ten years ago. Happens. Regards, John McC
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Fatboy Coxy on 26 Sep 2011 19:24

Andy H wrote:I thought this maybe of interest to this discussion:-

Part of a paper within The International Affairs Journal Oct'71 written by Lawrence Pratt called:-
The Anglo-American Naval Conversations on the Far East of January 1938

General Policy

(Sd.) R. E. Ingersoll, Captain, United States Navy.
(Sd.) T. S. V. Phillips, Captain. Royal Navy.
13th January, 1938.


Regards

Andy H


Anyone noticed who signed for the Royal Navy. Head of the Royal Navy Plan Division, latter to command Force Z, Tom Phillips! Maybe another reason why he came out to lead Force Z, having already previously planned arrangements to work with the USN, was his experience of co-operation with them. Its interesting to note how quickly he met with Admiral Hart, on arriving in the Far East, having now seen this I bet he was burning with a desire to get things moving, and indeed they did work out quite a good arrangement, given their restrictions.

Nice find Andy, thank you

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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby aghart on 21 Jan 2013 00:06

Markus Becker wrote:
Graham B wrote:I can't grasp why Britain couldn't afford to send some of the forces built up in the UK - a couple of DIVs (relieved by those from Ethiopia maybe, as you identify) and a couple of squadrons from Bomber Command. Even a couple of the numerous Australian squadrons in the UK. Sure, I understand Britain's fear of invasion, but that had faded greatly by mid 1941.


Like I said, they could have affored to send more than one division indeed, even from the UK. I think the official history from the 50s admitted there would be no risk of invasion until the summer of 1942, provided the USSR had been defeated by that time. So post June 21st 1941 the UK had not much to fear from Germany for almost a year.



Oh the benefits of hindsight? As I have said in a number of other posts, from June to December 1941 Nazi Germany was heading towards victory in Russia. Great Britain had no way of knowing that Germany was going to get bogged down in Russia.

In 1941 the Spitfire V ( our best fighter) was being outclassed by the Focke Wolf 190 fighter, Until December 1941 a second Battle of Britain followed by a German Invasion of the UK in 1942 was a real possibility. With that in mind, how could anyone expect the UK in 1941 to despatch Squadrons of fighters and attack aircraft, armoured brigades and infantry divisions to Singapore with the intention of having them back in the UK by 1942. Anything sent east would have to stay there. The Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber has been mentioned. In February 1942 ( just as Singapore was falling) the German navy stormed up the English channel in the "Channel Dash" ,in the whole of the UK at that time there were only 3 operational squadrons of Beauforts available, none of them fully trained. The painful truth is that Britain was late preparing for World War II and we only got our s**t together in late 1942 onwards. If we are going to use hindsight then lets go the whole hog! what is this discussion about? Japan had no intentions of invading Australia ! so how can Great Britain be accused of betraying Australia against a threat that did not exist?
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Hoist40 on 21 Jan 2013 16:43

Under build up in the Pacific and US support of Singapore, B-17’s to Singapore.

According to the book “Racing the Sunrise” by Willford on page 117 there was a plan being carried out to store 100 octane fuel, bombs and ammo in Singapore, Port Darwin, Port Moresby and Rabaul to support B-17’s. The initial stock was to support 35 bombers for two missions out of Singapore and Port Darwin and one mission out of Port Moresby and Rabaul. Lack of shipping delayed the shipments from the Philippines to Singapore and Port Darwin until the war started which ended the program.

I would guess that if war had been delayed a little longer that the program would have been expanded to match up with the increase of B-17’s in the Philippines.

Probably the British and Australians went along with the program both to get B-17 support but also additional stocks of high grade aviation fuel, bombs and ammo which probably would be useful for both British build aircraft and Lend Lease ones
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby ROLAND1369 on 22 Jan 2013 01:44

The use American Bombs on british aircraft would have been a non starter as British and us bomb attachments were not interchangable. I would suspect that at least originaly lendlease aircraft would have been fitted with British bomb atachment systems. I am unfamiliar with octatne requirements for british aircraft but I believe that the 100 plus US AVGAS would have been too much for most british aircraft.
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby aghart on 28 Jan 2013 08:32

Graham B wrote:Fat boy Coxy
I think the main point to take from Meaher is that Australia can blame itself as much as anyone else, for its ill-preparedness for WW2. Maybe I didn't make that clear above, but it is a point that most historians writing on the pre WW2 era agree on. Not that Australia is unique in this sense.
As much as I'd like to agree with your suggestion that defences were fast improving in Malaya/Singapore as I don't like being too disagreeable all the time, I can't. Reinforcements weren't tagged for Singapore until late December/early January, weeks after Japan started hostilities. There is no indication that existing plans were to be improved (airfield siting and capability, army numbers and equipment (eg. no tanks were planned), passive defences on Singapore and Johore, modern aircraft, more aircraft, radar and early warning, anti-air artillery, operational plans by Percival, etc).
Sure, if Japan had not attacked and the time lag following the end of diplomatic ties with the US had extended, Great Britain and her Allies might have done something, but there is no evidence (that I'm aware of anyway) that they would have.
I think they had too much else going down and basically could only be reactive in the Far East.
I hope you can prove me wrong.
Graham


I agree with fatboy coxy. It was the fact that Nazi Germany was bogged down in Russia at the end of 1941 that allowed the UK to send the reinforcements to Singapore. The Chiefs of staff in the UK had always insisted in keeping the bulk of UK forces at home because of the invasion threat. The same Chiefs of staff were in 1941, very worried about British defences in Malaya/Singapore and were pressing Churchill to allow Dominion troops in the Middle east to be transferred to the Far East. By December 1941, even the most fearful in the UK had to accept that the invasion threat had lifted. That's why in 1942 Spitfires and other modern aircraft started to go oversea's to Malta/Egypt. So even without a Japanese attack in December 1941 extra UK forces would now be available for Singapore. As for forces commited to reinforce Singapore before december 1941? It is well documented that the Royal Navy planned to have a fleet in the Indian Ocean by mid 1942 with Singapore being used as an advanced base, Force Z was just the first instalment. The requirement for the RAF to have 336 front line aircraft in Malaya was still in force, I therefore find it impossible to believe that the RAF and Army would not be instructed by the Chiefs of Staff to reinforce Malaya using some of the UK forces released from anti Invasion duties.
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Re: The Great Myth of Britain's "Great Betrayal"

Postby Sizemore on 03 Feb 2013 00:32

Interesting topic. I thought that there were in fact no ties per se but historical ones, they happened in the US too even after Independence, but of course the Aussies were spared a war with GB. Evidence of limited ties are 1. limited influence over law making in Australia after they Federated 2. Boer War soldiers from Australia were paid for by GB to the Australian govt of the day 3. William Hughes after WWII certainly got his own way 4. Churchills massive blunder at Gallipoli which did a lot of damage (did he actually look at the relief maps? :o 5. The fact that Australia was so far away from Britain

Whether Australia was prepared or not is another matter, but they certainly pulled their weight and even helped the Brits again in WWII when they had the Japanese biting at their heels - even after the disgraceful and wasteful efforts of British field commanders in WWI. Also, in WWI, there was an Australian general Chauvel in charge of all allied horse soldiers in the Levant so I doubt they were subservient at all. The Boer war arrangement is the most telling - it happened in 1901.
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