We'll have to take the Turkish foreign minister's word for that they actually asked, can you think of any motives why he might tell the French that the Russians were seeking American oil-firefighting expertise? Maybe his subtle way of telling the French that the Turks considered bombing Baku and surrounds a bad idea?
Did what I wrote read as if I doubted
they asked? Quite the reverse, the Americans would indeed be the perfect people to ask - what I meant was...we don't know if the Americans replied
However - I've been doing some more reading through what of Osborn IS available on the Net this afternoon - and the Soviet military movement into the Cuacasus at the start of March may not have been due to any fears of ALLIED attack
...it appears the locals were restless again!
The Soviets had transferred local regiment out of the area, and moved forces from more distant military districts IN! The Soviets may simply have been, in asking advice from the Americans, worried about a repeat of that 1905
attack on and destruction of the Baku oil field by rebels; given that petroleum was far
more important to the Russian economy by 1939-40 than it had been in 1905!
Interestingly, the French interpreted the Turks as more willing to provide airspace for the operation - with a view to eventually joining in an Allied war on the USSR - than the British did.
I'm not sure this is correct; or rather, the Turks may not have been open to British prodding on actually joining
a war - but the Turkish general staff was liaising with the British Ambassador, Knatchbull-Hugessen in Ankara, as early as October-November 1939 regarding the growing disorder in the Caucasus, and were confident THEY could prod the locals into rising, and would help the upset along if it flared up by supplying arms to the rebels!
Knatchbull-Hugessen had to actually dissuade
the Turks from doing this!
I doubt if you can find anything contemporary in writing about it.
Just found it - in Osborn. But it's not from the Cabinet papers - it's from the JIC, the Joint Intelligence Committee...regarding the fact that rumours about British interventions in Scandanavia which were already rife (this was late January-February). I can't cut-and-paste from googleview, so I'll paraphrase...
To ally wories about actions in Scandanavia, it would be best to provide indicators of potential actions in the Middle or Near East to convince the Germans that the shipping tonnage uptaken for Norway was actually to transport men and materiel to the Middle East
...rumours and superficial indicators wouldn't be enough -
"...it was considered that measures to deceive the enemy could not be successful unless some definite action was taken in the Middle East, which could only be intended as a preliminary to operations in that area..."
Thus we couldn't just be seen
to do something there, we actually had to do it!
Regarding the earlier raised issue about violating Turkish airspace to carry out the attacks - apparently the French had sewn this one up in advance of british protests (voiced at the Spreme War Council by Ismay; Reynaud was able to announce that the French ambassador to Ankara, M. Massigli, on the basis of private conversations with Turkish politicians had suggested that the Turks would be "covered" if the Allies carried out the raids THEN apologised to Ankara while the raids were in progress!
Thus the Turks could feign ignorance to Moscow...Chamberlain wasn't happy at the Council meeting, and the minutes apparently record that he was unhappy with the idea that they should attack first and rely on the Turks being appeased after the fact!...
But as Osborn notes - the minutes do NOT record that the first British recce was due to fly and the process would violate BOTH iranian AND Turkish airspace...and that the French probably knew this too!
....and the Council finally decided that if the proposed offensive could harm BOTH
the USSR and Germany, then it should be proceeded with.
Regarding the Blenheims and day operations, Jon - I think they indeed were; while the specific page is one I can't view.... just
before googleview jumps a page, Newall asks Slessor if a squadron of Whitleys
could be also
be made available for night operations
In a later chapter, it's proposed by Newal that a small British contribution to night ops against Batumi should be by aircraft already in the area, that is....the Wellesleys in Egypt.
Do you know if there were other reconnaissance flights?
I can firm this up a bit now; the bits of Osborn I can see don't mention more....but they do mention that the photo-recce flights were part of an overall SIS-managed operation using one of Sydney Cotton's specially-converted Lockheeds, "Cloudy Joe" to not only
photograph the targets...but to photograph the entire area of the Caucasus to update the RAF's maps of the region