Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

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Gooner1
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 25 Apr 2011 01:22

phylo_roadking wrote:Why would he? The Chief of the Air Staff would give the Air Staff's opinion to Winston at the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Winston would take it to Cabinet as Minister of Defence.
The Chiefs of Staff sit in a sub-committee of the War Cabinet.
(So, theoretically, the PM would here the same opinion twice - nice check)
He said: "It is my intention not to wait too long before England shall use chemical weapons" and ordered ICI by memo to de-mothball its Mustard gas plants and immediately produce and store 1,000 tons
Oh, and how does an order by memo work?
The government didn't issue orders to the armed forces; the Chiefs of Staff did.
Uh, the Government give the 'orders' to the Chiefs of Staff.
(at least on matters such as these)

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 01:42

The Chiefs of Staff sit in a sub-committee of the War Cabinet.
(So, theoretically, the PM would here the same opinion twice - nice check)
Who said he was there to check them? Winston wanted to fight the war hinself - he regarded himself as a FULL member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee I.E. a "fighting" member :lol:
Oh, and how does an order by memo work?
The Minister of Defence orders ICI to start producing the war gases they were contracted by the War Offcie in extremis to manufacture and supply for the use of the Armed Services.

While I don't have a copy of the 1940 memo (I used to :( ), here's an example of a later Churchill memo on gas warfare ordering a particular action...
PRIME MINISTER'S PERSONAL MINUTE

Serial No. D. 217/4

10 Downing Street, Whitehall

GENERAL ISMAY FOR C.O.S. COMMITTEE

1. I want you to think very seriously over this question of poison gas. I would not use it unless it could be shown either that (a) it was life or death for us, or (b) that it would shorten the war by a year.

2. It is absurd to consider morality on this topic when everybody used it in the last war without a word of complaint from the moralists or the Church. On the other hand, in the last war bombing of open cities was regarded as forbidden. Now everybody does it as a matter of course. It is simply a question of fashion changing as she does between long and short skirts for women.

3. I want a cold-blooded calculation made as to how it would pay us to use poison gas, by which I mean principally mustard. We will want to gain more ground in Normandy so as not to be cooped up in a small area. We could probably deliver 20 tons to their 1 and for the sake of the 1 they would bring their bomber aircraft into the area against our superiority, thus paying a heavy toll.

4. Why have the Germans not used it? Not certainly out of moral scruples or affection for us. They have not used it because it does not pay them. The greatest temptation ever offered to them was the beaches of Normandy. This they could have drenched with gas greatly to the hindrance of the troops. That they thought about it is certain and that they prepared against our use of gas is also certain. But they only reason they have not used it against us is that they fear the retaliation. What is to their detriment is to our advantage.

5. Although one sees how unpleasant it is to receive poison gas attacks, from which nearly everyone recovers, it is useless to protest that an equal amount of H. E. will not inflict greater casualties and sufferings on troops and civilians. One really must not be bound within silly conventions of the mind whether they be those that ruled in the last war or those in reverse which rule in this.

6. If the bombardment of London became a serious nuisance and great rockets with far-reaching and devastating effect fell on many centres of Government and labour, I should be prepared to do [underline] anything [stop underline] that would hit the enemy in a murderous place. I may certainly have to ask you to support me in using poison gas. We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany in such a way that most of the population would be requiring constant medical attention. We could stop all work at the flying bomb starting points. I do not see why we should have the disadvantages of being the gentleman while they have all the advantages of being the cad. There are times when this may be so but not now.

7. I quite agree that it may be several weeks or even months before I shall ask you to drench Germany with poison gas, and if we do it, let us do it one hundred per cent. In the meanwhile, I want the matter studied in cold blood by sensible people and not by that particular set of psalm-singing uniformed defeatists which one runs across now here now there. Pray address yourself to this. It is a big thing and can only be discarded for a big reason. I shall of course have to square Uncle Joe and the President; but you need not bring this into your calculations at the present time. Just try to find out what it is like on its merits.
[signed] Winston Churchill [initials]

6.7.44
....and that is how Ismay was again ordered in 1944 to investigate the use of gas by Churchill by memo
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 01:48

Took a while to find this again...

Image

From the 1941 version of the Air Staff's plans for bombing beaches in the UK with Mustard gas in the event of invasion....

Andy's documents may indeed show that while the RAF and Air Staff preferred not to have to drop gas....you can now see that they HAD plans to do so if necessary. As I've noted before in other threads about planning staff - they'd have been remiss in their planning responsibilities if they hadn't planned for all contingencies.
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 02:14

....but when he toured Kent at the end of June and saw how weak things were at that point - and had dinner with among others the CO 1st Canadian Division - on June 30th Churchill ordered General Ismay to prepare for use of chemical weapons under a "Plan Y". He said: "It is my intention not to wait too long before England shall use chemical weapons"
Ah, the problems with working from memory...

I at last found some of my old notes; it wasn't the C.O. of the Canadian 1st division that Churchill had to lunch at Chequers with that weekend, it was actually Gen. Andrew Thorne of XII Corps. Anthony Eden had toured XII Corps on 29th June 1940, and reported the acute and "reckless" shortage of heavy weaponry to Churchill - who had been in the area also, visiting the Canadians; IIRC that famous newsreel clip of Canadian troops exercising repelling parachutists from a Coastal Defence Battery with Churchill looking on dates from that weekend! As a result of this lunchtime discussion, Churchill became much more aware of the parlous state of the expected invasion area, INCLUDING the fact that XII Corps' only completely-equiped and trained division was due to be sent to Northern Ireland! :lol:

The meeting - being "off the record" - was not minuted but John Colville, in Fringes of Power, records that immediately after the meeting Churchill ordered that that division remain in the South-East and that it remain under Thorne's command. Churchill had previously been very pessimistic about the Army's ability to hold the planned river lines - but in fact thought they should be able to hold the beaches ok!...until he met with Thorne :lol: After this, "the next day", according to Colville, he ordered Ismay to evaluate and plan for "drenching" the invasion beaches with mustard gas. Which makes it 1st July 1940 that he memo'd Ismay.

It's also worth noting that in his diaries, Brooke also noted for 22nd July 1940 that he "...had every intention of using sprayed mustard gas on the beaches". I used to have a list of what materiel for road and baech spraying was stockpiled where, have to look for that again.
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 02:21

http://www.bpears.org.uk/Misc/War_NE/w_section_05.html
Long before this stage the "Beetle" invasion warning network would have been activated. Under this scheme warnings would be passed to five military headquarters by point-to-point radio links. At each of these centres a powerful long-wave radio station would then transmit the warning which could be picked up on ordinary broadcast receivers installed at every R.A.F., army and navy establishment in the area. The Centre for the North was the headquarters of Northern Command at York and the whole system was ready by August 1940. Bomber, Coastal and Fighter Commands and the Navy would, of course, engage the enemy but in addition Operation BANQUET would be initiated. This involved the R.A.F.'s Flying Training Command who would use 350 old Tiger Moth and Magister trainers fitted with rudimentary bomb racks to drop 20 lb bombs on the beaches. Lysanders, Wellingtons, Battles and Blenheims would spray Mustard Gas on the landing craft and Tiger Moths fitted with crop sprayers would do the same with Paris Green a lethal mixture of arsenic trioxide and copper acetate.

Mustard Gas of two types, H.T. or Runcol and H.S. or Pyro, was manufactured in huge quantities at I.C.I.'s Randle Works near Runcorn and the nearby Rocksavage Works made Chlorine and Phosgene for use as war gases. The I.C.I. works at Springfields near Preston also made Lewisite, which was similar in its effects to Mustard Gas but included arsenic. Poison Gases were stored at five Forward Filling Depots at key points for use by Bomber Command and in smaller quantities at many more airfields for use against the beaches. The Forward Filling Depot serving the Bomber Command Airfields in Yorkshire was at West Cottingwith, eight miles south-east of York.
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 25 Apr 2011 12:58

phylo_roadking wrote:The Minister of Defence orders ICI to start producing the war gases they were contracted by the War Offcie in extremis to manufacture and supply for the use of the Armed Services.
Right you think that Churchill gave the order to ICI to start the production of poison gas at a new plant where ICI were already awaiting such. And then Churchill told the Cabinet?
From the 1941 version of the Air Staff's plans for bombing beaches in the UK with Mustard gas in the event of invasion....

Andy's documents may indeed show that while the RAF and Air Staff preferred not to have to drop gas....you can now see that they HAD plans to do so if necessary. As I've noted before in other threads about planning staff - they'd have been remiss in their planning responsibilities if they hadn't planned for all contingencies.
Nice find. Why the surprise that Britains anti-invasion preparations were thorough and professional though?
It's also worth noting that in his diaries, Brooke also noted for 22nd July 1940 that he "...had every intention of using sprayed mustard gas on the beaches".
Wasn't that a post-war addition to his diaries?
Of course Alan Brooke did not have the authority to order the use of gas.
"Tiger Moths fitted with crop sprayers would do the same with Paris Green a lethal mixture of arsenic trioxide and copper acetate"
"Two other ideas that were dismissed were:
The use of the “paraslasher”- a scythe like blade fitted to the Tiger Moth in
order to cut the canopies of Parachutists as they attempted to land.
The Tiger Moth “human crop sprayer” with a tank fitted to the front dispensing “Paris Green” an
extremely poisonous insecticide."

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Andy H » 25 Apr 2011 13:45

Thanks for re-finding the 1941 table showing the beaches to be gassed-Interesting

Further to the Paraslasher idea I found this aswell
Another idea was to install a chute in the cockpit floor so hand grenades could be dropped on enemy soldiers. Although this looked good in theory, pilots voiced concerns over the consequences of a live grenade jamming in the chute and the project was quickly abandoned
http://www.nzwarbirds.org.nz/motha.html

Not been able to find a picture of the paraslasher yet, only a description from the same website:-
an 18-inch farmer's hand-scythe attached to an 8 ft pole below the Tiger Moth's fuselage. The theory was that the aircraft would fly among invading paratroopers, slicing up parachute canopies, shroud lines and the occasional paratrooper before further harassing those that made it to the ground
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 15:59

Nice find. Why the surprise that Britains anti-invasion preparations were thorough and professional though?
I'm not suprised in the slightest. I'm commenting on what Andy's documents saying about the possible use of gas; the RAF may not have "liked" the idea - for it would reduce their resources for their conventional roles - but they'd still have to plan its use thoroughly.
Of course Alan Brooke did not have the authority to order the use of gas.
Once the use of gas had been approved at whatever level and thus made available to him...it would have been Brooke at that point in his role as Commander-in-Chief Home Forces who would have ordered its use as he saw fit.
Wasn't that a post-war addition to his diaries?
Does that actually matter when it's still Brooke's OWN words referring to the matter? I said he noted FOR 22nd July, not ON 22nd July.

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 16:09

Not been able to find a picture of the paraslasher yet, only a description from the same website:-
an 18-inch farmer's hand-scythe attached to an 8 ft pole below the Tiger Moth's fuselage. The theory was that the aircraft would fly among invading paratroopers, slicing up parachute canopies, shroud lines and the occasional paratrooper before further harassing those that made it to the ground
Have to say, I'm a bit mystified as to how this was supposed to work - given that the floor of the Moth's fuselage is LESS than 8 feet off the ground! 8O

Likewise - how is the Tiger Moth pilot THEN supposed to slash a falling FJ unless he's flying upside down? :lol:

And how is he supposed to slash parachute shrouds in the middle between the canopy and the parachutist and not get his aircraft or himself somewhat tangled up in a large piece of silk? :P
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 16:20

I must say I thought it was going to be difficult too, then I found THIS!

Image
Image
Image

What happens if a pilot misjudges his height by just a foot and it digs into the ground....??? :P :lol:

Apparently it was invented by one Squadron Leader George E. Lowdell, Commanding Officer of 7 EFTS at Desford in Leicestershire. In the hands of Lowdell, an acknowledged pre-war 'crazy flying' expert, the Paraslasher proved surprisingly effective - but what would have happened in the hands of the students of the EFTSs in the event of BANQUET being activated??? :lol:

Pre-WWII, Lowdell was the test pilot for Reid & Sigrist, aviation instrument makers at Desford http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_and_Sigrist
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Andy H » 25 Apr 2011 17:00

Excellent Phylo

Where did you find the pics?

The slasher was retracted along the fuselage when not in use (landing or taking off) and released when needed.

The images of parts of FJ landing either attached or detached from their chutes is surreal

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 17:14

Just Googled on "paraslasher"! Found it buried in a thread on forum.1cpublishing.eu that seems to be one of the legion dealing with flight sim skins and missions :lol: It was a big long pic, a triptych, so I saved it and cut&pasted onto three separate images or else it wouldn't have fitted on AHF at all!

What was that comment earlier about British invasion planning and preparations being....professional? :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Apr 2011 18:27

Andy, the next time you're at Kew, the BANQUET files appear to be AIR14/1126 for May to November 1940, also AIR14/1127 for July to December 1940....and AIR14/1128 for December 1940 to June 1941. I've no idea at this remove why there should be two overlapping-date files for 1940...

"Banquet Light" seems to have its own subsequent file - WO199/2471 - covering the period September 1941 to October 1943. At this point, BANQUET was officially scrapped.
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 25 Apr 2011 23:40

phylo_roadking wrote: Once the use of gas had been approved at whatever level and thus made available to him...it would have been Brooke at that point in his role as Commander-in-Chief Home Forces who would have ordered its use as he saw fit.
Governmental level and yes, it would have been ABs role to order its use as he saw fit .. but only for the Army excepting a few squadrons.

Does that actually matter when it's still Brooke's OWN words referring to the matter? I said he noted FOR 22nd July, not ON 22nd July.
Does it matter whether it was Brookes thoughts written down at the time or his thoughts on what he had been thinking after several busy years? er..yes.

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 25 Apr 2011 23:45

phylo_roadking wrote: What was that comment earlier about British invasion planning and preparations being....professional
Thorough and professional. Thorough in that madcap ideas were allowed to be designed, developed and tested, professional in that they were soon dismissed.

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