Chemical Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 01 Nov 2014 00:17

As an example of the hazards unique to Chemical Warfare in 1940 - from Kent and Sussex 1940:Britain's Frontline by Stuart Hylton...
A group of soldiers learned something of the potency of this weapon. After working with the gas, they visited the lavatory without first washing their hands properly. They suffered burns that were painful and embarassing in equal measure, and required hospital treatment of a confidential nature.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Knouterer » 06 Dec 2014 22:53

phylo_roadking wrote:David, see this post above, where I have already added in the required detail http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 2#p1905702

Checking MILFORCE's orders as an example - as they had to travel some 30-40 miles by road in the event of invasion from their billets to the start line for their counterattack - and there is no mention of "hazards" expressed in the same way. In other words - there was something in a Chemical Warfare unit that was essentially hazardous to transport....
30 to 40 miles ??? I don't know where you bought your ruler, but if I were you I would go back to the shop and complain.
The HQ and most of the rest of Milforce were at Eastwell park north of Ashford, the 8th RTR was a bit further north at Challock (HQ at Bodshead Farm) as you might have learned from my earlier posts.
That's no more than about 10 miles by road to the point just west of Sellindge where they would have run into the Fallschirmjäger. I'm not aware of any "start line" that would be 20 or 30 miles further out. In fact, that would have taken them quite a bit beyond Folkestone into the Channel.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Knouterer » 07 Dec 2014 10:02

In actual fact - as I believe I have mentioned before - the “Starting Point” (S.P.) or start line for Plan B and C was at “Road Junction 454641” (near Lenacre Hall). This was simply a point on the map that the various components of the force were supposed to pass at a specified time, to ensure an orderly progression. Thus, C Squadron 8 RTR was supposed to pass at “Zero”, Milforce HQ at “Zero plus 20” (minutes), and so on.

As the map shows, that point is only about ONE mile from Eastwell Park - certainly not "30 to 40" :milwink:
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Dec 2014 00:12

Checking MILFORCE's orders as an example - as they had to travel some 30-40 miles by road in the event of invasion from their billets to the start line for their counterattack - and there is no mention of "hazards" expressed in the same way. In other words - there was something in a Chemical Warfare unit that was essentially hazardous to transport....
30 to 40 miles ??? I don't know where you bought your ruler, but if I were you I would go back to the shop and complain.
The HQ and most of the rest of Milforce were at Eastwell park north of Ashford, the 8th RTR was a bit further north at Challock (HQ at Bodshead Farm) as you might have learned from my earlier posts.
That's no more than about 10 miles by road to the point just west of Sellindge where they would have run into the Fallschirmjäger. I'm not aware of any "start line" that would be 20 or 30 miles further out. In fact, that would have taken them quite a bit beyond Folkestone into the Channel.
You have missed that MILFORCE's orders for counteroffensive action in the event of invasion covered far more than just the forces stationed at Charing.

The infantry element of the MILFORCE crosscountry sweep in the direction of Lympne was 5. Bde. NZEF.....billeted "east of Maidstone". MILFORCE at Charing only comprised -

Tps: "C" Sqn. Div. Cav.
32 A/Tk Battery
"C" Coy. 21 Bn.
M.G. Coy.
Sig. Dett.
"C" Sqn. 8 R Tanks

....one company of infantry. Hence how vital the infantry elements of the NZEF were to the operation.
The order from GHQ Home Forces ran as follows: ‘Emergency Move. NZ Force and 8 R Tanks under command General Freyberg will move to area EAST of TUNBRIDGE WELLS to be selected by Commander 12 Corps. On arrival this area FORCE will come under command of 12 Corps and will be held in reserve for counter offensive role.’ For further information the General went to GHQ Home Forces, where he learnt what the commander had not been willing to say over the telephone—that after the heavy bombardment of Dover from Gris Nez, Mr Churchill had ordered that if an invasion took place and Dover was captured it must be retaken at all costs. To take part in this all-important counter-attack the New Zealand brigades were being transferred to the outskirts of the Dover-Folkestone area. The signals strength for this role was increased by 100 British signallers who had served in France or Norway, 8 Royal Tank Regiment came under command and, after 12 September, 157 Anti-Aircraft Battery.

The brigades left Aldershot late on 5 September, stopping and starting all through the night, listening to the drone of aircraft on their way to bomb London and eventually settling down under cover in the woods before first light. East of Maidstone there was 5 Brigade, north of the Maidstone-Charing road was 7 Brigade, now commanded by Brigadier Falconer, and at Charing there was Milforce, an armoured group, commanded by Brigadier Miles and formally constituted the following morning.

Their instructions were specific and detailed. Seventh Brigade would deal with airborne landings in the Chatham-Maidstone area; Milforce and 5 Brigade would prepare to counter-attack in the direction of Dover and Folkestone.


From the NZ OH.

If we look at the "MILFORCE OPERATION INSTRUCTION NO.4. 20 Sep 40" we see that...
4. Tasks in general.

The tasks of N.Z. Div. in order of priority are:
(a) to counter attack vigorously any enemy landing in 1 Lon.
Div. area, especially in the area North and N.W. of DOVER
and FOLKESTONE.
(b) To re-establish the line of ROYAL MILITARY CANAL eastwards
of HAM STREET.
(c) Concurrently with the above, to deal with any hostile air
borne landings in the area SITTINBOURNE - FAVERSHAM -
CHARING - MAIDSTONE.

6. Tasks in particular.

(a) N.Z. Div. less 7 Inf. Bde. Gp. is to be prepared to counter-
attack enemy in area:
(i) North and N.W. of DOVER south of the line SANDWICH (7776)-
WINGHAM (6875) from the direction of CANTERBURY. This will
be known as plan "A".
(ii) N.W. of FOLKESTONE from the direction of SELLINGE (5356)
Plan "B".
(iii) POSTLING GREEN (5153) LYMINGE (6059) - Plan "C"
(b) 7 Inf. Bde. Gp. is to be prepared to:
(i) Attack enemy air-borne landings in the area
SITTINGBOURNE - FAVERSHAM - CHARING - MAIDSTONE.
(ii) From petions [sic] on high ground immediately North of
road HARRIETSHAM (3171) - CHARING - to provide A.A. L.M.G.
defence for move of 5 Inf. Bde. Gp. on that road.
(iii) Support remainder of Div. in Plans "A" "B" OR "C".

INTENTION.

7. MILFORCE will act as Div. Adv. Guard. and will take up a position covering the debussing of 5 Inf. Bde.

14. Speed.
8 m.i.h.
15. Density.
10 v.t.m.
...on S-day, when ordered, the NZ infantry elements of MILFORCE OPERATION INSTRUCTION NO.4 have to move forward to their debussing point, the start line for their sweep on foot across country supported by MILFORCE's tanks....all the way from their billets east of Maidstone. We can see that confirmed by the orders for elements of 7 Infantry Brigade Group to cover their advance towards their start line at "SELLINGE" from the direction of Maidstone down the road to Charing and beyond.

If we regard the "SELLINGE" (sic) debussing point as the start of their sweep under "Plan B"....then on the morning of S-Day the NZEF have to move forward from the Maidstone area to Sellinge...a distance of at least 27 miles (according to the AA distance calculator, which uses the shorter M20 rather than the line of the OLD Maidstone to Ashford main road) - a figure that makes no allowance for 5 Bde. travelling to Maidstone to begin with to pick up the main road...or the red-marked "army" road on their maps, if it happened to be different (a copy of one of those colour-marked maps would be useful)...which could add on x-number of miles to that figure, from their billets (wherever they were) to the town, depending on their location.

Therefore, 30+ miles is possibly a conservative estimation of the distance 5 Bde. NZEF have to travel that morning to reach their debussing point at "SELLINGE", the start line for their crosscrountry sweep supported by 8 RTR's tanks and the Divisional Cavalry's carriers.

The distance from the town of Maidstone to "POSTLING GREEN", the debussing point/start line for "Plan C"....is even further away, beginning at 31 miles before you add on any initial distance from 5 Bde.'s billets to Maidstone.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Dec 2014 00:38

It's also worth noting THIS figure...
14. Speed.
8 m.i.h.
At that mandated convoy speed, 5 Bde. NZEF's c.30 mile move from the Maidstone area to their "SELLINGE" start line for "Plan B" would have taken at least 3 hours 45 minutes...and that's not taking into account any debussing time at SELLINGE, or any time spent at Charing rendezvousing with elements of MILFORCE there...or any time spent getting into their buses in the first place. I'll have to check Lavery, IIRC he gives a figure of ten mins or so for embussing a company....which pushes their minimum transit time up towards four hours.

If by some miracle MILFORCE ...or rather, whoever was to issue the order for MILFORCE to carry out "Operation Instruction No.4"...received word of the FJ landing behind Hythe and Folkestone at the very moment it happened, exactly at or around 6am...which is hardly going to happen :P...with the very best will in the world it's going to be AT LEAST 10am before they're at their debussing point at SELLINGE. X-amount of time taken, upon receiving word of the landings, to get confirmation of them and their various locations has to be added on to that.

Which is of course also not counting any delays caused along the way by their travelling in daylight along known main roads, at the mercy of the Luftwaffe...
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 10 Dec 2014 11:55

phylo_roadking wrote: If by some miracle MILFORCE ...or rather, whoever was to issue the order for MILFORCE to carry out "Operation Instruction No.4"...received word of the FJ landing behind Hythe and Folkestone at the very moment it happened, exactly at or around 6am...which is hardly going to happen :P...with the very best will in the world it's going to be AT LEAST 10am before they're at their debussing point at SELLINGE. X-amount of time taken, upon receiving word of the landings, to get confirmation of them and their various locations has to be added on to that.

Which is of course also not counting any delays caused along the way by their travelling in daylight along known main roads, at the mercy of the Luftwaffe...
Since you seem to be doing a very good job confusing yourself I'll point out that that MILFORCE is only billeted about 10-13 road miles from Sellindge.

But perhaps you think the intention of MILFORCE to act as the divisional advance guard and to cover the debussing of 5 NZ infantry brigade doesn't include shooting Germans? 8O

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Andy H » 10 Dec 2014 12:52

Hi

Can we please keep on topic please and any thread drift to a minimum please.

Regards

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Dec 2014 13:37

Since you seem to be doing a very good job confusing yourself I'll point out that that MILFORCE is only billeted about 10-13 road miles from Sellindge.
It is indeed; but 2NZ is billeted at/around Maidstone, and the operation is their counterattack..."Emergency Move. NZ Force and 8 R Tanks under command General Freyberg..." with MILFORCE as the covering force for their advance over the last section of their trip on S-Day from Maidstone to Sellindge.
But perhaps you think the intention of MILFORCE to act as the divisional advance guard and to cover the debussing of 5 NZ infantry brigade doesn't include shooting Germans?
Of course it does - IF they happen to encounter Germans along the road from Charing to Sellindge, and in the process of securing 5 Bde. NZEF's debussing area.

After that - it's a combined sweep across country...but it's going to be at the speed of 5 Bde. NZEF on foot. I can't see 5 Bde.'s motor coaches crossing ditches and pushing through stone walls and hedges, can you?

Reading back through the original thread on this subject from some years ago, there's another major issue with the deployment as described in MILFORCE OPERATION INSTRUCTION No.4...vechicle spacing and convoy speed :wink: If the very first of 5 Bde.'s buses leave the Maidstone area at 6am, the very first of them...as long as there are no delays of any kind...will reach Sellindge around 10am. But depending on the number of vehicles needed to lift all the constituent parts of 5 Bde., there's going to be a VERY long tailback back down the road through Ashford, Charing, Harrietsham etc. towards Maidstone.

If we ever happen to obtain the numbers of vehicles at 5 Bde.'s disposal, it should be possible to calculate the length of NZEF's forward deployment..."10 v.t.m."....and the time taken..."8 m.i.h."...for ALL elements to have arrived at Sellindge for the Plan B jump-off...

And as we know - time is what the FJ need to throw their planned roadblock across their path of advance from Sellindge 8O It looks very much as if time is what the FJ blocking force there, north of RAF Lympne, would have.

Andy, perhaps this all could be detached and moved to the "Intended FJ Role in Sealion" thread?
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 10 Dec 2014 15:42

phylo_roadking wrote: Of course it does - IF they happen to encounter Germans along the road from Charing to Sellindge, and in the process of securing 5 Bde. NZEF's debussing area.
There is no debussing area mentioned in the order so:

Why would they debus before seeing any Germans? :?

How many Germans would they encounter before deciding on the debussing area.
And as we know - time is what the FJ need to throw their planned roadblock across their path of advance from Sellindge 8O It looks very much as if time is what the FJ blocking force there, north of RAF Lympne, would have.
Ummm ... it is about 11 miles from NZ Div. "C" Sqn Cav billets in Westwell to Sellindge. They could be shooting at Germans within half-an-hour of being given the order to move. :D

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Dec 2014 16:08

There is no debussing area mentioned in the order so:

Why would they debus before seeing any Germans? :?

How many Germans would they encounter before deciding on the debussing area.
No debussing area is specifically mentioned...but the requirement to debus IS...
7. MILFORCE will act as Div. Adv. Guard. and will take up a position covering the debussing of 5 Inf. Bde.
...and the starting points for the various "Plans" are mentioned...
(a) N.Z. Div. less 7 Inf. Bde. Gp. is to be prepared to counter-
attack enemy in area:
(i) North and N.W. of DOVER south of the line SANDWICH (7776)-
WINGHAM (6875)
from the direction of CANTERBURY. This will
be known as plan "A".
(ii) N.W. of FOLKESTONE from the direction of SELLINGE (5356)
Plan "B".
(iii) POSTLING GREEN (5153) LYMINGE (6059) - Plan "C"
Therefore, on the day the debussing points for those three "Plans" would be in the immediate vicinity of...

Plan A - along the line from Point 7776 to Point 6875
Plan B - Point 5356
Plan C - Points 5153/6059

As we don't and probably never will have the marked maps used by 5 Bde. officers, that's the closest we'll ever determine them.

And as we know - time is what the FJ need to throw their planned roadblock across their path of advance from Sellindge 8O It looks very much as if time is what the FJ blocking force there, north of RAF Lympne, would have.
Ummm ... it is about 11 miles from NZ Div. "C" Sqn Cav billets in Westwell to Sellindge. They could be shooting at Germans within half-an-hour of being given the order to move. :D
Assuming of course that NZ Div. "C" Sqn Divisional Cavalry's carriers for some reason go faster than ordered in INSTRUCTION NO.4; remember, they're there to cover the advance of 5 Bde. until 5 Bde. is debussed and ready to start their sweep...they're not there for any independent action of their own at that time;
7. MILFORCE will act as Div. Adv. Guard. and will take up a position covering the debussing of 5 Inf. Bde.
...depending on exactly where on the ground that point was to be in the vicinity of "SELLINGE". It's possible they might indeed have run into the outliers of the FJ blocking force; then again, it's entirely possible they wouldn't have.


On the day - with 5 Bde. NZEF strung out along the road behind them up towards Maidstone - it's more likely that they would have reacted to any word coming out of the area from the Home Guard etc. and screened a "safe area" for 5 Bde. to debus...remembering that as noted it's going to take some considerable time for ALL of 5 Bde. to arrive, debus and formate again along their planned start line for the sweep.

If they were instead to run slap bang into contact with the FJ and THEN try to debus 5 Bde. ...then the FJ have done their job ;) 2NZ are in contact and "pinned" for x-amount of time.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 10 Dec 2014 16:40

phylo_roadking wrote: No debussing area is specifically mentioned...
Good. We have established that at least. :D


Therefore, on the day the debussing points for those three "Plans" would be in the immediate vicinity of...

Plan A - along the line from Point 7776 to Point 6875
Plan B - Point 5356
Plan C - Points 5153/6059

As we don't and probably never will have the marked maps used by 5 Bde. officers, that's the closest we'll ever determine them.
Huh? You just admitted no debussing area is specifically mentioned but now you make up some bumf as if they really were specifically mentioned :lol:


Have you not considered that the commanders would be using their initiative to determine where best to debus? :P
Assuming of course that NZ Div. "C" Sqn Divisional Cavalry's carriers for some reason go faster than ordered in INSTRUCTION NO.4; remember, they're there to cover the advance of 5 Bde. until 5 Bde. is debussed and ready to start their sweep...they're not there for any independent action of their own at that time;
The Divisional Cavalry have no orders on their speed. That would be absurd. The column as a whole has a set speed for obvious reasons. Do you really think somebody in "C" Sqn is going to end up doing jankers for a fortnight because his tank travelled forward by eight miles and one inch? :thumbsup:

If they were instead to run slap bang into contact with the FJ and THEN try to debus 5 Bde. ...then the FJ have done their job ;) 2NZ are in contact and "pinned" for x-amount of time.
"Pinned" with the firepower MILFORCE has got!

Amazing the speed with which the paratroopers can drop from the sky, collect their weapons, form-up, overcome the local opposition, move to their objective and get ready to deal with powerful armoured forces. I don't think anyone has seen the like of it - literally.

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Dec 2014 18:05

Huh? You just admitted no debussing area is specifically mentioned but now you make up some bumf as if they really were specifically mentioned
Not made up - their starting points for Plans A, B and C are clearly stated in INSTRUCTION No.2...AND the need to debus for them.

Unless, as I said already, you really think they'd going to motor across country in their coaches?
Have you not considered that the commanders would be using their initiative to determine where best to debus?
I'd prefer to think they were smart enough to base any decisions on where to do it on received intelligence from the area...

After all - there would ALREADY have had to be a decision based on reports coming out of the area as to whether to action Plan B OR Plan C...

It's worth you taking a look at the NZ OH and noting the several mentions of the intensity of training/exercise the NZEF put itself through in July/August/September at their various postings; I would be VERY suprised if they hadn't exercised their part in the forward deployment and identified any suitable locations. After all - INSTRUCTION No.4 makes it quite clear the starting points for the various Plans were pre-identified...
Assuming of course that NZ Div. "C" Sqn Divisional Cavalry's carriers for some reason go faster than ordered in INSTRUCTION NO.4; remember, they're there to cover the advance of 5 Bde. until 5 Bde. is debussed and ready to start their sweep...they're not there for any independent action of their own at that time;
The Divisional Cavalry have no orders on their speed. That would be absurd. The column as a whole has a set speed for obvious reasons.
Indeed it does - the column as a whole...

However, given the role specified for MILFORCE including the Divisional Cavalry...
7. MILFORCE will act as Div. Adv. Guard. and will take up a position covering the debussing of 5 Inf. Bde.
...what sense is there in their outpacing 5 Bde. coming down the Ashford Road behind them? Them getting into their OWN mess of trouble...and they're not there to act as an advance guard/covering force.
If they were instead to run slap bang into contact with the FJ and THEN try to debus 5 Bde. ...then the FJ have done their job 2NZ are in contact and "pinned" for x-amount of time.
"Pinned" with the firepower MILFORCE has got!
One (1) squadron of Matilda 1s and one (1) squadron of carriers...and a single company of infantry? Against a battalion-sized (at least) blocking force?

Regarding both points above - remember that the plan was to deliver a cohesive brigade-sized force with armoured support to the start lines for Plans A, B and C...not a counterattack delivered in dribs and drabs as they appeared down the Ashford Road. That's begging an early bloody nose.
Amazing the speed with which the paratroopers can drop from the sky, collect their weapons, form-up, overcome the local opposition, move to their objective and get ready to deal with powerful armoured forces.
Said "speed" I.E. time being at least four hours...
I don't think anyone has seen the like of it - literally
Von der Heydte's blocking force during the Bulge? How long did it take Johnny Frost's detachment to cover the distance from their drop zone to the end of Arnhem bridge?
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 10 Dec 2014 18:25

phylo_roadking wrote:
Indeed it does - the column as a whole...

However, given the role specified for MILFORCE including the Divisional Cavalry...
Phylo, dear chap, may I recommend you consult your copy of the Field Service Regulations (Vol. II) in particular sections 41-44, on advance guards, and section 27 on movement of troops by mechanical transport.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Dec 2014 19:28

Field Service Regulations (Vol. II)
I take it you mean the 1935 Vol.II...unfortunately I only have Vol.III at the minute.

...but I take it you mean the bit about using an advance guard strong enough to destroy an enemy's screening force, and causing him to reveal his main body, thus revealing its location and strength?

Works fine with two main bodies, one on either side, manouvering to come into contact - but doesn't really work so well when the enemy's main body is already dug in, concealed and wanting the oppostion to come down upon them...

The question is - by September 20th, when INSTRUCTION NO.4 was issued...exactly how much did the British know in detail about the Germans' plans? :wink: We know from sources like Newbold etc. that by the end of August they had an operation name for the invasion, and by the start of September they knew it was aimed at the South-East corner of England, not the East Coast...but by the middle of the month how much more - if anything - had they gleaned from their penetration of the Luftwaffe's codes?

From what WE know, 70 years later - it does, as I've said before, look as if they knew in good detail what the Germans' intentions were in that area...or had they just worked out for themselves that the Sellindge area and Postling etc. were the best prospective LZs for the FJ...

As in - what exactly were the British expecting to find in the Plan B and Plan C operational areas? Large formations of FJ manouvering in the field, screening forces out, etc...or a blocking force sitting across their line of advance...?
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 11 Dec 2014 13:59

phylo_roadking wrote: How long did it take Johnny Frost's detachment to cover the distance from their drop zone to the end of Arnhem bridge?
Thought I'd check this one:

"At 13:50, the two thousand two hundred and eighty-three men of the 1st Parachute Brigade and assorted other parachute-trained units, including the majority of the Reconnaissance Squadron, began to jump over DZ-X"

"The Brigade's three battalions and their attached units assembled very quickly and were able to begin the march to Arnhem at 15:00"

"A" Company [2nd Battalion] arrived at the northern end of Arnhem Bridge at 19:30"

http://www.pegasusarchive.org/arnhem/frames.htm

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