Captain Bebb's Dragon Rapide

Discussions on all aspects of the Spanish Civil War including the Condor Legion, the Germans fighting for Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
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Veronica
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Captain Bebb's Dragon Rapide

Post by Veronica » 12 Mar 2005 19:40

I am interested to know more about Captain Cecil Bebb, the pilot who took Franco from Canary Islands to Morocco in order to start the insurrection that leaded eventually to the Spanish Civil War.

I know he took out from Croydon airport, South of London, and also that he came from Wales but not sure about this last fact.

Is there any books that deal with the Dragon Rapide (the name of Bebb's plane) story? I know there is a Spanish movie with the title Dragon Rapide, but I saw it a long time ago and do not remember how accurate it was, I mean if it was more a comedy that a fact-based film. Has someone seen this film recently? Is there any web site with information about Captain Bebb and his trip to Canary Islands?

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nublu
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Post by nublu » 12 Mar 2005 19:57

Hi!

I have collected some info about Spanish Civil War. But unfortunately in the beginning I didn't write down also sources.

So, as much as i know - Dragon Rapid (this is type of plane, not name for individual plane), started from Croydon on July 11th, 1936. It was rented by correspondent of Spanish monarchist journal "ABC" in England Louis Bolin. There were 3 more passengers on this plane. Two of them were young English women. Looked like some Holiday trip to Canary Islands.

And on 19th of July Franco flew on this plane to Marocco - Tetuan. This Dragon Rapid was used also later by frankist. But in those boks from where i did collect info about those travels wasn't even mentioned name of the pilot, and also not owner of the plane...

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Maribel-bel
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Dragon Rapide

Post by Maribel-bel » 16 Mar 2005 01:14

The movie “Dragon Rapide” truly reflects (in a dramatised way) what actually happened. Is a good movie about a set of relevant historical facts.
The story is very well known and it has been written in many books. Franco was involved in the conspiracy as one of the many, but he did not decide to join the putsch after the murder of Calvo-Sotelo. However de plane was sent before that date to take him if he finally decided to join.
The owner of the monarchist “ABC” newspaper Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena told his correspondant in London Luis Bolin to rent a plane and a “crew”. To rent the plane Bolin called his aircraft expert friend Juan de la Cierva who pointed the Olley Air Company. Therefore they rented the Dragon Rapide with his pilot Captain Cecil Bebb and a radio-assistant. On the other hand it was needed a “crew” to simulate a touristic flight. For that purpose, and through the editor of a right wing English magazine, Bolin went in contact with former major Howard Pollard who accepted to participate and took with him his daughter Diana and a friend of her Dorothy Watson. Neither the pilot nor the passengers knew the real purpose of the trip.
The plane took off from Croydon at 7:15 on July-11th. The route was Croydon – Bourdeaux – Lisbon – Casablanca – Canary where it arrived on July-15th . In Casablanca they left on the ground the radio assistant because he was a dangerous drunk troublemaker. On July-18th Bebb took Franco on the plane up to Tetuán, arriving on 19th. Pollad and the “two blondes” reamained in Canary and came back by other means.
That’s the basics. Should you need more details, please do not hesitate to contact me. Kindest regards. Maribel
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Veronica
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Post by Veronica » 16 Mar 2005 23:34

Thanks Maribel for your well explained answer and also for the picture!

I also would like to ask you to give me some titles of books about this matter. I am keen on reading both Spanish and English, also in French or German if neccesary. Do you know a book that goes in deep on C. Bebb biography?

Kind regards!

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Maribel-bel
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Post by Maribel-bel » 17 Mar 2005 00:54

The Dragon Rapide story is in most of the classic books about the SCW. Perhaps the best of them about this particular matter is Hugh Thomas’ . There is a very good description in Peter Wyden “The passionate war” (“La guerra apasionada”). I don´t know any bio of Cecil Bebb. Maybe in the UK might be someting. I know that both Bebb and Pollard made some newspapers interviews in the UK when they were alive.

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Re: Captain Bebb's Dragon Rapide

Post by Jaye » 24 Oct 2009 19:36

My father also flew on this flight from Croydon to Casablanca then on to the Canaries to pick up Franco and others.

At the start of the flight the crew were Capt. Bebb, my father Walter Petre (aka Pete) as Engineer Officer and a Radio Officer. (forgotten his name). The radio officer got drunk in Casablanca and they left him behind. He eventually found his way back to Croyden airport some time later.
Capt Bebb & my father remained friends and spoke on the phone into their late nineties. My father died in 2004 and I presume that as they were of an age that Capt.Bebb is also dead. He lived in Croydon.

Dragon Rapide is a type of plane - not the name of that particular plane. It belonged, as far as I know to Olley Airways as my father & the Captain worked for Olley Airways at that time out of Croydon Airport. My father then went into the RAF at the start of the war and went back into British South American, BEA & finally retired from BOAC. He left the Airforce as an Acting Wing Commander at the end of the war. He worked for BOAC until his retirement in the 70's.

Neither my father nor Capt.Bebb were told who they were picking up on the trip and did not realise who they were until they were about to land with their passengers who then appeared to all be dressed in uniform thus they were recognised. They got onto the plane in civilian clothes.
I hope that someone will find this interesting.

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Re: Captain Bebb's Dragon Rapide

Post by rogerhuddy » 19 Apr 2010 20:50

The two "blonde" ladies were Bebbs' daughter and her friend - cover for the mission. I'm not sure, but I think the first leg of the flight was to Le Touquet - a perfect cover for what was to follow.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Captain Bebb's Dragon Rapide

Post by Ironmachine » 20 Apr 2010 09:17

rogerhuddy wrote:The two "blonde" ladies were Bebbs' daughter and her friend - cover for the mission.
Are you sure? AFAIK, as Maribel-bel stated in a previous post they were Diana (Howard Pollard's daughter) and her friend Dorothy Watson.
Jaye wrote:At the start of the flight the crew were Capt. Bebb, my father Walter Petre (aka Pete) as Engineer Officer and a Radio Officer. (forgotten his name).
Very interesting. The few references that I have seen name as flight engineer a George Bryers.

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Re: Captain Bebb's Dragon Rapide

Post by rogerhuddy » 20 Apr 2010 12:09

You could be right re Pollard's daughter. I read details many years ago, but thought I recalled her as being Bebbs' daughter.
How about first leg of flight to Le Touquet (or was it Biarritz)?

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Re: Captain Bebb's Dragon Rapide

Post by Parxxx » 28 Aug 2021 13:47

Jaye wrote:
24 Oct 2009 19:36
My father also flew on this flight from Croydon to Casablanca then on to the Canaries to pick up Franco and others.

At the start of the flight the crew were Capt. Bebb, my father Walter Petre (aka Pete) as Engineer Officer and a Radio Officer. (forgotten his name). The radio officer got drunk in Casablanca and they left him behind. He eventually found his way back to Croyden airport some time later.
Capt Bebb & my father remained friends and spoke on the phone into their late nineties. My father died in 2004 and I presume that as they were of an age that Capt.Bebb is also dead. He lived in Croydon.

Dragon Rapide is a type of plane - not the name of that particular plane. It belonged, as far as I know to Olley Airways as my father & the Captain worked for Olley Airways at that time out of Croydon Airport. My father then went into the RAF at the start of the war and went back into British South American, BEA & finally retired from BOAC. He left the Airforce as an Acting Wing Commander at the end of the war. He worked for BOAC until his retirement in the 70's.

Neither my father nor Capt.Bebb were told who they were picking up on the trip and did not realise who they were until they were about to land with their passengers who then appeared to all be dressed in uniform thus they were recognised. They got onto the plane in civilian clothes.
I hope that someone will find this interesting.
This is amazing. I am researching into this topic as part of a book I am writing on the Spanish Civil War. I would be very interested to talk to you about this. Currrently the system won;t let me send you a direct message but I would love to be able to talk to you more about this if possible

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von thoma
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Re: Captain Bebb's Dragon Rapide

Post by von thoma » 11 Sep 2021 06:16

Howard Pollard, Diana Pollard, and her friend Dorothy Watson ( I really don't know which is which ).
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