BOAC Flight 777

bOAC 777

On June 1,1943 the BOAC Flight 777,a scheduled British Overseas Airways Corporation civilian airline flight from Portela Airport in Lisbon, Portugal to Whitchurch Airport near Bristol, England.The Douglas DC-3 serving the flight was attacked by eight German Junkers Ju 88 fighter planes and crashed into the Bay of Biscay, killing all 17 on board.

BOAC was a temporary wartime consortium of prewar airlines including British Airways and KLM.

Although it was a civilian flight it was not that uncommon that Civilian flights were attacked during the war. But what makes this attack special is some of the passengers on board.

bOAC

I will only go into more detail of 2 of the passnegers.

Leslie Howard

Leslie

Leslie Howard was a leading actor and figure  in the British film industry, and in Hollywood. Famous for his roles in  The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) and Gone with the Wind (1939). He was also involved in making and promoting pro-Allied films such as Pimpernel Smith (1941) and propaganda.  That’s what he  actually was was doing in Portugal, having been invited there by the British government to promote a film called The Lamp Still Burns.

Wilfrid Israel

wILFRED

Wilfrid Israel was a German-born Jew  WHO helped tens of thousands of Jews, many of them children, escape Germany during the Holocaust. He had played a significant role in the Kindertransport.

On 26 March 1943, he left Britain for Portugal and spent two months investigating the situation of Jews in Spain and Portugal; he found as many as 1,500 Jewish refugees in Spain, many of whom he aided in obtaining Palestine certificates and he proposed a plan to the British government to aid them.

The flight took off from Lisbon at 7:35 AM, five minutes late due to the late delivery of a package to Leslie Howard. A bit more than three hours later, over the Bay of Biscay, eight eight German Junkers Ju 88s appeared and began firing at the DC-3. The Dutch pilot radioed the ground that he was being followed by “strange aircraft” and then that cannon tracers and shells were ripping through the fuselage. His last words were, “Wave-hopping and doing my best.” One of the plane’s engines was severely damaged in the first salvo.

REPORT

There had been a few theories to why the Luftwaffe had attacked the flight. The most popular theory surrounding the downing of BOAC Flight 777 is that German intelligence mistakenly believed Winston Churchill was on the flight.

But there were also theories that Leslie Howard and Wilfrid Israel had been the intended targets. However the German pilots deny that they had any knowledge about the passengers on board and had actually thought it was a military plane.

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Sources

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WWII Forums

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Two leaders, 2 speeches,one date-June 18 1940.de Gaulle & Churchill.

de gaulle & churchillOn June 18, 1940,Charles de Gaulle and Winston Churchill both gave speeches which instilled hope in the darkest hour. Speeches of defiance which some of is still rings true today.

The Appeal of 18 June-Charles de Gaulle(Translated)

The appeal is often seen as  the origin of the French Resistance to the German occupation during World War II. De Gaulle addressed the French people from London after the fall of France

800px-CharlesDeGaullespeech18June

“The leaders who, for many years, have been at the head of the French armies have formed a government. This government, alleging the defeat of our armies, has made contact with the enemy in order to stop the fighting. It is true, we were, we are, overwhelmed by the mechanical, ground and air forces of the enemy. Infinitely more than their number, it is the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which are causing us to retreat. It was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point of bringing them to where they are today.

“But has the last word been said? Must hope disappear? Is defeat final? No!

“Believe me, I who am speaking to you with full knowledge of the facts, and who tell you that nothing is lost for France. The same means that overcame us can bring us victory one day. For France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone! She has a vast Empire behind her. She can align with the British Empire that holds the sea and continues the fight. She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of the United States.

“This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country. This war is not over as a result of the Battle of France. This war is a worldwide war. All the mistakes, all the delays, all the suffering, do not alter the fact that there are, in the world, all the means necessary to crush our enemies one day. Vanquished today by mechanical force, in the future we will be able to overcome by a superior mechanical force. The fate of the world depends on it.

“I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who might end up here, with their weapons or without their weapons, I invite the engineers and the specialised workers of the armament industries who are located in British territory or who might end up here, to put themselves in contact with me.

“Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished. Tomorrow, as today, I will speak on the radio from London.”

This was their finest hour-Winston Churchill(end of the speech)

The speech was delivered to the Commons at 3:49 pm,and lasted 36 minutes. Churchill – as was his habit – made revisions to his 23-page typescript right up to and during the speech

 

finest hour

“Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour”

 

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Source

Winstonchurxhill.org

 

May 10 1940-An eventful day.

0510-airfieldsa

May 10 1940 must have been one of the busiest and chaotic days in WWII.I won’t go to deep into the details because most of the events are well documented, however not everyone might know that these events happened on the same day.

The invasion of the Benelux(Belgium,Netherlands, Luxembourg)

On the 10th May, 1940, the German forces invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. On the same day the German Ambassadors handed to the Netherlands and Belgian Governments a memorandum alleging that the British and French armies, with the consent of Belgium and the Netherlands, were planning to march through those countries to attack the Ruhr, and justifying the invasion on these grounds. Germany, however, assured the Netherlands and Belgium that their integrity and their possessions would be respected. A similar memorandum was delivered to Luxembourg on the same date.

There were however no plans for any British and French troops to march through the low countries in order to attack Germany.

ww2-invasion-low-countries-belgium-luxembourg-netherlands-germans-1940-004

german-army-netherlands-maastricht-may-10-1940

Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom upon the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.

Chamberlain who  formally lost the confidence of the House of Commons, resigned as Prime Minister Churchill, known for his military leadership ability, was appointed to replace Chamberlain as Prime Minister of Great Britain.. He formed an all-party coalition and quickly won the popular support in the UK.

WINNIE

Operation Fork-the Invasion of Iceland

The invasion of the Benelux wasn’t the only invasion that day. The British invaded Iceland  on the morning of 10 May 1940. The initial force of 746 British Royal Marines commanded by Colonel Robert Sturges disembarked at the capital Reykjavík. Meeting no resistance, the troops moved quickly to disable communication networks, secure strategic locations, and arrest German citizens. Requisitioning local transport, the troops moved to Hvalfjörður, Kaldaðarnes, Sandskeið, and Akranes to secure landing areas against the possibility of a German counterattack.

In the evening of 10 May, the Icelandic government formally issued a statement noting that their neutrality had been “flagrantly violated” and “its independence infringed”. The British government appeased the protest by promising compensation, trade agreement, non-interference in domestic Icelandic affairs, and the promise that troops would be withdrawn at war’s end.

british-invasion-of-iceland-1940

The Bombing of Freiburg

You may be forgiven to think that Freiburg was bombed by the RAF on May 10th 1940, because that would make sense. However that wasn’t the case.

Freiburg was bombed that day but not by the Brits or French but by the German Luftwaffe.The  3 aircrafts involved, commanded by Lieutenant Paul Seidel ,  from 8. Staffel, Kampfgeschwader 51 “Edelweiss” ( 8th Season of Fighter Squadron 51)flying the Heinkel He 111 medium bomber. They had taken off at 14:27 from Landsberg-Lech Air Base, to bomb the French city of Dijon, or the alternative target Dole–Jura Airport, as part of the Battle of France.

Due to navigation errors, lost among the clouds hovering over the German city of Freiburg, they were 100% positive they had their target in sight. At 3:59 PM, the Heinkel He 111 planes started dropping the total of 69 bombs.The city’s anti-aircraft defenses were caught totally unprepared. They had clearly seen the German planes flying over their heads and probably assumed they were en route to France. The load fell near a train station, killing a total of 57 people. Once the damage was done, the air raid alarm absorbed the horror in the streets.

The German command tried to cover up the mistake and passed the bombing off as enemy action. The German media accepted that version without any hesitation.Die Deutsche Wochenschau News reel(German Weekly Review) for example, reported in its issue no. 506 on 15 May 1940 at the end of a longer contribution of the “brutal and ruthless air raid on an unfortified German city”.

The following day, the Freiburger Zeitung reported a “sneaky, cowardly air raid against all laws of humanity and international law.” Seven months later, the Fuhrer himself accused Winston Churchill of terrorist attacks against civilians in Freiburg.

art-of-propaganda-03

Even though top German military officials maintained that the raid on Freiburg must have been an Allied mission, the truth eventually surfaced. Important work carried out by several historians finally broke through the officers’ denialism. Thus in August 1980, even the famous Colonel Josef Kammhuber stated that it was “evident” that “the attack on Freiburg was conducted mistakenly by a chain of III/KG51.”

Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-343-0694-21,_Belgien-Frankreich,_Flugzeug_Heinkel_He_111

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WWII Internment camps in Britain

CAMP

“Collar the lot,” is what Churchill said about the citizens of enemy nations living in the UK, it didn’t matter if they were friend or foe,.

During the Second World War (1939 – 1945) a number of internment camps for civilians from enemy countries were established on the Isle of Man. These were based at Peveril Camp, Peel (on the west coast of the island) and Mooragh Camp, Ramsey (on the NE coast of the island). Some civilians lived in the pre-war guest houses at Douglas and other Manx towns. Prisoner of War camps were established at Base Camp, Douglas and one nearby at Onchan.

During the war, thousands of people were held in internment camps on the Isle of Man.

Some were political detainees or suspected spies, but many were innocent refugees who had nowhere else to go.

Throughout the UK citizens from Germany,Italy and Austria,including Jews who had escaped these countries from Nazi perscuion, were rounded up and transferred to the Isle of Man.

1293

 

At the outbreak of World War Two there were around 80,000 people in Britain who were considered potential “enemy aliens”.

It was feared there might be people acting as spies, or people willing to assist Britain’s enemies in the event of an invasion.The UK government asked the Isle of Man to accommodate people at camps in Douglas, Ramsey and Peel.

Political prisoners were detained in high security camps, but most internees – including many Jewish refugees – were free to go shopping, swim in the sea and attend classes.

onchan

One of the internees was Rabbi Werner van der ZylRabbi_Werner_van_der_Zyl. a rabbi in Berlin and in London.He was a founder and President of Leo Baeck College, London; President of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (now known as the Movement for Reform Judaism); and Life Vice President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.Van der Zyl came to Britain in 1939. During World War II the British Government interned him at Kitchener Camp in Sandwich, Kent and then at Mooragh Internment Camp  on the Isle of Manas an “enemy alien”. He was released from internment in 1943.

Fred Uhlman was born in Stuttgart, Germany, into a prosperous middle-class Jewish family. He studied at the Universities of Freiburg, Munich and Tübingen from where, in 1923, he graduated with a degree in Law followed by a Doctorate in Canon and Civil Law.uhlman

On 4 November 1936, he married Diana Croft, daughter of Henry Page Croft (later Lord Croft), against her parents’ strongest wishes, and they remained close and happy for nearly fifty years.

They set up home on Downshire Hill, in London’s Hampstead and it became a favourite cultural and artistic meeting place for the large group of refugees and exiles who, like Uhlman, had been forced to flee their homeland. He founded the Free German League of Culture, whose members included Oskar Kokoschka and Stefan Zweig, though he parted company with it when he felt it coming under communist domination.

Nine months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Uhlman, with thousands of other enemy aliens, was, in June 1940, interned by the British Government, in Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man.  He was released six months later and reunited with his wife and with his daughter, born while he was interned.

Photograph of internees in a yard at Hutchinson Internment Camp [c.1940-1] by Major H. O. Daniels

 

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Sources

BBC

The Telegraph

The other Winston Churchill

Portrait_of_Winston_Churchill

Winston Churchill (November 10, 1871 – March 12, 1947) was an American best selling novelist of the early 20th century.

He is nowadays overshadowed, even as a writer, by the  much more famous British statesman of the same name, with whom he was acquainted, but not related. Their lives had some interesting parallels.

Sir_Winston_Churchill_-_19086236948

Churchill was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Edward Spalding Churchill by his marriage to Emma Bell Blaine. He attended Smith Academy in Missouri and the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated in 1894. At the Naval Academy, he was conspicuous in scholarship and also in general student activities. He became an expert fencer and he organized at Annapolis the first eight-oared crew, which he captained for two years. After graduation he became an editor of the Army and Navy Journal. He resigned from the navy to pursue a writing career. In 1895, he became managing editor of the Cosmopolitan Magazine, but in less than a year he retired from that, to have more time for writing.While he would be most successful as a novelist, he was also a published poet and essayist.

Photo_of_Winston_Churchill_(novelist)

His first novel to appear in book form was The Celebrity (1898). However, Mr. Keegan’s Elopement had been published in 1896 as a magazine serial and was republished as an illustrated hardback book in 1903.

 

Churchill’s next novel—Richard Carvel (1899)—was a phenomenal success, selling some two million copies in a nation of only 76 million people, and made him rich. His next two novels, The Crisis(1901) and The Crossing (1904), were also very successful.

 

Churchill’s early novels were historical, but his later works were set in contemporary America. He often sought to include his political ideas into his novels.

 In 1898, a mansion designed by Charles Platt was built for Churchill in Cornish, New Hampshire. In 1899, Churchill moved there and named it Harlakenden House.
Harlakenden_House,_Cornish,_NH
He became involved in the Cornish Art Colony and went into politics, being elected to the state legislature in 1903 and 1905. In 1906 he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor of New Hampshire. In 1912, he was nominated as the Progressive candidate for governor but did not win the election and did not seek public office again. In 1917, he toured the battlefields of World War I and wrote about what he saw, his first non-fiction work.

Sometime after this move, he took up painting in watercolors and became known for his landscapes. Some of his works are in the collections of the Hood Museum of Art (part of Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College) in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.

In 1919, Churchill decided to stop writing and withdrew from public life. As a result of this he was gradually forgotten by the public. In 1940, The Uncharted Way, his first book in twenty years, was published. The book examined Churchill’s thoughts on religion. He did not seek to publicize the book and it received little attention. Shortly before his death he said, “It is very difficult now for me to think of myself as a writer of novels, as all that seems to belong to another life.”

Churchill died in Winter Park, Florida in 1947 of a heart attack. He was predeceased in 1945 by his wife of fifty years, the former Mabel Harlakenden Hall.They had three children, including their son Creighton Churchill, a well-known writer on wines.His great-grandson is the Albany, New York, journalist Chris Churchill.

Churchill met and occasionally communicated with the British statesman and author of the same name. It was the American Churchill who became famous earlier, and in the 1890s he was much better known than his British counterpart.

The British Churchill, upon becoming aware of the American Churchill’s books, wrote to him suggesting that he, the British Churchill, would sign his own works “Winston Spencer Churchill”, using his full surname, “Spencer-Churchill”, to differentiate the books of the two authors.

 

This suggestion was accepted, with the comment that the American Churchill would have done the same, had he any middle names.In practice, after a few early editions this was abbreviated to “Winston S. Churchill”—which remained the British Churchill’s pen name.

Their lives had some interesting parallels. They both gained their tertiary education at service colleges and briefly served (during the same period) as officers in their respective countries’ armed forces (one was a naval, the other an army officer). Both Churchills were keen amateur painters, as well as writers. Both were also politicians; although here the comparison is far more tenuous: the British Churchill’s political career being infinitely more illustrious.

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