Sunday, May 13, 2007

Book Review: Where the Eagle Landed

This book tells the tale of the mystery of the German invasion of Britain in 1940. It starts off by cataloging all the various attempts at invading these islands over the centuries but the main part of the book examines the various small landings of Germans on the east coast in the early 1940s. Concentrating in particular on an incident in Shingle Street in Suffolk the author uses various bits of evidence to speculate on whether a real landing actually took place. He also analyses the use the British government made of propaganda to deter an invasion and in particular how the Germans were persuaded that the British had invented a way of turning the sea into a wall of flames. It's fascinating and quite short book which evokes a lot of the spirit of the times and demonstrates just how close this country came to being invaded. Buy it HERE.

53 comments:

Maggie Thatcher fan said...

Iain, from what i remember , The spooks were able to turn the seas into a wall of flame, they laid pipes along the beaches(from oil tanks) and then if invaded set light to them. I need to research it more, but I'm sure i read it somewhere. I'm a bit of a reader on WW2 especially the french resistance, but also on codes and deception....

They also used oil fires to lift the smog and mist when planes had problems landing at night returning from bombing missions over occupied territory.

Anonymous said...

It was on tv sometime in one of those conspiracy type proggy's.

Anonymous said...

Goodness knows what Greenpeace would make of the idea. Though I suppose aerial firebombing is one way of getting rid of them (oil slicks, not Greenpeace, although it's an idea...).

verity said...

The genius of the British is mind-boggling. It breaks my heart to think all the Germans had to do was wait another 50 years and they could walk in unimpeded, as could the Italians, the French, the Roma, the Pakistanis, the Somalis and anything else.

Had we known then what we know now, we could have made common cause with the Germans - one of our bargaining chips being they cease persecuting, or never start persecuting, the Jews - and these two brilliant nations would have had the military genius and strength to control the European continent and spread genuine democracy.

What a terrible, heartbreaking tragedy, given what has transpired. We would have been better off with the equally brilliant Germans.

I'd be interested in the views of others. [Having reread my post, I would agree that all tragedies are heartbreaking. That's why they call them ...].

Geoff said...

Although I am from Gibraltar, a branch of my family is from Jersey, which of course was occupied during the War. The only concentration camp on British soil was in Alderney - a pub trivia question today but not trivial at the time for people such as my grandfather who was interned after being caught with a crystal set distributing news from the BBC to his neighbours.

The BBC was biased back then too but they used to be biased towards our own country rather than our European enemies as they are today.

For those collectors of trivia, The Channel Islands had a fair percentage of resistance activists (although it was too small for active sabotage and subsequent escape) and a percentage of collaborators. Many files are sealed under a 100-year release rule rather than the usual 30 year rule to protect still-living islanders and relatives.

It is interesting to wonder whether the same people collaborating with our EU overlords today would have been the same people who would have collaborated and sold out their neighbours after a German invasion in exchange for a loaf of bread.

Single currency, army, Parliament etc etc? Sounds familiar? Verity is right *sigh*....

forthurst said...

I agree with verity, our victory wasn't a victory, but our defeat by the EU and the Third World since the war has been overwhelming - we are heading toward third world status in a polyglot nation run by Big Brother.

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Edmund Burke

All this did not happen by chance.

Big Andy said...

Verity, I can hardly believe what I am reading!

That bonkers stuff about allying with the Germans (so long as they left the Jews alone, etc.) for the greater good of Europe defies belief.

Not only did that generation win the war, against great odds at the start; but on top, they rejected old policies of agression and gave hundreds of millions of people their freedom through de-colonialisation.

At home, we have managed to help build a peaceful Europe and to massively increase the wealth and comfort of all our populations across the continent.

You might be against immigration and certain EU policies, but those are issues that should be addressed on their own.

The heroism and foresight of that generation laid the cornerstone for our freedom and prosperity today.

It is the fact that the nation stood firm, and did not believe in expanding democracy by force; but merely in respecting the rule of law and the right to self-determination, that led to the spread of democracy (no democracy is genuine, per se, Verity, it is a spectrum of ideal and compromise.

The idea that we could ally with the then militaristic and expansionist Germans for the good of europe is the most seriously disturbing concept I have read posted on this blog.

You do yourself a great disservice for suggesting so Verity!

forthurst said...

Big Andy all you have done is put a gloss on everthing that happened as a result of our inability or unwillingness to control events.

Stalin won the war - everybody else lost.

We were far too weak after the war to hang onto our colonies whether we wanted to or not.

As to prosperity, this is relative but is entirely due to the activities of scientists and technologists worldwide and nothing whatsoever to do with the denizens of Whitehall who can only throw a spanner in the works, as they very frequently have.

My father was a naval officer in the war and I'm proud of his achievement, but do not impute to him or countless others like him, approbation for the course of events since.

verity said...

Thank you, Forthurst. Stalin won the war.

Big Andy - Do not have the temerity to say how I do "myself a disservice" because this is not my habit, and I don't appreciate your impertinent assumption that you know my thinking better than I do.

Never try to be lofty and all-knowing with me because I will cut you off at the knees.

You have voiced your lofty disapproval (yawn), of thoughts that "defy belief". Believe them. I wrote them.

Your offering the Stalinesque world of today's EUSSR as a contra argument is risible. Today's Britain is very frightening, and do not complain about any illegal immigrants and murderers from Somalia who have established their own primitive courts - gars - in Britain, in defiance of our 1200 old British Common law, because you can be prosecuted for so doing under Cherie Blair's insane HRA. Your country is no longer your own. Your traditions are no longer your own. Your law is no longer your own.

Remind me of what Britain fought for at such terrible, terrible cost?

We should have shacked up with Hitler, and dictated our terms, which we could have done.

I hate it that this is my judgement with sixty years of hindsight, but I am afraid it is

garypowell said...

Bullshit: Stalin did not with the war, but very well could have done.

America won the war.

This country has been an American satalite ever since. Only the British Empire lost WW2, fascism just took a big 50 year set back.

This is what really greaves Europeans and the still very strong Communist and National Socialist elements in Europe are in the assendency yet again.

Anti American and anti free market capitalism, is what motivates communists and National Socialists alike still.

You can kill Nazis but you cant kill the ideal. Churchill believed that the Common Market was the only way the free world headed by the USA could controll Europes tendency to hegemony. But Churchill was wrong.

Europe is out of controll again and going down the same old road to fascism. This country is in many ways now leading the way instead of opposing it.

The jack boots and the concentration camps may have gone for now. But individual freedom is in as much danger today as it was in 1933.

My advice to the good people of the United states is dont bother this time spending your young mens blood on Europe again. It just does not deserve it. Simply open your borders to me and my family to save us from Anti-Semitism.

And throw Verity out.

2br02b said...

It was the Americans who won the war, not the Soviets. Thank God. But Britain only 'won' on the basis of being an American client state. See "The Audit of War: The Illusion and Reality of Britain as a Great Nation" by Correlli Barnett

In 1940 Britain had a choice of being an American satellite or a Nazi German one. We rightly chose America. The other possibility was real: if Halifax had become Prime Minister instead of Churchill, it might well have happened.

An alliance or alignment with Nazi Germany would in the end have been morally beyond the pale.

What would have made much more sense would have been to stand back and not participate in World War One--there was no moral supriority of one side over the other (despite the subesquent propaganda) and the result would have been a German-dominated continent and an intect and prosperous British Emprire--and no Soviet Union. An Anglo-German alliance would have dominted the world.

Anonymous said...

2b - bollocks.

If you want to know what happened in WWII, don't read inane propaganda tracts, as suggested; Churchill's six-volume history of the war cannot be beaten.

Anonymous said...

Interesting programme on BBC4 a couple of weeks ago called 'How the Edwardians spoke'. Will probably appear on BBC2 shortly. Featured WW1 English prisoners in German POW camps being recorded so that the Germans could understand the dialects of the English shires, the Scottish and the Welsh. This was financed by the German government so that they would be able to run their new COLONY, when they won the war!

PJ said...

Much too much revisionist garbage on this thread. We won WW2, along with the United States and the Soviet Union. We lost the peace afterwards to a large extent, because of the disastrous economic and social policies of the Attlee and Heath governments. I remember Macmillan being quoted that the English were not always that good at peace, but we are splendid at war, and our record since the 40s shows that amply.

Chris Paul said...

Very likely in Churchill's 6 vol History of WW2 ... but anyway this is old hat ... we have all seen Bed Knobs and Broomsticks and we know that Jessica Fletcher's Gran and some evacuated urchins saw the Germans off with some powerful magic.

Is the author your mate Iain? Shouldn't you let on?

Ed said...

We lost the peace afterwards to a large extent, because of the disastrous economic and social policies of the Attlee and Heath governments.

Just what I was about to post - but don't forget the "liberalism" of the 60s either.

W G Gruff said...

My mother once related an incident that was witnessed by her brother, a Territorial stationed on the south coast, I think, in 1940. He was on guard duty one dark night when a (possibly experimental) beach defence system suddenly went off. If I recall correctly it was assumed to have been a malfunction and no action was taken (sound familiar?) but in the morning a number of charred German corpses were found. That's the story as I recall it.

Nicholas Bennett said...

Iain

Going back to the original thread. Grahame Greene wrote a short story called " The Lieutenant Died Last" and subsequently co-operated with Ealing Studio scriptwriters to produce a filmscript which became "Went the Day Well?" (US Version "48 Hours")

It was made by Ealing in 1942 about an invasion of an English village (Bramley End) over a bank holiday weekend by Nazi paratroopers supported by a Fifth Columnist in the village. The film was made on location at Turville in Buckinghamshire. Subsequently Turville has been the location for several films and for the Vicar of Dibley.

The film (1977?) "The Eagle Has Landed" by Jack Higgins was based on the same idea but withe the action surrounding an attempt to kill Churchill wilst on a visit to Norfolk

2br02b said...

Anon 7:44:

You clearly speak from profound ignorance.

Churchill said, "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." Which he did, of course. His 'Second World War', published between 1948 and 1953, which I possess and have read, by the way, was rushed out to try to secure his reputation in history (which it largely did, mostly correctly, by the way) and as such is exactly 'a inane propaganda tract'.

It is by no means the definitive account of what happened then. For one small now-obvious example, there is no mention of Ultra (understandable, as it was still a state secret then) without which we might well have not won. Similarly, but with less justification, there is little understanding of the importance of economic and industrial factors in a war of attrition, as WWII undoubtedly became.

As for Corelli Barnett and his 'Audit of War' being a 'inane propaganda tract':

That book describes how decades of under-investment in scientific and technical education led to the inevitable subsequent outdated and inefficient industries of Britain placing us quite decisively in the second rank of technological development as WWII started--there were only two nations then in the first rank: Germany and America--which would certainly have lost us the war without American support.

Its sequel 'The Lost Victory' describes how Labour ruined the post-war economy by squandering limited resources on a premature and ill-thought-out welfare system.

These two books were virtually compulsory reading in Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet. There significance was great, forming the grounding from which the entire Thatcherite revolution was to grow. In particular, Sir Keith Joseph, the leading thinker who did so much to persuade Thatcher which course to follow, admired Barnett's work about the anti-business culture in education and in an interview with Anthony Seldon he proclaimed, "I'm a Correlli Barnett supporter".

Iain Dale said...

Chris Paul, WTF? You really do see a conspiracy behind every one of my postings. I have never heard of the author.

Anonymous said...

2br02b @ 9:48

Not sure about your comments re British pre-war technology. Here, for example, are the Wikipedia comments re Chamberlain's 'Rationalisation' policy -

'Despite these attacks from the Labour Party and Churchill, Chamberlain had adopted a policy that would serve to be vital to Britain during wartime. This process was called Rationalisation. Under this policy the government bought old factories and mines. This was a gradual process as the depression had hit Britain hard. Then the factories were destroyed. Gradually, newer and better factories were built in their place. They were not to be used when Britain was in a state of depression. Rather, Chamberlain was preparing Britain for the time when Britain would emerge out of the depression. By 1938 Britain was in the best position for rearmament, as thanks to this policy Britain had the most efficient factories in the world with the newest technology. This meant that Britain was able to produce the best weaponry the fastest, and they had the best technology available.'

cassander said...

Iain,

of course Chris Paul sees a conspiracy to make money in an underhand manner everywhere - he's of NuLab and has never seen anybody behave in any other manner.

Anonymous said...

You Tories are clearly nuts. To compare the EU with Nazi Germany shows one thing. You are not fit for high office and the Tory party has a high percentage of fruitcakes within its ranks.

The working class won the war, on the home and every other front, not a set of effete chancers in the City.

mutleythedog said...

I thought Dr Who and his gay friend off the TV won WW2 - was this wrong?

Chris Paul said...

Well I am sorry Iain. But that's two Fs in as many days. It was just a simple question. This particular review seemed quite out of place that's all. Once again, apologies.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe that anyone still believes appeasement would have worked with Hitler, but then most of the crap that Verity comes out with is hard to believe, full stop.

Raedwald said...

'The Tory party has a high percentage of fruitcakes within its ranks...'

That's the great joy of Conservatism. To an assertion that Oswald Mosley should have led the nation in 1939 and that the solution to street crime is to publicly birch the bare bottoms of young black boys in the shopping malls, one has become used to raising one's eyebrows very slightly and responding "Really?" quite neutrally.

There are many genuine Tory eccentrics in the William Donaldson sense, and several Tory misanthropes, and a few whose madness is manifest, whose comments here always make Iain's posts a joy and pleasure to read.

What a tedious and boring place the party would be without them. Here's to Tory Fruitcakes Forever!

Anonymous said...

"garypowell said...

Bullshit: Stalin did not with the war, but very well could have done."

So the occupation and sovietisation of East Germany, Romania, Czeckoslavia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania was a consolation prize for losing the war, was it?

People forget that countries like Czechoslavakia were as economically advanced before the war as western Europe.

Stalin had been aiding and assisting the Communist Party of China before the war and was instrumental in Mao Zedong's rise leading to 50M murdered Chinese, the Korean War and the Vietnam war.

China is now a Communist country in name only, since the government have long realised the futility of flogging a dead horse.

Communist dictatorship failed because it was not economically viable despite using all its work units (people) as slaves. America won the post-war period by default.

forthurst said...

"garypowell said...

Bullshit: Stalin did not with the war, but very well could have done."

So the occupation and sovietisation of East Germany, Romania, Czeckoslavia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania was a consolation prize for losing the war, was it?

People forget that countries like Czechoslavakia were as economically advanced before the war as western Europe.

Stalin had been aiding and assisting the Communist Party of China before the war and was instrumental in Mao Zedong's rise leading to 50M murdered Chinese, the Korean War and the Vietnam war.

China is now a Communist country in name only, since the government have long realised the futility of flogging a dead horse.

Communist dictatorship failed because it was not economically viable despite using all its work units (people) as slaves. America won the post-war period by default.

Guthrum said...

I knew a member of the Highland Light infantry, who died fifeteen years ago, who swore to his dying day that he was fighting Germans on beaches in Yorkshire that had landed in force from Norway. He was not the sort of chap who made things up.

no longer anonymous said...

"That book describes how decades of under-investment in scientific and technical education led to the inevitable subsequent outdated and inefficient industries of Britain placing us quite decisively in the second rank of technological development as WWII started--there were only two nations then in the first rank: Germany and America"

Should also be read alongside Adam Tooze's "The Wages of Destruction" which shows that the Nazi war economy was not as efficient as everybody supposed.

As for Sir Keith Joseph being a Barnett supporter, he obviously failed to read "The Collapse of British Power" which revealed Barnett to be a right-wing statist rather than a libertarian free marketeer (which admittedly is the impression give by The Lost Victory). He wrote against free trade and in favour of industrial planning.

2br02b said...

Anon 10:21:

"Not sure about your comments re British pre-war technology. Here, for example, are the Wikipedia comments re Chamberlain's 'Rationalisation' policy"

Barnett was not talking about a few years before the war being mishandled, but decades --actually, almost a century--of under-investment, going all the way back to the middle of the 19th Century at least. Whatever may have been said about Britain having "the best technology available" by 1938... well it might have been the best available in Britain, but German and American technology had left it in the dust by that time.

Corelli Barnett's 'Audit of War' describes how not a couple of years, but decades of under-investment in scientific and technical education, led to the inevitable subsequent outdated and inefficient industries of Britain. To appreciate how far behind we were at the start of the war, read RV Jones's 'Most Secret War'. Professor Jones (who I met) was head of British scientific intelligence during the war. In his book (and I can confirm, much more strongly in private) he expresses his shock upon discovering how much more advanced German technology was than British in 1939. For instance, the Germans were mass-producing machine tools that were of a quality that Britain could not match until well after the war--and machine tools are key to advanced technology. What saved us was the arrival of American machine tools that were the only ones that could match German ones.

Anonymous said...

2br02b @ 12:25

I don't doubt that the gentlemen to whom you refer were very well informed on the subject, but it is also interesting to note that British engineering proved to be far from unsatisfactory at Le Mans and the Schneider Trophy during the interwar years. I believe the UK also had the largest motor industry in Europe at this time; so it seems rather unlikely that our engineers were, in any way, laggards.

forthurst said...

2br02b, Germany was certainly scientically ascendant; my father, a science student before the war studied, as was common practice, German so, yes, that he would be able to read German scientific texts.

Of course the superior chaps at public school continued to study the Classics and French because they didn't study science for they were to increase the wealth and strength of the nation by studying the Humanities at Oxford - what else?

The country of Newton and the Industrial Revolution reverted to a belief in their primal superiority and overlooked the intelligence, initiative and hard work of their ancestors.

And of course now, scince science teaching is in terminal decline as equality of (abysmal) outcome is the objective.

The Remittance Man said...

Anon 10:46,

Judging by your tone, I would surmise that by "working class" you mean the unionised workforce in protected occupations. That would be the same "working class" that regularly went on strike whenever they saw a chance to score a few bob, would it?

If you had said "people" your post might be a little more believable.

verity said...

And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

You are spatting about minor points and missing the elephant. Britain has been reduced to being led by a Sovietesque nomenklatura in Brussels whose legislators (the bureaucrats) are unelected by us or anyone else, who are dedicated to flattening out national characteristics under the lie of trying to ensure that we never go to war against each other again.

As healthy, wealthy democracies don't go to war with one another, this is deceitful claptrap.

It's silly to care about who becomes the "deputy leader" of the Labour Party in as Parliament has so little power it's just a title. Just one more sinecure for the nomenklatura and it means nothing.

We should have negotiated becoming a state of the United States when WWII ended. America is, especially for such a rich and powerful country, benign. The EU is malignant. A cancer. Britain has been diminished by not being able to enforce our ancient laws - the laws that govern the entire Anglosphere. Cherie Blair and her bent husband are well-embedded.

Britain has been deliberately diminished by the EU out of envy and malice. Are there two million illegal primitive "immigrants" in Denmark? Are there gangs of feral Somalis in Lisbon? Are there hordes of Romany "orphans" dropped off in Barcelona?

British education has been deliberately destroyed and the people demoralised by the destruction of the family.

I agree with whoever said above that the whole edifice began to crumble with our participation in WWI. The 20th Century was a tragedy for Britain.

Yak40 said...

Wonderful thread !
British inventiveness and ingenuity were in full form before WW2. The Schneider trophy winner in, I think, 1936 morphed into the Spitfire, Whittle's thesis inventing the jet engine was written and never forget the invention of the cavity magnetron which enabled the building of airborne microwave radar. Some said Britain's gift of that to the US was ultimately ample payment for lend-lease.

Someone mentioned Jersey, here's a link (that I've posted before) to a remarkable story of survival about a Jersey teenager who ended up in the Nazi Nacht und Nebel hell.
Whole book (first 60 pages or so set the stage, download pdf:
http://www.thisisjersey.com/hmd/pageviewer2.pl?Autoincrement=000014

It's worth remembering the author turned a mere 18 as the war ended.

Little Black Sambo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Little Black Sambo said...

(Anonymous 10.26 "The working class won the war". Nice to have you back, Mike.)

During the last war German submarine crews used to land in North Devon for water. Somewhere on the Welsh coast they even went inland to buy eggs.

May 14, 2007 4:54 PM

verity said...

We shouldn't forget Turing.

Does anyone agree with me that the 20th Century was a tragedy for Britain? It began with the terrible, terrible Great War and was followed by a rabidly socialist government.

I honestly think Britain lost the will to live toward the middle of the 20th Century. Now with no state education system and overrun with the flotsam and jetsom of the world, overrun with unpunished crime and the downgrading of the indigenous population into whipped curs, I don't see a recovery this century.

What do others think?

forthurst said...

Yes. I agree with you verity, and I certainly wouldn't forget Turing, since he was in the same line of work as me, with possibly a smidgeon more talent, not that that helped him, when matters of true importance were given their due consideration by the powers that were, and be, and who should all be lined up and shot, and then perhaps we would start to get somewhere.

verity said...

Shooting's not nice. Tony and Gordy and Dave don't approve. Daddy wants everyone to be nice boys and girls and share your toys with these interesting children from Somalia who have so much to teach us.

They've never invented diddley - did they have the wheel? - but they just have so much of value in their culture. Unlike us, who have so much to learn from the W Indians and the Pakistanis.

Anonymous said...

yak 40 @ 4:45 (tally ho!)

Indeed, jerry may have had better bloody machine tools but he never had the Spitfire! For that, we have to thank Mr RJ Mitchell, Esq. and his colleagues at Supermarine.

forthurst said...

Just to get back on topic, I bet this book does not document the Germanic and Nordic 'invasions' of these islands by Neolithic tribes who had established a Germanic culture and language well before the Romans arrived. (Oppenheimer: Origins of the British). Yes, Celts being racially cleansed by Anglo-Saxons, who never existed, is a myth. Celts came from Spain on route from Anatolia. And they all intermingled with the palaeolithic 'abos'.

forthurst said...

Just to get back on topic, I bet this book does not document the Germanic and Nordic 'invasions' of these islands by Neolithic tribes who had established a Germanic culture and language well before the Romans arrived. (Oppenheimer: Origins of the British). Yes, Celts being racially cleansed by Anglo-Saxons, who never existed, is a myth. Celts came from Spain on route from Anatolia. And they all intermingled with the palaeolithic 'abos'.

Big Andy said...

Blimey verity, you are not terribly engaged with the modern world are you?

To your points:
The USSR, did indeed win the war as a member of the Alliance. Obviously viewed in narrow territorial gains; the USSR could be seen as the biggest 'winner'.

However, this merely underlines my argument.

Partly BECAUSE the USSR became overstretched, and thus even more imperial, just at the time that the UK and other nations were becoming less so, puts the two policies in stark relief.

One of the reasons China is still going as a nomially communist country, and Russia is free of the Soviet yoke, though not yet a very free and democratic country, is that the USSR was never able to concentrate for prolonged periods, on increasing consumer surplus; and thus the wealth (not to mention prosperity) of the USSR relative to other nations gradually declined to an unsustainably low point.

By so 'winning' the war, in the sense that they gained massively territorially, they sowed the seeds of their downfall. And from another perspective, relative to the UK, nobody could claim that this 'victory' was good for their citizens.

But, this is all secondary to the point that the UK could have 'shacked up with hitler'.

I mean, we all know that Hitler was great at keeping promises don't we verity? Just like he kept his promises to the USSR in 1941? Or Czechoslovakia in 1938? Or Italy before the Anschluss? Poland anyone? Or even when after Munich and Nazi forces went far further into Czech territory than had actually been agreed?

And yes Verity, i do not genuinely believe that you can in a moment of clarity, actually believe that: a) A dictatorship of any sort would have been benefifical to Europe; b) that the UK would have been prepared to abandon its allies (namely France) to the German yoke; and, C) that upon such an agreement, modernity would have stood still and the world would still be governed by the horse trading epitomised in 1815 (does Verity, per chance, fancy himself as a bit of a Metternich?).

You also mentioned Somalian immigrants; yet, as I mentioned in my original post, this is a seperate issue altogether and one that should be debated on its own merits. For my part, I live in central london and understand acutely the problems caused by immigration.

But, I feel a strong system of property rights, coupled with a robust democracy that encourages the enforcement of the rules in place, would enable everyone to live a much happier life; immigration is one part of this, with those rules in place to regulte it enforced rigorously.

Quite what 'shacking up with Hitler', or the failed policies of the post war era have to do with these issues I fail to understand.

That is unless you accept that the UK is finished; if so then perhaps you are right to look back and see how such a tragedy occured.

As for my view on this: I think we are very much far from finished, and would be much further from it if people looked forward and contributed with POSITIVE suggestions and ideas as to how we might compete better for trade and talent, than look negatively backwards at bygone eras.

Sorry to say this Verity; but the people that made this country great, were not at all like you; they had confidence in their country and in themselves!

2br02b said...

Anon 5:59:

"Indeed, jerry may have had better bloody machine tools but he never had the Spitfire! For that, we have to thank Mr RJ Mitchell, Esq. and his colleagues at Supermarine."

Yes, but a spark of genius does not an entire industrial base remake.

And one little-mentioned reason for Spitfire performance superiority was the super high-grade aviation fuel that only the Americans could supply, and would only supply to us. Actually, it was the Hurricane that did most to win the Battle of Britain. Again, it was helped by the American fuel, but the aircraft was nothing like as advanced as the Spitfire.

In a way the Spitfire was too clever by half--it took ages to get mass production under way with Britain's relatively primitive machine tools, etc. In the end many key tools and parts were imported from America.

And the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine was certainly inferior to the higher-tech Daimler-Benz fuel-injection unit in the Bf 109.

One simple reason we won the Battle of Britain was endurance; the German fighters could only stay over England for a few minutes before running short of fuel. If the Luftwaffe had come up with the idea of drop-tanks for fighters, like the USAAF did in 1944 over Germany, we would probably have lost.

Anonymous said...

For someone who has such a low opinion of Britain, Verity does seem to spend an awful lot of time lurking around this British blog.

I wonder why?

verity said...

"Big Andy" - by which I assume he means "Fat And Congenial Andy" - is beside himself at the thought of a point of view that opposes his own.

"We all know how good Hitler was at keeping promises, don't we, Verity?"

Britain had the military strength and industrial genius, before it depleted itself and put itself 10 years behind in the battle to regain domestic normality, to hold Hitler's toes to the fire.

I cannot be bothered to trawl through every angry little point, but here we have the grande finale: "Sorry to say this Verity; but the people that made this country great, were not at all like you; they had confidence in their country and in themselves!"

BIG ANDY - I am exactly of the stock that made our country great. I had confidence in our wonderful, clever, courteous, kindly country. Those attributes have been surgically removed and their execution made illegal by Blair's "New" socialists in the cause of levelling down. What made our country great, BIG ANDY, has been made legally impossible by cherie blair, the nomenklatura in the EUSSR and the little floater fish attached to the whale of the British state eager to suck in droppings from the mouths of the big players.

Don't respond unless you are able to do so without silly patronisation - as though you were more intelligent and better informed than me. Of course, there are many such people, but you have demonstrated that you are not one of them.

verity said...

Anonymous dijo
"For someone who has such a low opinion of Britain, Verity does seem to spend an awful lot of time lurking around this British blog. I wonder why? May 14, 2007 9:49 PM"

No. Not really. It takes about one minute or two minutes to post a comment. And not 'lurking'. I post.

Yak40 said...

"One simple reason we won the Battle of Britain was endurance"

Certainly true to a point. We also had a primitive but usable radar system, I still remember the big wooden towers on the Dorset coast, still there in the early 60s, some good tactics/coordinated defences and so on but the German decision to postpone Opeation Sealion and switch to bombing the cities was a needed reprieve as well.

An engineer friend told me once that the magnetron coupled with the allies' ability to make quality coax cable was a winner overall, the cable meant our HF/VHF radios actually performed much better - although the German radios were very well made with much more sensible standardisation of tubes their lossy transmission lines hurt them.

Big Andy said...

Steady on Verity, im actually very tall and also well buit: I might not be as fit as a couple of years ago, but for the record I am still "banging them in" at thursday night 5-a-side!

Regardless, the following seem to be your main points:
1.) That the EU and the USSR are, in at least key areas, similar;
2.) That the Human Rights Act is: a) The greatest calamity to befall our country, and the relationship to and between citizens therein, since, at least, a very long time ago; and, b) that this was largely the (malign) responsibility of Cherie Blair;
3) That, had the UK not embarked on a craven domestic and foreign policy throughout the thirties, it would have been in a position to contain and strongly influence Nazi Germany, and thus secure for itself a strong and independent future and with it the preservation of British values; and,
4) that the Labour Goverment, under Tony Blair's direction, have 'surgically removed' and made illegal attributes such as kindliness, cleverness, and coutesy.

I would reply that:
1. Whilst the EU comission is not accountable to its citizens; this differs from the nomenklatura in the key way that genuinely democratic bodies (i.e. domestic govt's) nominate its members and choose the chair. There is undoubtedly a democratic shortfall at place here but it is far less serious than the one facing the constituent republics of the USSR who had their leaders imposed on them from the centre and where there was zero democratic selection of those doing the choosing. Apart from this, the variety of freedoms both protection from state interferance in daily life; and, in the empowerment to pursue a very wide range of employment, cultural, economic, and political opportunities suggests that there are stark differences between life in the EU (and thus the UK) and that in the ex USSR.

2.a) The Human Rights act fundamentally changed the legal relationship between citizen and state. However, this change can be viewed as having had only a relatively minor impact on most peoples daily lives; this impact mostly being spread over increased insurance premiums and prices of those goods whose production makes them potentially liable to litigation. In the sense that the extension of the law into hitherto arid areas is seen as decreasing the freedom of action and the mutual reliance and understanding between people when settling disputes outside of the law, one could find argument. However, this change is not one sided as the strengthening and codification of certain basic rights is in very many ways a positive continuation of the rights of citizens in an age of increasing goverment reach. Particularly if one distrusts the motives of a UK government and its extensive powers. I, personally, would have thought those expressing concerns over the increased totalitarian nature of our governance at either national, or supra-national level, would have found many positives in a source of law outside of government/parliament.
b.) Cherie Blair certainly championed the act, and who could say to what extent. However, it was a manfiesto commitment and was passed by both Houses of Parliament and so, in that sense, could be said to have developed in a manner that satisfies the UK's traditional democratic norms.

3. Discussion over your third point listed above necessarily depends on both: hindsight; and, certain normative assumptions concerning the ability of states (in this case GB/Germany) to share power (without codified political arrangements I am assuming?) over territory other than their own.
With regards hindsight: I would suggest that the British people themselves were influential, through both the press and elections, in helping set our course throughout that decade. However, I fail to understand what influence we were to exert over Europe in conjunction with Hitler that would have been to our long term advantage. It could be argued that Europe as a whole could have prospered without a war; but, the war, and subsequent peace and opening of borders/trade appears to have accelerated growth, prosperity and access to learning/culture in those western European countries concerned. A detailed suggestion as to how the UK might be both relatively and absolutely better off (not even in economic terms, but in those terms you outlined, such as civility) if it had made a pact with Hitler and avoided the second world war, would be required to give weight to your argument.

4. It could be said that those intangible qualities listed by yourself have been lost over time; and that this decline has been accelerated under the Labour government. However, as to the causes of this, and whether the UK has fared worse than a global mean in reduction of these qualities, is harder to do so. Much literature has addressed this phenomen (Don't worry Verity, i am not a sociologist!) and the key culprits seem to be: urbanisation; smaller, more diffuse, families; growth in domestic appliances; and, the t.v. These combined have reduced the necessity to interact with other people and so build up networks of trust and understanding, with the result that society is much less 'friendly' than in previous times. This has been identified as a global phenomenon correlated with increased prosperity.
I see few arguments that show how the Labour government has 'made these virtues illegal' or 'surgically removed them'. One could take the view suggested above that the HRA has created a situation where citizens are paralysed in their relations with each other and thus more averse to social contact. One could even argue that this is deliberate.
I would argue that the first argument is at best fatuous and that social and economic changes have far outweighed the consequences of increased legal condification in estranging citizens from each other.
As to the second argument: that the Labour party have intentionally made our country a less happy and friendly place through LEGAL measures; I can see no evidence to support this. Any argument based on a supposed desire to estrange people from each other, so as to make the implementation of a police state, or other draconian situation, more feasible, seems too far removed and long term a strategy to be a probable New Labour 'tactic'.

Seperate from these arguments: there is no need to be rude Verity. For someone who regails us of times when Britain was a paragon of fraternity and ingenuity, you seem over eager to respond (to what may or may not be patronisation on others part) with insults and braggadocio. In such situations I am reminded of Tolstoy: 'Everyone is talking about changing the world; but no one talks about changing himself'. A sentiment Burke and any true Conservative would surely approve of!

verity said...

"Steady on Verity, im actually very tall and also well buit: I might not be as fit as a couple of years ago, but for the record I am still "banging them in" at thursday night 5-a-side!"

Meaning, you're a fatty.

And you didn't admit it to yourself until "a couple of years ago". You're tall and fat.

To reply to my post, Mr Congenial Fat Boy wrote 1100 words! In response to a post on a blog! Thank heavens paying for bandwidth no longer applies to blog hosts!

Dear God, it goes on dense paragraph after paragraph after paragraph.

Like, I suspect, everyone else, I didn't read it.

Big Congenial Non-Hostile Fat Andy, get a grip.