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Showing posts from June, 2018

Eighty years ago, two forgotten rearmers step up, anti-appeasement shows its family firm weaknesses and the democracies play arms control make-believe

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With little fanfare the Air Ministry made two key appointments that were to shape the performance of the aircraft manufacturing industry into the Second World War. Air Marshal Sir Wilfrid Freeman was given the production remit in addition to his existing job as the air member for research and development. He was to be assisted by Ernest Lemon as Director-General of Production. Lemon came from railway company L.M.S. where he had modernized the depot, repair and engineering infrastructure. He did not know the aircraft industry but he understood how to organize industrial units. Now almost unknown, Freeman and Lemon were responsible for the transformation of the British aircraft industry into a powerful and efficient entity, capable of far more rational efforts than the German air industry at that stage. Sadly the appointment of Lord Beaverbrook as Minister of Aircraft Production in 1940 began the legend that the industry had been in dire need of reform up till then and that Beave

Eighty years ago, the horrors in China reach Biblical proportions, France moves on some embarassing visitors and transport safety rockets up the agenda in Britain and Germany

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The already grim conditions on the battlefield in China became even worse when the defending Chinese armies breached the dykes containing the Yellow River to hold back the advancing Japanese in what has been described as “the largest act of environmental warfare in history.” Tens of thousands of square kilometres were flooded for minimal military gain. Perhaps 400,000 civilians were drowned and a further 5m were made homeless. Elsewhere epidemics were becoming a notable feature with cholera and typhoid attacking even the relatively privileged European population. At the northern end of the Pyrenees 10,000 soldiers of the Republic 43 rd division retreated across the mountains after a prolonged rear-guard action. They were practically the last remaining formed units of the Republic army in the North. The French authorities speedily evacuated them across the country into Catalonia which remained in Republican hands. Despite the efforts of Francoist propagandists who were all