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Operation Manna (Timeline 10/27/62 - Australia)

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Operation Manna (Timeline 10/27/62 - Australia)

  James Philip


  Operation Manna


  Timeline 10/27/62 Australia – BOOK TWO

  Copyright © James P. Coldham writing as James Philip 2018.

  All rights reserved.

  Cover concept by James Philip

  Graphic Design by Beastleigh Web Design

  The Timeline 10/27/62 Series

  Main Series

  Book 1: Operation Anadyr

  Book 2: Love is Strange

  Book 3: The Pillars of Hercules

  Book 4: Red Dawn

  Book 5: The Burning Time

  Book 6: Tales of Brave Ulysses

  Book 7: A Line in the Sand

  Book 8: The Mountains of the Moon

  Book 9: All Along the Watchtower

  Book 10: Crow on the Cradle

  Coming in 2018

  Book 11: 1966 & All That

  Book 12: Only in America

  Book 13: Warsaw Concerto

  USA Series

  Book 1: Aftermath

  Book 2: California Dreaming

  Book 3: The Great Society

  Book 4: Ask Not of Your Country

  Book 5: The American Dream

  Australia Series

  Book 1: Cricket on the Beach

  Book 2: Operation Manna

  A Standalone Timeline 10/27/62 Novel

  Football in the Ruins – The World Cup of 1966


  Chapter 1 | Big Steamers

  Chapter 2 | The Fighting Admiral

  Chapter 3 | Eight East

  Chapter 4 | On the Beach

  Chapter 5 | A Fine Old Mess!

  Chapter 6 | Singapore Sling

  Chapter 7 | UKIEA - Cheltenham

  Chapter 9 | Sea of Japan

  Chapter 10 | Gibraltar of the East

  Chapter 11 | Prestbury Park

  Chapter 12 | Commonwealth

  Chapter 13 | Moreton Bay

  Chapter 14 | Sydney Harbour

  Chapter 15 | Winter’s Bane

  Chapter 16 | Menzies’s Finest Hour

  Chapter 17 | Not Cricket

  Chapter 18 | Treading Water

  Chapter 19 | Saint Paul Incident

  Chapter 20 | Winston Field’s Hour

  Chapter 21 | Rules of Engagement

  Chapter 22 | Chain of Command

  Chapter 23 | Honour Satisfied

  Chapter 24 | Marija & Peter

  Chapter 25 | Forgotten Men

  Chapter 26 | The Abadan Pipeline

  Chapter 27 | Shaping the Future

  Chapter 26 | Postscript


  Appendix 1|The War of 27th-28th October 1962

  Appendix 2|Economic and Fiscal Policy

  Appendix 3|Casualties, Population and Demographics

  Author’s Endnote

  Other Books by James Philip

  Operation Manna

  Timeline 10/27/62 Australia – Book Two

  In nuclear war all men are cremated equal. Dexter Gordon

  [Jazz tenor saxophonist]

  We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea...we are going back from whence we came.

  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

  [35th President of the United States]

  Chapter 1 | Big Steamers

  In October 1962 for all that the British Empire was supposedly a pale, crumbling shadow of its pre-Second World War ‘glory’ – and was called ‘The Commonwealth’ not ‘The British Empire’ - the Foreign and Colonial Office, the War Office and frankly, a sizable chunk of the population ‘back home’ in the United Kingdom had not really got used to the idea yet.

  One reason for this was that there were still great ‘British’ bases at Gibraltar, Malta, in Cyprus, Simonstown, Aden, Singapore, Hong Kong and scores of outposts on maps of the farthest corners of the globe still denoted by Imperial pink. In the Atlantic there was Bermuda, all manner of Caribbean islands, Tristan da Cunha, Ascension, St Helena, not to mention the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. In the Indian Ocean there were the Maldives, and little Diego Garcia among other hangovers of the age of freebooting acquisition, further east the Federated States of Malaya had gained their freedom from the British Crown back in 1957 but still depended on British military muscle for their survival. In the Pacific Fiji, the New Hebrides and Tonga were all in part or wholly British ‘protectorates’, and although Australia and to a lesser extent, New Zealand had been developing ever closer economic and diplomatic ties with the United States since the end of the war, they remained staunchly – for the moment - in the camp of their former ‘colonial parent’ country.

  Moreover, the citizens of practically all of those present or past dominions, protectorates and territories, all enjoyed the right of residence in the ‘home country’, and the benefits of the still extant – albeit wobbling – Empire, now Commonwealth trading system under which the family of nations loyal to the Queen lived under an international regime virtually free of tariffs. In practically all of these countries British-made goods still dominated local markets, and the food, oil and raw materials of the old and new Commonwealth flowed uninterrupted into the ports of the British Isles. The United States had – post-Suez – succeeded in doing away with any lingering vestiges of tacit ‘Imperial preference’ but little had really changed other than that American multi-national combines were starting to put down roots in the richer ‘white’ Commonwealth countries and scrambling to make accommodations with the regimes now in charge of the African and Caribbean ‘new independents’.

  Nevertheless, but for the abomination of the Cuban Missiles War the early 1960s would have been a relatively short-lived window in which much of the old was swept away by the brash ‘new kids on the block’. Huge changes were in the wind, taking shallow root at the very moment the certainties, the accepted ‘norms’ of the post-1945 era were swept asunder and the World was remade overnight. The miracle was that although the British Empire was in terminal retreat its trading outposts and the human, cultural and spiritual relationships cultivated over tens, in some places hundreds of years, were to reinforce, or more correctly, were to re-invent ‘the Commonwealth of Nations’ in the course of the World crisis of those immediate post-war years.

  This author – Australian by dint of birth, but the son of an Anglo-Maltese union – has always felt ‘English’, oh, and Maltese and Australian and never really experienced friction between any of those identities. All three nationalities were of the Empire and are of the later ‘New’ Commonwealth and I have carried them with me with equal pride all my life. There were millions of others – like me – of mixed birth, ethnicity and of every imaginable sectarian and religious bent within the old Empire and, even at the time of the October War, the nascent Commonwealth was still imbued with a shared feeling of belonging to something greater than just this, or that transient state.

  Whereas, the American post-1945 Empire – a thing of spheres of influence and occupation forces – with economic and military tendrils throughout South America, the Pacific, the Middle East and Western Europe, had only existed less than a generation; the British and other European powers had been embedded in lands far from home literally in some cases for centuries. In the Far East and the Pacific the British, the French, the Dutch and the Portuguese all retained significant toeholds; each a potential source of contention or a flashpoint.

  The British remained the – albeit somewhat fading - Imperial power in Singapore and Hong Kong, with vital strategic interests in the rubber, tin and oil of Malaya and Borneo, the latter partitioned between the new state and Indonesia. Singapore’s
great, half-empty Sembawang Naval Base was still the largest such facility in the region, Macao was Portugal’s fading jewel in the crown of its eastern domains and along with Hong Kong a lingering European foothold on the Chinese mainland. That a major Royal Navy Fleet in the Eastern Pacific, a post-imperial anachronism in the years leading up to 27th October 1962 was suddenly to become a critical geopolitical chess piece was possibly, one of the most curious consequences of the Cuban Missiles War.

  Perhaps, as astonishing – looking back over the years – was the fact that what had once been the remnants of the British Empire, dependencies and former colonies divested with indecent haste in former times because of the drain they represented to the ‘old country’s’ empty treasury became post-cataclysm the wellspring of the salvation of the old country.

  Nowadays, every schoolchild in the United Kingdom is inculcated with the ‘salvation of the Operation Manna convoys’ in just the same way every Maltese child learns about the life-giving ‘Santa Maria Convoy’[1] of 1942. The safe arrival of those Operation Manna convoys against all odds – a legend of heroes battling dreadful weather and the constant threat of piracy, at one stage threatened with the risk of a disastrous confrontation with the US Navy – is a tale often told and well known.

  In 1963 Operation Manna became just one episode in Britain’s fight for survival, and the wars which began as the ships of the first convoy docked in English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish ports became part of the same post-October War narrative.

  Popular imagination, folk memory if you like, no longer separates out Operation Manna from the seismic geopolitical events which followed it.

  In this book the author seeks to put that right.

  This therefore, is the ‘back story’ of Operation Manna; a window into the World of the months immediately after the October War when all the things people had taken for granted before it, had literally, just gone up in smoke.

  ‘Operation Manna’ was mounted to alleviate the starvation of the survivors in the British Isles in the second winter of the post-cataclysm age. That it was attempted at all is remarkable, that it has now passed into myth; and that its heroic figurehead is now as readily known to every schoolchild in the land as Drake or Nelson, would have beggared the credulity of the man himself. But such is history.

  History, as they say, never really goes away...

  Dear old Rudyard Kipling understood as much...

  Oh, where are you going to, all you Big Steamers,

  With England's own coal, up and down the salt seas?

  We are going to fetch you your bread and your butter,

  Your beef, pork, and mutton, eggs, apples, and cheese.

  And where will you fetch it from, all you Big Steamers,

  And where shall I write you when you are away?

  We fetch it from Melbourne, Quebec, and Vancouver.

  Address us at Hobart, Hong Kong, and Bombay.

  But if anything happened to all you Big Steamers,

  And suppose you were wrecked up and down the salt sea?

  Why, you'd have no coffee or bacon for breakfast,

  And you'd have no muffins or toast for your tea.

  Then I'll pray for fine weather for all you Big Steamers

  For little blue billows and breezes so soft.

  Oh, billows and breezes don't bother Big Steamers:

  We're iron below and steel-rigging aloft.

  Then I'll build a new lighthouse for all you Big Steamers,

  With plenty wise pilots to pilot you through.

  Oh, the Channel's as bright as a ball-room already,

  And pilots are thicker than pilchards at Looe.

  Then what can I do for you, all you Big Steamers,

  Oh, what can I do for your comfort and good?

  Send out your big warships to watch your big waters,

  That no one may stop us from bringing you food.

  For the bread that you eat and the biscuits you nibble,

  The sweets that you suck and the joints that you carve,

  They are brought to you daily by All Us Big Steamers

  And if any one hinders our coming you'll starve!

  ‘Big Steamers’

  Rudyard Kipling

  M.J. Christopher

  Garden City Press, New London

  27th October 2012

  Chapter 2 | The Fighting Admiral

  The Flag Officer Commanding the British Far Eastern Fleet, Vice Admiral Julian Wemyss Christopher, had been born three days into the twentieth century in an age when Britain ruled the waves and Queen Victoria was – courtesy of the Royal Titles Act, 1876 - the Empress of India.

  There had been a Lieutenant John Christopher onboard Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood’s flagship, the three-deck 100-gun first-rate HMS Royal Sovereign at the Battle of Trafalgar, and apocryphally – so the family legend had it – freebooting with Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and John Hawkins on the Spanish Main in Elizabethan times; although in fact nobody really knew anything very much about any member of the clan prior to Captain John ‘Jack’ Christopher who had retired to the country with the prize money he had earned at Trafalgar – ever afterwards referred to as ‘the great battle’ within the family - and subsequently proven to be the scion of a seagoing Royal Navy dynasty.

  Julian Christopher’s father – the second-in-command of an armoured cruiser - had died of fever on the Lagos Station when he was only four years old. His mother Alexandra[2] had promptly remarried the painter Edward Fleming – incidentally the second son of a former Sea Lord – whose mistress she had apparently been for many years previously. It seemed that when Julian Christopher was a child rumours had circulated as to his true parentage; rumours only really ‘put to bed’ when he grew up a tall, fair-haired young man who was the absolute spitting image of his by then long dead father.

  He and his step father never got on; with the boy being exiled to boarding school at the age of five. First to a preparatory school for the sons of officers in the West Country, then later to ‘crammers’ to enable him to gain entry to Harrow. By that time his mother and her ‘artist’ husband were living in somewhat reduced circumstances, mainly on account of Fleming’s gambling debts, wholly dependent on the ‘kindness of friends’, and the charity of his mother’s sisters. Harrow School had been a mercifully brief, unpleasant interlude in the life of the teenage Julian Christopher for in 1915 he had walked through the doors of the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth and from that point onwards his destiny was settled.

  Contemporaries speak of a tough, emotionally reserved, single-minded cadet who naturally gravitated to the top of every class in every discipline. It seems that the one real joy of his boyhood had been ‘messing around’ in small boats and by the time he arrived at Dartmouth he was already an accomplished sailor in dinghies and skiffs, and an experienced, tireless oarsman. His quick, practical mind was rarely challenged in the classroom; and once upon the water his grey-blue eyes lit up and he was without equal.

  It was at Dartmouth that he had met Hugh Staveley-Pope[3] and he first raced on - and later at the ludicrously young age of twenty-one, skippered - the racing yacht of Sir Harold Stanton, the Cornish mining magnet.[4]

  In 1918 both young men had served as Midshipmen on destroyers in the English Channel, neither seeing any ‘real’ action because by then the Channel Fleet was in the business of escorting – virtually unopposed – the ships re-supplying the massive allied armies in France and bottling up the Western Approaches to the British Isles.

  As fate would have it Julian Christopher and Hugh Staveley-Pope had been standing on the quarterdeck of the battleship Warspite, two Midshipmen on the ship’s lists but really little more than snotty-nosed cadets, having joined the great dreadnought in Scapa Flow only the previous month.

  At the end of May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland the Warspite had – her helm jammed – circled within range of the guns of the entire High Seas Fleet and miraculously survived; now she and her mighty sisters wer
e taking the surrender of their foes. The two friends had watched as the seemingly endless line of rusty, weather beaten, unkempt German walls of steel meekly steamed into captivity. Hugh Staveley-Pope had stood beside Christopher at the lee rail in the shelter of Warspite’s mighty X-turret as the Grosser Kurfurst, Derfflinger, Seydlitz and the Markgraf and a dozen other massive Battleships and battlecruisers slowly, ignominiously passed into captivity under the guns of the Grand Fleet.

  So many memories, so many mistakes repeated.

  It was Hugh Staveley-Pope – on all his ships his men had nicknamed him ‘the Pope’ for his bookish demeanour, his high forehead and his religious devotion to maintaining the traditions of the service – who had introduced Julian Christopher to his wife; but not until long after the two young tyros had embarked on brilliant parallel careers. While Staveley-Pope had patiently applied his talents slowly, surely advancing, and to meticulously learning and mastering his profession; Julian Christopher had chosen another path and like a bright star flashing across the firmament, many times threatened to rush ahead of his old friend.

  However, at the end of the day the Royal Navy intuitively mistrusts ‘flashiness’ and always respects, treasures in fact, ‘steadiness’. Hugh Staveley-Pope was second-in-command of a light cruiser at the outbreak of war in 1939; while Julian Christopher, the playboy failed America’s Cup contender – all his failures were irredeemably valiant – was rotting away on the Staff at Singapore[5], albeit recently promoted to Commander but fully two years his friend’s junior on the Navy List.

  Julian Christopher had married Joan Phylidda Creswell, the daughter of a diplomat in 1929. Joan was a school friend of Hugh Staveley-Pope’s younger sister, Caroline, and by all accounts had been swept off her feet by the already famous – although not yet notorious – naval yachtsman. By then Christopher was mixing in the Prince of Wales’s[6] circle and his career in the peacetime Royal Navy virtually in abeyance. Those were the years in which successive British Governments were running the Navy on the ludicrous premise that there would ‘be no war for ten years’; a parsimonious self-defeating ordinance that would be partially responsible for the Fleet mutinying at Invergordon in 1931, and cause such deep structural damage to the service that it was to take a new World War to put the half of it right.

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