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Old 30th March 2005, 12:41
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Ruy Horta Ruy Horta is offline
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Re: Fighter pilots' guts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawk-Eye
Yes but Townsend did all the harm when he PUBLISHED his book, which was quite successful in the whole world and published in French too. Both the English and the French edition were published in... France. Incredible isn't it. I insist that his whole story must be forged - until I'm PROVEN wrong. No fighter unit what stationed at Villacoublay on 3 June 1940, this is a fact. Some fighter units were based there for short periods of time but NOT on this day.
You know the general subject interests me, so please keep in mind I am not trying to discredit the french fighter pilots of '39-40. But the above statement does show some double standards, especially if set against what you've written in the Graf/Closterman and the all yellow Fw 190 thread. So your opinion of French pilots is more important than an eyewitness account of a British AVM? Of course you could write page upon page of french accomplishments, but that does not automatically discount this account. The same thread covers the theme of slander, but in this case both Townsend and Sholto Douglas are being described as liars and forgers. Unfortunately you are using a double standard.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawk-Eye
I know I believed certain things on MY OWN LIFE which were wrong, as I discovered later. I didn't lie, I just was wrong. For example I would have sworn that I was on a certain airfield and did a certain thing but in fact it was another airfield (as my logbook proves). My memory betrayed me. Such things will happen.
So it may have been another field, but who's to say that on that field there were not a number of (fighter) pilots who acted as witnessed by Sholto Douglas? Maybe Sholto Douglas was wrong in some of his account, does that make him or Townsend forgers and liars?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawk-Eye
Perhaps I can explain the error about "pilots". As you know RAF pilots (proudly) wear their "wings" on their battle-dress. They are made of some textile material. In the French AF EVERY MAN wears similar wings on his battle-dress, even the lowest ranks (ordinary soldiers).

Anyway nobody has the right to draw such drastic conclusions, on a foreign airfield, about a situation which he has no chance to understand if nobody explains it for him.

Again, this is not personal attack, which is the last thing on my mind Yves, just looking at the case, which you yourself have been presenting on numerous occasions, on its own merit. But here you set an annecodotal episode of a book against what amounts to nothing but an assumption, one that also assumes that AVM Sholto Douglas doesn't know the difference between an ordinary airman and a pilot, albeit a frenchman. Perhaps you assume that this AVM also saluted to the local janitor because like all french generals he had such a beautiful moustage?

The main point you fail to put into proper perspective is that Sholto Douglas (or Townsend by quoting) is decribing an event as he witnessed, and as AVM RAF he deserves the same credence or perhaps more than all those other personalities - like Closterman - we are so fond of. His authority is his senior rank and background as a WW1 fighter pilot of some repute.

Bottom line remains that Sholto Douglas is a reputable witness, if his observations do not agree with your sense of what's right and what's wrong, it is time to double check the facts, not attack the person. Since I am very particular (and peculiar) about this sort of thing I couldn't help but order a copy of Years of Command: A personal story of the second war in the Air (Collins, 1966), to check this episode myself.

There may be mistakes, but if we don't like what we read it doesn't mean we are also looking at lies and forgeries. One question, did you ever double check Sholto Douglas' biography?

Again, is it really impossible that AVM Douglas saw a number of nonchalant french pilots that did not jump to "their" airplanes, during an air attack, keeping in mind the aggressive nature of this senior officer? Also with his background in mind is it really surprising if he looked favorably upon the free-french under his command, compared to what he saw in those darker days of 1940?

Instead of considering lies and forgeries, I'd be more inclined to believe that there were indeed moments when élan was not as high as usual amongst the french, especially through the eyes of a visiting senior officer. Those were days of defeat, not victory...

Back to Townsend, his book covers the campaign in France to a limited extend, but doesn't do so any worse than other titles from an RAF perspective, I wonder how much harm his publication really did. Did French fighter pilots really suffer that much from his publication? As I've tried to point out by quoting Townsend, there are also positive signals that even things out - in my humble opinion.

In the eyes of the British, the French failed by discontinuing the fight, those are pretty harsh terms but set against the summer of 1940 and without the benefit of hindsight, not really surprising. The questionable role of Vichy France doesn't make it easier.

It is obvious that there was resentment between the British and French after the collapse in the west. The men of that generation took (at least some part of) that resentment with them, judging by your writing some of that resentment has been passed to the next generation and still lingers on.

What remains obvious is that something went terribly wrong in the summer of 1940 and for some the explanation needs a scapegoat.

Writing as an enthusiast, not as a moderator.
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