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Early in 1953, following the death of Josef Stalin, and despite indications that dramatic changes might be taking place in the government of the Soviet Union, political and military authorities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), collectively, continued to perceive a growing threat to world peace. This was evident in the numbers and state of readiness of the forces of the Soviet Union and the Soviet satellite nations stationed in Europe – the largest military formations ever maintained by any nation, or grouping of nations, in time of nominal peace.

The speeds of newer aircraft, with which the Soviet Union’s forces already had been equipped, and the introduction into the Soviet armoury of modern, intercontinental and medium-range ballistic missiles had reduced the size of the Continent of Europe – in terms of time and air-distances – to one third of the area it had represented to military planners during the Second World War.

A number of far-reaching, practical measures had been taken during the first two years of the existence of Allied Command Europe (ACE) to defend the NATO nations against a Soviet attack. But much of the progress that had been made was of a preliminary planning and organisational nature.

NATO military leaders still lacked assurances that a sufficient number of combat-ready divisions, reserves, air-defence units , command-and-control systems, logistical systems, and other resources, which were required to guarantee a fully effective military defence of the ACE area, would be immediately available to them when needed.

As a result, beginning in 1953, a new approach to Allied defensive concepts was sought along with their progressive implementation. The Standing Group (which was made up of French, British and US representatives, and acted as Chairman on a rotating basis) subsequently issued strategic guidance to the Regional Planning Groups, and instructed them to make plans on the hypothesis that war would break out in 1954. These plans, when completed, were coordinated by the Standing Group, which then estimated roughly the total aggregate forces required to defend the NATO area. The Regional Planning Groups also produced emergency plans to be used in the event of a sudden outbreak of hostilities.

Mr Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov temporarily assumed leadership over both the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) following the death of Stalin, and, as Chairman of the Council of Ministers in the USSR, was quick to announce that the United States had “no longer a monopoly of the hydrogen bomb.”

“On the Brink 1953: Britain’s Part in Exercise Momentum” captures the key strategies and events that took place in preparation to defend the United Kingdom from any such attack.

OTB
“On the Brink 1953: Britain’s Part in Exercise Momentum” is now available via Kindle

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The Russian Government’s request for permission to award the Ushakov Medal to British veterans of the Arctic Convoys in May 2012 was flatly refused by the British Government. The rules on the acceptance of foreign awards clearly state that in order for permission to be given for an award to be accepted, there has to have been specific service to the country concerned and that that service should have taken place within the previous five years.

It was only in a Ministerial Statement published on 17 June 2013, that The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague) announced that formal approval had been given to a recommendation for an exception to the rules on the acceptance of foreign awards to allow eligible British nationals to accept and wear the Russian Ushakov Medal. Applications and eligibility for the Ushakov Medal would be a matter for the Russian authorities.

The statement came the day after the Prime Minister (David Cameron) and President Vladimir Putin presented the first medals to Arctic Convoy veterans at a ceremony in Downing Street.

Photo: http://en.kremlin.ru

During Mr Putin’s speech (through an interpreter) he said:

“Distinguished Prime Minister, dear friends and veterans, in Russia we try to treat those who contributed to the victory over the Nazi Germany with special attention and respect, and we have governmental programmes to support and back our veterans in Russia. This is why we want to pay tribute to everybody who contributed to that victory, including our allies.”

“Therefore, we feel special respect for you and for your comrades in arms. And it’s not only about the huge volume of aid provided to the Soviet Union with your help during the Second World War; the reason is that you and your comrades in arms demonstrated unparalleled heroism during that struggle and you instilled in everybody’s minds hope that the victory over the Nazis was coming soon. And I’d like to emphasise not the titanic goals that we had in front of us back then, but I’d like to emphasise your courage and your heroism.”

“It’s hard to imagine that under the severe Arctic conditions of frosts and storms, of waves reaching sometimes five to seven metres of height, every now and then armless Arctic convoys moved along the route and reached their final destination, being in line with their sacred debt. We remember you and we believe you are heroes, and I’m humbled by the honour to be here today and to decorate you – to see and to decorate you with this Ushakov Medal. And Fyodor Ushakov is our great Fleet Commander and back in 1800, in concert with the British ally, he carried out a joint operation with Admiral Nelson. Dear veterans, I’d like to express my respect and tell you – say to you the words of gratitude and thank you from my heart. Thank you so much.”

 

The four-year struggle to provide material to support the Soviet war effort cost the lives of around 3,000 sailors and merchant seamen, and over one hundred civilian and military ships were lost, with the nadir coming in the summer of 1942 when convoy PQ-17 was mauled by the Luftwaffe and nine U-boats.

The Arctic convoys were renowned to be the toughest voyages, and were described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world”. In addition to the threats from U-boats, bombers and surface craft to all convoys, the main enemy was the bitter cold. After their watch, being too cold to sleep, crewmen had to keep chipping away at the ice. They were all aware that the build-up of ice had led to ships capsizing and disappearing below the surface with all hands.

The Arctic Star campaign medal was instituted in the United Kingdom on 19 December 2012, and is granted for operational service of any length north of the Arctic Circle (66 degrees, 32’N) from September 3 1939 to May 8 1945, inclusive.

The Arctic Star is awarded posthumously; the Ushakov medal is not.

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Early in the Second World War, Germany invaded and occupied many of its neighbouring countries in mainland Europe. Germany and the Soviet Union had secretly signed a non-aggression pact agreeing that they would not attack each other, but Germany invaded the vast country in June 1941 and soon pushed deep into Soviet territory. With this turn of events, the Soviets joined the Allied powers and agreements were quickly reached to send supplies in order to assist them in their fight against the invaders. The western Allies knew that if the Soviet Union fell, Germany could then turn its full military might to the West.

The Soviets desperately needed weapons, fuel and supplies, especially after their country’s most-industrialised areas had been captured by the Germans. Getting these supplies to them, however, would not be easy. Land transportation routes were cut off and the best sea routes were blocked by the enemy. Shipping supplies to the Soviet Union via the Indian or Pacific Oceans was a very long trip. That left the Soviet seaports on the Arctic Ocean as the fastest way to deliver goods—but it was also the most dangerous.

Beginning in the late summer of 1941, a total of forty-one Allied convoys sailed to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel during the war. The Arctic convoys delivered millions of tons of supplies from the United States, Great Britain and Canada, including aircraft, tanks, jeeps, locomotives, flatcars, rifles and machine guns, ammunition, fuel and even boots.

The first series, PQ (outbound) and QP (homebound), ran twice-monthly from September 1941 to September 1942. The route was around occupied Norway to the Soviet ports and was particularly dangerous due to the proximity of German air, submarine and surface forces and also because of the likelihood of severe weather

The second series of convoys, JW (outbound) and RA (homebound) ran from December 1942 until the end of the war. Outbound and homebound convoys were planned to run simultaneously; a close escort accompanied the merchant ships to port, remaining to make the subsequent return trip, whilst a covering force of heavy surface units was also provided to guard against sorties by German surface ships, such as the Tirpitz. These would accompany the outbound convoy to a cross-over point, meeting and then conducting the homebound convoy back, while the close escort finished the voyage with its charges.

Dubbed by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain, as “The Worst Journey in the World”, the toll taken on the Arctic convoys was horrendous. 104 Allied Merchant ships were sunk, along with eighteen British Navy warships. The human losses were 829 merchant mariners and 1,944 navy personnel. The Soviet Union lost thirty merchant ships and an unknown number of personnel, and there was almost no let-up from the high-level bombing by the Luftwaffe, low-level U-boat attacks with torpedoes and ship-to-ship surface gunfire. The Germans lost five warships, thirty-one submarines and many aircraft.

Arctic Book Cover Work - Copy217

‘Tales from the Arctic Convoys’ (kindle edition) is now available via Amazon and features the stories from veteran Royal Navy seamen from: HMS Victorious, Edinburgh, Belfast, Sheffield, Rhododendron, Punjabi, Eskimo, Wrestler, Scylla, Ulster Queen, and Faulknor, and Merchant seamen from: ST Chiltern, MT Marathon, SS Rathlin, Empire Gilbert, Chulmleigh, and Steam Merchants Ocean Viceroy and Ocean Voice.

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UK Regional airline Flybe placed itself up for sale in October 2018 following a significant drop in pre-tax profit expectations, triggering a 37% drop in its share price. Increased oil prices (fuel is priced in Dollars but paid for in Pounds – which is steadily decreasing in value against the Dollar) with the seasonal drop in passenger numbers being the key factors.

EasyJet at SEN

London Luton Airport-based EasyJet is looking at purchasing a part of the failing company, and Stobart Air, lessee of London Southend Airport, which operates an airline with Flybe under a franchise agreement, dropped plans to buy the company outright in March after its bid was rejected, but may go to the table again despite experiencing its own recent tremors at management level.

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I sometimes hear from other writers who have signed up with bad, inexperienced, or even dishonest publishers, and are desperate to get free. They contact me wanting to know how they can break their contracts and regain their rights. Unfortunately, I am not a lawyer, and there is no easy answer to this question, even where the publisher has clearly breached its contractual obligations.

Stealing

A publisher pays writers and authors royalties in exchange for the rights to publish their work in book form. Royalty rates are percentages of book sales and they are entirely negotiable, though some publishers have standard royalty rates that are stipulated as part of the contract between the publisher and the author(s).

In a situation similar to that of a writer who had not been paid royalties or had any breakdowns of sales (as per signed publishing agreement) for almost 23 months, I found this response in WritersWeekly: “Unfortunately, there are lots of snakes in the industry. When a publisher does not pay royalties to the author(s), it is illegal and, if I were you, I’d get my books out of her clutches ASAP. She is stealing from you each time a book sells. If she had any intention of paying you, she’d have responded to all of your emails in a timely manner and furnished you with regular breakdowns of sales with associated royalties due to you, and she’d have been at least sending token payments.

She’s keeping the money, and spending it herself. It’s clear she isn’t going to pay you. People who keep an author’s money are thieves. You’re getting played and each month it gets worse. You should move your books to a reputable publisher, and then report her to the authorities. It looks like she’s running an elaborate scam.WritersWeekly.com

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It is worth noting that even if you are correct, and the publisher has breached its obligations – and even if the contract includes a provision for termination due to the publisher’s breach, which not all contracts do – you, personally, have no way to enforce a termination. The publisher can simply deny the allegations, or stick its metaphorical fingers in its metaphorical ears and go right on producing and selling your book.

Various causes of action are implicated by a publisher’s failure to pay royalties or comply with auditing provisions. The most obvious claim is breach of contract, which may be asserted based on a publisher’s material noncompliance with the terms of the agreement, frustration of an agreement’s terms, or bad faith in handling claims. Thus, for example, a publisher who has not paid royalties as due, who has denied timely information under an audit clause, or who has provided incomplete or confusing data, may be liable for breach of contract.

There is a lesser-used provision that allows a plaintiff to obtain disclosure from a defendant, prior to bringing a lawsuit, when it is necessary to determine whether the plaintiff has a basis for asserting a legal claim. In some cases, such as where the right to an audit of publisher records is not clear from the publishing agreement, Pre-complaint Discovery may be warranted to determine how the publisher is calculating royalties and whether the plaintiff has a cause of action along the lines set forth above. Pre-complaint discovery may effectively provide a court-supervised alternative to haggling with the publisher over audit procedures. (Textbook & Academic Authors Association, 15 August 2017)

One last thing: Reversion of Rights to a book. A publisher should not put a price on rights reversion. Charging a fee for reversion or contract termination is a nasty way for a publisher to make a quick buck as a writer goes out the door. A termination fee in a publishing contract is a red flag. And attempting to levy a fee that’s not included in the contract is truly disgraceful. (WriterBeware, 1 October 2014)

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The Southend & District Roll of Honour 1914-1921 is an A to Z list of the 2,152 of His Majesty’s servicemen, who were either born in, or moved to, the following areas at the time they were called to service: Southend-on-Sea, Southchurch, Thorpe Bay, Shoeburyness, Foulness, Barling, Westcliff-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea, Hadleigh, Thundersley, Benfleet, Canvey Island, Rochford, Hawkwell, Hockley, Rayleigh, Wickford, Vange, and Pitsea, and who fought and fell during the Great War, or died as a result of war between 1914 and 1921.
The names are listed are as used by the men in service records upon their enlistment. Among these are several aliases which appear instead with only a reference to their real names. The files include biographies of the serviceman of the Land, Air and Sea forces, their regiments and service numbers, theatres of battle and actions, personal letters, and citations where medals were issued.

*The Kindle edition offers readers a sample of the book for free.

Click here

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It’s been a little while since last my last post, mainly because of the last minute re-writes, editing, and photo captioning stages of my latest book Birmingham Airport Through Time, which was released by Amberley Publishing on 15 June, and also because my ‘to-do’ list at home had stretched to a second sheet of paper. This has had the effect of putting me back on to the graveyard shift for researching and writing for the up and coming  projects. I usually try, despite perhaps being ‘on a flow with work’ or taking a break playing Scrabble online, to shut down the pc by 01.00 because our eldest cat (he is nearly 20 years old, mostly deaf and doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer) is in the habit of walking backwards and forwards over my head any time between 03.15 and 03.45 to wake me up for fusses and tummy time.

Stumbling around with half-closed eyes to carry out his requests usually wakes the other cats (we have five – all rescues) and it’s not often much before 05.00 that I can fire up the pc again to send and reply to emails before a pre-breakfast stab at the current project for an hour or so. Most of the cylinders are not firing at that time of day so it’s mostly re-reading the last piece of work done, although I spend a fair amount of time in Photoshop to repair or enhance photographs for future projects.

Pitches and enquiries have been put in for work contracts for 2018 – and there is quite a bit out there to be had in the Local and Military History line! Drop me a message if you want a link to a couple of those.

Peter

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