Monday, October 01, 2007

Jerry Brotton - Another Amazing Discovery

Why we must thank the Turks, not the RAF, for stopping Hitler

John Ezard, arts correspondent
Monday October 1, 2007
The Guardian

For sixty years, the gallant "few" in their Spitfires, Hurricanes and Typhoons have symbolised British nonchalance and cunning in the face of danger. First, according to the legend drummed into every pupil, they beat the Luftwaffe over the Kentish coast in the critical summer months of 1940, as the Wehrmacht gathered in the Pas de Calais. Then in 1944 they despatched the enemy tanks, trains and supply convoys in Normandy with little more than a few rockets and their trusty Browning machine guns.

But yesterday, it was claimed that George VI's 'island race' was saved by a less celebrated ally: the Turkish air force.

Jerry Brotton, a lecturer at Royal Holloway College, London, told the Guardian Hay literary festival that a hitherto unnoticed letter from George's war chief and Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to his ambassador in Istanbul showed that it was Turkish air power rather than the RAF's swashbuckling pilots which delivered the fatal blow to the Nazi invasion plans.

The letter, which ordered the ambassador, Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, to incite the Turks to declare war on Hitler, was written in 1940 and has been buried in archives ever since because it did not apparently relate to any major historical event.

But Mr Brotton told the festival: "Churchill's plan was ultimately successful. Turkish air movements in the eastern Mediterranean fatally split Hitler's Luftwaffe. So alongside all the stories we're told at school about why Hitler failed to conquer Britain and destroy county cricket, we should add another reason: the Anglo-Turkish alliance brokered by George VI, Churchill [and others]."

In his letter to Knatchbull-Hugessen, Churchill wrote: "We do not wish to leave you in any doubt of what our own opinion and your instructions are. We want Turkey to come into the war as soon as possible."

Churchill hoped that Islamic forces might keep the German forces "thoroughly occupied" by "some incursions into Bulgaria and Hungary", or by attacking his Italian satellites from the sea.

The German air force was eventually defeated over the summer and autumn of 1940 as it tried to clear a passage for the rest of the invasion force from Calais. At the battle of Britain, the RAF used radar before closing in on the confused Germans.

Asked about his previous discovery that the Turks stopped the Armada, Dr Brotton said "It's amazing really. The evidence for the Turks defeating Hitler is just as strong as it is for them defeating the Armada".

Next week - how Mongol archers helped win the battle of Agincourt.


Susan said...

The Iranians really won the battle of Waterloo.

Cornwallis lost at Yorktown because there weren't any Turks around.

Somalians saved our bacon at Normandy.

Muslim descendents of King Offa helped William triumph at the Battle of Hastings.

Shakespeare's plays were really written by a Muslim.

IanCroydon said...

Methinks the professor is making a bit of a time slip here.

Turkey entered the war right at the end, in 1945, prior to that they only went on "war alert" after neighbouring Bulgaria entered an alliance with the Axis powers, that was in September 1940, by which time the Battle of Britain was well underway and Germany had started bombing cities.

Germany did not start withdrawing units from the front with Britain until they prepared for the invasion of Russia in June 1941. Turkey was never directly threatened by Germany until April 1941 when Greece was invaded.

The 2nd Cairo conference in 1943 discussed Turkey's involvement in the war, up til then, Turkey's neutrality served a far better purpose for the allies.

It is worth noting that Turkey's air force consisted mainly of British equipment; Spitfires, Hurricanes, Blenheims, etc. It is doubtful that the pre-1940 WW1 orientated air force could have done any damage to Germany, let alone reach it.

Ronan said...

I see what you did there ... that's pritty funny. Ian, r u serious or do u realise this was a joke?

IanCroydon said...

Fair dos, it was a close call for a joke. Nevertheless I wouldn't have put it past anyone to try and place Turkey as a key "ally" in WW2, even though they remained uncommitted until the end.

Laban said...

It's a clone of the Armada piece

recovering liberal said...


"Shakespeare's plays were really written by a Muslim."
(from his BBC Newsnight Review page)
"He is currently writing a book on Shakespeare and Islam"

Susan said...

Oh, dear.

Sergeant Toy 11th Dragoon Guards said...

Hell's bells!

So this quack Brotton isn't an historian anyway, he's into English, deconstructing texts like that imbecile Eagleton or whatever.

My 1797 regulation cavalry issue sabre is really twitching now. It must be dipped in liberal blood.

Excellent name is "Laban Tall", a fairly unexceptionable character in the novel no doubt, but if I remember rightly Hardy first introduced "Wessex" on P396 of Far From the Madding Crowd, and in a sense, reinvented it. Those of a genuine historical bent, unlike this ridiculous witchdoctor quack Brotton, will know that Wessex had died about 800 years previously when Harold and his household troops and nobility died to the last man fighting heroically round the standards at Hastings. The standards being the Fighting Man and the Wessex Dragon.

If Wessex can be reinvented at such remove then so can England with so much more materials, but it cannot be done without great slaughter of liberals. Chopping them in half with a huscarl's two-handed axe, a devastating weapon in practised hands, would also be most pleasurable

Anonymous said...

"And here comes Mehmet, he's got... some people are on the pitch... they think it's all over... it is now!"

Anonymous said...

iancroydon - Turkey was most definitely neutral. I dont think Germany ever needed to worry about Turkey joining the allies when it mattered. Whereas the allies needed to worry about Turkey joining Germany, we can assume the British equipment enjoyed by the Turkish military was a form of bribe along those lines.

Just imagine Turkey throwing its lot in with Germany in 1941. Threatening southern Russia and the middle eastern oilfields.

Foxy Brown said...

Is this historical revisionism part of a campaign to allow Turkish membership of the EU?

Laban said...

Foxy - yup !