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Parade Antiques Blog

Southgate’s Diary, Part 5 – 30-31st July 1941

30th July 1941

Stark left us and I walked back to Marble Arch whilst chatting to Pearl. She told me more about her life 1930-40. Poor girl, she has been very brave and continues to be. During the afternoon Suzy Witherington, the 2nd in age, came to visit. She is the only one of the 4 sisters who is married and has a baby. She married a Scot and lived in Paris. Got back to Slough – gone midnight. That’ll teach me to go out with a young woman. Are you jealous dearest?

Southgate wrote the diary for the benefit of his wife, who remained in France.

31st July 1941

Lt. Col Wells has just arrived and leaves again to meet with our General.

Yesterday pm, we had a visit from Group Captain Lord Douglas Hamilton of the DDTG (Deputy Director of Training Generals) he is the brother of Viscount Hamilton, who was much talked about when the German Hess parachuted in Scotland.

Hess was a prominent member of the Nazi Party and Hitler’s deputy in the 1930’s and early 40’s. In May 1941 he made a secret and daring flight to Britain in the bizarre hope of negotiating a ceasefire. Hess, concerned by the war with Britain as well as his declining status in The Third Reich, hoped, by virtue of an emphatic gesture, that he’d regain his prestige and with it a handy Peace Treaty. After parachuting from his Messerschmitt 110 though, Hess sustained a broken ankle and was captured on a farm to the south of Glasgow. Hess believed Hamilton was in opposition to Winston Churchill, whom the Nazis considered responsible for The War. The arrest of a prominent Nazi would have caused great embarassment to Hitler, and to avoid this issue, Hess was declared mentally ill.

This, by the way, is a true story : “Squadron Pilots, billeted at what had been a school for girls, discovered a bell push over which was the notice – Anyone requiring a mistress during the night will ring the bell 3 times” – They put it out of order the first night.

Had lunch with Pearl and her 2 sisters, Jean Crinwys, Stark and Mr. Brett, an 18 year old working in the French sector with Sgt. Barette. Afterwards went to see off Mimi and Doudou, who have joined the WAAF, at the truck that was taking them to the station. The ‘white slave trade’ according to Stark. – Have had the pleasure to see Air Vice-Marshall Collier was in Russia with Stalin. Collier, an old boss of mine, was also the Attaché in Moscow before The War. Talking of Russians, it seems that my personal feelings and hopes are coming true and the last 5 weeks prove it. Not only are they holding fast, they are counterattacking in the Central Sector. Hopefully we may be able to meet again sooner. In France small actions indicate that the French are growing more and more discontented with German occupation and have carried out small acts of sabotage in April, May and June. However one must remember that not all of these in France are carried out by Frenchmen, or by Germans in Germany (… -)

Maurice Southgate’s words
Translated by Parade Antiques

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