Sunday, August 18, 2013

Postblogging 1939, July, II: "A guy could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff"

My Dearest Reggie:

Secrets do sometimes travel fast. Or, sometimes, they take a year or more to emerge.

Aeroplane 19 July 1939

Leader: C. G. Grey hints at his imminent retirement.

News/Mr. Grey shares his opinions: The Japanese are horrid people. The Chinese have a dictatorship, and they’re horrid, too. As soon as this “artificial war scare” is over in Europe, we should send the RAF over and blow the lot of them up. For being horrid. And insufficiently obsequious. Seriously, Mr. Grey wants to bomb Oriental cities for having the temerity to exist, and contain Orientals. He also dislikes the French. Are we to bomb them, too? The Belgians are a bit of all right, though, as they buy British. It is good to know that we are not to bomb our customers, at least. Except our Chinese customers. 

Flight 20 July 1939

Front cover: An ad for “Fremo Taper Pins.” In no way do I kid. Remember drawing sheared taper pins out of bolts on old Rattler? I think we both approve of good taper pins. I do, however, scratch my head at a world in which it is worth advertising them on the front cover of Flight.

Inside front cover advertising: “Trans-Canada” adds to its Lockheed fleet.” Lockheed Aircraft wants  to tell us that since Trans-Canada inaugurated daily Vancouver—Montreal passenger service in April, it has added 20 Lockheed 14s to the high speed service. So that is a thing that we need to know. The Canadian national airline has just bought 20 new airliners. I assume that an ever-increasing number of the partners are bringing their furs down from the high country with them by air. The question is whether they dare to travel with their country wives?

Leader: RAF needs vast reserves. This is why no new squadrons have been raised this year, in spite of it acquiring so many aircraft. And personnel? Are they "reserves," too? The Calpurnia disaster report is out. It was not anyone’s fault, save that of the pilot, who, conveniently enough, did not survive. The eternal coroner's inquest obligation to speak ill of the dead being covered, the report moves on to recommend better radios (since Calpurnia did not pick up a weather report from Habbinya), and more accurate means of measuring distance from aircraft to ground, as the boat touched down prematurely and so at too high a speed. The Supplementary Air Estimates gives the RAF another 32,000. The small number occasions entrail-gazing with which I will not detain you. (It involves paying barrage balloon staff.) The Staff College is getting a building; the Consolidated Catalina is here. Flight is of the opinion that its impressive range characteristics could have been achieved in British aircraft had this been required by the Ministry at the time, and, in any case, the Sunderland can match it when taking off in an overload fuel condition, and, anyway, the Lerwick will be ever so much better. And such is Flight.

Commercial Aviation

The ICAN has released new standards for correcting altimeter readings by temperature. “Computors” (a fancy term for calibrated scales, which “compute” the actual correction, rather in the way that a ruler "computes" a distance)  will need to be redesigned. The salience is that newer computors will be more accurate, and will therefore make aerial navigation more precise.

People continue to wander around Glasgow talking about where its new airport should be. This is, in my experience, more an indication of deadlock between property developers than an actual thing that concerns people. On the other hand, the issue of who is to be greased being no doubt resolved, the New Zealand Base of the trans-Tasman route is going ahead at full speed. The New Zealanders are no doubt thrilled to receive various horny-handed, heavy-set middle-aged men from Yorkshire who can put a black iron angle into a many-a-turnwheeled machine tool and pull out a new cam rod momentarily. Perhaps they will share their skills, and in good time the Right Sort of New Zealander will be able to send their sons to be aeroplane mechanics instead of sheep shearers, or whatever it is that they do in New Zealand. (Eat people? Or is that just Hawaii? Oh, sure, they will tell you that these things were only done in the old days, but our family has left piracy behind, has it not?)

Article: “Aircraft of the Axis Powers;” “the Flamingo in Service.” The DH95 is in airline service on the Guernsey route. Our correspondent was impressed with the way that the engine-constant-speed-airscrew combination delivered a cruising speed of 196mph at less than half engine power. The anticipated upgrade to the De Havilland Hydromatic airscrew will make it even better.

“The Biggest Short.” The Short “G” boat (civil Hercules) is enormous. Have I mentioned that? I have mentioned that. Flight proposes to mention it again, at length. Flight suggests that it might be described as an “Empire” boat expanded by 1.15, but the differences are greater than that. It might be supposed that it is for the Atlantic service, but this supposition is ill-founded. It is correct to say that it will be used on the North Atlantic in 1940, but 1939 is right out, for reasons that Flight feels cannot possibly concern you if you do not already know them so well as not to need them explained. The concept is simply that the E boat was quite big and used the old Pegasus. The newer boats are bigger, and use the Perseus. The G boat will be even bigger, because it will use four civil Hercules engines that will, together, give 5,250hp for takeoff and about 20mph more cruising speed. New structural methods will allow takeoff at much greater all up weights than the current 73,500lb limit, at some point in the near future when things are different in some unspecified way. For the sake of all that's holy, can someone just say "100 octane"? 

I may here be taken to be supplying private insight into the facts of the matter. They might or might not come from a most strenuous discussion with the attorneys of Imperial, who stressed that our foot-dragging is endangering the nation. I pointed out that it was in no way our footdragging that was the issue. But, as you will see, I was wrong, for a sufficiently strenuous definition of "we" that includes all the pages of Debrett's under a certain heading.

J. M. Spaight, “Breadth and Depth in Air Strength: The Case for more Fighter Squadrons.” This is the article to which the Leader replied.

Article: “Our Growing Air Strength.” The new Rolls-Royce plant at Crewe is operational; “The New V.D.M. Spinner” is a German pointy thing that goes on the end of the airscrew and makes it better. It is being made in England, and has been installed on the Miles Master trainer.

A. Viator’s Croydon gossip column reports that six Americans who crossed the Atlantic on the Yankee Clipper are now to travel Europe on a chartered S.M. 79 seeing the aviation industry war-at-hand related sights. He is a great deal more interested in noting that they were wearing Stetsons while wandering around the London airport. He makes a forced joke about the volumetric capacity of "twelve gallon hats" versus Gladstones. Remember watering horses from our hats? It seems so long ago. Perhaps because it was. The last summer, after Dartmouth? In any event, Americans in Stetsons are inherently funny. 

As, indeed, they are. Though there is nothing funny about aviation-travellers-about-Europe in this summer of 1939 feeling the need to advertise that they are Americans, and business-minded. For we know the kind of business they must feel it time to advertise.

Service Aviation

Flight takes the extraordinary step of chastising another paper’s optimism about British aviation. The Bristol Blenheim is not capable of 2900 miles range with full military load. Just under 2000 miles is possible, but not in military condition. And that assumes the use of 100 octane fuel for takeoff. Cousin Easton explained to me at lunch how higher-octane fuel produces higher speeds at takeoff with supercharger “boost.” Imperial to us, works in Kent, etc, etc.

I confess that in spite of my objections to your behaviour, I am glad at least that they brought Fat Chow back to London. I have not seen him since last year, when he attended on Cousin Easton at the King's Cup as mechanic. Today, he amused me by reading from the pages of  “Situations Vacant” at the back of this number of  Flight and inquired as to whether this meant that they were desperate enough to hire a Celestial. I countered by suggesting that he advertise as a dacoit under "Situations Wanted," but he countered with the observation that he already had such a situation, and was thinking of moving up in the world. Easton asked what better a way to do that than in an aeroplane? Such banter is worth more than hours of earnest practice in keeping up my Cantonese! 

In any case, I offered my own solution. I hope you will  not be offended if the result passes through your household in a discreetly sealed envelope. For depending on the Generalissimo's prowess as a bandit fighter and Chou's willingness to throw in with the Cominterm in deeds as well as words, my personal touch at Cambridge (eyebrow raised) may or may not pay off. Fat Chow's landless birth will make him an ideal intermediary in case things develop as Grandfather fears that they will.  It is to be regretted that I may need to be "reborn" if we actually have occasion to use the negatives enclosed. Perhaps roseate memories of the perfumed orchards of Santa Clara have led me to put this in motion, and I should take care to dwell on those late spring days that hinted at the summers we never saw. Summers in Santa Clara versus a comfortable life in London? A consideration. Though only if it is in motion. 

The Economist, 22 July 1939

Leaders: “Parliamentary Holidays.” Notwithstanding Danzig-Berlin-Warsaw, nothing, not even the raising of British projected defence spending this year to 750 millions, must interfere with the tradition of going away on 4 August and not coming back until October. It may be possible to get through the legislative agenda by then, but the Opposition’s proposal of provisions to recall the House early is a good one, even though we normally expect an election in the fall.

“Tapping Labour Reserves:” the unemployment insurance scheme does not exactly yield the clearest of data, but it is at least discernable that the remaining reserve of unemployed is distributed highly unequally between industries and in regions. As expected, the South has already reached labour stringency, while the North and in particular Northern Ireland has not. This is not just a case of depressed industries, either. Where the main employers are depressed, there are multiplier effects throughout the local economy, and so there are hidden reserves of unemployed labour waiting to be tapped in various regions in all industries, and they should factor into the distribution of armaments contracts. I am a little perplexed. This "multiplier" effect perhaps suggests that more money for, say, the steel mills of the North will promote more employment in the taper pin factories next door. But what if the Air Ministry places its contract with the taper pin factory directly? Will employment in taper-pin-making be more stable? Will the taper-pin factory buy its blanks next door, and cause the "multiplier" in reverse?

“Juvenile Needs,” perhaps never again in Britain’s history will there be as many youth as there are right now. Only an appallingly small number are in education, and not nearly enough in technical education. More should be done to see that they do not have to work, and to get them into schools, especially technical schools. 

This is because our birth rate has fallen below replacement, the paper is so-subtly reminding you. I shall immediately go out and purchase something frilly and pink and small and present it to "Miss G.C.," and perhaps another for "Miss J.C.," if Fat Chow can find her. Then I can involve him in two blackmail schemes in the same month, albeit the last only of the emotional kind. And speaking of "emotional blackmail," one cannot help but notice the way that this enlightened concern for the youth of to-morrow converges with the employers' interest in keeping wages down, of which more anon and before.

Notes of the Week

“The Nation’s Burden:” the appalling scale of defence borrowing projected this year raises the spectre of inflation. From the projected 350 million of our 25 February column that described it as “borrowing to the hilt,” we have risen to borrowing 500! Inflation, like Achilles sulking in his tent, has so far remained impervious to the pleas of the Achaeans. Or, rather, each increase of the defence borrowing in the last four years has made its plea, and each has been ignored by the hero. Yet surely the latest Supplementary Estate will be as Patroclus facing Hector. As to who will represent holdings in the Sinking Funds, I will leave it to a first class classics scholar to to finish this analogy, which strains with ten other analogies to lift this boulder that one analogy would have lifted in the golden age of heroes.

You may detect a note of whimsy, but, after all, I have been reading the paper for long enough to grow weary of listening for the tread of dread Inflation behind me.

“Guarantees and Trade:” the 60 million credit for trade for friendly countries has elicited criticism from Germany and Italy, who feel that giving credits to prospective victims of aggression is an infringement of their right to aggress. “Aid for Shipping;” the proposals of 28 March at last formalized. Coal owners rejoice at the Government's willingness to prop up a dying industry. Not that I am going to refuse my monies on principle. 

“The Index of Business Activity,” does not directly measure Government spending, but captures its indirect effects. Whether or not we are to imagine them as "indirect effects," consumer activity and exports are rising. 

“The First Thirty Thousand;” the National Militia’s first call up is now arriving in depots and camps around the country. Vice Twenty in a week, I notice. The railways are preparing for war. The roads are not. Italy is upset at Turkey. The Dutch government has fallen. Talks over the Indian Federation are ongoing.

“The American Railway Deadlock,” continues.

“Increasing Production and Rising Prices in France.” The results of the Statistique Generale de la France do indeed show rising production. The rising prices, apart from some “metallurgical products,” require some elaboration by Our Paris Correspondent. Specifically, the national policy of buying up surplus corn on the market must raise its price in the fall, as it always does. This year, however, the annual rise in the price of necessities will be especially unpleasant, it is confidently predicted. In any event, Our Paris Correspondent is all for efficiency in business and against increased wages for civil servants. A national pension plan is mooted, as are proposed initiatives to raise the birth rate, presumably through persuading Bright Young Things to do their patriotic duty, anything so crass as a rising standard of living being right out of the question so long as rentiers bear their disproportionate burden.

“Stocks for War” are rising.  The paper says. It is hard to believe a tale so contrary to one's intuition, but there it is.

The Engineer, 21 July 1939

The GPO orders a new, armed cable-laying ship(1,2, 3), the crew to be trained by the Admiralty.

Aeroplane  26 July 1939

Editorial: Grey announces his retirement, effective the end of August.

Flight, 27 July 1939

Leader: Liddell Hart’s s intervention in AA matters is either an idiot expressing an idiotic opinion, or really perceptive defence critic getting it half right. In the paper's tradition, we go with the latter.


The MilesMaster is as extraordinary as every British aircraft is. A great many prototypes were shown at the Brussels exhibition prototypes show, but many were quite old, and also mostly German. Included were the Ju. 86 oil-powered airliner/bomber. Heavy oil aeroengines were apparently quite the rage a year or so ago. I am not sure what happened to them, as they would seem to be ideally suited to inlet pressurisation via exhaust turbine, which would seem to defeat the rarefaction problem of high altitude flying. Perhaps it is the vibration problem. No good oil machine goes unpunished! The Ju 87 dive bomber was flown by the remarkable Hanna Reitsch, who did a fine job of illustrating what was described in an earlier article as “good technique near the ground.” It is interesting to see that it is a woman who exhibits how an aircraft can be used to drop into a neighbour's garden, which reminds me of an anecdote that I related to Cousin Easton concerning the 1938 King's Cup season, in a rather more charged session than our recent lunch with Fat Chow. 

Youth in its full and exhuberant folly aside, Brussels moves on to the Klemm 35 trainer, also useful for "airs above ground." What would be really interesting, I think, is cavalry on aircraft. Perhaps this is what the French are thinking with their parachute pelotons? The Dutch show their . . . idiosyncratic Fokker D.23 

Speaking of which, a short article relates that Vultee has a new twin-engined fighter on the drawing board. I gather it resulted from a United States Army Air Corps specification for an "unconventional" fighter. Goodness! As the Brussels entries tend to demonstrate, the last thing these firms need is someone encouraging them. Someone, perhaps it was Mr. Wells, who presumably like the Traveller of his novel, always has a novel turn of phrase, was talking the other day about "thinking outside the box." Someone, who may or may not be named Mr. Camm, suggested that what was needed was more encouragement to stay inside the box and make an effort to actually explore it. An 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney has been sent to the Corps for proofing.

 “A Modern Aircraft Gun;” The Vickers K Gun exists. This is simply a development of the Vickers-Berthier. What strikes me is the contrast a few years makes. Remember when a few hundred machine guns were enough for the entire BEF, until they were not, and a few hundred more were too much to ask of industry in a few short months? Remember the endless controversies, dragging to an end not five years ago now, over whether the army should have the Bren or the Vickers in place of the Lewis, or the air force the Browning over the tried and true? Long and exahusting debates over the virtues of one gun over another, and the expense of adopting them? Now the Air Ministry decides that it needs a new machine gun for the ever-smaller number of free gun defensive mountings, and, here it is, rolling off the production lines by the hundreds. Gold truly is the great solvent of all blockages in human affairs. 

 “From Eagle to Merlin, a History of Rolls-Royce;” The point of this article would appear to be that, given how much better the Kestrel got during its service years, one can only imagine what will happen with the Merlin. I am sure that Herr Hitler is a regular reader of Flight, and will take this caution as read. The article highlights the Merlin X, which, with two-speed supercharger, gives 1145hp at 5,250ft and 1025hp at 17,750ft. Remember the Peregrine, shown at Paris? It would “obviously” be a splendid power unit for a twin-engine fighter. Foreign competitors, not hampered by “stringent official regulations,” have announced engines in the 1700hp—2000hp class. Rolls-Royce would, too, if it could.

Industry: Rollason is pleased to announce its new engine maintenance shop complex, complete with an electrics shop; Messier Undercarriages is a new enterprise but backed by some of the biggest names in British aviation; Williamson’s “Linatex” is rubber, only better.

"Another Blind Approach System:" The United States Navy Department is developing its own blind landing system. (Because naturally the Army and Navy need separate aeronautical research efforts. Does the Marine Corps have a Black Chamber of radio boffins? Has the Coast Guard a Gothic castle, lit by strobing lightning bolts, where wild-haired madmen experiment with the aetheric fluids?) It resembles the loops of armoured cable laid in New York harbour in 1930 to guide ships, although apparently the small voltage differences will "obviously" be too small to guide aircraft a thousand feet in the air, and these cables must be laid out much more carefully in a species of converging track. Does this not come back to the futility of designing ever-more elaborately informative foghorns to tell ships where they are on their charts, when a fraction of the effort will deliver a reliable depth sounder? I am told that the Bell company even has a radio depth sounder under development for aeroplanes.

An astonishingly juvenile advertisement, more suited to a French postcard than the "official journal of the Royal Aero Club" ends the number.

The Engineer, 28 July, 1939

The paper begins a multi-part "History of Rotary Engines and Pumps," in case you are interested in the many intriguing connections between the old Hele-Becham-Shawe pumps in the old dreadnought armaments, variable pitch screws, the Dowty "Live-Line" carburetor and the firm's new rotary pump for aircraft hydraulics,  including the de Havilland Hydromatic c.p. airscrew, and perhaps other, more closely held of His Majesty's secrets.

The Economist, 29 July 1939

Leaders: “Drifting Towards Inflation;” for the fifth straight month there has been a rapid and widespread rise in the tempo of business activity in Great Britain. It is a stimulus that comes from industry, not commerce or finance. Indeed, it faces headwinds from these quarters. It is caused by defence expenditure. Now we face the prospects of full employment. The paper has explained that this will cause inflation before. This time it will surely emerge from its tent to slay Trojan pensioners by the hecatomb. You see? I finished my analogy for myself!

 “The War of Nerves:” a triple entente may be expected imminently, if it is to happen. If not, I imagine that it will not be imminent! 

The Tientsin crisis has been resolved, for now. And by "resolved," the paper means, "not at all resolved." 

The controversial affaire Hudson" is revealed, in which Herr Wohltat met with a Mr. Hudson and sketched a resolution of Germany’s difficulties in which it would receive a one hundred million to one billion pound credit guarantee to resume exports to the pound sterling sphere if it abandoned its belligerent practices. The Economist finds itself in the odd position of agreeing with Dr. Goebbels: the plan completely misreads Germany’s position. The country would not need a line of credit if it disarmed. The paper thinks that peace feelers at this juncture are hopelessly misguided. We need to be firm and unflinching and make it clear that we are ready to fight. 

“Italy in the Mediterranean." How can a country so manifestly unwilling to invest in/trade with/settle in the Mediterranean littoral demand it as its sphere of influence?

Notes of the Week

Danzig is a concern. Tientsin is a concern, lest the preliminary settlement devolve into appeasement. A national pension scheme is on the table. So is a treaty with Moscow. Grandfather, of course, says not. Palestine’s future is debated this week. A resolution is, no doubt, at hand.

"Empire on the Cheap" is a summary of the report of something called the “Committee of the Economic Advisory Council on nutrition in the Colonial Empire. The Committee points out a serious state of malnutrition in many communities, resulting in economic inefficiency, general ill-health and early mortality. Part of this is down to natives being natives, but a “vigorous –and necessarily costly—campaign of scientific development would do much to remedy the scandal of the Empire’s slum parishes, and would be repaid a hundredfold in economic prosperity and human welfare.” 

Refugees need new homes. Spain needs a ministry that will not refight the Civil War amongst itself. There is a new government in Holland, with both Catholics and Socialists on the Opposition benches. Three figures who made their names in the East Indies are on the cabinet, and, as in 1914, a "business" direction somehow involves placing orders for capital ships at Willhemshaven, albeit battlecruisers this time. Notwithstanding the current fashion, a questionable choice of spring styles, it seems to me, although at least it would give Germany's hypertrophied armaments industry something to do if Herr Hitler decides to turn to the path of peace. Jonkheer O. C. A. van Lidthe de Geude will continue as Minister of Waterways, with the likely and tragic duty of implementing Fortress Holland. 

“Local Reserves of Labour:” unemployment still as high as 20.7% in Northern Ireland, 16.5% in Wales, 14.7% in the North. The total reserve of labour in the three special areas is 423,000, a large number, but 42% have been out of work for a year or more, and only 29% for less than three months, so that the numbers probably mask permanent losses from the labour forces, and it is likely that the reserves will be absorbed more quickly than expected. The Northwest has the largest reserve, the North and Wales the smallest due to ongoing  migration of youth.

 “Obscurities of Civil Aviation:” the BOAC Bill came up for third reading on Wednesday. The paper is not impressed by the appearance of cabal and restraint of trade, though it is pleased that the government is looking into the allocation of flights as between London’s current three airports and the two new ones coming into use.

“Europe, America, and the Refugees.” Perhaps 100,000 refugees are expected. Where will they go? America, having but 3 millions of square miles, can clearly not absorb so many. Leading candidates: Northern Rhodesia, San Domingo, the Philippines. New candidates in the running: Dutch Guiana and New Caledonia. Oh, brave new world! I think that if I were young, I should be a refugee, too! Both “Aryan Christians” and “Non-Aryan Christians” can hope for ready absorption into one of the existing nations of European origin in the overseas world (e.g. the British Dominions and the Latin-American republics). For the Jewish refugees who have not adopted any other religion,  it is to be hoped that it may be found possible to arrange for the establishment of anew, compact, and homogenous communities overseas which might rank as annexes to the Jewish National Home…So, if I understand the paper correctly, once (Jewish) Palestine becomes a country (dominion, surely) full of Europeans, albeit of the Deutoronomic persuasion, it will naturally require its own allocation of colonies for elbow room. 

I think that a more accomplished parodist than I could find some material in the apparently faultless weave of this argument.

America’s Lack of Capital”

Our New York Correspondent thinks that there’s just too much damn data about the American economy,  and is especially concerned with the index of production, which may be obscuring the true state of affairs. The index suggests that the economy is stagnating, whereas Our New York Correspondent believes that it is getting worse. Back in the Twenties, when the national income was on the order of $80 billion, about 20% was put away in the form of savings (capital for investment.) For the last decade or so, since national income sank to $65b, or as low as $50 in 1932, there have been no such savings. In the earliest phases of recovery, it was natural to look to consumer spending to boost the recovery. But we should not look to consumers any further, but rather to investment. The lack of investment, which might have even led to a decline in net capital stock, is due to lack of capital, and is surely linked to “irreducible,” or “permanent” unemployment, as opposed to “cyclic.” 

Let me see if I can infer what Our New York Correspondent seeks to imply: reduce taxes on wealth, or the unemployed will be unemployed forever. Is that how you read this, Reggie? Well, there you go. Lower taxes will mean higher employment, thus higher rents, and there is no reason not to vote for the Party of Hoover. That thing in 1929? Merely something that happened.

German Steel

Under the stimulus of armaments, German steel production increased greatly in 1938, reaching 23 million tons, 18% over the 1937 figure and 25% above 1929. This is remarkable, but has not been accompanied by a rise in exports, not so much. The decline has been general, and is caused by the slump, foreign competition, the threat of war in the Far East, and probably the dog that used to eat your lines, in which Sister Maria so adamantly refused to believe. Pig iron and Swedish iron imports have been hurt by British competition in those markets.

Glut of Wheat—“ self-explanatory, really.

New Zealand’s Refunding—“ New Zealand has been refunded.

Silver Below Parity Again –The price of silver is falling as the US Treasury is still buying it at a below market price. Or above market. I’m not sure, and, Grandfather's manoeuvre being accomplished, have better things to attend to. There is demand for gold, although the American price premium is not enough to cover the additional war risk insurance for shipping it. Much of the demand for gold is stimulated by war fears, which lead to Continental banks &etc buying it as a hedge.

British Industrial Developments

Coal output has fallen less than it normally does in the summer. Daily steel production is up slightly, from 45,115 tons to 45,215, and the number of furnaces operating has risen to 356 from 335. Pig iron production is up even more markedly. Unemployment in the engineering sector fell from 6% to 5.4%. A year ago, it stood at 8. (But in September 1937, it was as low as 4.8%.) The industry may face serious labour shortages later in the year. Exports in the sector are down from 40,000 in May (valued at £4.83m) to 34,400 (£4.44m). Activity continued to expand in the electrical industry. Unemployment in the sector fell from 4% to 3.6% in electrical engineering,  and from 6.3% to 5.4% in the case of cable, lamp and apparatus manufacture. Exports of electrical apparatus rose slightly, of electrical machinery fell sharply (1.028>1.076; 379,000>202,600). 28,268 new automobiles were licensed, up 15% year over year.  Sales of commercial vehicles recovered on the same basis, but eight month production is still down year over year (69,218 built versus 73,519).Chemicals up, pottery, footwear stable, cotton up, hay harvest delayed, corn doing well, although straw is deficient due to spring drought, lambing satisfactory. Shipping still depressed. There is no demand for the July tonnage at the River Plate with little prospect of improvement through the fall. The St. Lawrence attracts some attention, but not as much as the North Pacific. Good show on that, Reggie! 

Now, on the matter of secrets:

Commander Acworth, again, approached me with the suggestion that his coal dock proposal might cause the legal difficulties hanging over our sale to Imperial Chemicals to go away. I, not very patiently, explained that there was no way that ICI was going to adopt coal in lieu of petrol as the feedstock of their mysterious works. Commander Acworth is exhaustingly certain of the rightness of his own judgement, and of the malicious, conspiratorial mendaciousness of all who contradict him. 

I am afraid that I shouted, but with the most fortunate outcome that Fat Chow took it upon himself to discreetly follow the Commander. I am embarrassed to admit that he thus uncovered what has eluded me. The Commander met with "Mr. J. C. senior," his now-ancient counsel, our bete-noire from 1905, if you will recall, a certain naval officer, and someone whom Fat Chow could not identify. They proceeded to have the most illuminating conversation.

The Commander deems himself to be in the driving seat. An unextinguished burden on the title has somehow been discovered, and ICI was prevented from divulging this to us by an application of the Official Secrets Act. "Mr. J.C." is willing for the moment to take Commander Acworth as his Dr. Petrie. As he should, given that the Commander supposes that he has discovered evidence that has evaded the cousins for a century! That said, it sits ill with my impression of the man that he has actually accomplished something substantive, and I imagine that he overestimates its value. 

On the other hand, there is a fascinating story that made the rounds during the 1938 King's Cup, of a private aviator who noticed two aircraft in an enclosed park somewhere near one of the London airports, and descended to join the aeronautical soiree, as it were, only to be told that it was a private matter. The person who told the story has previously omitted a particularly indiscreet element that I elicited by direct charge this month.

The aviators, male and female, were accompanied by an Asiatic attendant. Needless to say, I broached this story with Easton, who, in his defence, tells me that he wrote to you about it, and received assurances. 

Honestly, Reggie, has your own exile taught you nothing? Giving youth their head in these matters can only lead to disgrace.

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