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Thread: The visit(s) of King Georges to the B.E.F.during Phoney War

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    Default The visit(s) of King Georges to the B.E.F.during Phoney War

    Hi,

    During the Phoney War King Georges VI was visiting in France the units of British Expeditionary Force. We know he stayed at Lille (Vendeville/Seclin/Lesquin) early december 1939 and met some RAF units.

    Does anybody the precise dates of his visits in France and if he comes again after december 1939 ?

    TIA

    Bertrand

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    Hi Bertrand,

    Sorry not the full answer but might trigger something else.
    In Don Minterne s book about 73 Squadron, based on the squadron ORB, he has an entry for 7/12/39 that the CO and 10 other pilots spent the night at Epernay in order to meet the King on the next morning. The ten included "Cobber" Kain.
    On 9/12/39 the entry says that Sgt Phillips was decorated with the Croix de Guerre by General Gamelin in the presence of the King, at Mont des Welches in the Maginot Line.
    The book also has a photo of the King with 85 Squadron Hurricanes at Merville but does not quote a date for this.
    regards Peter

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    In the IWM photo book "Fighter Command 1939-45" there are two photos showing the King at Lille-Seclin on 6/12/39 being introduced to pilots of 87Sqn and 615Sqn. In "Valiant wings" Norman Franks writes "HM King George VI was in France at the end of the first week of December and visited a number of bases. Those who he could not vist sent a handful of officers and men to represent their units.
    Steve

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    Thanks Peter and Steve ; I had Lille-Seclin but I did not know for Epernay and for the date for Fort des Welches. Thanks for these replies.

    Bertrand

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    Hello

    I don't have Don Minterne's book but I know of them. It's the first time I read that the King visited Merville airfield. There is a couple of famous pictures of his visit to Lille-Seclin (= Lille-Vendeville), with a mock-up scramble arranged for him. There's one picture with the "aerogare" in the background, a building no longer extent.

    Joss

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    Hi Joss and Bertrand,

    The photo in Minterne book is captioned "Merville"...........so maybe this is due to a questionable entry on 6/12/39 in the book from the ORB -- "85 and 87 up at Merville were inspected by the King (KGVI). He managed to inspect the officers and men of the two squadrons in forty minutes flat. (Well, it was raining!)."

    Does up at Merville mean thats where the inspection was or was the ORB scribe not up to speed with their base move in early November to Lille/Seclin ?
    A quick google produces this photo, an elevated shot of the King, the Duke of Gloucester and Lord Gort walking away from 85 Sqn Hurricanes..........and yes it looks wet ! At least one source says it was taken at Lille Seclin on 6/12/39.

    And for Bertrand there is a photo of the visit to Fort des Welches on the Imperial War Museum site.
    regards Peter

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    Hello Peter,

    I think that the diarist of No. 73 Squadron confused Lille and Merville. No. 87 Squadron ORB is quite clear that HM the King visited them at Lille-Seclin, arriving at 11:20 and leaving at 12:05. Other Squadrons mentions sending men and/or machine to Lille-Seclin for the King's visit.

    Joss

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