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Thread: Gladiators in the Azores

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    Default Gladiators in the Azores

    Dear All,
    Following on from my investigations into the Azores I have found a paragraph in another reference which may be of interest to the several Gladiator aficionados on the Forum.

    http://www.lajes.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=3999

    As German forces under Adolf Hitler made advances against the rest of Europe in 1939, beginning World War II, many European countries were lining up for and against this act of aggression. The Portuguese government saw neutrality as its best line of defense against Germany. However in 1941, Portuguese officials recognizing the dangers of the Azores in German hands, expanded the runway and sent additional troops and equipment to Lajes including Gladiator aircraft. The Portuguese declared the base capable of air defense on 11 July 1941. The military activities in the Azores grew in 1942 as the Gladiators evolved into flying cover missions for allied convoys, reconnaissance missions and meteorological flights. Also in July 1942, the first JU52 arrived flying cargo transportation missions.

    The bit that caught my eye was in the penultimate sentence ("flying cover missions for allied convoys, reconnaissance missions and meteorological flights.!!!). This hardly seems like the actions of a "Neutral"?!!!! One presumes these were Portugese Gladiators, and flown by Portugese AF crews? - or is there yet another story to tell?
    Forward Hakan and his friends to tell us!
    Yrs Aye
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  2. #2
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    Default

    Peter,

    From my readings of Churchill, I recall that he felt the Portuguese were always privately sympathetic to the Allies, but had to maintain a public show of neutrality because the German Army was not that far away. The "invasion" of the Azores was carried out with discrete prior warning to the Portuguese, and was orchestrated to allow the Portugese to maintain their outward appearance of neutrality. This was all complicated a bit by the fear, held by Churchill until quite late in the war, that the Spanish could come in on the side of the Germans at any time.

    Don't recall the details, but he did also mention some low level, covert, cooperation with the Portuguese military prior to the occupation of the Azores. The timing of the occupation, by the way, was very much based on when the Portuguese felt the ability of the Allies to support them outstripped the ability of the Germans to threaten them. The Allies would have preferred it to have occurred a year or two earlier.

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