UK plan to invade Spain in 1943 and expel Franco

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On board a Douglas plane provided by General Figon, Samuel Hor, The British ambassador to Spain, landed on 19 August 1943 on a makeshift runway in the town of Lugo in Guitiriz. His arrival, at a time of greater diplomatic tension between the Franco regime and the Allied force during World War IIIt was recorded amid some military exercises, in which about two thousand people participated. In spite of the delicate situation which caused the ambiguity of non-aggressiveness, the dictator did not deny himself the display of an image of strength to foreign visitors.

After spending the night at the area’s popular hot spring resort, Hoare set off on his way to his royal destination: the Pazo de Meirás, The summer residence of the warlords, which resembles Hitler’s eagle’s nest because of the inaccessibility – “about 60 kilometers along a steep, winding road and over a country of jungles,” he said. There waiting for him An emergency meeting with Franco himselfWhere the ambassador expressed a series of demands to ensure the continuation of relations between the United Kingdom and Spain: to stop secret aid to the Axis, to change its position as “non-combatant”, and to withdraw the Blue Division from the Russian front.

The content of the discussions is known thanks to the private papers of the British diplomat and what it reflects in his book Ambassador to Franco on a special mission – Entitled in Spanish – published in 1946. The meeting ended with a disturbing conclusion: “Here was a dictator of Spain, four hundred miles from his capital at the time of the European crisis, sitting in a smoking room, Willing to talk about crops and the weather Or the prospects of hunting season with the same will as the tremendous events that happen in the world, and all the time, he possesses himself, feels contented and apparently confident in his future. My strong words are far from explosions, They disappeared like cottonHouari Books.

Franco visits an architecture gallery in Retiro with Serrano Saunier and German Ambassador Eberhard von Stuhr.

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Archivo Wunderlich / IPCE

Franco acknowledged that what he had done until then was to pay off debts contracted with Germany and Italy to help them with this Civil war, That he was doing his best to expel the “adventurers and criminals” who had joined the battalions – a formation that annoyed England because of their association with fascism – and that the Spanish fighters who shared trenches with the Nazis on the other side of the continent were “Symbolic gesture”. Despite these quirks, the meeting was a success for the British intelligence services.

Until the summer of 1943, the United Kingdom maintained an odd position regarding Spain, which he summed up in a saying that had been repeated since before the World War: “We want to expel Franco … but there is no alternative.”. This meant that the dictator’s personality was not important so much as he did not formally throw himself into Hitler’s arms. However, by then, distrust of the regime had risen for many reasons: the difference in treatment between the spread of British and German news, the use of Spanish-controlled ports by Nazi ships and their clients, and the persecution of members of the Nazi forces. English diplomatic service throughout the country.

In this context that reconstructs Emilio Grandio Siwan, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Santiago de Compostela, in his work Zero hour. British intelligence in Spain during World War II (Chair), the Pazo de Meirás meeting is framed. The Special Operations Services had spun off a network of spies throughout the Iberian Peninsula since the beginning of the conflict, but the information-gathering model appears to be running out. To this was added the increase in the nodding negativity of the Franco regime in favor of the Allies, a surprising move on a tightrope, considering that the war began to turn clearly after the fall of the Franco regime. Mussolini. You had to raise the stakes.

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Landing sites

Franco’s inner consideration was also passing through a critical moment. In mid-June, 27 court attorneys sent him a letter asking for who Restoration of the Traditional Catholic Monarchy. An ordeal that some generals such as Orgaz, Kindelán, Moscardó or Saliquet will repeat at the beginning of September. This was, in fact, the solution best appreciated by Samuel Hurr himself, although his government informed him in May that Don Juan de Bourbon’s option was “impractical”. After the meeting in Miras, which was leaked to the press, triggering the alarm in Germany and Italy, the ambassador returned to London.

Franco tried to defuse the pressure from the UK and US with various gestures: The official withdrawal of the blue band Many volunteers will continue to fight until the end of the war under the name of the Blue Legion – and he refused to recognize the Republic of Salou and did not protest the decision of Portuguese dictator Salazar to leave the Azores for use by the Allies in his campaign against Germany. However, the movements were considered lean.

Presenting the credentials of Ambassador Samuel Houari.

Presenting the credentials of Ambassador Samuel Houari.

Martin Santos Yubero Archive

At the beginning of October, a comprehensive list of Potential landing sites for the intervention scenario Directly from the Allies in the Spanish northwest. The number of selected and detailed places in the northern region clearly indicates which area the British chose and defined for months, ”says Grandio Siwan. These reports include descriptions of Guterres, Virgen del Camino (Lyon), Zamora, Vigo-Benador, Vigo-Estuary, A Coruña, Ferrol , Lugo-As Rozas, Santiago, Valdoviño, etc.

To internal pressure – political, military and social – and the constant intimidation of British aircraft flying over Spanish territory – even believed that a large explosion in the port of Vigo could have been caused by one of their bombs – a dangerous warning invasion has now been added. “Probably Franco’s regime had never been this threatened before As in these moments, “as the historian asserts, when Samuel Hoare returned to Madrid in early October, a new rumor spread in this regard: the Allied landing on the Tagus that would occur on the twelfth.

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“When I arrived, first in Lisbon and then in Madrid, something important was said to happen in October. In Lisbon, on October 8, I found residents standing in the streets looking for the sky. Some said that it was the purpose of observing the daytime display of Venus, and others expected that German planes were about to attack the city.In Madrid, a responsible person such as the American ambassador, who received a telegram about this, pressed (…) to tell you If the British Marines had already landedHor related to Anthony Eden, Secretary of State.


Zero Hour cover.

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Success in negotiations between the Allies and Portugal for control of the Azores was a key circumstance in reducing tension. On October 14, the ambassador sent a letter to Leading Weston Churchill tells him: Today, after a week of zero hour, everything in Spain is remarkably calm.. Franco was able to control the internal royal rebellion, and at the end of the month, another decisive event occurred to dispose of the plans for invasion: the fall of “Red Sanmigil”, one of Britain’s largest secret services in the Iberian Peninsula.

Mainly composed of Spaniards opposed to the dictatorship, their reports to the British Embassy indicate that Armed mobilization of underground groups in the north With the ability to participate in a virtual warfare operation. The dismantling of this network, as Emilio Grandío Seoane shut down, “was crucial to the point of representation A turning point in the deal between the Allies and the Franco regime. One of the greatest tests of dictatorship was to argue that Great Britain had violated the pact of non-interference in Spanish affairs: the search for information was permissible, but its aim was not to set the strategic goals of a potential army. Invade. An ally in the Spanish territory. “

Sacha Woodward

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