SECOND IN COMMAND
I have just finished reading Nigel Jones’s article ‘Churchill versus the men of 1940’ (MHM October/November 2021) and would like to enlighten you on the identity of the British general appearing in the photograph (below).
The general in question is my grandfather, Brigadier (later Lieutenant General) Sir Arthur Francis Smith, KCB, KBE, DSO, MC, who for a time was Wavell’s Second-in-Command in North Africa. It was he who read the telegram to Wavell (who was in the middle of shaving himself with a cut-throat razor) announcing his dismissal by Churchill.
I lived with my grandparents at Pirbright Lodge, near the camp, and the house was full of military memorabilia, including various pennants from his staff cars, a drum that he bought from the regimental band, and a beautiful silver-bladed bread knife engraved ‘to AFS from APW’, which lay in state on the highly polished table in the dining room.
Smith was wounded in his left leg (hence the walking stick) during the First World War, but was retained by the army until his retirement in 1948. An interesting article, and I thought other readers might like to know the story.
David G Rowley
PHOENIX ON FIRE
I am a periodic lecturer in military history, and Pearl Harbor has always been a popular subject to my British audiences. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed the recent special feature on the event by David Porter (MHM December 2021/January 2022).
Although Porter did not mention the light cruiser USS Phoenix specifically, it is worth noting that, as she was anchored in the east loch of the harbour on her own, she survived the 7 December attack completely unscathed.
Phoenix was subsequently sold to Argentina in 1951 and renamed General Belgrano. When I show the slide of the ship sinking as a result of being torpedoed by HMS Conqueror in the Falklands War of 1982, it always elicits a gasp of surprise from the audience.
Lt Col (ret’d) Roger Laing
I was very interested by your article about the documentary film Western Approaches (MHM April/May 2021). It is one of my favourite films.
Just one small error. Technicolor was not filmed with three large cameras. It was filmed with one large camera fitted with a beam splitter and coloured filters, which exposed three black-and-white negatives, each representing one of the primary colours.
Hinchley Wood, Surrey
I thoroughly enjoyed the various articles on Pearl Harbor in the latest issue (MHM December 2021/January 2022). Everything was well written and very interesting.
However, nowhere in the double feature could I find the fact that the Japanese attacked the naval base before war was declared. I think this should have been stated in these articles.
It is only in Taylor Downing’s ‘War on Film’ article, that we learn that Japan jumped the gun by 55 minutes (and that Admiral Yamamoto was distraught at this foul-up).
A quick note to say that I really enjoyed Bill Wenger’s recent article on how America won the Revolutionary War (MHM December 2021/January 2022). The article was broad and even-handed. I hope it gets wide press coverage.
Larrie D Ferreiro
Images: Wikimedia Commons.