Updated 12 May 2013

Charles Bernard Palmer archive

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Charles Bernard Palmer archive

Charles Bernard Palmer 1924 Charles Bernard Palmer and wife Ena 1933 1944, The 'Blue Train'
at Ebbenfeld, Carinthia
This archive is about my father, 1905-57.
He worked for Cable & Wireless all his life,
and served in Italy and Austria in WWII.
The scans of documents and photos are too
large to place on website, so the links do
not connect. Scans and letters are held
privately by the author. Any reader with
possible connections or enquiries contact:
Charles Bernard Palmer 1949
and son Robert 1951, Cable & Wireless exhibit, 
Festival of Britain, London, South Bank

SCANS (most not online)
CBP-phot.htm Photos of CBP
CBP-blue.htm The Blue Train
CBP-01.htm Essay on life in Rome and Vienna - 12 Nov 1945
CBP-02.jpg Service Record Mar 1923 - 29 Sep 1929
CBP-03.jpg Service Record 29 Sep 1929 - 22 Jun 1946
CBP-04.jpg Service Record 2 Sep 1946
CBP-05.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-Nov 1944
CBP-06.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-Feb 1945
CBP-07.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-May-Jun 1945
CBP-08.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-Jul-Aug 1945 p1
CBP-09.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-Jul-Aug 1945 p2
CBP-10.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-Sep-Oct 1945 p1
CBP-11.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-Sep-Oct 1945 p2
CBP-12.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-Jan 1946
CBP-13.jpg Blue Train-Zodiac-May 1946
CBP-14.jpg Post Mortem-St Thomas-18 Jan 1957 p1
CBP-15.jpg Post Mortem-St Thomas-18 Jan 1957 p2
CBP-16.jpg Eastern Telegraph form May 1927 front
CBP-17.jpg Eastern Telegraph form May 1927 rear
CBP-18.jpg Carcavelos Cable Station
CBP-19.jpg Hanover, 4 Via XX Settembre, Rome 1
CBP-20.jpg Hanover, 4 Via XX Settembre, Rome 2
CBP-21.jpg Eastern Telegraph network 1901
CBP-22.jpg All Red Line (Cable network) 1903
CBP-23.jpg Electra House July 1944
CBP-24.jpg Electra House
CBP-25.jpg Electra House-Embankment
CBP-26.jpg Electra House-Background Story p18
CBP-27.jpg Electra House-Background Story p19
CBP-28.jpg Woodhouse Inn, Shireoaks, Notts c1923
CBP-29.jpg Worksop College - Dining Room
CBP-28.jpg Woodhouse Inn, Shireoaks, Notts c1900
16 Sep 1905 Born at Woodhouse Inn, near Worksop
Sep 1917 Worksop College, Worksop, (Pelham House)
Jul 1922 Worksop College, Worksop, (Pelham House)
Mar 1923 Probationer (Eastern Telegraph, London)
Mar 1923 London Training School
Sep 1924 transfer to Carcavelos, Portugal
Jul 1925 transfer to Marseille, France
May 1926 transfer to Alexandria, Egypt
Sep 1929 Furlough (in Sheffield?)
Apr 1930 transfer to Electra House, Moorgate
Sep 1930 transfer to Radio House, Wilson Street
20 Apr 1931 Married in Sheffield
Sep 1932 transfer to Electra House, Moorgate
Sep 1932? Moved to Court Way, Twickenham
03 Sep 1939 War declared
06 May 1940 John born
10 May 1941 Electra House, Moorgate, fire-bombed
---May 1941 moved to Electra House, Embankment
13 May 1944 transfer to Naples, Italy
24 Jul 1944 V1 hit Electra House, Embankment
29 Jul 1944 Robert born
11 Nov 1944 transfer to Rome, Italy
08 May 1945 VE day
20 Jul 1945 transfer to Vienna, Austria
12 Feb 1946 Hospitallized
02 Apr 1946 Left Vienna
13 Apr 1946 Arrived Southampton
02 Sep 1946 returned Electra House, Embankment
----------1955 Moved to Mercury House, Theobalds Rd
17 Jan 1957 4.55pm Died.
  1. Scans
  2. Events
  3. Firms
  4. Letters
  5. Cable & Wireless (History)
  6. Emails
  7. Company History 1852-1957
  8. Electra House (History)
  9. Ena Palmer's Memories
  10. Robert Palmer's Memories
  11. Letters from CBP
  12. Route Italy-Vienna Jul 1945
  13. Extracts from Letters by CBP
  14. Occupied Vienna
  15. Oddments
  16. In Memory of Vienna
  17. Birthplace
  18. Worksop College
  19. Where the fighting was
  20. The bombing of Electra House.
  21. Electra and Mercury Houses (2010)
  22. Wilfred and Mabel
  23. Post Mortem


1872 Eastern Telegraph Company
1887 Eastern and Associated Telegraph Companies
1929 Imperial and International Communications
1934 Cable and Wireless
1947 Cable and Wireless nationalized

----- 13 Jun 44 Had a lovely trip (to Naples)
----- 14 Jun 44 Expecting arrival of "Mary"
----- 16 Jun 44
----- 10 Jul 44 Expecting birth (of Robert)
008 13 Jul 44 -
----- 04 Aug 44 News of birth (of Robert)
----- 07 Aug 44 Wets baby's head in champagne. Win and Frank nagging.
----- 12 Nov 44 Arrives in Rome, first impressions, Pontine marshes, Formia
002 14 Nov 44 Piazza del Populo, CBP lives in Via XX Settembre, boarding house called the Hanover, opposite the War Office
----- 19 Nov 44 Tiber
----- 21 Nov 44 St Peters, Pieta, Piazza Navona
010 08 Dec 44 Vatican
011 11 Dec 44 Sistine chapel, Forum, Upim's shop, Roman wolf
024 16 Jan 45 God creating Adam
031 31 Jan 45 Palatine, Forum, Piazza Veneta, waits in the sun on the balcony for lunch
043 22 Feb 45 Piazza Navona, Fountain Bernini, Moses, St Peter in chains "dove se trova il Piazza Navona"
049 03 Mar 45 San Stephano Rotondo, S.Giovanni in Laterano, S.Croce in Gerusalemme
050 05 Mar 45 Villa Borghese, Appolo and Daphne by Bernini,Proserpine and Orpheseus, 3 Ages of Man, David and sling, Moses
060 21 Mar 45 CBP's new room
094 27 May 45 Americans, the Future (Bern and Ena's).
105 20 Jun 45 Arch of Titus, JCP's cyst and medal, Palatine, Forum
112 07 Jul 45 Fregene, Castel San Angelo, JCP's spot
120 19 Jul 45 Last letter from Rome, leaving for Vienna, not SE Asia or Columbo
003 05 Aug 45 Gloriette, life in Vienna
----- 12 Nov 45 Long letter all about Rome and Vienna

Reference: Royal Corps of Signals: Unit Histories of the Corps (1920-2001) and Its Antecedents
by Cliff Lord, Graham Watson, pub. Helion & Company Limited, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 416 pages.

Page 391 Miscellaneous Units

TELCOM Cable & Wireless.
Cable and Wireless Limited, a British world wide telecommunications company, sent a Mobile Wireless Assembly (MWA) to Algiers in 1942, which was comprised of five vans and a trailer manned by nine operators and three engineers. Known as the "Blue Train", the MWA operated during the remainder of the British campaign in North Africa, and was then attached to the Public Relations Office of the British Army for the invasion of Southern Italy in late 1943. During the fighting in Nprth Africa and the early stages of the Italian Campaigns, Cable and Wireless staff suffered the shared risks, discomforts and frustrations of servicemen in the field but without any formal claim to the support of the armed services with whom they worked in close association. While the acquisition of food and accommodation presented the MWA staff with particular problems, as civilians in plain clothes, they faced the greater and very real risk of being treated as irregular soldiers if taken prisoner by the enemy. In order to rectify this situation, Cable and Wireless proposed to the Army Council that those of their staff who were working in forward areas should be enrolled in a uniformed organisation supported by the Services. Agreement was reached, and a mutually advantageous Telecom Charter was drawn up. This Charter provided the Cable and Wireless staff with the protection of Article 81 of the International Convention.

Relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, and access to the victualling, accommodation and transport resources of the British Army, The Zodiac, the official magazine of Cable and Wireless, stated in July 1944, the following: "Telecom, a new non-combatant Force, wearing its own uniform, is joining the Empire's Forces in overseas theatres of war for the assault on Europe and the Far East." They were tasked with helping the Services provide operational, and administative communications, and carrying to and from the forward areas, messages for Government Departments and the Press. Expeditionary Force Messages, or EFM's, were also handled by Telecom. These messages were sent between the troops and their families at home which consisted of a printed card, of prepared and standard

[Page 392 not available]



From: Charlotte Dando 
Received: 23 Jul 2010

The Blue Train - more information

Dear John and Robert,
Thank you both very much for your donation to the museum.
Whilst researching another enquiry, I came across some more information 
regarding the Blue Train that I thought might be of interest to you both. 
It is a chapter from the book ‘The Thin Red Lines’ written by Charles Grave 
in 1946. I have attached copies of the chapter to this email for you both, 
including the preface from the book.

 Best wishes,

Charlotte Dando
Collections Management Assistant

Porthcurno Telegraph Museum 
Eastern House, Porthcurno, Cornwall TR19 6JX

Tel: 01736 810966
Fax: 01736 810640

-------------------- To: Charlotte Dando Sent:15 Jul 2010 Hello Charlotte, Thank you so much for all the information you have sent me about my father. It is just magic seeing this. It will take me a couple of weeks to show all this to my brother, digest it, and put it in an easily accessible form. Next time I'm in Cornwall, I shall put Porthcurno at the head of my "Must-see" list. Menwhile, thanks again for your great kindness. Best wishes, John Palmer, Dorset, England --------------------

From: Charlotte Dando 
Received: 15 Jul 2010 1120 hrs

Dear John Palmer,

 RE: Charles Bernard Palmer

In answer to your enquiry regarding Charles Bernard Palmer, we have 
searched our archive and I am pleased to attach a copy of his Eastern 
Telegraph Company/Cable and Wireless staff record (in three parts) to 
this email for you. The record lists his station, salary and other 
remarks (i.e. – transfers and promotions) following his career from 
March 1923, when he was a probationer in London, to September 1946, 
when he was an Operator in London. Unfortunately, we do not have the 
cards on which the rest of his record is continued.

The staff record includes details of his time in Italy and it is noted 
that he was stationed on ‘Mobile No. 1 (Vienna)’. This relates to the 
Blue Train. The Blue Train was Cable and Wireless’ mobile wireless unit 
which accompanied the British Army on its drive through Italy. I have 
found several articles regarding the Blue Train in the company magazine, 
the ‘Zodiac’, and photographs of the train of vehicles. They include 
accounts from staff actually working in the Blue Train at the same time 
as Charles Bernard Palmer.  I have attached copies of these articles to 
a second email for you, as there was too much to attach to one single 
email. I have also included a photograph taken of the Blue Train, though 
this is from 1946, but it gives you an idea of what it was like.

 I did also find two photographs of Charles Bernard Palmer taken during 
his time in Italy that were published in the ‘Zodiac’ in February 1945 
(please find attached).

 I hope that this is of help to you and your research. If you have any 
further enquiries, please feel free to contact us.

Best wishes,

Charlotte Dando
Collections Management Assistant

Porthcurno Telegraph Museum
Eastern House, Porthcurno, Cornwall TR19 6JX

Tel: 01736 810966
Fax: 01736 810640

-------------------- To: Robert Palmer Sent:19 Jun 2010 Robert, Thinking about it, the best plan is to hire a local Cornish researcher, and pay them about £10 per hour to look through the Cable & Wireless archives to find and send us anything about Dad or the Blue train. I can easily locate such a researcher, it will be a lot cheaper than driving down to Porthcurno and spending several days there. Petrol alone for 600 miles would cost £100, 3 nights B&B would cost £60 each, if we could get into a B&B. Enter the following 4 words in Google: cable wireless blue train war Click on the top entry Royal Corps of Signals: Unit Histories of the Corps (1920-2001) ... - Google Books Result Read page 391 starting TELCOM Cable & Wireless it mentions the Blue Train. Unfortunately page 392 in missed out. ------------------- To: Cable and Wireless Sent: 18 Jun 2010 Hello, If you have an archive officer, could you forward this enquiry to them please. My father, Charles Bernard Palmer, joined Cable & Wireless about 1925, and died in service in 1957. During World War II, I believe he worked at Mercury House during the Blitz, then later was transferred to Italy and worked on the "Blue Train" in Italy in 1943-44-45, then was moved to Vienna in 1945, where he fell sick and was brought back to Southampton in a Hospital ship. He continued to work at Mercury House until his death in 1957 aged 51. I believe he got to Italy (perhaps South of Naples) in late 1943, and reached Vienna in early May 1945. My brother and I are trying to find out the approximate dates of his arrival in Italy and Vienna, and get an idea of what the "Blue Train" was. Thank you for your time, John Palmer, Dorset, England --------------

Company History 1852-1957

Cable and Wireless plc

Company History:
As a provider of telecommunications services in more than 50 countries around the globe, Cable and Wireless plc is a leading player in a rapidly growing and evolving industry. Its operations in the late 1990s were concentrated in three major areas: the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, and Asia. The company, whose fortunes once depended on telegraphic connections between the various parts of the British Empire, operated in the late 20th century all over the world, using equipment that even Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the wireless and one of the company's first directors, could not have imagined.

Early History
The history of the companies that became Cable and Wireless plc began in 1852, when a Manchester cotton merchant named John Pender joined other businessmen from the north of England on the board of the English and Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, set up to run a telegraph cable service between London and Dublin. This was only two years after the first submarine cable had been laid, between England and France, and coincided with the first laying of cables in India, then Britain's largest overseas possession. Pender next became a director of the Atlantic Telegraph Company, whose first cable to the United States was laid in 1858 but failed to function properly. Six years later, when it became clear that the company could not afford to make a second attempt with its own resources, he was instrumental in creating the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company (Telcon) through a merger of the two leading cable-making companies, under Pender's chairmanship. However, the second cable broke and fell into the Atlantic during the laying stage in 1865. Pender and his colleagues had to set up a successor to the Atlantic Telegraph Company, the Anglo-American Telegraph Company Ltd., on behalf of which Telcon not only retrieved the 1865 cable but successfully constructed and laid a transatlantic cable in 1866.

In 1868 the British government decided to buy up all the inland telegraph companies, including English and Irish Magnetic, a process completed in 1870, but left overseas telegraphy in private hands. In 1869 John Pender created three more companies. The British-Indian Submarine Telegraph Company and the Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Telegraph Company completed the cable system between London and Bombay in 1870, while the China Submarine Telegraph company set about connecting Singapore and Hong Kong, Britain's main possessions in East Asia. Pender's other company, Telcon, supplied cable not only for these ventures but also for a cable from Marseilles to Malta, which provided France with a link to its colonies in North Africa and Asia. When the governments of South Australia and Queensland, Australia, decided that the monthly steamships between Australia and Britain were too slow a means of communication, it was John Pender whom they invited to fill the telegraphic gap between Bombay and Adelaide, Australia. The All-Sea Australia to England Telegraph, supplied by Telcon, was opened in 1872. It was operated in two sections, Bombay to Singapore by the British India Extension Telegraph Company and Singapore to Adelaide by the British Australian Telegraph Company, both under Pender's control.

Pender now set about reorganizing his cable interests. First, in 1872, came the amalgamation of British Indian Submarine, Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta, and the Marseilles, Algiers, and Malta companies with the Anglo-Mediterranean, which had been created in 1868 to link Malta, Alexandria, and the new Suez Canal. Pender became chairman of the Eastern Telegraph Company that resulted from their merger. Next, in 1873, he presided over the merger of his Australian, Chinese, and British India Extension companies into the Eastern Extension Australasia and China Telegraph Company. It was also in 1873 that Pender created a holding company, the Globe Telegraph and Trust Company. The holding company's investors received portions of shares in the operating companies, chiefly the Eastern Telegraph and the Anglo-American. All the companies so far named remained within the Eastern Telegraph group, except Anglo-American, which was taken over in 1910 by a U.S. firm, Western Union. Finally, 1873 also saw the creation of the Brazilian Submarine Telegraph Company, which had several directors and shareholders in common with Eastern Telegraph and opened a cable from Lisbon, Portugal, to Pernambuco, Brazil, in 1874.

Between 1879 and 1889 Pender's group added Africa to its list of cable routes through three companies, African Direct, a joint venture with Brazilian Submarine; West African, incorporated into Eastern Telegraph; and Eastern and South African. In 1892, following the expiration of the telegraph concession operated by Brazilian Submarine, that company and its main rival, Western and Brazilian, formed a new venture, the Pacific and European Telegraph Company, to renew the concession and link Brazil with Chile and Argentina. Having helped to arrange this operation, Pender became chairman of Brazilian Submarine in 1893, further reinforcing his position as the leading figure in the worldwide cable business. John Pender died in 1896; his successor as chairman of Eastern Telegraph and Eastern Extension was Lord Tweeddale, while Pender's son John Denison-Pender, later Sir John, continued as managing director. The last stage in restructuring the set of companies Pender had been so instrumental in creating came in 1899, when Brazilian Submarine, having absorbed two other London-based telegraph companies operating in South America, was renamed the Western Telegraph Company.

The first confrontation between cable and the new medium of wireless ended in acrimony. Guglielmo Marconi's success in sending a signal from Cornwall to Newfoundland in 1901 was soured when the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, part of the Pender group, forbade any further experiments, since they would infringe on the Pender group's monopoly of communications in Newfoundland. Marconi moved his work to Nova Scotia, and found Americans and Canadians generally more receptive to his achievement than Europeans. Certainly the Eastern Telegraph group remained unimpressed, citing lack of privacy, lack of speed, interruptions, and mixing of messages as decisive disadvantages of wireless compared with cable. Even so, the management was cautious enough to have a mast secretly installed at its Cornwall station with which to listen in on Marconi's experiments and, on at least one occasion, to disrupt a demonstration of wireless transmission.

Early 20th Century Expansion
In 1900 the governments of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada had agreed on the joint financing of a Pacific Cable, for which the construction contract was won by Telcon. The project began 21 years after it had first been proposed by Sandford Fleming, the chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It eventually involved the laying of the largest single piece of cable so far--4,000 miles, out of a total Pacific Cable length of 7,836 miles--but was completed ahead of schedule, in October 1902. Alarmed by this competition from public enterprise, the Eastern Telegraph group reduced rates on its cables in 1900, and laid a cable across the Indian Ocean to serve the three Australian states--South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania--which had refused to join the Pacific project.

Throughout World War I all cable services out of Britain were controlled by the government. The Eastern Telegraph group profited enormously from the diversion of business to India and East Asia away from the German-owned overland routes and from the general use of telegrams in preference to letters, which were delayed by lack of civilian shipping. For the first time cables became targets of warfare in themselves. Eastern Telegraph, the British Royal Navy, and the British General Post Office collaborated on cutting all cable links between Germany and North America. The Germans temporarily disabled both the Pacific Cable and the cable across the Indian Ocean, by attacking island stations in each ocean. However, the most spectacular event of the first "cable war" came in 1917, when, following the United States' entry into the war, the German cable that had been cut three years before was lifted out of its position between New York and Emden, Germany, moved to a new position between Nova Scotia and Cornwall, and taken over by the British government as a prize of war, to be operated by the General Post Office. In 1920 the government decided to keep this cable, despite U.S. protests, and to purchase a second line, the two together being renamed Imperial Cable.

The wartime boom in Eastern Telegraph group's business gave way to slack trading in the early 1920s, as government telegrams declined in number and length, overland rivals got back to work, and the Pacific and Imperial Cables became direct competitors for communications with North America and Australia. However, the biggest blow to the whole cable business was struck once again by Marconi when he succeeded, in 1924, in telephoning Australia from England on short-wave radio equipment. This latest kind of wireless worked faster, cost less, and used less energy than either long-wave radio transmission or cable, and offered a flexibility its rivals did not then have, since it transmitted both telephony and telegraphy. Five years later the Marconi-Wright facsimile system added picture transmission to wireless's advantages. Within six months of its establishment, the General Post Office's system of short-wave stations had taken 65 percent of the Eastern Telegraph group's business, as well as more than 50 percent of Pacific Cable's, and its service cost a fraction of the price of cabling. In the meantime, however, the cable systems were given a new lease on life, from 1925 onwards, as manual re-transmission of messages, at points where the signals weakened with distance, gave way to far less time- and labor-intensive automatic regeneration, using a system devised by Telcon.

1929 Merger Created Cable and Wireless
At the suggestion of the private Marconi company, which operated separately from the G.P.O. but under a G.P.O. license, Sir John Denison-Pender met its chairman, Lord Inverforth, in December 1927, to decide on a joint response to the Imperial Wireless and Cable Conference called for the following month. In March 1928 they both signed a letter to the conference proposing a merged holding company, owned 56.25 percent by the Eastern Telegraph group's shareholders and 43.75 percent by Marconi's. This was against the wishes of the father of wireless himself, who had lost the chairmanship of his own company the year before. But the conference accepted this plan. On April 8, 1929, two new companies began trading. One, Cable and Wireless Limited, had two functions: first, to control all the nontraffic interests, such as patent rights and manufacturing, and secondly to hold all the shares in the cable companies and Marconi. They, in turn, were exclusive owners of the second company, Imperial and International Communications Limited, which owned and operated the actual cable and radio stations, cables, ships, and other assets of Eastern Telegraph and Marconi, as well as the U.K. government's Imperial and Pacific Cables and, on lease, the Post Office transmitting stations. In 1934 the companies were renamed, respectively, Cable and Wireless (Holding) Limited and Cable and Wireless Limited. From the outset they were controlled by a single board, known, on the model of the Bank of England, as the Court of Directors, as Cable and Wireless's board still was in the early 1990s. Since Sir John Denison-Pender had died one month before the companies started up, it was his son John Cuthbert who became governor, and Lord Inverforth sole president of the Court.

The Great Depression hit the new companies badly. Between 1929 and 1935 the number of chargeable words carried fell by more than half, and net profits, just over £1 million in 1929, declined to £75,000 in 1931 and reached only £625,000 in 1934. By 1933 the work force had been reduced by about a third and the introduction of telex in 1932 helped to cut operating costs. Competition was intensifying, as U.S.-owned International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT) expanded worldwide and Imperial Airways built up its inexpensive air mail service with subsidies from the same governments whose 1928 conference had led to the creation of Imperial and International. Some expansion of the cable and wireless businesses did occur, however, with the acquisition of wireless concessions in Southern Rhodesia--(now Zimbabwe), Singapore (replacing the old Bombay-Rangoon cable), Turkey, and Peru, as well as domestic telephone services in Turkey, Cyprus, and Hong Kong. The structure agreed for Cable and Wireless in 1928 was altered slightly ten years later. In return for giving the company ownership, rather than rental, of the short-wave radio system created by the General Post Office, the British government took shares in the company for the first time, although for the time being it waived its right to appoint a director to the Court. At the same time an empire flat rate scheme was introduced, cutting the company's prices to the public and improving its finances.

World War II revived the cable war of 1914-1918. In 1939 German-owned cables across the Atlantic were cut once again, and in 1940 Italian cables to South America and Spain were cut in retaliation for Italian action against two of the five British cables linking Gibraltar and Malta. Electra House, the company's head office and central cable station, was damaged by German bombing in 1941. However, the company made a considerable contribution to the Allied war effort, supplying, for instance, the wireless equipment with which the North African campaign was conducted in 1942, and sending staff, in army uniforms marked with Telcon flashes, into several campaigns, starting in Italy in 1943. In Britain the end of the European war was followed by the election of a Labour government on a program that included expanding state ownership of leading industries. With the consent of the governments of the other independent countries in the Commonwealth&mdash the former British Empire was then to be known--Cable and Wireless was put on the shopping list, although the holding company and the main assets--cables, ships, and wireless stations--were not. All shares in Cable and Wireless were transferred to the government on January 1, 1947, while Cable and Wireless (Holding) became an investment trust. In 1948 the company made an agreement with the government of Hong Kong to provide external telecommunications for the colony.

In 1950, following another agreement among the Commonwealth governments, most of Cable and Wireless's U.K. assets and staff were transferred to the General Post Office, just as parts of its assets overseas were acquired by governmental bodies in the other countries involved. Even so, Cable and Wireless remained the largest single international telegraphy enterprise in the world, with 186,000 miles of submarine cable still converging on a station at Porthcurno in Cornwall, England, that had been opened in 1870. By the time the station closed in 1970, the company's business had been transformed. As telegraphy became obsolete in the 1950s, the development of coaxial voice transmission offered the chance to switch over to telephone cables.

Electra House

WWII Secret Intelligence Activities around Milton Keynes

The original Electra House, at Moorgate, London, was opened in 1902 and became the accommodation for the Eastern and Associated Telegraph Companies. Housed in two rooms in the basement was the company’s London training school. In 1933 the administrative centre of the company was then transferred to a new building on the Victoria Embankment, which had been opened on May 11th. by Mrs. John Cuthbert Denison-Pender. This building served as the administrative headquarters for Imperial and International Communications, which in the following year became Cable and Wireless Ltd. In addition, the building was also the alternative terminal for the nations main cable system overseas.

In 1944 Electra House was hit by a V1, which destroyed the Chairman's flat. The centre of operations remained at Moorgate until this was bombed during the war, when the duties were transferred to Electra House, Embankment. Supposedly gas proof and bomb proof, the building was hit by a V1, which destroyed the Chairman’s flat. Nevertheless, emergency power ensured that all the circuits were kept working. At the beginning of the war Cable and Wireless operated 155,000 of the 350,000 miles of cable that spanned the globe and also ran around 130 of the permanent wireless circuits. As with other cable operators, from 1920 they had been compelled by the Official Secrets Act to supply copies of all the traffic to the Government, for investigation by G.C. & C.S. For this reason Electra House, Embankment, had a secondary purpose, for secret conduits were laid to here from the Central Telegraph Exchange at Moorgate, which monitored the telephone lines of every foreign embassy in London. If Moorgate was damaged, then Electra House, which accommodated a staff of one hundred cable sensors, could take over.

Department Electra House
Plans to establish and run a small section, for the investigation of propaganda methods and their means of operation, had been made by the Foreign Office under the guidance of Lord Halifax, following the German re-armament. For the purpose of contemporary intelligence, however, the main source of information could only be that coming from refugees escaping Nazi persecution and amongst the more prominent of these was Dr. Klaus Spiecker, a former civil servant under the Weimar Republic. Falling out of favour with the Nazis he had emigrated to France and then ran an anti Nazi radio station, ‘Deutsche Freiheitsender’, from just outside Paris. When the Secret Service eventually smuggled him to England, he would then begin a similar station from Woburn, as ‘Mr. Turner’.

The origins of the propaganda organisation date from September, 1938, when because of his involvement with Crewe House, during World War One, Campbell Stuart (pictured right) was asked by Sir Warren Fisher, head of the Treasury and the Civil Service, on behalf of Chamberlain, to create a similar department for the expected conflict. Campbell Stuart immediately began recruiting suitable staff and especially chose Lt. Col. Reginald Alexander Dallas Brooks, a tall and athletic Australian. Born in 1886, he had served with distinction during World War One, in the Royal Marines and as a young Intelligence officer then came to the notice of Campbell Stuart, whilst in South Africa. His appointment as chief staff officer owed much to the assistance of Campbell Stuart’s friend the First Sea Lord, Sir Roger Backhouse. Dallas Brooks would assume responsibility for liaison with the various intelligence sections whilst an old friend of Campbell Stuart, Colonel R.J. Shaw, a former member of staff on the Times, became head of the section.

Following Munich, if preparations for the propaganda department had been allowed to initially lapse, a sense of urgency was soon restored and reporting to Lord McMillan, the Minister of Information, stocks of propaganda literature were swiftly sanctioned, suitable for use during the early days of conflict. The Foreign Office drafted the text for six different examples and these were submitted to Sir Alexander Cadogan, the Permanent Under Secretary, who then made the final choice. A translation into German was subsequently undertaken and H.M.S.O. prepared to print 10 million, at 6d. per 100.

The propaganda Department was funded from the Secret Vote by the Foreign Office but only on the strict understanding that at all times, departmental activities were conducted away from Foreign Office premises! Sometimes referred to as C.S., more often the Department went by the initials E.H., after Electra House, the place of it’s actual accommodation, on the Victoria Embankment. To be more precise it was actually housed in Room 207, where a Reuters tape machine and a wireless had been installed. In fact Electra House was the headquarters of Cable and Wireless, of which Campbell Stuart was the Chairman.

Ena's Memories

Written at John's request Christmas Day 1989 aged 82

Ena Palmer (nee Doxey) Memories 1928.
One day in Sheffield [107 Banner Cross Road, Ecclesall] after going to Art School [Sheffield Art College on Psalter Lane] I went into town and met my cousin Eva Walker [1909-52] in Cockayne's entrance where she worked [a large posh department store on Angel Street until the 1960's]. She said did I want to join a tennis club in Ecclesall where I lived [club has been there since 1915]. I said yes and that started something that changed my life! I liked the club and met Gertrude Palmer [1908-2002] who was my age and we got friendly. She was a very good tennis player. She mentioned that her brother Bern was coming to stay in Worksop with her sister Win Dougill and I got invited there to Win and Frank's [probably in Watson Rd] for Christmas 1929. We had a lovely time. I started to love Worksop and all the Palmer family. Bern was just back from Egypt all handsome and tall and very brown. Nicer than Sheffield boys I knew with a very public school accent! It was the best time of my life! We did not get married until April 1931. My mother wanted to keep all her children around her and I was the youngest. It was unheard of to wish to leave home but I managed it in the end. I was 23. We went to live in a flat in London. Bern worked in the city and went on a tram there every day from Highbury [North Metropolian Tramways, Highbury Park Rd to Moorgate St]. I did not work, women were not supposed to work after marriage. We lived at Highbury New Park (no 127) for about 2 years, then we bought a house in Twickenham. I had £1.50 a week house keeping money and Bern was earning £4.50 a week. We bought our new house 37 Court Way from some money Bern had left him by his mother [She died 1923] £1,000. So we worked out it was better to pay £850 for the house than £1.60 a week rent. [It sold in 2006 for £485,000] We lived there (I lived there) for 42 years. All sorts of things happened to us in that time. We lived care free lives for 9 years as we could not afford a baby. Then war began [1939] and I had visions of being alone so I had John [1940]. Then carried away with motherhood I had Rob [1944]. Best thing I did was give birth to my children. War began and Bern went off with his job to Italy [1944] and came back a dying man [1946].

Robert's Memories

John, draft version number 1 for CBP, Robert.

Dad was a public schoolboy and so were a lot of his friends and acquaintances from Cable and Wireless. We met them at the Exiles club in Twickenham and they were distinctive in that they wore blazers and tended to have nicknames for each other. One that he always used to talk about was "ding dong" Bell who lived in Hitchin. Mum was uncomfortable with them.

Jim Smith was Dad's best friend and Dad was I think the only good friend Jim had. They were in Egypt and Vienna together. Jim was an alpha male and Dad was horrified when he had a "mitzi" in Vienna. Jim was excellent at woodcarving. He had a very nice wife Elizabeth and a daughter Anne. They lived in Carshalton. Mum was somewhat disapproving of Jim, I think because he never left Elizabeth alone. Sadly she died quite young of carcinoma of the cervix. Hence you can imagine Mum's horror when she answered the door at 37 Court Way in her curlers (after Dad and Elizabeth had died) and he proposed to her (but got short shrift). I remember a long walk with Uncle Jim over Reigate Hill (it was very exciting but I don't think he said a word to me).

Dad when he wee'd into the toilet always flushed it before he had finished weeing. He referred to having a pooh as "doing your business" and I remember him saying to me that it was not an uncomfortable preoccupation.

John was at number 37 in the school summer holidays and we were off to play tennis. John twice quite loudly said to Mum "balls" purportedly referring to the tennis balls, but clearly with another meaning. Dad yelled at him for using the word in front of his mother.

We had a pet mouse called Willie. He died in front of John (probably of old age). Dad said "typical John was there". Dad used to call Mum Enega Awney (?spelling) and playfully put his hand up Mum's dress. She used to tell him off. I have never forgotten the advice Dad gave me. "However much you are provoked you must never under any circumstances hit a woman". Dad was very faithful and when he died everyone said what a gentleman he was.

A few days before he died (in January 1957) he was late coming home. Mum fearing the worst sent me out on my bike to look for him. He was at the top of Court Way slowly walking home. He said he had "fallen asleep" on the train and missed Twickenham waking up and getting off at Feltham (the 18 fast train from Waterloo). He said the man opposite him was looking at him strangely on the train (he had probably had a Stokes Adams attack, arrhythmia, secondary to his severe mitral stenosis from the rheumatic fever he first had at Worksop College and the near fatal recurrence he had in Vienna where he was up telegraph poles in the Austrian winter of 1945 1946 and sleeping rough). A few days later he died on Waterloo Station (probable ventricular fibrillation). He had a very strong work ethic. Dr Hamilton had been telling him for some years to retire but he dragged himself to work at Electra House, and walking to Twickenham station in the morning there was a slight incline by the council yard where I used to play with Michael Sacree which he struggled to get up.

Dad was keen on Shakespeare and poetry. He taught me to recite off by heart "loveliest of trees the cherry now" by A E Houseman in "A Shropshire Lad" in case we were asked about a poem on Spring at school. Quite soon after we were asked exactly that (Jasper Parry in 1A at Hampton Grammar) and I was too shy to say anything whereupon Jasper repeated that very poem.

Dad was friendly with Mr Granger at the corner shop and sent me to get some jelly babies. He insisted I ask Mr Granger for male jelly babies as I would get more for my money (male attachments) but of course I was too shy. Dad as he was leaving to go to work said to Mum the Yorkshire saying "and here's to me and my wife's husband not forgetting mesen" finishing always with "and bugger Noel Coward" which of course I never understood, and usually a remark alluding to not seeing us again, as I am sure he was aware of his mortality.

Dad was preoccupied shortly before he died with a misstatement in one of the newspapers about the Worksop College alumus and 13 times England rugby captain and drop goal expert Nim Hall. Dad used to chant "champion the wonder horse" from a TV show. He would sit in his favourite chair by the fire and periodically expectorate into the fire and the blood flecked sputum (he had haemoptysis from severe heart failure) would slide down the back of the bottom of the chimney. He always wanted a daughter (I was Mary before I was born) and was smitten with Petula Clark on TV. He had me walking up and down outside number 37 to swing my arms properly.

There was a song called little red monkey. Dad put a request in for it to be played on our behalf on the light programme. It was duly played and our names mentioned and Dad heard it as he was listening to the radio at the time. He called for me (I was playing in the back garden) but I didn't hear him and missed it (he was feeling too tired and ill to come and get me).

When Dad failed to come back the second time Mum was frantically making phone calls. At last she walked with me to Twickenham station and we caught the train to Waterloo. It stopped for about half an hour at East Sheen station (I am not sure why). When we got to Waterloo Mum told me to get the train straight back to Twickenham by myself. Unbeknown to me she had found out that Dad had been brought in dead to St Thomas's Hospital having died on Waterloo Station. When she eventually came back I was in Dad's bed in their room (as per her request) and she said to me "you know that Dad is dead" and I muttered yes as I had assumed that to be the case. I was not taken to his funeral at All Hallows Church.

Dad used to take me to rugby matches usually to watch Harlequins at Twickenham, but also sometimes to old Deer Park to watch Richmond. I would much rather have watched Fulham football club. He also took me to the Oval to watch Surrey cricket team. In 1948 when the Olympics were on he took John to the newly opened Battersea fun fair, but didn't take me which upset me greatly.

Dad arranged rummy games for when John was down in the school holidays which was something I always looked forward to. I was good at cards and won the ten shilling note prize.

I think Mum had John and me because from her experience of the first world war when they never came back she assumed that if Dad went abroad (even though he was noncombatant) he would not come back and she wanted the company and something to remember him by.

Dad used to get me to put my ear on his chest. He had a loud murmur and a palpable thrill. Dad wore a truss because he had an inguinal hernia and was obviously not fit for a surgical repair. Not long before he died Dad had a cyst on his scalp which was removed under local anaesthetic by Dr Hamilton. I am not sure that was a good idea. John was in the front garden playing. Mum was in the front room on the phone adopting her £5 accent. John threw something which came sailing into the room smashing the window. Mum glowered but her tone never changed and the person on the other end of the phone would never have known anything was amiss.

Letters from CBP

Address sent from:
a c/o Cable & Wireless, c/o Public Relations AFHQ, Advanced Press HQ, CMF, Italy
b Cable & Wireless, c/o Public Relations AFHQ, Advanced Press HQ, CMF
c Cable & Wireless, Care PRO AFHQ, Advanced Press HQ, CMF
d Cable & Wireless, c/o 15 Base APO, CMF
e Cable & Wireless Limited, Electra House, Victoria Embankment, London WC2
f Telcom, c/o HQ Public Relations, CMF
g Telcom
h Telcom c/o PRO HQ
i Telcom c/o DADPR, Main 8th Army HQ, CMF
j Telcom, c/o Br. Public Relations, Vienna, CMF
k St Thomas's Hospital, London




VE day
(fm Jim)


Route Italy - Vienna

Udine -Moggio -(Pass) -Pontebba -Tarvisio -(Border at Throl) -Arnoldstein -Villach -Schiefling -Pritschitz -Moosburg -Klagenfurt -St Veit -Friesach -Neumarkt -Scheitling -Unzmarkt -Judenburg -Knittelfeld -Hafandorf -Langenwang -Vienna -Heintzing, St Veit Gasse about 300 miles, about 200 lorries, July 1945. See: CBP-08, CBP-09, CBP-10, and CBP-11

Extracts from letters by CBP

[All these letters are written under the constraint of Military Censureship, bear a stamp "Passed by Censor No 8001", and say "The following Certificate must be signed by the writer: I certify on my honour that the contents of this envelope refer to nothing but private and family matters."]
Vesuvius 6 miles East of Naples last erupted on 18 Mar 1944 destroying 4 villages and 88 US warplanes.
13 Jun 1944, Naples
c/o Cable & Wireless,
c/o Public Relations AF HQ,
Advanced Press HQ,
CMF Italy
Have had a lovely trip .....Had lots of fruit on the way, oranges and bananas, as many as you could wish for. I am now working with Jim [Smith], but expect to move on again very shortly. Goodness knows when we are going to settle down. .....We've never had so much food in our lives. You would love it all. Am now walking about in shorts and shirt - good job I brought 'em. .....You'll be OK I know and do see to it its a girl. [It was a boy, Robert born 29 July 1945]. .....hope it won't be long before I see you again. It won't be ten years as you seem to think.
16 Jun 1944, Naples
I haven't moved on yet .......All I have done so far is work and sleep and go for long walks. .......We had to walk for 15 minutes to catch a train and that was so crowded we could hardly move. No chance of getting a seat unless you fight with women, which all the other men seem to do. After a long ride we had to walk another 15 minutes, and all the walking seems to be up and down steps. I've never seen such a place for steps in all my life. Today we went on the fenicular railway. .......After we got out of the train we walked about for an hour or so, then walked down to the harbour - steps every bit of the way. .......There are peaches and grapes growing all over the place here. .......Don Reeves' girl friend came to Paddington to see us off and so did Mrs Bolton and Mrs Kelly and the two boys. We didn't have any tears from anyone. When we got off the plane on our first hop it was strange seeing a jerry plane land with jerries aboard. It seemed all wrong somehow. Geoffrey Blunt managed to break a telephone and I managed to break a bed and swamp the whole bedroom having a shower. That's what I like about this life - I can be as untidy as I like and noone says anything about it. You ought to see the place where we live. Over 70 steps up to our room of course. Must have steps. There is no furniture - but who minds that - nothing to spoil. There isn't a pane of glass in the place. All I've been fitted out with is a camp bed and 3 blankets. No pillow and no sheets. I've pinched a few nails and knocked then in the wall to hang my coats and things up. We can get things washed here easily and quite well. Not too expensive. I'm glad I didn't bring my suit and black shoes with me. The only mistake I've made so far are leaving shorts and sandals behind. ......There's a NAAFI store here where I have bought a few things. ......the rooms are the highest I've seen for ages - must have been offices or something. The ceiling are down of course and things keep dropping on your head - but there is plenty of headroom. We have wonderful views of the place from the windows - some palace or other at one side and the bay at the other. ......We get pretty good meals. I had porridge, bacon and eggs and bread and marmalade this morning. I'm afraid that is our best meal but thats the only meal I bother about. ......I could have brought lots more things with me without any bother. It was silly people taking so many things to be cendored. The customs people seemed to think it funny I hadn't brought anything at all in the reading line. ......I have to send this the long way - I only have one letter - airletter a week. This takes about a month I expect. So you had better compare the date on tis with the airletters you get. Of course I can send airgraphs but they take about 10 days I believe.

19 Oct 1944, Naples
......I am glad John is still keen on Alice. I wish I had had someone to introduce me when I was smaller. That is one thing we can always do for John and Robert so long as we don't try to force anything on to the. I am sure that they will like the better things when they can read although I shall never stop them from reading Billy Bunter or anything of that sort if they feel like it. I reckon its a sort of escape boys want. I should have been murdered if I had been found reading anything like that but I was never given anything else to read. Not surprising when you come to think that my Mam only read Charles Garvice and my Dad couldn't read at all

12 Nov 1944, Rome
Here I am at last. I arrived here last night and couldn't see much of course. My first impression of Rome is that it is awfully cold. .......We had a good journey in a bus starting at about 10am. .......I don't think much of the country. Its not a patch on England despite the mountain scenery. They must have had a rough time fighting their way up Italy. Some of the places we read about are simply in ruins. Not a single house left standing. We came through the Pontine Marshes and the roads are very long and straight and terribly boring. All the bridges all the way have been blown up and mended. It has been most interesting. I'm glad I have not missed it. I can't understand where the people sleep and what they do for a living. There are lots of little villages perched up on the hillsides and they are most impressive .......The women working in the fields look very outstanding. They all wear three colours. Skirts one colour, blouses or jumper or whatever they are of another, and handkerchief headwear of another.

19 Jul 1945, Rome
---And the last from the Eternal City!----
I hope the heading of this doesn't upset you. It doesn't upset me at all, although I would love to stay here. It means S.E.A.C. is out as far as I am concerned. At least that is the big idea! I've had that shadow over my head for long enough! I'm going to have a look to see if the Danube is blue after all. Jim and I are going to Klagenfurt tomorrow morning and on to Vienna. We are going to have Naples days all over again but who cares? I am not going to sweat it out in some terrible place the Japs have mucked up. We had the opportunity last night and we all applied because we are fed up with the office here, and Jim, Jas Bolton & I are to go. We have just heard about it. We have to pack up and be ready by early tomorrow morning. I hope to be able to give you our address very shortly. As a matter of fact we are not going to Klagenfurt first of all. I can't remember the name of the place we are going to. That's the nearest place I know. .......I don't like the idea of going to some place that has been knocked about a lot, but anything rather than Colombo. Tell John & Robert all about it. They will be interested. .......It was rather funny yesterday. We have all been sitting round waiting to hear the news. The telephone went and Cook came to ask for me so I knew I was for it. It was awful waiting to hear who the other two were. .......I've had to stop to do a bit of packing. .......I suppose we shall be away by 6 in the morning. .......I have been doing more packing and Jim has just come in and I've told him I've got everything in so he says "What about your chair?" So I've got to put that in! What a game. We are simply running with sweat. .......And we knew nothing about this two days ago! Its always the way.

5 Aug 1945, Vienna
....We are working in the garage of the SS Barracks in the grounds of the Palace. We are now guarded by our own troops and not the Russians as we were before. I must say I feel much happier now. We have a flat a mile or two away in St Veit Gassa Heitzing and arevery comfortable at the moment. Or I should be if the bedclothes were a bit longer. We have taken over a restaurant about a quarter of a mile from the flat and feed there on our own transit rations. Breakfast is porridge, spam, beans, biscuits and jam. Lunch is spam and potatoes, biscuits and cheese, and dinner is bully beef and potataoes and tinned peas. and stodgy pudding. We get several cups of tea at each meal fortunately. But this kind of feeding does blow us up. Even I shall be pleased when we get a few fresh vegetables and fresh meat. When we were waiting for permission to come into Vienna and were in Nomansland between the British checkpoint and the Russians there were Austrians dashing around all the time. Some were wanting to go into the British zone and some to Vienna. During the 10 hour wait we had these poor people were going backwards and forward with all their belongings. Nomansland was about half a mile long so goodness knows how far these poor people walked. Once in there they didn't seem to be able to get out. They'd hear at the Russian post that they could get into the British controlled territory and come streaming past - only to go back again ten minutes later. And every time they took their goods and chattels with them. There were old women of 70 and young kids. The old people had packs on their backs, indeed everyone had. They mad me quite dizzy rushing round. We saw one pretty blonde girl and of course everyone spoke to her and Jim saw her yesterday - so she managed it somehow. I did feel so sorry for them though. I can't see English people being so patient. I told one girl to leave her luggage in the middle and then she could dash up and down a bit faster! We were too bored with waiting ourselves to be very sorry for them at the time. Of course they tried to cadge lifts - but anyone doing that would be shot I should think. The first thing I was asked was had I got anyone inside my van.....

12 Nov 1945, Vienna
Full letter ....But we had to rush and catch a plane at a day's notice and go on to a place called Klagenfurt by the side of the Wurthersee Lake. And of all places that is the most beautiful. I only had two days there. What a change from Rome with all its gilt and show. It was clean and green and altogether too lovely to stay there. We bathed in the lake and climbed the mountains and saw more butterflies in half an hour than I have ever seen in my life. We had to pack up our tents and go to Judenberg through the countryside. That was nice too. Nice is very weak. But I can't say lovely every other word can I? From there we set out for Vienna. We started out in a convoy of 200 lorries and were held up at the Russian border for ten hours. Were we bored. But in the end they allowed us through and seventy of us managed to get to Vienna. The rest of the lorries were turned back. We were lucky. We arrived at two in the morning and had to sleep on the barrack square of the Schloss Schonbrunn. And when we got up at five o'clock we found it was seven by Vienna time. We didn't get to sleep before three. How we got mixed up with the various times. There was GMT, Russian time, and Vienna time. I never knew which was which and don't really know now. We used to get up at seven and find the rest of the world still asleep. There you are I have gone wrong already. We got up the first morning by Russian time not Vienna time. Still we have settled down fairly well by now. We had to eat standing up for the first few days and for the first fortnight we had nothing but bullybeef and hot strong sweet Army tea. We had to work in a garage where everything had been blown up and destroyed. In the end we found some very nice quarters in Heintzing. It was very comfortable there and we could get out into the Vienna woods in a short time. But we spent most of our time in the Park of the Schloss Schonbrunn. It was the place that Marie Theresa built. And very nice too. We liked to go up on the gloriette although half of it had been knocked down by bombs. The people were very pleased to see us and during our journey to Vienna we were cheered and waved at all the time. People used to stop us in the streets to tell us how glad thy were to see us and now they could have something to eat. They didn't think much of the Russians. Lots of them had not dared to come out of their gardens until we arrived. They had been living there and in the houses for weeks without venturing abroad. But they have got over that now and don't think much of us either. But I must say that the British soldiers are very well behaved and show very favourably with the Russians. I had a few words with one Russian one night. He didn't know a word I said and I didn't know what he said either but it finished up with him bending down and kissing my hand. Maybe that is an insult in Russian.They were very truculent and always went about fully armed while our chaps weren't allowed to carry anything in the firearms line. That was before we got our part of Vienna to look after. Now in our bizerks as the different districts are called we see very few Russians. And I am not sorry because I am afraid I haven't much of an opinion of them. Maybe that is because I don't understand them. They used to take things away from people and give them to others. And are fond of wrist watches. So long as they are very ornate they are happy. Honestly I don't think half of them are capable of telling the time. They have put up a big statue to commemorate the liberation of Vienna and the figure on top is holding a big round shield shaped like a watch. The Viennese say that it is full of wrist watches the Russians have liberated. The people out here don't look very happy though. Most of them looked underfed and very cold. The girls look awful although I do like their native dress. They call it a Dierndl or something like that. Do you know I haven't seen one pretty girl out here yet. And that is funny because most of them are fair and I like fair girls. Jim has managed to get himself a mitzie and spends most of his time in her company and so I see very little of him now. Maybe I shall get struck one of these days although I can't rouse up any enthusiasm at all now. This everlasting mucking about away from home is enough to finish anybody off. It seems endless and very aimless. Think of the time I could be having with John Robert and Ena. And here I am doing nothing but waiting for the time to pass and growing older all the time. I'm forty now. It's alright seeing these places and I suppose I shall be able to bore people plenty when I get back. We eat very well and although we have no beds I managed to find a settee in the corridor of our mess and now I sleep on that. I don't know whether it is damp or not but I get aches and pains in my fingers now when I wake up in the morning. I can't speak any German and never shall be able to. I was just as bad when I tried to speak Italian. What a life. We have a few cinemas out here and one ENSA theatre which is enough to put anyone off going to the theatre again. And apart from that the only thing I do is to saunter down to the cafe where we can get coffee and cakes and get warm....

Occupied Vienna

From Wikipedia
Vienna was taken in the Vienna Offensive of the Red Army on April 13. From the autumn of 1945 to autumn 1955, Vienna was occupied by the four Allied powers and the 5th District was a part of the British sector - parades of the British army thus took place in the main courtyard of Schoenbrunn Palace, being used as their HQ.

In 1945, the Soviets successfully launched the Vienna Offensive against the Germans who were holding Vienna. The city was besieged for about two weeks before it fell to the Soviets in mid-April. On 27 April 1945, with the Declaration of Independence, signed in Vienna, Austria was reerected as a state independent from Germany. Vienna again became the capital city of the republic. The city was divided into four sectors by the four powers (or the four prevailing nations), and was supervised by the Allied Commission for Austria.

Air raids by British and American planes since 1944 and artillery duels of the German Wehrmacht and the Red Army in April 1945 left many thousands of public and private buildings and the infrastructure destroyed or damaged. Tram traffic broke down, energy and water supply faded. The State Opera building as well as the Burgtheater, both on Ringstraße, could be opened again in 1955 after years of reconstruction and restoration.

The four-power occupation of Vienna differed in some aspects from the four-power occupation of Berlin: the central area of Vienna, the first district, constituted an international zone in which the four powers alternated on a monthly basis. When the Berlin blockade occurred in 1948, Vienna was even more vulnerable because there was no airport in the western sectors, and contingency plans were drafted by the authorities. However, despite fears and some disruptions, the Soviets did not embark on a wholesale blockade of Vienna as like in the case of Berlin. Some have argued [chronology source needed] that this was because the Potsdam Agreement gave written rights of land access to the western sectors, whereas no such written guarantees had been given regarding Berlin. During the 10 years of foreign occupation, Vienna became a hot-bed for international espionage between the Western and Eastern blocs. The atmosphere of four-power Vienna is captured in the Graham Greene novel The Third Man and by the movie which followed in 1949.


THE TELCOM ORGANISATION was formed by arrangement with the War Office in June 1944 to enable personnel of Cable & Wireless Ltd to accompany the armed services in the assault on the Axis powers, in Europe and Asia, as an uniformed force. They were subject to military discipline and to the orders of military Commanders in Chief.
Members of the unit were given para-military status and operated on the front line from vehicles known as the 'blue train'

In Memory of Vienna

Possibly a gift from his companions in the Blue Train

After World War II and during the Allied Occupation of Austria (1945-1955) Schönbrunn Palace, which was empty at the time, was requisitioned to provide offices for both the British Delegation to the Allied Commission for Austria and for the Headquarters for the small British Military Garrison present in Vienna.

In Memory of Vienna, January 1946 | Leopold Kuntner | "painted for C B Palmer during his stay there after 2nd World War. Appaling conditions & he had rheumatic fever & was in hospital for months in Vienna" (his wife's handwriting)


The Woodhouse Inn c1923, Woodend, near Worksop, Notts.
C.B.Palmer was born in 1905 at The Woodhouse Inn. His father William Henry ran the Inn from about 1902 until 1922 when he died. The Inn was then run by Arnold Medley of Huddersfield, WHP's nephew. Sometime about 1970, the Inn crossed the road without changing its name. CBP's sisters Win and Gert were also born at the old Inn. A pony and trap can be seen outside the main door. The pony was kept in the field next to the small vegetable patch, and knew its way to Worksop (and back) by itself. The old Inn is now a line of attached houses on Tranker Lane. Nearby is Haggonfields Lock on the Chesterfield Canal, into which Wilf (CBP's elder brother) fell when young but was rescued.
1911 Census for Woodhouse Inn, Worksop, Notts
William Henry
Licensed Victualler
Married 12 years
Assisting In Business
George Wilfred
Rose Winifred
Charles Bernard
Gertrude Annie
Richard Leonard
Brother In Law
Servant In Law
Domestic Servant General

The old Woodhouse Inn about 1970. The Rhodesia Post Office moved to Tylden Road about then.

The Woodhouse Inn, c1900. None of the folk are Palmers. Sign in window reads "Double Stout".

Worksop College

C.B.Palmer was a boarder at Worksop College (then called St Cuthbert's) from Sep 1917 to Jul 1922, following his brother GWP (1911-1917); they were both in Pelham House. Here he learned to use received pronunciation and appreciate poetry and history. He also probably caught his first bout of rheumatic fever (another in 1946 shortened his life considerably). CBP left after only 5 years, probably because of the death of his father in Jul 1922.
"The Great Hall, the centrepiece to Worksop was the first building to be completed. One of the largest rooms in Nottinghamshire, its hammerbeams are spectacular; the original design was based upon Westminster Abbey. With the eyes of all the former headmasters looking down, it is a most imposing structure. 'Mouseman' furniture was acquired in the 1930s and remains to this day. On the wall facing the 1st XI cricket square can be found many carvings of Old Boys from the time Worksop was opened". -Wikipedia"

Where the fighting was....

01 July 1943

01 Nov 1943

01 July 1944

01 Sep 1944

01 Dec 1944

01 May 1944

Compiled, formatted, hyperlinked, encoded, and copyright © 2010, John Palmer, All Rights Reserved.