Black Boomerang - Chapter Three - Sefton Delmer

ON JULY the 16th, three days before his `peace offer', Hitler had given orders for the invasion of this island to be prepared. The Battle of Britain was the result. I reported that battle in my new dual capacity as a War Correspondent and a Psychological Warrior.

In between scanning the coast of France from the cliffs above Dover for the departure of Hitler's invasion armada, watching the barrage balloon `Sefton' * being shot down, patched up, and shot down again over the harbour, and chasing after downed German fighters in the hope of interviewing the pilots, I raced back to London two or three times a week to talk in the German service of the B.B.C. Cheerful little talks they were, full of teasing and derision for the would-be invaders across the water, to show them that we in Britain were a long way from having our tails down. I watched our colliers and merchantmen, as they struggled through the Channel being bombed and machine-gunned by the Luftwaffe and bombarded by the coastal batteries from France.

I travelled with one convoy myself in order to experience the ordeal of these British merchant-seamen and write about it. But contrary to all my expectations we sailed safely through the Channel and made our way from Gravesend to Portsmouth without the loss of a single ship. So I went on the air in the B.B. C. studio and did a little more teasing. I pretended to have a telephone conversation with my old friend Goring, told the story of my smooth and uneventful voyage, and taunted him with his inefficiency. A few days later I followed this up by broadcasting an English lesson for would-be invaders.

"We English, as you know, are notoriously bad at languages," said I, talking my most impeccable German, "and so it will be best, meine Herren Engellandfahrer,* if you learn a few useful English phrases before visiting us. " For your first lesson we will take: Die Kanaluberfahrt . . . the Channel crossing, the Chan-nel cros-sing." " Now just repeat after me: Das Boot sinkt . . . the boat is sinking, the boat is sin-king." " Das Wasser ist kalt ... the water is cold. Sehr kalt ... very cold." " Now, I will give you a verb that should come in useful. Again please repeat after me

: " Ich brenne....... I burn

" Du brennst....... you burn

" Er brennt........... he burns

" Wir brennen..... we burn

"Ihr brennt............you are burning

"Yes, meine Herren, in English, a rather practical language, we use the same word `you' for both the singular and the plural:

"Ihr brennt . . . you are burning " Sie brennen . . . they burn"

And if I may be allowed to suggest a phrase: Der SS Sturmfiihrer brennt auch ganz schon ... The SS Captain is also burning quite nicely, the SS Captain is al-so bur-ning quite nice-ly!"

Crude stuff, but excellent in one important respect. The line about burning in the Channel fitted in perfectly, as of course it was intended to, with the information which our deception services had planted on Admiral Canaris, the head of Hitler's espionage. Our rumour agencies too, had been busy spreading it everywhere. The mean murderous British, it said, had apparatus in readiness with which they were going to set the Channel and the beaches on fire such time as Hitler launched his boats.

This was a lie. But it went over so well that it is believed by many Germans to this day.

* The R.A.F. men named it after me because they claimed there was a resemblance between us. * A pun on the Hitler war song "Und wir fahren gegen Engelland"

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Sefton Delmer's uneventful trip on the minesweeper bettween Gravesend and Portsmouth
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