Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Raise your Sights

Had a bit of a crazy week this week, including writing about twenty pages for other tasks, so it's a short one today as the sight of a .doc file makes me jittery at the moment... I'm afraid and it's made from a part file I found in an archive, so some of the events may not have ended up as detailed, but its still nice and interesting.

The Right Honourable Arthur Blaikie Purvis was born in 1890 to a Scottish father. During the First World War he was in charge of purchasing explosives from America for Britain which set him up perfectly for his role in World War Two. He headed the British purchasing mission in the US, and like Lord Beaverbrook, whom he often argued with, he was instrumental in the economic actions that led to the Allied success.
First when France fell, he immediately arranged for all outstanding French weapon orders to be honoured and transferred to Britain. He was also part of the team responsible for setting up Lend Lease. However his greatest moment was "to get the Americans to raise their sights all round."
The Right Honourable Purvis
In this he pushed for the US to move onto a wartime footing in production before they entered the war. There were attempts at standardisation between weapons, such as in the case of artillery. America offered to drop 4.7" calibre and adopt 4.5" calibre, with standardised ammunition. In return the British would abandon 5.5" and move to 155mm. Carriages would be of an American type, while sights would be of a British design.

The Rt. Hon. Purvis however wasn't being as straight as he lead the Americans to believe. At the start of May 1941 there was an offer on the table to provide US 90mm M1 AA guns for the Canadian Army. However the British decided to see if they could manufacture 3.7" AA guns in Canada. For reasons unexplained the Rt. Hon. Purvis agreed with the Australian born Sir Clive Baillieu, and a colleague in the British Purchasing Commission to not inform the US of this plan.
Sir Baillieu is the Gentleman on the left.
Part of the reason for preferring the 3.7" was a comparative analysis of the two guns which you can see below.
Pretty damning
This was prepared in the UK when the the Rt. Hon. Purvis was in London, indeed he had to hurriedly obtain a copy he'd loaned from General Pratt in May 1941.

The Rt. Hon. Purvis didn't live to see the completion of his work, or being proved correct. He boarded a plane at RAF Heathfield near Prestwick on the evening of 14th August 1941, in order to return to Washington to complete the final push to convince the US President to move to a war footing. Shortly after take off the plane crashed killing all on board.
The Purchasing Commission was then taken over by Sir Clive Baillieu.