'Come in Keith. Thank you for coming along.' said Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Tedder 'take a seat.'
'It's was no problem Sir' Sir Keith Park said he sat down at the table. The very top of the RAF were sitting around the same table, with Tedder at the head.
'First things first. We must congratulate you again on the success of the raid over France. We had our doubts, but worked better than we had hoped. We gave them a very bloody nose and may have set them back a few weeks.' That was Sir Stanley Vincent, head of Fighter Command.
'Thank you sir. If I may add.'
'If I could hold you there Sir Keith.' that was the voice of another Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sholto Douglas. Sholto Douglas, himself, had been very lucky to get out of Germany when the Russians had attacked 'Do you think we should do something like that again?'
Before he could answer, Douglas continued, 'We think it was very lucky and to do it again would be a big mistake.'
Sir Arthur Harris no longer the head of Bomber Command, but still had his finger very much on the pulse.
'Hit and run a small scale, like the Germans did on the south coast in the last war was and will be again, very hard to stop. We couldn't stop then and neither will the Russians.
'What do you wish me to do now then sirs?'
'We have not yet, formally decided.' was the answer from Stanley Vincent, head of Fighter Command. 'WE have been thinking of giving you the job of coordinating all the parts of RAF in the country. By which we mean each command does not get in each other way.'
Harris almost shouted 'Bomber Command does not get in anyone's way.'
'Calm down Arthur.' that was Tedder 'we know the contribution made by your boys last time round. Your turn will come again.' Harris was clearly not overly happy but kept quiet.
'Maybe I could put it better, Keith' said Tedder 'You know the service inside out from Fighter and Coastal Commands here, as well as what you did in the Med and against the Japs. We would like you to have a think about the ways you can put that knowledge to good use here. What do you think?'
'I'll have to have all the information you can give me. Maybe within the next few days I could work something out. Will that be all right?'
'As long as you can get a preliminary report to us be the end of the week, we then, can look it over.'
'I'll do my best, sir. Is there anything else?' said Sir Keith
Tedder replied 'I believe that is all. Anyone else have anything to add? No. Well thank you for coming and we will see on Friday.'
Sir Leonard Slatter, of Coastal Command, the head in fact, interrupted 'Sorry sir. I forgot to ask Sir Keith about Bader.'
Harris muttered something under his breath. Vincent just rolled his eyes.
'Yes we know there has been some history between the two of you, even though you took some of his advice on the large sweep But where do you think he can be put to the best use? The public love him.'
A wry smile came across the face of Tedder. 'How about a tour of the Empire? As it has been pointed out the public love him and he loves nothing more than talking about himself.'
They all loved this idea. Out of sight, out of mind.
Sir Keith had been booked into the Savoy Hotel, at a much reduced rate. He wasn't really sure how he felt about this. He had been called a war hero and they want to treat him a such, but he did feel guilty. There were still a lot of Londoners without a home let alone a house. After a light supper he retired to his room, he had a lot of work to do. Lucky for himself he had a telephone in his room. It was just a matter of ringing the hotel operator for an outside line. He rang a number of group and station chiefs that he had known from his time when head of Coastal Command. Some had move on others where only too willing to give him their points of view. He had taken a number of notes during the conversations and was time to put them into some kind of order. He didn't realize in was after one thirty until he had finished.
When he awoke he knew it was time for more work, but not after a good breakfast. By the time he ended breakfast and writing up the last few notes he called up his driver. It was time to get to the real work. Feet on the ground so to speak and talk face to face, to everyone. Maybe even the NAFFI food had got better. Tangmere first then a number of other Kent stations.
On the Friday afternoon Sir Keith met with Tedder alone. Tedder took his time looking over the report that he had been given. It was a lot more detailed then he had expected, in fact it was a little too detailed then he had thought possible in the amount of time he had given him.
'Another cup of tea Keith or something stronger?'
'What ever you’re having sir.'
'That would be very nice sir.'
'Now tell me in your own words, what is the main problem? As I can make out you surmise most thing are fine, with just a few kinks to be ironed out.'
'I wouldn't put in a simply as that sir. There are quite a few little things that make it a larger problem than when first looked at.'
'Please continue Keith.'
'The way I look at it is some Commands overlap each other, be which I mean they are both doing the same job. For instance, both Fighter and Coastal command are doing the same job on the south coast. Flying patrols, looking out for Russians, if Coastal Command find some they have to radio in fighters, which as you know, is Fighter Commands job in the first place. Now if we can arrange for Fighter command to take the job in the first place this can free Coastal Command for more patrols in the east.'
'Also Home Command, can, but no means at all the time send out pilots to the wrong place. Weather this is the commands fault, which I very much doubt. Or some of the pilots, I wouldn't say lie, but may not tell the whole truth about what they did in the last war. This is one one thing that has to be tighten up. Also ground crews can be sent to stations, to service aircraft that they may have never worked on before.'
The meeting carried on for over another hour. Tedder now thought he had the right man for the job he wanted doing. The right man for the right job.