A work in progress – the fuller biographies will emerge in due course: please sign up to the Newsletter (bottom of the page) and we’ll let you know when we’ve done more justice in writing up our extraordinary signatories.
Brigadier A E Mervyn WALTER CBE of the CORPS of ROYAL ENGINEERS, here mainly as a TRANSPORTATION SPECIALIST, firstly for his (& two others, Captain Andrew CROFT and Lt Malcolm MUNTHE, nephew of Axel) Pre-NORWEGIAN CAMPAIGN clandestine INTELLIGENCE gathering on the PORTS and RAILWAYS SYSTEMS in Jan 1940 NORWAY and SWEDEN, crossing over to FINLAND and only able to return without papers, after a SWEDISH OFFICER’S Funeral Cortege provided cover for slipping back into Sweden & then back to Britain.
Also for his important role working in the small 1940 CONTROL TEAM with R Adm Bertram RAMSAY and Captain TENNANT at DOVER CASTLE for Operation DYNAMO’s (DUNKIRK EVACUATION) RAIL & TRANSPORTATION PLAN to and in Britain – he had to arrange the smooth scheduling of the evacuating troops and their “feeding, medical, clothing and dispersal arrangements” – it was these close successful and personal links with the ROYAL NAVY, in previous planning and then over those five most hectic days and nights, which would later be the direct reason for his appointment (and rapid promotion as Brigadier) to take over MULBERRY – Admiral RAMSAY had taken him and his wife to lunch to thank him for his contribution, after together at the Palace they received awards from HM King George VI for DUNKIRK (the Engineer an OBE).
This led, three and a half years later, directly to his appointment in Feb 1944 as DIRECTOR of PORTS and INLAND WATERWAYS 21st ARMY DROUP, firstly to co-ordinate, then to direct the large ARMY side of the brilliant, transportable artificial MULBERRY HARBOURS project, allowing this “ENGINEERING MIRACLE” to provide that necessary STRATEGIC SURPRISE for the NORMANDY INVASION; 6,500 vehicles & 40,000 tons of stores would be landed a week; this project started with one of the war is famous, succinct official letters, from Prime Minister Winston CHURCHILL at 10 Downing Street in five brief sentences and quoting verbatim:
“To C.C.O.* or deputy
“They must float up and down with the tide. The anchor problem must be mastered. Let me have the best solution worked out. Don’t argue the matter. The difficulties will argue for themselves.
WSC 30. 5. 42”
One “problem”, as MULBERRY was planted, was the security, even into the event, when both sides would think that all the ships exploding to sink on the inshore sea-bed had been sunk by hostile guns! The previous demands, not just of CONSTRUCTION but for TUGBOATS, were almost overwhelming but his and MULBERRY B’s SUCCESS brought him a richly deserved CBE for his contribution to victory and to assisting all three Services. His responsibility then was:
“(a) in co-operation with the Royal Navy, to assemble and plant the pieces of the MULBERRY HARBOUR “B” at ARROMANCHES, and to commission, operate and maintain the Port Facility
(b) To discharge ships over GOLD, JUNO and SWORD BEACHES
(c) To repair and operate the PORTS of OUISTREHAM and PORT-en-BESSIN,
and, if possible, the OUISTREHAM 1 CAEN CANAL”
*Chief of Combined Operations
Born in 1907 out in Taungoo, BURMA, where his Father was seconded to the BURMA Police from the Indian Police, Brig WALTER’s long deep, training through the pre-war RMA WOOLWICH, CHATHAM and CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY system extended uniquely to doing both the Long Transportation and the
Long Electrical & Mechanical Courses, before later posting to SINGAPORE in 1936 – he remembers the new 2 x 15″ GUN EMPLACEMENTS at CHANGI and SELETAR and other 9.2″ and 6″ guns on the Island.
ALL except one gun had 360 degree traversing for firing landwards and seawards – the ammunition was all Armour Piercing though, ideal for taking on Battleships, not effective for preventing Jungle advances; after NORWAY and DUNKIRK, he was DADTn at HO in the MIDDLE EAST, there also having to carry out a special mission to TURKEY, on a more open review of their TRANSPORT SYSTEM, and then also to CHINA to purchase ROLLING STOCK for conversion and shipment to be used to add waggons for the WESTERN DESERT RAILWAY – his arrival via the HUMP into KUNMING AIRFIELD had to be by 1030hrs so that everyone could, as he had to, go underground for the daily JAPANESE AIR RAID at 1100hrs.
Then, after negotiations, he went on by night flights to HONG KONG; returning to CAIRO, he was posted to WASHINGTON via LONDON (to receive and open a letter for his wife and notification that he was “MISSING” after HONG KONG’s falll) – his USA work was to do with LEND LEASE and also entailed, after his posting to HQ SEAC in DELHI, tortuous trips via the trans Africa and South America route to the American Capital. After MULBERRY and his work with the PORT CONSTRUCTION and REPAIR GROUPS-in FRANCE, BELGIUM and GERMANY, at the war’s end, he became British Member for the Central Rhine Commission, interestingly dating right back to the 1815 Treaty of Vienna, after Waterloo.
Post war he worked both nationally and internationally as a specialist on RAILWAYS and INLAND TRANSPORT.
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