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Battle of Britain Day

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Battle of Britain Day

Old 17th Sep 2018, 11:27
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My old history teacher - who had been in WW2 - summed it up well IMHO

The British brought TIME - from 1940 to late 1941 - no-one else was in the game - by start '42 two of the biggest players had joined us - after that there was only one logical ending

Russia brought SPACE & Manpower - they had a very rough ride to start with but by late '43 were grinding the Germans into the ground

The USA brought PRODUCTION & manpower - no-way the AXIS could win against such a wave of top quality kit - and they effectively took on the Japanese on their own at the same time as fighting the Germans

Any two would probably have won in the end (as in 14-18) - but all three together made it a certainty - even if it looked a bit different at the time in some places
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 11:33
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Top quality kit? There was a reason the Germans called Sherman tanks Tommy cookers...
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 12:01
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Originally Posted by Rheinstorff View Post
It's worth noting too that the Kriegsmarine was a force to contend with, as it demonstrated to the RN regularly from 14 October 1939 until at least mid-1943, and would almost certainly have contributed to the neutralisation or destruction of the RN with its combination of submarines, fast attack craft and world-class major surface units (Bismark, et al).
The latter would have proved unlikely to show up for Sea Lion as she only started sea trials on 15 Sep 1940 with Tirpitz a few months behind. The other issue the RN faced with the Kriegsmarine was that they could be anywhere so concentrating enough assets in one place to neutralise even a U-boat was an enormous task, this wouldn't be the case if the invasion had gone ahead as you'd know exactly where they were going to be.

However what was most likely to cause the failure of the German invasion plans was lack of experience and equipment, even with the right equipment Dieppe was a disaster for the Allies, imagine doing it without proper landing craft.
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 14:03
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Originally Posted by glad rag View Post
Top quality kit? There was a reason the Germans called Sherman tanks Tommy cookers...
And where did all those Tigers and King Tigers get them? At the end of the day the Allies could deploy more kit, more men and , in general, better kit than the opposition - the Me 262 was a brilliant aircraft but if you could afford (as we could) to keep a constant standing fighter patrol of less spectacular aircraft over their bases through the whole day it didn't matter .............
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 14:33
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Originally Posted by Bing View Post
The latter would have proved unlikely to show up for Sea Lion as she only started sea trials on 15 Sep 1940 with Tirpitz a few months behind. The other issue the RN faced with the Kriegsmarine was that they could be anywhere so concentrating enough assets in one place to neutralise even a U-boat was an enormous task, this wouldn't be the case if the invasion had gone ahead as you'd know exactly where they were going to be.

However what was most likely to cause the failure of the German invasion plans was lack of experience and equipment, even with the right equipment Dieppe was a disaster for the Allies, imagine doing it without proper landing craft.
You are quite right about Bismark, it would have been better to have used Scharnhorst and Gneisenau as examples. You're also right about the concentration of forces, but that is a double edged sword, and the RN's ASW capability wasn't particularly good at that stage of the War (as evidenced by the U-Boat's 'Happy Time'). Additionally, the RN would have been defending itself against air and maritime threats simultaneously, whilst trying to defeat a landing force.
Your Dieppe point is a good one, but the nature of the operation and the organisation of the defences would have been quite different. Again, the application of airpower would have been very important and, at Dieppe, the raid was undertaken in an unfavourable air environment, and different to that faced by a Nazi invasion of the UK had Fighter Command been defeated. That's not to say lack of experience and equipment would not have been an important factor; I don't think treating the planned landing as an extended assault river crossing operation was remotely sensible.

Last edited by Rheinstorff; 17th Sep 2018 at 14:36. Reason: Spelling
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 15:04
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Originally Posted by Rheinstorff View Post
and the RN's ASW capability wasn't particularly good at that stage of the War (as evidenced by the U-Boat's 'Happy Time').
Although it was also probably the most advanced in the world at the time the RN having at least thought about the problem in the inter-war period!

I should say I don't think the RN's ability to prevent an invasion in the event of Fighter Command being destroyed nullifies the RAF's victory in the Battle of Britain. If the RN had succeeded in preventing invasion, which I think it could plausibly have done with the plan as envisaged for Sea Lion, the losses would have made any subsequent operations in the Battle of the Atlantic much harder and probably led to Britain suing for peace as she was starved to defeat by the Wolfpacks.
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 15:17
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Originally Posted by Bing View Post
Although it was also probably the most advanced in the world at the time the RN having at least thought about the problem in the inter-war period!

I should say I don't think the RN's ability to prevent an invasion in the event of Fighter Command being destroyed nullifies the RAF's victory in the Battle of Britain. If the RN had succeeded in preventing invasion, which I think it could plausibly have done with the plan as envisaged for Sea Lion, the losses would have made any subsequent operations in the Battle of the Atlantic much harder and probably led to Britain suing for peace as she was starved to defeat by the Wolfpacks.
This is quite how I understood it, the RN would have prevented a successful German landing but would have been effectively destroyed in the process.

pr00ne,

Are you absolutely sure that your position isn't simply the old left wing bias against accepted history where it serves credit to the United Kingdom, I understand your praise for the RN, but the revisionist theory here is to bash the RAF and Fighter Command specifically?

FB
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 16:05
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Dowding himself acknowledged the importance of the RN (specifically mentioned the Home Fleet) in his famed memorandum to Sinclair (and hence Churchill). But the real victory was won by the 3000 or so who fought in the air (plus the thousands on the ground who supported them).
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 16:11
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To bring this country to its knees, you do not need to bomb us into surrender, or invade us. The way to do it was clearly demonstrated in both World wars: cut off our sea supply lifeline through the Western Approaches. It was just our good fortune that both the Kaiser and Hitler were land animals, and did not divert sufficient resources into their U-boat campaigns to do so.

This danger had long been known. A century ago, Kipling put it into words in his poem "Big Steamers":

"The sweets that you suck, and the joints that you carve
_Are brought to you daily by all us Big Steamers
_And if anyone hinders our coming, you'll starve".


And, not for nothing, did the Victorians urge: "RULE, Britannia, RULE the Waves !"

In mid 1941, despite the heroic efforts of the RN and the (often forgotten) merchant seamen, tonnage coming into the UK was being sunk faster than it could be replaced. There is only one end to this. In his memoirs, The Second World War, Volume 2, published in 1949, Winston Churchill confessed: "The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril".

As it was, the Navy and Coastal Command got the upper hand at last (but would they have done so without "Ultra" ?) No doubt Putin's Naval Staff Colleges are giving serious attention to this ..... (Why look in the Crystal Ball, when you can read the book ?)
 
Old 17th Sep 2018, 16:19
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There are many fascinating 'what ifs', such as what if good old Blucher had not finally turned up at Waterloo?
Regardless of these, each battle ended the way it did.

(Oops, double/triple posts.)
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 16:21
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well at one point War the US was able to build Liberty ships in 42 days on average - from 18 shipyards - I expect the issue was crews as well as hulls...................
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 16:40
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Taking up Danny,s call to read the book. Take a look at a copy of Richard Cox's Operation Sealion, if you can find one. This largely details what was likely to have happened had Hitler launched Sealion in September '40. According to the war gaming that took place at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst after the War the Germans would have lost after a seriously bloody battle. The six referees, German and British were all in agreement with that result.

Yes we very nearly lost the Battle of the Atlantic but as Danny says thanks to Ultra and a lot of very brave Naval and Air Force Allies we won.

One battle we also very nearly lost was the Blitz but thanks to Hitler turning his attention East we just about got through. A fairly recent estimate suggests that in todays money the Luftwaffe caused over five trillion pounds worth of damage to our infrastructure and industry in eight months of night bombing. With civil insurrection looming ever closer by March 1941, Churchill could not have felt very comfortable.
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 17:04
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With civil insurrection looming ever closer by March 1941, Churchill could not have felt very comfortable.
I was in UK at that time, and have no recollection of any such "civil insurrection". ??????

Last edited by Danny42C; 17th Sep 2018 at 17:05. Reason: Error
 
Old 17th Sep 2018, 17:25
  #54 (permalink)  
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It wasn't only civil unrest that Churchill needed to worry about, but that of the British Establishment also, witness the gathering of VSOs (including a Royal Prince) at Dungavel, the home of Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton, and a Wing Commander Sector Commander for Scottish Air Defence. He was on duty that night at RAF Turnhouse and so not present when the party gathered by the briefly lit airstrip at Dungavel. The inbound aircraft never landed though, having crashed further south at Eaglesham. Its pilot had bailed out and been detained by the military, giving his name as Alfred Horn and a friend of the Duke, whom he asked to see. It later became clear that he was the Reich Deputy Fuhrer, Rudolf Hess.

Churchill later announced to the House:-
When deputy Führer Hess came down with his aeroplane in Scotland on 10 May, he gave a false name and asked to see the Duke of Hamilton. The Duke, being apprised by the authorities, visited the German prisoner in hospital. Hess then revealed for the first time his true identity, saying that he had seen the Duke when he was at the Olympic games at Berlin in 1936. The Duke did not recognise the Deputy Führer. He had however, visited Germany for the Olympic games in 1936, and during that time had attended more than one large public function at which German ministers were present. It is, therefore, quite possible that the deputy Führer may have seen him on one such occasion. As soon as the interview was over, Wing Commander the Duke of Hamilton flew to England and gave a full report of what had passed to the Prime Minister, who sent for him. Contrary to reports which have appeared in some newspapers, the Duke has never been in correspondence with the Deputy Führer. None of the Duke's three brothers, who are, like him, serving in the Royal Air Force has either met Hess or has had correspondence with him. It will be seen that the conduct of the Duke of Hamilton has been in every respect honourable and proper.
So nothing to see here, move along please.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dougla...ke_of_Hamilton

Last edited by Chugalug2; 17th Sep 2018 at 19:02. Reason: Words, dear boy, words
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Old 18th Sep 2018, 14:49
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Finningley Boy

I don’t HAVE a position, I was merely postulating some possible reasons why we as a country made such a fuss of Battle Of Britain day in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s and seemingly ignore it now. I pointed out some arguments that MAY have reinforced this.
I do not have any great belief one way or the other re the RAF vs RN in the BoB, and was certainly not RAF or Fughter Command.
What some folk call “ revisionist history” is in fact the passage of time revealing truth’s and discrediting hoary old myths.Take 1956 and Suez as an example. Now we KNOW the lies and deception comitted by ourselves, the French and Israelis. I do NOT claim anything of the sort for the BoB by the way.

What undoubtedly was true about it was that at the time it was a vital fillup to morale, even though the cricket board scores and 160 not out that were so important at the time are, as we now know, palpable and untrue nonsense.

The fact that the outcome at the time was nowhere near as vital as we thought does nothing to discredit the enormous morale boost it gave us at the time, and that warm glow persisted for about 20 years. It has cooled and hardened now as we see the true perspective.

If it was as important to Hitler as we thought at the time then he could have come back in 1941 or 42 and, FW190 vs Spitfire V etc, could well have won. Or, as someone else above pointed out, he could have concentrated 100% on the night blitz that we were lising badly, or, as Danny42C pointed out, concentrated on a blockade and starved us to defeat.

He did none of these things as we simply were nit that important to him and his eyes were always looking greedily and eagerly eastward, and THAT really lost him the war.
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Old 18th Sep 2018, 16:49
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Originally Posted by pr00ne View Post
Finningley Boy



If it was as important to Hitler as we thought at the time then he could have come back in 1941 or 42 and, FW190 vs Spitfire V etc, could well have won. Or, as someone else above pointed out, he could have concentrated 100% on the night blitz that we were lising badly, or, as Danny42C pointed out, concentrated on a blockade and starved us to defeat.

He did none of these things as we simply were nit that important to him and his eyes were always looking greedily and eagerly eastward, and THAT really lost him the war.
Of course, this pre-supposes that Hitler was a rational actor, which he seldom was. Launching the war before his economy was fully mobilised arguably set the conditions for defeat, invading Russia on a three axis front suggests was daft, and declaring war on the US was a shot in the foot.

At the time, he might have assumed we were neutralised and, whilst the bomber offensive was still picking up momentum and accuracy slowly, consequently we didn't pose that much of a threat to his ambitions. Allowing the U-Boat menace to starve us and deny us military equipment was, from his perspective, a cost effective way of keeping us neutralised whilst he got on with North Africa and the Middle East, and BARBAROSSA.
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Old 18th Sep 2018, 17:14
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Hitler didn't think he needed to defeat Britain, he just needed to defeat Churchill. Hitler thought the British were his natural allies and if he could get rid of Churchill, someone like Chamberlin could take power and would quickly sue for peace. Then he could focus entirely on the Soviet Union - maybe even get the Brits to help him.
If the RAF had lost the Battle of Britain, it's questionable if Churchill could have retained power and Hitler might well have been correct...
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Old 18th Sep 2018, 18:41
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An integral part of the overall battle was that of the RAF ground-based radio intercept staff who maintained a watch, day and night, 'observing' the activity of Luftwaffe stations. There were usually early indications of the next onslaught when airfields, aircraft and individuals prepared their aircraft for a mission. Without such information the RAF may not have been so aware of the next attack, the composition of the units and the numbers of aircraft involved.
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Old 18th Sep 2018, 19:05
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Originally Posted by DODGYOLDFART View Post
Taking up Danny,s call to read the book. Take a look at a copy of Richard Cox's Operation Sealion, if you can find one. This largely details what was likely to have happened had Hitler launched Sealion in September '40. According to the war gaming that took place at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst after the War the Germans would have lost after a seriously bloody battle. The six referees, German and British were all in agreement with that result.
Many of you will be familiar with this but for those who aren't...

In 1974 an exercise was held at the Staff College, Sandhurst using a scenario based on the known plans of each side, plus previously unpublished Admiralty weather records for September 1940. The full text is in 'Sealion' by Richard Cox.

Each side (played by British and German officers respectively) was based in a command room, and the actual moves plotted on a scale model of SE England constructed at the School of Infantry.

The panel of umpires included Adolf Galland, Admiral Friedrich Ruge, Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, Rear Admiral Edward Gueritz, General Heinz Trettner and Major General Glyn Gilbert. The main problems the Germans face are that: a) the Luftwaffe has not yet won air supremacy; b) the possible invasion dates are constrained by the weather and tides (for a high water attack) and c) it has taken until late September to assemble the necessary shipping.

22nd September - morning. The first wave of a planned 330,000 men hit the beaches at dawn. Elements of 9 divisions landed between Folkestone and Rottingdean (near Brighton). In addition 7th FJ Div landed at Lympne to take the airfield. The invasion fleet suffered minor losses from MTBs during the night crossing, but the RN had already lost one CA and three DDs sunk, with one CA and two DDs damaged, whilst sinking three German DDs. Within hours of the landings, which overwhelmed the beach defenders, reserve formations were despatched to Kent. Although there were 25 divisions in the UK, only 17 were fully equipped, and only three were based in Kent, however the defence plan relied on the use of mobile reserves and armoured and mechanised brigades were committed as soon as the main landings were identified. Meanwhile the air battle raged, the Luftwaffe flew 1200 fighter and 800 bomber sorties before 1200 hrs. The RAF even threw in training planes hastily armed with bombs, but the Luftwaffe were already having problems with their short ranged Me 109s despite cramming as many as possible into the Pas de Calais.

22nd - 23rd September. The Germans had still not captured a major port, although they started driving for Folkestone. Shipping unloading on the beaches suffered heavy losses from RAF bombing raids and then further losses at their ports in France. The U-Boats, Luftwaffe and few surface ships had lost contact with the RN, but then a cruiser squadron with supporting DDs entered the Channel narrows and had to run the gauntlet of long range coastal guns, E-Boats and 50 Stukas. Two CAs were sunk and one damaged. However a diversionary German naval sortie from Norway was completely destroyed and other sorties by MTBS and DDs inflicted losses on the shipping milling about in the Channel. German shipping losses on the first day amounted to over 25% of their invasion fleet, especially the barges, which proved desperately unseaworthy.

23rd Sept dawn - 1400 hrs. The RAF had lost 237 planes out 1048 (167 fighters and 70 bombers), and the navy had suffered enough losses such that it was keeping its BBs and CVs back, but large forces of DDs and CAs were massing. Air recon showed a German build up in Cherbourg and forces were diverted to the South West. The German Navy were despondant about their losses, especially as the loss of barges was seriously dislocating domestic industry. The Army and Airforce commanders were jubilant however, and preperations for the transfer of the next echelon continued along with the air transport of 22nd Div, despite Luftwaffe losses of 165 fighters and 168 bombers. Out of only 732 fighters and 724 bombers these were heavy losses. Both sides overestimated losses inflicted by 50%. The 22nd Div airlanded successfully at Lympne, although long range artillery fire directed by a stay-behind commando group interdicted the runways. The first British counterattacks by 42nd Div supported by an armoured brigade halted the German 34th Div in its drive on Hastings. 7th Panzer Div was having difficulty with extensive anti-tank obstacles and assault teams armed with stickybombs etc. Meanwhile an Australian Div had retaken Newhaven (the only German held port), however the New Zealand Div arrived at Folkestone only to be attacked in the rear by 22nd Airlanding Div. The division fell back on Dover having lost 35% casualties.

Sep 23rd 1400 - 1900 hrs. Throughout the day the Luftwaffe put up a maximum effort, with 1500 fighter and 460 bomber sorties, but the RAF persisted in attacks on shipping and airfields. Much of this effort was directed for ground support and air resupply, despite Adm Raeders request for more aircover over the Channel. The Home Fleet had pulled out of air range however, leaving the fight in the hands of 57 DDs and 17 CAs plus MTBs. The Germans could put very little surface strength against this. Waves of DDs and CAs entered the Channel, and although two were sunk by U-Boats, they sank one U-Boat in return and did not stop. The German flotilla at Le Havre put to sea (3 DD, 14 E-Boats) and at dusk intercepted the British, but were wiped out, losing all their DDs and 7 E-Boats. The Germans now had 10 divisions ashore, but in many cases these were incomplete and waiting for their second echelon to arrive that night. The weather was unsuitable for the barges however, and the decision to sail was referred up the chain of command.

23rd Sep 1900 - Sep 24th dawn. The Fuhrer Conference held at 1800 broke out into bitter inter-service rivalry - the Army wanted their second echelon sent, and the navy protesting that the weather was unsuitable, and the latest naval defeat rendered the Channel indefensible without air support. Goring countered this by saying it could only be done by stopping the terror bombing of London, which in turn Hitler vetoed. The fleet was ordered to stand by. The RAF meanwhile had lost 97 more fighters leaving only 440. The airfields of 11 Group were cratered ruins, and once more the threat of collapse, which had receded in early September, was looming. The Luftwaffe had lost another 71 fighters and 142 bombers. Again both sides overestimated losses inflicted, even after allowing for inflated figures. On the ground the Germans made good progress towards Dover and towards Canterbury, however they suffered reverses around Newhaven when the 45th Div and Australians attacked. At 2150 Hitler decided to launch the second wave, but only the short crossing from Calais and Dunkirk. By the time the order reached the ports, the second wave could not possibly arrive before dawn. The 6th and 8th divisions at Newhaven, supplied from Le Havre, would not be reinforced at all.

Sep 24th dawn - Sep 28th. The German fleet set sail, the weather calmed, and U-Boats, E-Boats and fighters covered them. However at daylight 5th destroyer flotilla found the barges still 10 miles off the coast and tore them to shreds. The Luftwaffe in turn committed all its remaining bombers, and the RAF responded with 19 squadrons of fighters. The Germans disabled two CAs and four DDs, but 65% of the barges were sunk. The faster steamers broke away and headed for Folkestone, but the port had been so badly damaged that they could only unload two at a time. The failure on the crossing meant that the German situation became desperate. The divisions had sufficient ammunition for 2 to 7 days more fighting, but without extra men and equipment could not extend the bridgehead. Hitler ordered the deployment on reserve units to Poland and the Germans began preparations for an evacuation as further British attacks hemmed them in tighter. Fast steamers and car ferries were assembled for evacuation via Rye and Folkestone. Of 90,000 troops who landed on 22nd september, only 15,400 returned to France, the rest were killed or captured.'
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Old 18th Sep 2018, 19:27
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Derek Robinson summed it up pretty well. The main transport for infantry would have been river barges, not exactly suited to open sea. The time taken to cross the Channel would have been 24 hours or more. All the Royal Navy had to do to win was send destroyers sailing among the invasion fleet at speed to sink most of these barges. This could have been largely done largely at night, negating the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe.

My father was in the RAF (ground crew) and I was and am very proud of him. However, if the RAF had been largely defeated, it seems the UK would have had another string to its bow.
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