chapter  1
7 Pages

Anglo-French Naval Staff Planning and Cooperation on the Eve of War

The Franco-Italian crisis which arose in January 1939 did not develop sufficiently to initiate the exchange of liaison officers, although the First Sea Lord, Sir Roger Backhouse, regarded hostilities, and British involvement, as inevitable. On 13 February, he was informed that the French and British governments had agreed in principle to comprehensive staff talks, to be held before the end of the month to establish strategic principles as quickly as possible, in order to permit detailed planning to begin.3 The preliminary ‘talks about talks’, conducted in Paris by the British Naval Attaché, Captain C.S. Holland, acting as the British Naval Staff ’s intermediary, actually went on beyond the first deadline: the immediacy went away in early March, thanks to the easing of tension between France and Italy, but returned in mid-month when Germany occupied the remainder of Czechoslovakia and Hitler refused to accept the French and British Notes of Protest.