The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

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Kelvin
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Kelvin » 09 Jan 2020 13:40

I don't know if Hitler's Terms offered to Britain were attractive ?

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Sheldrake
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Jan 2020 20:03

Kelvin wrote:
09 Jan 2020 13:40
I don't know if Hitler's Terms offered to Britain were attractive ?
Churchill and the majority of his cabinet did not think so.

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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Knouterer » 14 Apr 2020 07:41

On the subject of Allied and Commonwealth troops in Britain by September 1940:

At some point in July, Churchill asked for weekly reports on the organisation, training and equipment of Allied contingents in Britain (various docs. in CAB 80/16-20). According to these reports, the situation was as follows by the end of Sept.:

Free French :
Naval Force, as of 21.9: 121 officers, 40 aspirants, 2,171 ratings. Some 30 French officers and 600 ratings serving in the Royal Navy, encouraged to transfer to FF forces. Some were reluctant to do so as the FF naval commander, admiral Muselier, was impopular.
Army: some 2,500 away on Dakar expedition (Operation Menace), only 92 Foreign Legion and 748 from other units still in UK.
No FF air units operational as yet.
Some 450 Frenchmen (presumably including a number awaiting repatriation) were in hospital.

Poles:
Training in the Southern Highlands. Army: 4,093 officers, 13,218 other ranks.
Report of 20 Aug.: “Reorganization into two Brigade Groups is now completed.” According to the same report, the Poles had been issued with 8 75 mm guns, 6,000 .303 rifles, 50 Brens, 20 AT rifles, 18 Vickers MGs, 6 3” mortars, 18 2” mortars and 16 Bren Carriers, plus 50 motorcycles and 83 motor vehicles of various types, more following later. The field gun battery however lacked various important items as well as ammunition (as reported 11 Sept.) and would probably not have been ready by the end of the month. The report also mentioned that Polish instructors would be trained at the Small Arms School (Netheravon) from 20 Aug. to 14 Sept., on Vickers MGs presumably. Other instructors were to be trained at the Scottish Command Weapon Training School. Report of 29 Aug. mentions that the Poles had handed over 3,000 French rifles to the Free French; also mentions two infantry bns which are armed with British rifles but retain their French LMGs (in that context, the Chiefs of Staff were informed in Sept. that there were "about one million" rounds of French small arms ammunition on hand).

Report of 4 Sept.: one 2pdr AT gun issued, 120 rounds per rifle and 3,000 per LMG. 2,000 steel helmets also issued.
This report also mentioned that “… morale is high, except in the case of the surplus officers, who are still suffering from lack of occupation and the fear that they may never be employed. When every possible place has been filled, and after the removal of those unfit for service for whatever reason, there will still be a surplus of at least 1,000 officers for whom it will be possible to find employment only in special units, such as armoured trains, cavalry squadrons, and in other specialised occupations.

Report of 11 Sept. stated that equipment was “… now completed to British Army scale, with exception of Bren guns.”
Report of 8 Oct.: “Approval has now been given for the issue of 100 per cent. personal arms to the whole of the Polish forces in Scotland, and an increase from the 25 per cent. training scale to 50 per cent. in other arms for the 1st and 2nd Brigades.”

Air Force: two Polish bomber squadrons and two fighter squadrons (302 and 303) operational, five more in training.
The Poles were clearly making an important contribution to the RAF. Report of 11 Sept.: “Two hundred and six pilots have been selected for non-operational flying duties, and of these 190 have already been posted to Stations. A further 200 pilots are now being selected for similar duty. (…) One thousand five hundred and sixty airmen have been trade tested, and those not required to make up the establishment of the ground personnel in Bomber and Fighter Squadrons will, during the week, be posted to Maintenance Units and Flying Training Schools.”
As of 1 October, PAF personnel in Britain numbered 1,526 officers and 6,628 other ranks.

Navy: 29 Aug.: 5 destroyers, of which two working up at Scapa and one in the Mediterrenean, plus 1 French destroyer taken over, plus two submarines operating from Rosyth. Two patrouilleurs and two chasseurs, taken over from French, at Plymouth.

Dutch:
Army: 73 officers, 1,552 other ranks (one infantry battalion) at Porthcawl. 20 Aug.: 22 Lewis guns delivered with 110,000 rounds of ammunition.
Navy: report of 29 Aug. lists 40+ vessels of all kinds, many refitting. 5 (brand new) submarines and 5 minelayers operating, plus two gunboats under C-in-C Nore Command, and some small fry.
Air Force: 320 squadron with 5 Fokker TVIIIW seaplanes; 321 with Ansons.

Czechs:
Army: 670 officers, 3,076 other ranks.
According to the report of 29 Aug., the Czechs had been issued with 2 2pdr AT guns, 1,541 .303 rifles, 42 Brens, 24 AT rifles, 12 Vickers MGs, 2 3” mortars, 6 6” mortars (should probably read 2”, although 6” mortars did exist) and 4 Bren Carriers.
4 Sept.: 21 motorcycles and 59 motor vehicles delivered in all.
“Testing of motor transport drivers has been continued and 100 men have obtained driving licenses. The training of the Field Battery has commenced and infantry units have made good progress.” French small arms had been handed in and were gradually replaced with British weapons.
Air Force: one fighter squadron (310) and one bomber squadron (311) operational.

Norwegians:
Navy: 29 Aug.: 2 destroyers in commission, 1 at Rosyth and 1 at Lowestoft. 2 MTBs at Dover. Other vessels including 1 submarine refitting.
Army: 92 officers, 1,213 other ranks, 4 nurses. “Company training schemes are being carried out. Defence duties on local aerodrome.” Report of early August mentions 78 motor vehicles (excl. motorcycles) issued to the Norwegians, a surprisingly large number.

Belgians:
Army: 42 officers, 748 other ranks, 5 nurses. “The organization of the second active company is now complete. Pioneer company constructing defence at Tenby.”
By mid-Sept., 342 .303 rifles, 6 Brens and 3 A/Tk rifles had been delivered, plus some vehicles and other equipment.
Air Force: no Belgian squadrons, but 24 officers and 6 NCO’s flying with RAF early Sept..
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Knouterer
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Knouterer » 14 Apr 2020 08:31

In 1939 the various Dominions were more independent politically than they had been in 1914 and it was not a foregone conclusion that they would all follow the lead of the mother country, especially as Québecois, Afrikaners and Irish Catholics in Australia were mostly opposed to involvement in a “British war”, but in the event they did, except for the Irish Free State which was a reluctant member of the Commonwealth and insisted on remaining neutral. Within a week of the expiry of Chamberlain’s ultimatum the whole Empire was at war. The 1st Canadian Division had arrived in Britain by the end of 1939 and was by the autumn of 1940 fully operational, but the 2nd was still very poorly equipped. In total, Canadian ground troops in Britain numbered slightly over 48,000.
It had been planned that Australian and New Zealand forces, as they became available, would go to the Middle East, but when Britain seemed directly threatened in May parts of those forces were diverted there. The Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in Britain was 9,270 strong and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) 6,280. Both were organized as “half-pint divisions” with two understrength brigades. In addition, there were 1,383 "Colonial and Indian" troops in Britain, mostly muleteer companies in Northern Command.
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Knouterer » 14 Apr 2020 08:41

Polish troops training with a US-supplied 75 mm gun:
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Knouterer
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Knouterer » 14 Apr 2020 09:03

Interesting photo of a Fokker T VIIIW of the Dutch 320 Squadron being overhauled at Pembroke Dock, August 1940. Several of these escaped to Britain, a couple even after the Dutch capitulated. Besides the RAF roundels, this plane still carries a small orange "neutrality triangle" with a black border; these replaced the red, white and blue Dutch air force roundels in the period Sept. 1939 - May 1940, to avoid confusion with RAF or French markings. Pilots flying these planes were at some risk of RAF attack, as they looked similar to the German He 115 floatplane.
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Sid Guttridge
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Apr 2020 09:10

Hi durb,

You have a point about the Empire behind the UK, but overlook some important matters.

The metroplitan UK's population was 45 million. The Reich's was 80 million Germans, and more if the Czechs and their important war industries are included.

The UK's armaments industry may have matched Germany's at that particular moment in mid 1940, but it was based on a much smaller population base and Germany's limitations.

In 1938 the UK could field only two divisions on the continent. Germany had been allowed ten even under Versailles. Even Denmark, which had heavily disarmed in the interwar years, could mobilise two! British rearmament had allowed some 15 divisions to be sent to France by 1940, though several of these could not be fully equipped by May. However, the fall of France was accompanied by the loss of almost all modern army weaponry. At the end of June 1940 the UK had only one fully equipped division on its shores, and even this was Canadian! Germany had over a hundred.

The empire was even less prepared for war than the UK because it tended to rely on the Royal Navy for protection. The often forgotten Dominion of Newfoundland, for example, not only had no standing army, naval, or air forces in 1939, but no territorial or reservist structures either. With the limited exception of Canada, the rest of the empire could not do much to help the metroplitan UK in the short term in 1940 because of general unpreparedness; the diversion of the Middle East theatre with the entry of Italy into the war, which occupied the attention of the African, Australasian and Indian dominions and colonies; the Japanese threat in the Far East, which increasingly had to be addressed by the latter two; and the distances involved. Even the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme only began in June 1940 and it takes the better part of a year to turn out qualified aircrew. The empire had great potential, but little of it was realisable for the defence of the UK in 1940.

So, yes, the UK was not literally alone in mid 1940, but its in-house family of nations within the Commonwealth and Empire was far away and ill equipped at the time and of little immediate value. In mid 1940 the exiled forces of other European states were small, ill organised, and also had to be equipped by the UK. Only some existing Polish pilots were ready in time to contribute significantly to the Battle of Britain.

So, while it is not true that the UK was entirely alone in mid 1940, its Commonwealth, Empire and exiled allies were in no immediate position to help significantly either. So, "small and lonely" covers the situation in mid 1940 quite well.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. I don't think anyone would claim the UK was "tiny". Great Britain is the eighth largest island on the planet. However, it was certainly small in area compared with the major continental countries. I seem to recall that England was only a fifth the area of France or the Third Reich, for example.

Ружичасти Слон
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 14 Apr 2020 12:10

Sid Guttridge wrote:
14 Apr 2020 09:10
Hi durb,

You have a point about the Empire behind the UK, but overlook some important matters.

The metroplitan UK's population was 45 million. The Reich's was 80 million Germans, and more if the Czechs and their important war industries are included.

The UK's armaments industry may have matched Germany's at that particular moment in mid 1940, but it was based on a much smaller population base and Germany's limitations.

In 1938 the UK could field only two divisions on the continent. Germany had been allowed ten even under Versailles. Even Denmark, which had heavily disarmed in the interwar years, could mobilise two! British rearmament had allowed some 15 divisions to be sent to France by 1940, though several of these could not be fully equipped by May. However, the fall of France was accompanied by the loss of almost all modern army weaponry. At the end of June 1940 the UK had only one fully equipped division on its shores, and even this was Canadian! Germany had over a hundred.

The empire was even less prepared for war than the UK because it tended to rely on the Royal Navy for protection. The often forgotten Dominion of Newfoundland, for example, not only had no standing army, naval, or air forces in 1939, but no territorial or reservist structures either. With the limited exception of Canada, the rest of the empire could not do much to help the metroplitan UK in the short term in 1940 because of general unpreparedness; the diversion of the Middle East theatre with the entry of Italy into the war, which occupied the attention of the African, Australasian and Indian dominions and colonies; the Japanese threat in the Far East, which increasingly had to be addressed by the latter two; and the distances involved. Even the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme only began in June 1940 and it takes the better part of a year to turn out qualified aircrew. The empire had great potential, but little of it was realisable for the defence of the UK in 1940.

So, yes, the UK was not literally alone in mid 1940, but its in-house family of nations within the Commonwealth and Empire was far away and ill equipped at the time and of little immediate value. In mid 1940 the exiled forces of other European states were small, ill organised, and also had to be equipped by the UK. Only some existing Polish pilots were ready in time to contribute significantly to the Battle of Britain.

So, while it is not true that the UK was entirely alone in mid 1940, its Commonwealth, Empire and exiled allies were in no immediate position to help significantly either. So, "small and lonely" covers the situation in mid 1940 quite well.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. I don't think anyone would claim the UK was "tiny". Great Britain is the eighth largest island on the planet. However, it was certainly small in area compared with the major continental countries. I seem to recall that England was only a fifth the area of France or the Third Reich, for example.
Britain was not be small country with small population.

45 million was be big population. 500 million was be biggest in world.

Was be choice of British government to have small army. Was be choice of British government not to educate train mobilize and employ population. Choice was not make country small. Was stay same size.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Apr 2020 12:38

Hi Ружичасти Слон,

The UK on its own was a small country compared with Germany, both in population (barely half) and size.

You post, "Was be choice of British government to have small army."

True, but that doesn't make the UK any less isolated and ill equipped in mid 1940.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 14 Apr 2020 15:57

Sid Guttridge wrote:
14 Apr 2020 12:38
Hi Ружичасти Слон,

The UK on its own was a small country compared with Germany, both in population (barely half) and size.

You post, "Was be choice of British government to have small army."

True, but that doesn't make the UK any less isolated and ill equipped in mid 1940.

Cheers,

Sid.
I not agree 45 millions population on 1939 was small.

Small size land = easiest for to defend

Isolated?

Illequipped was be everything about choices.

I not understand why you must to ignore Empire. British goverment was be government for 500 millions people not 45 millions. Was be Empire that was give resources and safe spaces for to train prepare and build. Germany was not have such places. On 1940 British empire was be much bigger than German empire on population and size.

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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 14 Apr 2020 16:04

Ружичасти Слон wrote:
14 Apr 2020 15:57

Was be Empire that was give resources and safe spaces for to train prepare and build. Germany was not have such places. On 1940 British empire was be much bigger than German empire on population and size.
The Empire did provide the UK with some spare resources in terms of raw materials and personnel, but there was always a limit on how much of this could be moved strategically around due to the limitations of shipping. If, for example, the British had equipped and trained an army of say another fifty divisions from its imperial resources and then moved them to the UK, they would have had to be fed and accommodated in the UK which was already short of accommodation and food.

It is also worth noting that the UK was the workshop of the Empire, rather than the other way around.

Regards

Tom

Sid Guttridge
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Apr 2020 17:18

Hi Ружичасти Слон,

You post, "I not agree 45 millions population on 1939 was small." I did not say it was. I said it was small compared with the German Reich's population, which was nearly twice as large.

You post, "Small size land = easiest for to defend". If you have a large enough army. However, in late June 1940 the UK had only one fully equipped division, because most other equipment had been lost in France.

You post, "Isolated?". Well, the UK is on an island and the entire Atlantic oast of Europe was in German hands or that of unfriendly neutrals like Spain. At the same time the USSR was cooperating with Hitler under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the USA was still isolationist.

You post, "Illequipped was be everything about choices." Yes, but that dsoesn't alter the fact that briefly in mid 1940 the UK coulds field only one fully equipped infantry division, and this was Canadian.

You post, "I not understand why you must to ignore Empire." I didn't. I explained why it was of limited value in 1940, the year this thread is about.

You post, "British goverment was be government for 500 millions people not 45 millions." True, but less than 10% of them were in the UK. The rest were one or more oceans away and even less prepared for war than the UK.

You post, "Was be Empire that was give resources and safe spaces for to train prepare and build." True, but that took time and did not much apply in 1940, which is the year this thread is about.

You post, "Germany was not have such places." In 1940 Germany had the whole continent of Europe west of the USSR available, if it so desired.

You post, "On 1940 British empire was be much bigger than German empire on population and size." Yes, but over 90% of that population was not in Europe and one or more oceans away; most of that population was not usable militarily,b ecause it could not be equipped even minimally; and virtually none of the few trained and equipped Dominion and Colonial troops were available in 1940 because the Empire also had to defend itself. For example, the entire Indian Army was designated for Imperial defence around the Indian Ocean in order to releae British Army units for home service.

Remember, this thread is specifically about 1940, which is what I am talking about. The Empire became increasingly useful as it mobilised in later years, but in mid 1940 this was much more promise than reality.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 14 Apr 2020 17:36, edited 7 times in total.

Ружичасти Слон
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 14 Apr 2020 17:23

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
14 Apr 2020 16:04

The Empire did provide the UK with some spare resources in terms of raw materials and personnel, but there was always a limit on how much of this could be moved strategically around due to the limitations of shipping. If, for example, the British had equipped and trained an army of say another fifty divisions from its imperial resources and then moved them to the UK, they would have had to be fed and accommodated in the UK which was already short of accommodation and food.

It is also worth noting that the UK was the workshop of the Empire, rather than the other way around.

Regards

Tom
Britain was have small army by choices of British government.

Was be no need for to move millions of Empire mens to British island. Not on 1940. Not on 1941 1942 1943 or 1944. From autumn 1940 Britain was moving army off island.

45 millions peoples was be big enough population for to make army big enough to stop and defeat Germany army invasion. Germany army was not be possible for get 100 divisions or 200 divisions across channel on one moment.

Island was not tiny. Island was not alone.

Bad situation in June 1940 was be one moment of weakness. But moment was be because of choices before moment. But at same time as bad moment Britain always was have strategic advantages over Germany.

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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 14 Apr 2020 17:32

Sid Guttridge wrote:
14 Apr 2020 17:18
Hi Ружичасти Слон,

You post, "I not agree 45 millions population on 1939 was small." I did not say it was. I said it was small compared with the German Reich's population, which was nearly twice as large.

You post, "Small size land = easiest for to defend". If you have a large enough army. However, in late June 1940 the UK had only one fully equipped division, because most other equipment had been lost in France.

You post, "Isolated?". Well, the UK is on an island.

You post, "Illequipped was be everything about choices." Yes, but that dsoesn't alter the fact that briefly in mid 1940 the UK coulds field only one fully equipped infantry division, and this was Canadian.

You post, "I not understand why you must to ignore Empire." I didn't. I explained why it was of limited value in 1940, the year this thread is about.

You post, "British goverment was be government for 500 millions people not 45 millions." True, but only 10% of them were in the UK. The rest were one or more oceans away and even less prepared for war than the UK.

You post, "Was be Empire that was give resources and safe spaces for to train prepare and build." True, but that took time and did not much apply in 1940, which is the year this thread is about.

You post, "Germany was not have such places." In 1940 Germany had the whole continent of Europe west of the USSR available, if it so desired.

You post, "On 1940 British empire was be much bigger than German empire on population and size." Yes, but 90% of that population was not in Europe and one or more oceans away, most of that population was not usable militarily ,because it could not be equipped even minimally, and virtually none of the few trained and equipped Dominion and Colonial troops were available in 1940 because the Empire also had to defend itself. For example, the entire Indian Army was designated for Imperial defence around the Indian Ocean in order to releae British Army units for home service.

Remember, this thread is specifically about 1940, which is what I am talking about.

Cheers,

Sid.
Myth of tiny island all alone. Britain was have big population and big land.

Choice for tiny army and no equipment.

Choice for army location and role.

Britain was not become tiny because of choices.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: The myth of lonely tiny island of 1940?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Apr 2020 17:40

Hi Ружичасти Слон,

I have already answered your points in posting:

You post, "I not agree 45 millions population on 1939 was small." I did not say it was. I said it was small compared with the German Reich's population, which was nearly twice as large.

You post, "Small size land = easiest for to defend". If you have a large enough army. However, in late June 1940 the UK had only one fully equipped division, because most other equipment had been lost in France.

You post, "Isolated?". Well, the UK is on an island and the entire Atlantic oast of Europe was in German hands or that of unfriendly neutrals like Spain. At the same time the USSR was cooperating with Hitler under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the USA was still isolationist.

You post, "Illequipped was be everything about choices." Yes, but that dsoesn't alter the fact that briefly in mid 1940 the UK coulds field only one fully equipped infantry division, and this was Canadian.

You post, "I not understand why you must to ignore Empire." I didn't. I explained why it was of limited value in 1940, the year this thread is about.

You post, "British goverment was be government for 500 millions people not 45 millions." True, but less than 10% of them were in the UK. The rest were one or more oceans away and even less prepared for war than the UK.

You post, "Was be Empire that was give resources and safe spaces for to train prepare and build." True, but that took time and did not much apply in 1940, which is the year this thread is about.

You post, "Germany was not have such places." In 1940 Germany had the whole continent of Europe west of the USSR available, if it so desired.

You post, "On 1940 British empire was be much bigger than German empire on population and size." Yes, but over 90% of that population was not in Europe and one or more oceans away; most of that population was not usable militarily,b ecause it could not be equipped even minimally; and virtually none of the few trained and equipped Dominion and Colonial troops were available in 1940 because the Empire also had to defend itself. For example, the entire Indian Army was designated for Imperial defence around the Indian Ocean in order to releae British Army units for home service.

Remember, this thread is specifically about 1940, which is what I am talking about. The Empire became increasingly useful as it mobilised in later years, but in mid 1940 this was much more promise than reality.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. You might also like to consider that the USSR lost nearly 30 million lives in a four-year war largely against Germany out of a population of 180 million. (About 17%).

By contrast, the British Empire achieved the same goal with the deaths of about 2,000,000 lives in a six year war against Germany, Italy and, latterly, Japan from a population of some 500 million in the entire Empire. (About 0.4%).

Looked at that way, British policy doesn't look so stupid - and it never had an arrangement with Hitler like the Molotv-Ribbentrop Pact.

The mass expenditure of lives is not a merit in itself.

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