Noel Pemberton Billing

A new biographical note on the right-wing aviator and politician Noel Pemberton Billing, who helped turn Britain's air defences (or lack thereof) into a burning political issue in 1916 and 1917.

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6 thoughts on “Noel Pemberton Billing

  1. Brett Holman

    Post author

    Synchronicity! I literally only realised that I'd completely forgotten BoB Day just a few minutes before I read your comment! It was a whole week ago, too. So to punish myself, I'm going to watch Battle of Britain on DVD, and order a pizza. Harsh maybe, but it's the only way I'll learn.

  2. Brett Holman

    Post author

    Well, technically I could have posted about Mers-el-Kebir day, as my first blog post evar just happened to fall on the 65th anniversary! But let's just put it down as yet another thing I forgot to remember ...

    It's funny you should mention P-B's conspiracy theories ... I was going to post about claims that the libel suit was politically instigated, which I find hard to credit (not least because the suit seems more than justified on its own merits) but I should find out more about the claims themselves before I criticise them. Anyway, I started writing up an explanation of the conspiracy theories, but I didn't think of relating it to events in France. Do you mean Mata Hari? (Who, come to think of it, was another dancer accused of using sex to undermine the Allied war effort.)

    Revelations about German espionage in France could certainly lend plausibility to tales of the "Hidden Hand", but I think there are plenty of indigenous sources as well - not least the pre-war spy paranoia (Germans under every hedgerow) combined with war-weariness (why haven't we won yet?) Add to that, virulent anti-Semitism and homophobia, and the fear of venereal disease being spread by prostitution, and fears of race suicide ... there are many elements contributing to the mix.

  3. Post author

    Violaine, thanks for dropping in and giving me a vicarious link to P-B!

    He was a remarkable man, with an amazingiy active and fertile mind. Unfortunately some of his ideas were unpleasant. While I don't think they completely wipe out the other achievements of his interestingly varied career, as an historian I must deal with them, where necessary. But families will naturally and rightly see famous people differently than the outside world.

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