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Pivotal WWII campaign revealed for the first time,
This review is from: Papa Spy: Love, Faith and Betrayal in Wartime Spain (Hardcover)
Jimmy Burns describes for the first time a top secret intelligence campaign of bribery, recruitment and propaganda that, with Churchill's blessing, kept Franco in power to secure Spanish neutrality and protect Allied strategic interests in southern Europe and North Africa: if we had lost Gibraltar we would have lost the war.
This was the only strategic campaign of WWII conducted purely as an intelligence campaign: because no shots were fired it has eluded historians and biographers but its importance was simply vital, in the proper sense, to beating Germany. If Germany had been able to close off the Mediterranean, it would have gained access to the Middle East for the oil it so desperately lacked (Germany had to crack coal for its poor-quality fuel): with oil, and with Britain cut off from oil, it is hard to imagine the Germans losing the war. It was lack of fuel that was in Rommel's own judgement the reason he lost to Montgomery in the Western Desert and it was a major factor on both sides in the Battle of Britain .
Trying to keep Kim Philby off his back in London and fighting for influence against Germans in Spain, Tom Burns was involved in some of the more colourful episodes of WWII, entrapping German agents, thwarting a Nazi attempt to kidnap the Duke of Windsor in Spain and recruiting several unusual British agents such as the romantic Hollywood actor Leslie Howard. The author clarifies some of the many factors that prevented Franco paying his debt to Hitler and Mussolini who had helped him with the Spanish Civil War.
After five years of personal interview and probing family papers, classified government documents and other previously undiscovered archives, Jimmy found that Tom Burns was at the heart of the Allies' intelligence and propaganda operations in Madrid, Lisbon, Gibraltar and Tangier.
For the role of oil in all of 20th century history, including WWII, see Daniel Yergin's "The Prize".