[Alec Clifton-Taylor, architectural historian.] Corrected Signed Typescript titled 'Tour of Naval Establishments in the Mediterranean with Mr. John Dugdale, January, 1946'. [A tour of 'about 7,000 miles, almost all by air'.]

Alec Clifton-Taylor, architectural historian [John Dugdale (1905-1963), Labour politician, Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty under Clement Attlee, 1945-1950; Royal Navy]
Publication details: 
Undated, but with covering signed page, on British Government letterhead, with alternate title: 'Mediterannean Tour | January, 1946'.
SKU: 13817

[1] + 26pp., foolscap 8vo. On twenty-seven leaves held together with a brass stud. In good condition, on aged and worn paper. The covering page is headed with the embossed government letterhead (lion and unicorn in oval) and has the words 'Mediterannean Tour | January, 1946' in the centre, with the signature 'Alec Clifton-Taylor' in blue ink in the bottom right-hand corner. The twenty-six pages of text, carrying a few minor autograph corrections by Clifton-Taylor, are headed with the full title. Regarding this period in Clifton-Taylor's life his entry in the Oxford DNB merely states: 'In the war years he served in the Admiralty, first in Bath and in 1943-6 in London as private secretary to the parliamentary secretary.' From the outset this account is written in a remarkably flowery style for an official document, leading to the strong suspicion that it may be a spoof on Clifton-Taylor's part: 'Surrey heaths and Hampshire woods lay white with rime as we drove through this gentle countryside to the airport at Hurn near Christchurch, on the morning of Friday, January 4th. We took off from Lisbon at 2 o'clock in a twin-engined 16-seater Dakota; there were, however, only eight passengers. | The flight was almost entirely over the sea, which was calm and mostly steely-grey. Sometimes the sky was clear as far as the eye could see, stretching to a horizon drawn with the sharpest of pencils; sometimes we were flying over cloud, over a cotton-wool sky on whose surface, when the sun at length broke through, our aircraft cast a tiny creeping shadow. The sunset was fine, slowly changing for a whole hour and culminating in a sweep of glowing gold above the now inky sea. We were flying for the most part at about 6,500 feet, and at about 170 m.p.h. At half past six we sighted the lighthouse on Cape Finisterre and then, in succession, other lighthouses flashing, all the way donw the dangerous western coast of Spain and Portugal. | We landed at the magnificent new airport at Lisbon at exactly 8.30 and were met by the Naval Attaché with whom we at once drove to the Embassy, the Ambassador and his wife being old friends of Mr. Dugdale. Lady O'Malley is "Ann Bridge", who wrote the best seller, "Peking Picnic" which, she told us, is still bringing her in quite a tidy little sum annually from America.'' The ambassador's conversation is reported (he dwells on 'the remarkable similarities of temperament and character between Dr. Salazar and Mr. De Valera'), and the next morning, on opening his curtains, Clifton-Taylor is 'transported' by the view of Lisbon, ending his description with the distinclty unofficial 'I felt radiantly happy.' The party fly over Southern Portugal: 'an infertile land and sparsely peopled, but the infinite modulation of ochres and terrevertes, unhedged, unfenced, unwalled, yet composed into a quite comprehensible patchwork, betrayed the hand of man industriously at work on every side'. They pass Cadiz and Cape Trafalgar, before reaching Gibraltar, where they are detained for five days because of the foul weather, staying with 'the Flag Officer, Rear-Admiral Crutchley, V.C., and Mrs. Crutchley at the Mount', and dining with the Governor, General Sir Ralph Eastwood. ('At every meal there, accordingly to long-established tradition, the huge keys of the fortress lie before him on the table on a velvet pad.' From Gibraltar they travel to Malta, where they are 'conducted all round the terribly bombed dockyard (the most extensive and concentrated bomb damage I have ever seen)'. Their next port of call is Naples, 'and Mr. Dugdale made the journey thither from Malta in H.M.S. MARNE, a destroyer; it took him 27 hours.' He here adds a rather surprising comment for an Admiralty employee: 'I have long made it a principle never to travel by sea if any other means of transport is available, and was delighted to find that the Commander-in-Chief was making the journey by air the following morning.' Another comment strengthens the suggestion that the account has a satirical intent: 'Hardly more than an hour later we were right over Capri, and there below us was "the most unstrategic villa on Nepenthe" - the house of Madame Steynlin ("a lady of Dutch extraction whose hats were proverbial") which figures with such engaging prominence in "South Wind".' At the Villa Emma at Posillipo Admiral Cunningham 'came out and talked about the sea. "It is just like a woman", he said, "capricious, relentless, cruel: it is too much: you feel you are lost. Then, suddenly, at the last critical moment, when you feel you can bear no more - tender caress!"' On Dugdale's arrival they find that the destruction to the Naples dockyards is also 'appalling; most of the buildings have been blown up or burnt out, and many ships are still lying on their bottoms or on their sides. Some have been ingeniously adapted to serve as berths.' After a visit to Caserta, the party travel 'in the C.-in-C's own Dakota for Cairo', which Clifton-Taylor designates 'an evil city': 'Not long after our arrival I thought I would take a stroll, and I had been out less than a minute before a small boy who could not have been more than twelve came up to me: "I take you to a nice lovely lady - yes?" Two minutes later, another boy: "Want to see a nice French lady in a good family house?" Four times I was asked within little more than half an hour, and each time by young men or boys. Cairo is teeming with people, of whom a quite appalling number are partially or totally blind: it is noisier than any other city in which I have been (I think some of the Arab drivers sit on their motor horns): it is dirty: and it is extremely expensive. The prices are really quite ruinous.' From Cairo they travel to Alexandria, and thence to Haifa. They cross the Suez Canal at Kantarsh, fly low over Mount Carmel, and back to Haifa. 'The previous afternoon, with air co-operation, the destroyer H.M.S. TALYBONT had successfully intercepted and brought in a small Italian vessel sailing under a false name and carrying over 900 illegal would-be immigrants into Palestine. The intercepted ship, a wooden motor vessel of only about 500 tons, was lying in the harbour when we reached Haifa, with her master on the bridge looking, to say the least, a little unenthusiastic, as he well that he faced a possible long term sentence. It seemed difficult to believe that this little ship, which had sailed from Messina, could have carried nearly a thousand people for a week or more.' While Dugdale has an audience with the King of Egypt at Monzahle Palace, Clifton-Taylor visits Jerusalem and its surroundings, which he describes in detail. As a result of the visit his view of the Jewish question is 'rather clearer. Much as I sympathise with the Jews in their sufferings, it seems to me that there is now only one wise course open to us - we must renounce the Balfour Declaration as a grave mistake. It is obvious to anyone with eyes to see that Palestine is to-day an Arab country. The Arabs are there by right of long possession. To admit Jews indiscriminately would be, I am convinced, to lead to inevitable civil war. The Jews are more intelligent, more progressive and make the desert bloom - granted all this. But is it not irrelevant as a basis on which to judge the question? I think so.' He returns to Cairo and rejoins Dugdale, visiting the Mosque of el-Muayyad. In due course they take off from the Almaza airfield for London, but are diverted to Malta by bad weather and engine trouble, before landing in Marseilles, where they are delayed for three days. 'At Istres the R.A.F. still hold the lease of a small chateau which is kept for the accommodation of V.I.P.'s ("Very Important Personages"!) and thither we went. The party comprised Mr. Dugdale, Mr. Anthony Hurd, M.P., Brigadier Swiney and myself.' They are kept 'comfortable, quite and admirably fed a la maniere francaise', before returning to England. (In the meantime he discusses his meeting with an 'unattractive' Belgian Countess, whose husband had been a prisoner of war 'held in a schloss in Germany. There he fell in love with the wife of the owner of the schloss and she, born a Czech, waited till he was freed and then left her husband and ran away with him. At that time she was reputedly a great beauty. Today he calls her Tinkle! But no matter: he loves her still.') He concludes by stating that the trip was 'of the utmost value to us both and a great success' and with praise for 'the hospitality of the Royal Navy'.