Dear Prime Minister,
Thank you for your letter 10th March from your Correspondence Officer stating that you are grateful for the time and trouble I have taken and that my letter 24th February has been forwarded to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is of course your own views and reply that are requested since you are making the statement frequently that the UK is safer within the EU.
In my letter of 24th February the letter per my attachment about French Exocets launched against our warships HMS Sheffield and HMS Glamorgan and supply ship Atlantic Conveyor causing the deaths and injuries to British soldiers and sailors I relied upon my aged memory at that time. I have since researched what is in the public domain by references to Hansard, to a BBC interview and reference to the Chicago Tribune newspaper. The French Exocet damage occurred during the Falklands war and the withholding of ammunition by Belgium occurred during the Gulf war.
Falklands war BBC News Magazine Mike Thomson Radio 4 6th March 2012 re Exocet missiles & French technical team
“How France helped both sides in the Falklands war”
I quote; A French technical team mainly working for a company 51% owned by the French government stayed in Argentine throughout the war. British Defence Secretary at that time Sir John Knott was asked: does he now feel a little let down by a nation that he had previously described as Britain’s greatest ally? This was his response: ‘We asked Mitterand not to give assistance to the Argentinians. If you are asking me; Are the French duplicitous people? the answer is; Of course they are and they always have been.”
NB On a personal note I do not and never have regarded my many French friends in that way and believe Sir John Knott aimed his answer at French leaders.
Gulf war “European Unity fails in Crisis” Chicago Tribune 23rd January 1991 by R.C. Longworth
“Europe’s dream of welding itself into a united superpower has become an early casualty of the Gulf war. Europeans admitted Tuesday they are disgusted with themselves over the failure to unite in the crisis. There was special dismay over Germany which is seriously considering reneging on its NATO obligations.
The report also refers to the fact that Belgium being so opposed to the war that it has refused to sell ammunition to Britain for use in the Gulf.
The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote “The beginning of European political union has failed”
“The first victim of the conflict is a united Europe” added the Italian daily Corriera della Sera.
Commons Hansard 10th April 2002 Column 24WH Royal Ordnance Factories
“Before the Gulf war, cases and shells for 155mm FX70 ammunition which is our mainstay artillery ammunition were manufactured at Birtley. The contract was transferred to Rhinemetall of Germany which discovered that it could not make them and sub-0contracted to a Belgian comapny. During the Gulf war for political reasons, Belgium an ally and a member of NATO, indeed it is the home of NATO headquarters, refused to supply us with artillery ammunition. That artillery ammunition was desperately needed to support the major assault that our amoured corps was making through Saudi lines to retake Kuwait. That is one of the problems of relying on overseas manufacturers and presumably why Henry VIII set up royal ordnance factories in the first place”.
Gulf war costs. Lords Hansard 31stJanuary 1991 vol 525 cc 789-92
Lord Mulley :“I was extremely concerned at the report that Germany was withholding crucial Tornado parts. That raises a further question as to whether it was wise to become involved in European co-operative ventures where production is shared among the partners if, de facto, it gives each of the partners a means of veto over the use of aircraft in each country”.
The Earl of Onslow: Are the Belgians providing the ammunition? Are the Germans allowing the forces Tornado spare parts? May we have a straight answer?
The Earl of Arran: To the best of my knowledge Belgium is not providing ammunition. I shall have to write to my Noble Friend concerning the prohibition on the supply of German Tornado spare parts”