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36 Franco's DeHavilland Rapide by Drawings by Norman Neasom (1915 - 2010)

36 Franco's DeHavilland Rapide by Drawings by Norman Neasom (1915 - 2010)

Franco's DeHavilland Rapide

Drawing with colour - Signed and dated

Image Area: 14ins x 17ins

At 07.15 on the morning of July 11, 1936, Captain Bebb took off from Croydon, in a Dragon Rapide aircraft, with a navigator, his friend Major Hugh Pollard, and two female companions.

The flight log records that the aircraft was bound for the Canary Islands. The purpose of Bebb's flight was to collect General Franco from the Canaries and fly him to Tetuan in Spanish Morocco, at that time a Spanish colony, where the Spanish African Army was garrisoned.

Franco was recognized by the government in Madrid as a danger to the Second Spanish Republic and had been sent to the Canaries in order to keep him away from political intrigue. Had a Spanish plane flown to the islands, the authorities would likely have been alerted, but the British aircraft attracted little or no attention. Bebb and Franco arrived in Tetu├ín on July 19 and the general quickly set about organising Moroccan troops to participate in the coming coup.

It is possible that British security services may have been complicit in Bebb's flight. Certainly his companion Pollard had previously been an intelligence agent. The flight itself was planned over lunch at Simpson's in the Strand, where Douglas Francis Jerrold, the conservative Roman Catholic editor of the English Review, met with the journalist Luis Bolin, London correspondent of the ABC Newspaper and later Franco's senior press advisor. Jerrold then persuaded Pollard to join the enterprise, and Pollard in turn recruited Bebb as pilot, plus his daughter Diana, and a friend, as "cover".

It is not clear how much or to what level the British Government knew about the activities of the secret services in aiding Franco. In any event Britain remained officially neutral throughout the duration of the Spanish Civil War although volunteers from the British Isles fought for both sides

The events of the Spanish Civil War was the start of Norman's darker period following the Allegoric work which had already shaped his mindset, the declaration of the Spanish Civil War and later World War 2 were to dominate his drawings and paintings for the next 10 years. The dramatic way in which Norman portrayed the subject matter, especially the small drawing of the lady titled 'Spanish Civil War' was exceptional and many of those works can be seen in the War and Conflicts section of this virtual exhibition.

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