How Hellfire Jack Burns Kaiser’s Invasion Plan | Books | Entertainment

OLD SCHOOL HERO: Sir John Norton Griffith didn’t care much about the rules and customs (Image: ALAMY MY)

The face on the other side of the table was terrified. British officers sitting across from them in wartime Romania claimed they would take pickaxes and explosives and completely destroy their own most valuable property, the country’s huge oil fields. rice field.

It looked crazy, but Lieutenant Colonel John Norton Griffith was deadly serious. The invading German troops were only a few days. The oil fields were in their sight. Extreme measures were needed.

When the Romanian authorities blamed, Norton Griffith simply collected his bags, announced that “fundamental and complete destruction” was the only solution, and set out for the oil region only.

Norton Griffith soon became known as Hellfire Jack and was the first choice for Whitehall, one of World War I’s most daring and spectacular missions. The eccentric British baronet, who emerged directly from the Boys Own Adventure Book, caught the eye of officials two years ago in 1915 after devising a clever covert operation on the Western Front.

Norton Griffith decided to visit the old Rolls-Royce trenches that had fallen apart and deliver fine wine and biscuits to the shattered army. Underground, that is, avoiding shells and shelling and making a surprising underground attack on the Germans?

At the age of 44, he returned home and hired a team of skilled sewer miners from Manchester to form his own unit, the 170 (Tunnelling) Company Engineers.

They became known as Manchester Mall, digging holes hundreds of meters below the enemy’s line and detonating high explosives. It was a dangerous job, but it was very effective.

Therefore, Norton Griffith met the bill when the Military Intelligence Service needed someone for a technically challenging and near-suicide mission on the other side of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania.

Romania entered the Allied side late in the war in August 1916 and decided to realize its ambition to unite with Transylvania. The geography of the country meant that it was exposed to the enemy in two fronts: Bulgaria in the south and powerful German and Austro-Hungarian troops in the northwest.

In the first few months, Romanian troops grew rapidly, moving north across the snow-capped Carpathian Mountains and winning the Transylvania Award. Some of the exhausted and delighted soldiers moved to the southern border of the country, where they strengthened their defenses.

That was a fatal mistake. In the north, German troops launched a surge of counterattacks, driving Romanians back across the Transylvanian Mountains towards the plains below. Within an amazing distance, there is one of Europe’s most prolific oil fields.

On November 26, 1916, Norton Griffith headed north towards the Romanian oil region in the fight against time with the Germans. Along the way, he recruited a group of British engineers with spades, clubs, pickaxes, and boxes of explosives.

Enemy planes made a noise overhead when his team arrived in the ancient city of Turgoviste. Turgoviste is the 15th-century capital of Vladzepera, the prince whose legendary ruthlessness influenced Bram Stoker’s famous Gothic novel. Norton Griffith had only one thing in his mind. Overcoming a wave of retreating Romanian soldiers, he passed through the city to the west of Romania’s 3,000 wells and reservoirs.

Hellfire Jack

Hellfire Jack delivers wine to the army by Rolls-Royce and inspects trenches he designed (Image: ALAMY MY)

He finally tried again to secure the Romanian blessing. Local officials have repeatedly stated that Norton Griffith’s plans are crazy. He said he had the permission to burn oil reserves to prevent them from falling into Germany’s hands, rather than destroying the infrastructure that the Romanians wanted to regain to function properly after the war. They said.

According to Norton Griffith, their attitude is “a farce and useless.” He marched against his Romanian allies with the most spectacular manners.

Romania’s Consolidated Oilfields Ltd was located on a 14-hectare site next to a railway station on the outskirts of Turgoviste. The British team used a hammer to smash plumbing, machinery and electrical circuits. They dropped an iron rod into a well and clogged the equipment. Next, we dug a channel connecting a huge oil reservoir to the main infrastructure and opened a valve to flood the entire site.

The idea was to “ignite, burn, and explode” the entire refinery, he told the war office later in the report. Local officials stared in horror, pointing out that the station was too close and could burn.

Just as Norton Griffith set the match on fire, Romanian officers rushed in with a decisive command from General Command to stop firing.

“No attention was paid to these orders,” the British proudly reported to London’s military intelligence director, “and the refinery was on fire before we were stopped.”

The flames soared into the night sky at a height of 60 feet, scattering burning ashes into Turgoviste and the surrounding countryside.

The explosion lasted for days. Norton Griffith and his team jumped into a waiting heavy truck and headed for the next refinery.

Crossing the Romanian oil zone, the road was impassable for refugees. The German army was closed in just one day. Next was the huge 2,000 acre site of Moreni, Romania’s largest oil field. Norton Griffith reported that the well, known for its dangers, was so heavily charged with gas that “ordinary workers are trembling with the idea of ​​igniting matches.”

Romanian authorities made half-hearted attempts to disable the rig, but Norton Griffith wasn’t in a moderate mood.

While he was discussing with officials, his team decided to use a sledgehammer to destroy all possible machines.

Then they flooded the entire site with oil and set it on fire. How the place went up, the explosion became so big that all the “native human elements” escaped. This pleased Norton Griffith and freed him from further interference.

In addition, at the Vega refinery along the road, a 50,000-ton reservoir exploded with such force, sending a half-ton metal plate spinning over Norton Griffith.

One of his assistants, Captain Masterson, barely escaped being crushed and burned. Another officer said, “Literally, I was blown off the main exit with my clothes partially unloaded.” The easterly wind blew thick smoke in the direction of the German army, delaying the enemy’s advance.

Hellfire Jack

He blew up a Romanian oil field and kept it out of the enemy’s hands (Image: ALAMY MY)

German units arrived at the western end of the oil region a few hours later. But they found only smoldering debris and scorched earth. Norton Griffith is already 30 miles east of the oil city of Plouiesch, where a biblical scene unfolds.

On December 3, 1916, a priest crossed the plains and looked towards the city, witnessing a terrifying sight.

“A huge cloud of black smoke twists and bends like a nervous dragon,” he wrote. “The anomaly has risen to a height of hundreds of meters. It’s like the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah … you have the impression that the world is over. It’s a pure and simple apocalyptic sight. is.”

Somewhere in Inferno was John Norton Griffith, who guaranteed the “total destruction” of the Romanian oil industry.

Within a week, Bucharest went wild and the Romanian government withdrew to a small area around the ancient city of Palm near the border with Russia, the temporary capital of the rest of the war.

The elegant and beloved Queen of Romania, England, Marie (Queen Victoria’s granddaughter) was trying to stay healthy by caring for her injured soldiers head-on. While she was doing so, a blackened soot stumbled across the front line, singing oiled clothes and hair.

NSOh Norton Griffith has completed his mission.

At the temporary royal palace of Palm, Queen Marie, who understood the unfortunate order to completely destroy the country’s oil industry, awarded the British the highest praise of foreigners-the Romanian star.

Without his uncompromising approach, much of the country’s oil would have fallen into the hands of Germany, strengthening Kaiser’s war effort and undoubtedly causing thousands of casualties.

As it was, German engineers took more than a year to extract a tiny stream of oil from the smoldering ruins. Norton Griffith, on the other hand, has become known as “Hellfire Jack”. In this era of self-proclaimed aiita sbSGre about the British past, sticking to the story of imperial-style efforts may not be fashionable, but Sir John Norton’s work deserves recognition.

He was an old school hero. Proudly patriotic, uncompromising, selfless, he ignored rules and customs. True extroversion.

He became the director of the Conservative MP and Arsenal Football Club. Everything he kept in mind seemed to be within his reach. But tragically, his inner devil finally made him better.

He faced serious financial difficulties when Norton Griffith signed an ambitious contract to redesign Egypt’s Old Aswan Dam after the war.

It was September 1930. His daughter, Ursula, just gave birth to her first child, Jeremy Thorpe, the future leader of the Liberal Party.

But the joy of being a grandfather was overshadowed by the belief that Norton Griffith was an economic ruin.

He boarded a rowing boat from the beach of a casino hotel near Alexandria and shot his head. He was 59 years old.

  • Paul Kenyon is a British Academy Film Award-winning writer and journalist... Children at Night: A strange and epic story of modern Romania (Zeus’s head, £ 25) was published last Thursday.Call Express Bookstore at 020 31763832 for free delivery

How Hellfire Jack Burns Kaiser’s Invasion Plan | Books | Entertainment

Source link How Hellfire Jack Burns Kaiser’s Invasion Plan | Books | Entertainment

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