Roosevelt and Hopkins, An Intimate History

By Robert E. Sherwood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
The Kremlin

On sunday, July 27, the PBY Catalina W. 6416 of the R.A.F. Coastal Command was resting on the calm waters of Loch Lomond after weeks of rough work patrolling the northwest approaches between Scotland and Iceland. The members of its crew were enjoying swimming, picnicking and the Highland scenery in the summer sunshine. It was the general practice to fly these planes periodically from their salt-water base to a lake to wash them down in fresh water, and the crews always converted these trips into little holidays. On this day, however, the relaxation was cut short. At four o'clock in the afternoon a reconnaissance plane came over and flashed light signals to the Catalina's captain, Flight Lieutenant D. C. McKinley, D.F.C. He was ordered to return immediately to base, which was at Oban on the West Coast of Scotland.

When he had reported there, McKinley was informed that he was to proceed next day to Invergordon, on the East Coast, for a highly important mission; he had a good idea what this meant, for Invergordon was the base from which other Catalinas had been opening up the new air route to northern Russia. The next day, Monday, they flew to Invergordon and there McKinley was briefed on his flight and told that his passengers were Americans—Mr. Harry Hopkins, General Joseph T. McNarney and Lieutenant John R. Alison of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Weather conditions were bad and the flight was delayed. Hopkins was taken for a drive over the Scottish moors and then to a cocktail party at a small hotel and was going on from there to dinner with R.A.F. officers and a group of Americans who were secretly in training, but a message came from London that the aircraft was ordered to ignore the weather and take off at once. When Hopkins came down to the water- front and saw the PBY out in the harbor, he felt a sort of pride of

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