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Thread: Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two

  1. #5521
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    By now Canada and Australia are meeting most if not all of their aircraft needs from domestic production, with Commonwealth Aircraft also delivering for the Kiwis, (and yes, Avro Canada is part of this), and the Canadians are becoming the second-biggest Arms suppliers after the Brits themselves.

    The ANZACs are getting a lot from factories in India, but are ramping up domestic production. Before El Pip intervenes: Yes, HMG isn't happy about the colonials becoming so independent but alas they know it can't be helped. Lots of teeth have been gnashed and tea has been spilt over this, but it cannot be helped.

    The Mexicans are far too busy to send anyone to war. They keep their eyes nervously north while at the same time trying to stop the Neo-Zapatistas from happily joining the true workers Paradise, same going for most of the other Latin and South-American countries. Most of the others you listed aren't sending troops, except for Nepal and Bhutan who are by now more than three quarters of Montgomery's North-West Frontier Force.
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  2. #5522
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    The ANZACs are getting a lot from factories in India, but are ramping up domestic production. Before El Pip intervenes: Yes, HMG isn't happy about the colonials becoming so independent but alas they know it can't be helped. Lots of teeth have been gnashed and tea has been spilt over this, but it cannot be helped.
    Honestly I'd have thought it was the Aussies most angry at that, industrialising Oz was government policy for both main Australian parties for decades and countless hair brained schemes were followed to achieve it. Seeing Britain pouring huge efforts into India (and it will be huge, the Indian industrial base was tiny OTL and couldn't even supply the Indian army let alone anyone else) will be a massive slap in the face to those dreams.

    On that basis I can't see them being at all happy about this, particularly as they tended to be a 'limited pie' type bunch (i.e. they saw any British industrial investment in India as 'stolen' from Australia). I just hope this wasn't imposed by London, if it was relations are going to be very, very strained indeed.
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  3. #5523
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    This wasn't imposed by London at all, it was how things developed. Australia found it easier to industrialize itself because a trickle of the flood of refugees that boosted Canada so much found their way to the Worlds largest Island.

    Australia is supplying the big, shiny stuff like aircraft, smaller warships and some Tanks (they are using the Sentinel as a training vehicle for example) whilst India supplies some tanks but mostly relatively easy-to-make stuff like Small Arms and Ammunition.

    For the moment this arrangement works, but how it is after the war will remain my little secret.
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  4. #5524
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    I didn't have an account here when the Italian Campaign was being posted, but I know the perfect anthem for it:

    Union (Slopes of St. Benedict) by Sabaton

    Youtube

    At the turn of the tide, it is our turn to rise,
    The force of a union at war!
    March over mountains on our way to the north,
    On the road that will lead us to Rome!

    Our way will not be easy, it will take us through hardship and pain,
    Hill after hill, breaking their lines of defence!
    Head on north!

    Mile after mile, our march carries on,
    No army may stop our approach!
    Fight side by side, many nations unite,
    In the shadow of Monte Cassino!

    We fight and die together as we head for the valley of death,
    Destiny calls, we’ll not surrender or fail!

    To arms under one banner,
    As a unit we stand and united we fall!
    As one fighting together,
    Bringing an end to the slaughter!

    Winds are changing,
    Head on north!
    “Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst.”
    -British Prime Minister David Lloyd George

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  5. #5525
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Funny you should say that, because I am both a casual Sabaton fan and have made repeated references to "The Great March North" in the Pacific...
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  6. #5526
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Some more pre-winter house-keeping.

    Chapter 306



    The Battle for Batavia was almost over. Four days after XX Corps and I (KNIL) Corps had broken the last major Japanese position on Java the Dutch units were closing in on the last major position within the city. Behind them Batavia lay devastated and in Ruins, the Japanese had fought the the Allies for every inch, and with the population dying in the crossfire.


    By now the last starving Japanese defenders were huddling with their few remaining heavy weapons in a tight perimeter in the northern parts of the city around the harbour.

    No one knew or cared that there were still about sixty, but the two machine guns that they had left were more than a threat to the tired Dutch and local troops. The Japanese were running out of men, ammunition and food but between Bushido and sheer desperation they held on. General Berenschot decided against actually attacking at took the heavy decision to instead 'shell the area until the rubble bounced' even as far more important things were happening out at sea where the Allied Battlefleet was escorting the convoy carrying the Canadian Marines and assorted CANZAC support units towards the biggest of the smaller Islands that separated the Allies from an increasingly desperate Singapore.


    Japanese Intelligence was putting the 1st Royal Canadian Marine Division in the Allied reserve for an attack on either Sumatra or Borneo, the idea that the Allies were making a beeline straight for weakest link in the Japanese position between them and Singapore never entered anyone's mind.

    This blunder in intelligence is more understandable if one examines the Japanese position in the closing days of 1942.

    In the central Pacific the Americans had retaken Midway Island after a battle that had been costly for both sides but more so for the Japanese and they were on the defensive along the line trying to rebuild their losses while waiting for the Americans to make their next move, while at the same time the Allied Powers were battering away at the outer defence perimeter and poised to remove Japanese influence from a vitally important area where the Japan would get the resources needed to keep the war economy going.

    To have any hope of defending these vital Islands the Air Groups that had been depleted during the recent campaign against Singapore needed to be rebuilt and that could not be done if the Allies could supply Singapore and it's airfields at will, and if that happened the Japanese position in the Dutch East Indies would go from bad to untenable.

    The Japanese knew this and also knew that they could not hope to put any meaningful force large enough to defend the Islands at length into position as the waters around them were becoming increasingly Allied-dominated.

    In the light of this the self-deception that the Allies would attack where the majority of the Japanese forces were concentrated and in the exact way they needed to make it work can be understood if not excused.


    The naming of Operation Elk Ridge was and is the source of great humour among non-Canadians but since it was only an internal designation within the Division the descriptive nature of the name wasn't a matter.



    Allied deception was limited, it consisted of wireless communications about the plan referring to it as Exercise Able, with no reference to the location except 'the southern Training Area'.


    Cunningham had approved the plan out of sheer desperation less than a less than two weeks ago. Singapore was literally running out of water and if the Canadians were only slightly behind schedule then Operation Archer was doomed to fail and Singapore might fall after all.

    Operation Archer was a supply convoy that mostly consisted of several fleet tankers and freighters that carried water in cans and in their holds, enough to keep Singapore running for running for another month, by which time the cisterns had hopefully been repaired an re-filled.


    On 24th November 1942 the Royal Saskatchewan Marine Regiment[1] was the first to enter the landing boats.



    Troops of 2nd Battalion, Royal Saskatchewan Marine Regiment at prayer before disembarkation



    The Canadian Marines were to attack Bangka and Belintung, the two Islands that had made past supply convoys so extremely hazardous. While lightly garissoned due to the lack of Japanese anti-malaria medication and general lack of assets but they still served as an excellent observation post for the last round of air attacks, hence why the convoys always had to be perfectly timed.


    Equipped with extra Malaria Medication 1st Brigade went ashore on Bangka, 2nd on Belintung with 3rd Brigade acting as reserve.

    Neither met any significant resistance on the first day. The Islands were only defended by one single Japanese Infantry Brigade.

    The Japanese General in command knew that his situation was hopeless and that in spite of asking several times he would be given no additional troops so he had abandoned Belintung entirely and concentrated his men in a perimeter that ran roughly across the northern half of Bangka. It was a half-moon shaped position on the southern coast opposite Japanese-occupied Sumatra where possible but unexpected aid might arrive from.

    Major General Woolsley was worried when 2nd Brigade failed to report any contact at all and had secured Belintung and the smaller secondary Island of Mendanau by D+3 without seeing a single Japanese soldier.

    Citing past experience with Japanese tactics he feared that on Bangka a large Japanese force would prepare for a slogging match like the one he had led the Division through on Java, the result of which was that the Division was at 79% strength.

    The haste with which the plan had been laid on (with his input having been sought after the the planners) had prevented the Division from absorbing the reinforcements that had been en route from Canada.

    When contact was finally made early on D+4 after a cautious advance across the Island Woolsley decided to play it safe and first decided to reconnoitre the entire enemy position first.

    1st Brigade was ordered to do just that and then hold in place while 3rd Brigade was landed and marched up to join them.

    Woolsley quickly realized that he was at best facing an understrength Brigade which was outmatched against even one of his own and ordered an attack 'along the entire line to bring about the disintegration of the enemy'.

    The choice had been between waiting for the Artillery to come up or to attack immediately. Having been impressed upon that time was of the essence and so instead of giving the factories in Australia further employment making shells late on that same day a night attack was launched. One of the few prisoners that were taken when fighting ended two days later 'it was as if a giant had stepped on an eggshell'.


    When the news reached Admiral Cunningham in Darwin it took less than five minutes to send a single-word message out to the Fleet that was covering the staging area north of Java.


    'Go. Cunningham, SAC Pacific, 28th November 1942'


    The force that escorted the Water Convoy consisted solely of British and Australian ships.

    Six tankers, twelve Destroyers, four Light Cruisers, two Heavy Cruisers and one Battlecruiser, all under the command of Commodore Beattie aboard said Battlecruiser.



    HMS Hood during the Emergency Convoy

    The six tankers were the six fastest fleet tankers that the Royal Fleet Auxiliary had in the Pacific at the time but the convoys was still limited to eleven knots of speed, meaning that it would take near a week to reach Singapore, but the most important thing was that the Canadian Marines had kicked open the door to Singapore and that if the fortress could hold until the convoy arrived then the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies were doomed and the Japanese position in South-East Asia and Indochina went from bad to catastrophic.


    And Cunningham and Auckinleck were planning to meet over new years to discuss how to take advantage of the situation, for the Allied position was excellent. The four Japanese Divisions and other units on Sumatra were cut off and could be destroyed at will, Singapore, if they could hold for another week, was a staging area for the liberation of Malaya and once Sumatra was cleared the Australian connection to the Empire and the Indian Ocean were safe again. The war would be long, but in the Pacific too things were finally looking up.

    The Great March north was about to begin.


    +-+-+-+-+-

    Comments, questions, rotten tomatoes?

    [1] You may have noticed that the RCCM Regiments are named after the provinces and territories.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  7. #5527
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    Go Canada.

    Also I really like the CANZAC acronym.

    ANZAC was catchy but CANZAC just sounds better for some reason.

  8. #5528
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    MARIIIIIIIINES!

    Kind of funny to have Saskatchewanian Marines - one of only two landlocked provinces in Canada - but then again, military naming schemes can be both deceptive and arbitrary. And there's no reason why Saskatchewanians can't be good Marines.

    Est-ce qu'il-y-a des regiments Franco-Saskois dans l'armee Canadien?
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  9. #5529
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperhawkZ View Post
    MARIIIIIIIINES!

    Est-ce qu'il-y-a des regiments Franco-Saskois dans l'armee Canadien?
    Yeah reading that made me laugh.

    Very witty good sir. Very witty indeed.

  10. #5530
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperhawkZ View Post
    Est-ce qu'il-y-a des regiments Franco-Saskois dans l'armee Canadien?
    I hope so. I would like to see the Van Doos fooling around and kicking arses.
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  11. #5531
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Agent Larkin When I made it up Commonwealth was overused in my mind, so the Canada-Australia-New Zealand Allied Community () was born.

    ViperhawkZ Well, when I made that up an MSN-mate of mine who is a Franco-Canadian and suggested naming the Regiments after the First Nations, to which I replied along the lines of :"Today, sure. In the 1930s, I don't think so." and so the idea to name them after the Provinces and Territories was born. Saskatchewan was randomly selected for this piece.

    And my french is VERY rusty, but yes, there is a Royal Quebec Marine Regiment.

    Agent Larkin(2) Huh?

    Kurt_Steiner Again, huh?
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  12. #5532
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post

    Agent Larkin(2) Huh?

    the vandoos are the royal 22nd regiment. french canadians based out of i think valcartier in la belle province.
    very very much a regiment you do NOT want to ever fight. their history is storied and gloried.

    Kurt_Steiner Again, huh?
    quite a godawful prospect for the axis/communists lumping the anzacs in with the canadians.

    speaking to the quality of saskatchewan soldiers. early in ww2 the british asked if canada could send a battalion to hong kong to beef up the garrison.
    they arrived not long before the jappanese attacked and fought well especially considering they were green as grass. at the bitter end they were down to
    fighting with jappanese rifles as they were nearly out of 303 rounds for their enfields. seeing just how grim the situation was the surviving officers had
    a meeting and decided to escape hong kong by attacking the jappanese forces in front of them and then moving down to the harbour and taking enough
    boats to get across to the mainland. they would then attack the jappanese there and breach their lines before setting off into the interior in search of one
    chiang kai shek whom they would join with to continue fighting the jappanese. a british officer came by before sunset and told them to surrender as the
    garrison was throwing in the towel.

    given what happened to so many of them in the camps i've always wondered if they wouldn't have preferred to try their plan rather than surrendering.
    Last edited by Ehran; 16-08-2011 at 00:17. Reason: spelling fix

  13. #5533
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Excellent news from Canada!


    MARCOM, AIRCOM and the Ground forces are to be renamed. The RCAF, RCN and Canadian Army are back!



    Link here.
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  14. #5534
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    For all their culture's notions of honour (and the importance thereof), the Japanese in WW2 treated worthy foes like dirt.

    EDIT:

    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    Excellent news from Canada!
    MARCOM, AIRCOM and the Ground forces are to be renamed. The RCAF, RCN and Canadian Army are back!
    WHOO! WHOO! WHOO! WHOO!
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  15. #5535
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperhawkZ View Post
    For all their culture's notions of honour (and the importance thereof), the Japanese in WW2 treated worthy foes like dirt.
    They still haven't gotten rid of that superiority complex. If the War taught the Germans anything it was humility. Perhaps a tad too much, but we no longer have ideas above our station.
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  16. #5536
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    Kurt_Steiner Again, huh?
    The Van Doos, also known as the Royal 22e Régiment, is a francophone infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces.
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  17. #5537
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    I knew of the Regiment (they were the core of the Canadian Force that put down the uprising) but not of the nickname.
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  18. #5538
    Trekaddict

    Great to see an update. Sounds like things are very tight in Singapore but that everything will fall into place if this convoy gets through. A bit surprised that with its importance there is no carrier support and only one capital ship. Especially given its speed even a couple of the older BBs could easily keep up and add some extra beef, as well as other targets for any attackers. However depends on what's available and busy elsewhere. Could be that this is the close escort and there is a distant cover force to intervene if any Japanese surface fleet turns up.

    Steve

  19. #5539
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    You pretty much nailed it, Steve. The Convoy is covered all the way by long-range Fighters that are based on Java, the Carriers are standing by if support is needed (but are mostly watching for Japanese Air coming in from the north), but mostly the Capitals are covering the Canadian Marines and due to their position you can see that they are in a position to deter any intervention by the Japanese Surface Forces.
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  20. #5540
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    Chapter 307



    Technically his place was within the command centre watching the RDF plot of the approaches but Air Vice Marshal Browning was standing at the southernmost point of Singapore Island and stared into the early morning mist through a pair of Zeiss Binoculars that he had bought before the war.


    “Anything yet?” he asked no one in particular and the group of men standing a few steps behind him, staring in the same direction.

    “Nothing, Sir.”


    Browning didn't show it but he was more than worried. The water reserves on the Island would last at best for another three or four days and while the destroyer reservoirs were being repaired the base lacked everything from concrete to construction equipment and re-building the distribution systems would take time that the Fortress simply would not have if the convoy did not arrive at all.

    Keeping it's existence secret as intended had been an exercise in futility from the start but he had deployed most of his MPs and reserve forces around the base to keep thirsty civvies from storming it and now he was waiting for the fleet to arrive.


    Singapore's last operational Wellington was out trying to find the fleet, but no luck so far. What they had seen was an empty ocean, but this Wellington only had the crews eyes to penetrate the darkness.

    Browning resisted the urge to begin pacing back and forth in the way his wife hated so much.

    He needed this convoy to get through. It was absolutely vital for the fortress at large and him personally because if he was perfectly honest, he was at his wits ends.


    “THERE!”


    Someone yelled.

    Browning stared in the direction indicated and saw nothing. He stared at the early morning mist without seeing anything. He could hear that sweet delicious rumble in the distance that clearly showed that some ships were out there but he couldn't see anything. It was too dark to see far unaided and too bright already for positioning lights and the ships themselves were blacked out.


    But then suddenly he saw ship after ship emerging. The ships heading directly for the base were RFA Tankers, but out in the distance in the increasing light Browning could now see a long dark shape that was clearly a ship of war.

    Judging by the length and the superstructure it could be only one vessel and that meant that Cunningham was confident enough to risk the big superstars.

    This could mean any number of things, but the Hood wouldn't moor until the tankers had been emptied and stay out until then to cover the operations.

    He could ask her Captain then, but right now the presence of the tankers meant only one thing, his first hot cup of tea in days.


    Two hours and twenty-seven minutes later Browning was holding a tin cup with a few gulps of the best Darjeeling left in it in his hands as he waited for RFA Arnadale to be emptied of her precious cargo. Every fire pump, cleaned out fuel lorry and anything else able to carry fluids fit for human consumption at short notice was used to ferry the water to the distribution points but he was impatient for another arrival.


    RFA Arnadale before the war


    Normally he would have been expected to go the entire distance and turn out every bloody marching band on the Island but luckily the Convoy Commander had shown sense and sent in the tankers first, so now the Hood, two of the Lights and three Destroyers were trying their best not to get into anyone's way as they made their way to the dock side.

    “They are nearly here, Sir.” Browning's chief aide said.

    “Well then, let's meet our saviour.”



    The man they had been speaking off was walking down Hood's gangway wishing he'd been able to change into his No.1s, but as he saw that the reception party only consisted of Air Vice Marshal Browning who was wearing a standard Army Field Dress with his wings sown on he realized that the locals had better things to do than waste time and that this man had taken Singapore through it's gravest times.

    At the bottom of the Gangway salutes were exchanged.


    “Commodore Beatty, Commanding Officer of Emergency Convoy S-1 and Master and Commander of Her Majesty's Battlecruiser Hood, at your service Air Vice Marshal.”

    “Air Vice Marshal Browning, AOC Singapore Fortress District. And frankly, Commodore, we are sure glad to see you.”

    “The Navy is always happy to help the Air Force in cases like this. The Army on the other hand...”

    Genuine laughter ran through the group and Browning waited for it to die down.

    “Commodore, we haven't been given the full picture, Security and what not. I have to ask now: How long are you going to stay?”

    Beattie grinned.

    “As long as you will have us, Sir. I have been authorized by the Admiral to tell you that the Dutch have sent the last organized Japanese units on Java to meet their ancestors while the Canadians have kicked the Japanese in the gentlemen's region and the door wide open. The fleet is back for good, Sir. I haven't spoken with anyone for several days, but as of my leaving the Fleet the orders were that you are to prepare for the arrival of several Squadrons with support units over the next few days and the 1st Royal Canadian Marine Division by the middle of the month.”

    Stunned silence followed and then suddenly the three cars taking the party to Brownign's residence arrived.


    ~**---**~



    “So anyway,” Colonel Anderson, CO 56 (Heavy) Regiment, Royal Artillery, said to his childhood friend and neighbour who commanded RFA Tidespring, “the bunker's optics and comms are damaged to we use the lads to shift around some of these AA Guns.”

    “What happened, Harry?”


    “The towline to the lorry snaps and off the gun goes down the hill, with seven Gunners in pursuit, the Lance Bombardier up in front.” Anderson said and laughed.

    “At the bottom of the hill is a group of signallers laying the line to the new gun position on top of the hill and the Bofors narrowly avoids running straight into their lorry. It crashes into a ditch a quarter mile further on. So the Lance Bombardier calmly walks up to the lorry and knocks. He lifts his tin hat and says: “Excuse me, have you seen a gun?”

    “Out comes one of the signallers and says: “What colour was it?”


    More laughter and the unremarkable incident passed into history.[1]


    “So anyway,” the Colonel said, what's the situation out there?”

    “Improving. The Fleet's finally embarrassed enough to do something about the Nips and it seems I and my kind will be calling here more often.”

    “And thank the lord for that!” Anderson exclaimed.

    “The AVM had everyone, from the Governor down to the simplest squaddy on the same thirst rations. Now we can at least take our time fixing the pumps and pipes that the Nips destroyed.”

    Suddenly perfectly serious Anderson leaned closer to the Merchant Sailor.

    “It was a damn near thing, believe you me.”

    +-+-+-+-+-+-

    Comments, questions, rotten Tomatoes?





    [1] Now, that's what everyone thought at the time of course. The BBC and comedy fans all over the world beg to differ.
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    Possibly the world's most British German as awarded by El Pip here.

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