I don’t know why Buck House is worried folk might thing the Queen’s a Nazi just because of some pics of her doing the salute as her kid. Does make me think Mrs Simpson did us a favour getting Edward to abdicate though, because he was a known sympathiser who didn’t want Churchill to become Prime Minster. How different history might have been. But what’s this got to do with motorbikes?
In the run up to 1939 TT, Isle of Man Weekly Times editor George Brown scribbled a piece – and ran it as the paper’s leader, no less – having a pop at Hitler and British riders riding for German and Italian teams. Fair enough, given both countries were run by fascist regimes that were undertaking some pretty grim atrocities. The Nazi nastiness is well recorded, but Mussolini was just as bonkers – if he didn’t like you, or god forbid lived somewhere he wanted to occupy you were bundled into a transport aircraft and slung out at 5,000 feet.
Brown wrote: ‘Of course we don’t want German or Italian riders to win and still less do we desire a victory for a British rider using a German of Italian machine… There is more than a chance that the countries these famous British riders represent will be at war with Britain before the year is out.’ Brown was promptly kicked out of the BBC commentary team for sharing his thoughts with fellow Manxmen.
Aunty Beeb’s excuse was that “it would be most inadvisable at the present time for us to be associated with an element of political controversy in what we feel should be regarded purely as a sporting event.” As spineless back then as they are now.
When BMW and Georg Meier won the Senior TT that year inevitably the crowd below the podium were treated to the Nazi salute. Some say that Meier’s team mate and second placed rider, Brit Jock West, joined in, although photos suggest he just looked awkward. This was the first time a TT had been won from outside Great Britain and gave Hitler yet another PR victory just a few months before Europe burned.
Fascinating – if grim – era and well documented in Roger Willis’ The Nazi TT