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On March 2, 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill flew from Northolt to Belgium aboard his Douglas C-54 Skymaster for a five-day visit to the front. Arriving behind schedule at Northolt, Churchill departed with his entourage that included his wife Clementine, Chief of the Imperial General Staff Field Marshal Alan Brooke and General Hastings Ismay at just after 11 am. A Spitfire squadron provided an escort. Flying over Dungeness, St. Omer, and Lille they saw some of the former flying bomb sites. Churchill was met in Brussels by his daughter Mary who was serving in an anti-aircraft battery; Air Marshal Arthur Coningham, commander of the 2nd Tactical Air Force; Major-General Sir Francis Wilfred de Guingand, chief of staff to Montgomery; and Air Vice-Marshal Basil Embry. Coningham, who had a reputation for extravagance, took the party to his headquarters in the city located in a lavish villa for lunch, which was “one of his usual sumptuous meals.” After the lunch the party, save for Clementine and Mary who remained in Brussels, flew to the Eindhoven aerodrome in two Dakota aircraft where they were met by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of the 21st Army Group, who took them to his headquarters for tea. While with Monty the prime minister’s proposal of inserting Field Marshal Harold Alexander as Deputy Supreme Commander was discussed. The party later went to the station where Eisenhower’s train had been placed at their disposal. They changed and returned to Montgomery’s headquarters for dinner, after which they attended Monty’s evening interviews with his liaison officers on the battle situation.

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