THE FIRST NEGATIVE ANSWER came in school summer holiday time 1940. I was playing in the front garden of our family home, 42 Shotburn Crescent, Leven, Fife, Scotland when two men arrived with a blow torch and cut the iron railings down for scrap. I asked my stepfather what tool they had used “an oxyacetylene torch” he said. He didn’t look too pleased. The Durie foundry where he was manager were making aluminium aircraft wings and assembling armoured cars
Sometimes stepfather had to go to London to consult the Ministry of War Production. He did so shortly after and returned home in a flaming temper. He told mother and me, while passing through Yorkshire they passed tens of thousands of tonnes of iron railings on their way to a furnace. An iron furnace is like a bottle of wine with lees. In a furnace the lees is the metal to be used for iron railings, it has so many impurities it cannot be used for anything else.
I thought the Cabinet only needed to ask any engineer or iron Master about the usefulness of iron railings and thereby prevented all this waste!
As a navigator I know the coastlines of the world are littered with wrecks, the navigator caused by him assuming his ship was elsewhere than it was. When navigating the ship of state likewise assumptions are dangerous and the above is a classic case.