- Contributed by
- Woodbridge Library
- People in story:
- Mr Kenneth Barley
- Location of story:
- Dover to Calais
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 July 2004
This story was submitted to the People's War
by Woodbridge Library on behalf of Mr Kenneth Barley and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
The Pluto Pipeline was devised by the British Government to establish a pipeline under the ocean from Dover to Calais to provide petrol for the army.
Having established this cross-channel pipeline,as the troops advanced, the pipeline had to be extended out, spreading across France, to Belgium and Holland. It tended to represent an octopus because all the lines went out,there was something like 30-40 miles of pipeline involved. It spread out like a disease acress the country. As the armys advanced the line extended more and more inland. These extensions were joined onto the main pipeline.
All these lines had to be protected as it was all underwater, in case it could be seen by German spotter planes. The pipeline had to be encased in lead to stop salt attacking the pipeline.
Previously the lead was imported from Canada and Australia in ingots. Owing to the bombing of the churches, cathedrals and mansions suffficient lead became available which was useful. They couldn't send lead from other countries because the ships were needed for armaments and troops.
Lead is not a pure metal, it contains zinc, tin, antimony copper and silver, so it had to be purified. Foreign bodies had to be extracted so it was pure to encase the Pluto pipeline. Lead can never be made 100% pure it is always 99.9% recurring. The majority of this purification work was done at a large factory in Millwall by our employees and at other factories.
I never understood why the Germans never found out about this pipeline and why it's never been talked about until very recently, when it was mentioned on a programme when they were talking about the war. The Germans must have wondered how we got our petrol.
The irony of this situation is that Hitler thought how successful the bombing of our main public buildings was. However he failed to realise that the Germans were actually contributing to our war effort, because without the lead from our bombed churches and cathedrals etc, we couldn't have run the Pluto pipeline and we couldn't have supplied our troops with the petrol they needed!
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