Operation Alacrity - British US bases in the Azores Quite a secret operation from a book by one who was there. The Portugese government actually gave permission for the bases and refuelling depots to be built/placed on their soil. OPERATION ALACRITY: The Azores and the War in the Atlantic Anyone who has ever studied the Atlantic War is well aware that despite the strategic prominence of the Azore Islands, located almost in the middle of the Atlantic, little mention was made of them during the war years and even less was revealed about their wartime role in many supposedly definitive histories later published. As students, we learned the Azores were Portuguese property, and everyone of course knew Portugal was neutral. Or was it? Was this tiny cluster of islands the "Black Hole of the Atlantic" or merely pawns in a cunningly orchestrated political game? Operation Alacrity sheds light on this long ambivalent issue. To win the war against German U-boats in World War II, the Allies had to protect their convoys in the vast black hole of the mid-Atlantic known as the Azores Gap. In 1943 they devised a plan to set up air bases on the Azores Islands, owned by neutral Portugal. It was essential for the operation to remain secret so that the Allies could get the islands before the Germans, who also planned to build bases there from which to launch bombing raids against American seacoast cities. The author of this book, Norman Herz, took part in the Allied operation, called Operation Alacrity, as a corporal with the US Army Corps of Engineers'928th Engineer Aviation Regiment. At the time he was given little information about the operation and told never to talk about what he did. After the war the operation remained mostly unknown, kept secret, Herz suggests, so as not to embarrass the US government, which had publicly denied plans to invade the Portuguese territory while secretly preparing an invasion task force. In researching this book, Herz could not find the operation mentioned in official US histories of World War II, but he discovered a treasure trove of memos and other documents among the files of the US Joint chiefs of Staff, the Combined US-UK Chiefs of Staff, and the State Department. Told here for the first time, the story is filled with diplomatic intrigue and double-dealing and includes secret meetings between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. It also provides a fascinating account of Churchill's efforts to justify landing in the Azores by referencing a 1373 treaty between Portugal and Britain. From US Navy Seabees to RAF Sappers, all Allied engineering branches participated in the invasion. The success of their operation is undeniable: U-boats stopped patrolling the Azores Gap and not a single Allied ship in the area was lost again. Today the base is an important link to American and NATO defenses worldwide.