A MOMENT IN HISTORY BEFORE KENNEDY TRAGEDY

Saturday 7 July 2012

A moment in history before Kennedy tragedy

Paul Elgood, author of a new book on JF Kennedy’s 1963 visit to Birch Grove in Horsted Keynes Published on Thursday 28 June 2012 18:00 THIS weekend sees the 49th anniversary of the visit by John F Kennedy to Birch Grove, the Horsted Keynes home of then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Kennedy arrived on Saturday, June 29, 1963, and stayed one night at Macmillan’s private home in the country before flying from Gatwick to Italy to continue a European tour. Less than six months later, on November 22, 1963, he was shot dead in Dallas in what was a moment of violent madness that became etched in history books forever. Now, Paul Elgood, the author of a new book, claims to shed further light on JFK’s visit to Birch Grove, which took place at the height of the Cold War. Paul says the brief 24-hour visit is often overlooked, but the time spent together by the two heads of state, in the Sussex countryside, cemented their relationship and the Anglo-American friendship. Afterwards, both men saw their work curtailed, Macmillan when he resigned as Prime Minister in October, and Kennedy, when he lost a child just weeks later and then his own life to an assassin’s bullet. Paul describes his 82-page book as a short history written using three sets of government files – those at the UK National Archives in Kew, the JFK Library in Boston and the East Sussex archives in Lewes. He said: “Whilst not newly released, it is the first time anyone has pieced the three sets of files together. And what a story emerges!” In the book, entitled Kennedy at Birch Grove – The Extraordinary Story of President Kennedy’s 1963 Visit to the Sussex Countryside – Paul reveals that Macmillan had to borrow a butler for the occasion, while his housekeeper was asked to move bedrooms to allow the president’s Secret Service agent to sleep in the room adjacent, and a small army of police officers got lost on their way to protect him. East Sussex police chief R Berefit arranged protection for the president, even having three magistrates sitting through the weekend in case they were needed. But Kennedy’s own Secret Service security bubble was so tight that the local police were left as by-standers to the immense US operation, which include three jumbo jets, two helicopters and more than 100 members of the press. Paul said: “The visit has almost become folklore in the local area, and the actual government files made fascinating reading. “Reading them is literally like going back in time and re-living those 24 hours in real time.” He added: “Sadly, Kennedy was assassinated a few months later, and so much of the preparation of the Birch Grove visit mirrored that tragic day in Dallas. He was with the same people, used the same vehicles and planes and the arrangements were identical. “Locally it is a well-told story, but further afield it became eclipsed by the historic visits to Berlin and Ireland in the days prior to the Birch Grove visit. Nearly 50 years on I really felt it deserved being re-told.” Paul, who studied American History and Politics at university and is a former Brighton City councillor who also worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign, says he has been a JFK fan since he was 16 and first heard the Birch Grove story. He now hopes events will be organised in Sussex next year to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s visit as they are being elsewhere in Europe. l Kennedy at Birch Grove, by Paul Elgood, 2012, is available at http://www.amazon.co.uk. Publisher: CreateSpace (14 Jun 2012) ISBN-10: 1467996548 ISBN-13: 978-1467996549

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About vincepalamara

Vincent Palamara was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in Sociology. Although not even born when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Vince brings fresh eyes to an old case. In fact, Vince would go on to study the largely overlooked actions - and inactions - of the United States Secret Service in unprecedented detail, as well as achieving a world's record in the process, having interviewed and corresponded with over 80 former agents (the House Select Committee on Assassinations had the old record of 46 with a 6 million dollar budget and supboena power from Congress), not to mention many surviving family members, White House aides, and even quite a few Parkland and Bethesda medical witnesses for a corresponding project. The result was Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service & The Failure To Protect President Kennedy. Vince is also the author of the books JFK: From Parkland To Bethesda and The Not-So-Secret Service. All told, Vince has been favorably mentioned in over 120 JFK and Secret Service related books to date (including two whole chapters in Murder in Dealey Plaza, The Secret Service: The Hidden History Of An Enigmatic Agency by Philip Melanson, and the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, among many others), often at length, in the bibliographies, and in the Secret Service - and even medical evidence - areas of these works. Vince has appeared on the History Channel, C-SPAN, A COUP IN CAMELOT, KING KILL '63, THE MAN BEHIND THE SUIT, National Geographic, PCN, BPTV, local cable access television, YouTube, radio, newspapers, print journals, at national conferences, and all over the internet. Also, Vince's original research materials, or copies of said materials, are stored in the National Archives (by request under Deed Of Gift by the ARRB), the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Harvard University, the Assassination Archives and Research Center, and the Dallas Public Library. Vince Palamara has become known (as he was dubbed by the History Channel in 2003) "the Secret Service expert." As former JFK Secret Service agent Joe Paolella proclaimed: "You seem to know a lot about the Secret Service, maybe even more than I do!" Agent Dan Emmett calls Vince a Secret Service expert in his new book.
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