Sunday, November 11

The Remembrance Sunday Quote


The Sunday Quote today the 11 th November - Rememberance Sunday - reflects on a little referred to meeting on the Day that Winston Churchill was appointed as Britain's War time coalition government Prime Minister. A meeting between the incumbent PM Chamberlain, Foreign Sectary Lord Halifax and Churchill then First Sea Lord. Churchill's uncharacteristic silence during a key moment at the meeting that day a reflection of his political genius.

I have had many important interviews in my public life and this was certainly the most important. Usually I talk a great deal but on this occasion I was silent . Mr Chamberlain evidently had in his mind the stormy scene in the House of Commons two nights before, when I had seemed to be in such heated controversy with the Labour Party,. Although this had been in his support and defense, he nevertheless felt that it might be an obstacle to my obtaining their adherence at this juncture. I do not recall the actual words he used, but this was the implication. As I remained silent a very long pause ensued. It certainly seemed longer than the two minutes which one observes in the commemorations of Armistice Day. Then at length Halifax spoke. He said that he felt that his position as a Peer, out of the House of Commons , would make it very difficult for him to discharge the duties of Prime Minister in a war like this. He spoke for some minutes in this sense, and by the time he had finished it was clear that the duty would fall upon me.
Extracted and abridged from: 'The Second World War Volume 1 - The Gathering Storm' by Winston S Churchill.

The two minutes silence that Churchill refers to at the meeting at number 10 Downing Street was on the morning of 10 May 1940 and has since been described as the most important two minutes in British History. If Halifax had emerged for that meeting as Chamberlin's successor as indeed the latter had intended without doubt the UK would have made deal with Nazi Germany who that very day had invaded Holland, Belgium and France.

Thus, this is how the the war time Leadership of Winston Churchill started with an assement of a situation that had the great man mishandled the political result would clearly have led to the and early end to the War with the appeasement of Hitler's military dominance of Europe. A policy that would have led to a Europe of unchallenged fascist domination.

Not before or since that short meeting in the famous terraced house in central London has the future of the western world hinged on a well calculated silence; if anyone doubts the vital contribution of Churchill's leadership to Britain and world civilization during the early years of the Second World War they need do no more than consider the alternative politician that could have led the nation from May 1940 - the appeaser Lord Halifax.

3 comments:

Sarah Hopperty said...

An excellent point Peter.

Anonymous said...

If Halifax would've become Chamberlin's successor, how do you think this would have altered the history of WW2?

Anonymous said...

Chamberlain, not "Chamberlin"