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Showing posts from April, 2019

Eighty years ago, Neville Chamberlain tries to show he means business, but apologises to Hitler in advance

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The British government followed up the announcement in late March that the volunteer Territorial Army was to be doubled in size, with another move intended to show that the country was undertaking serious military preparations to confront Nazi Germany. For over a year the government had been resisting calls to create a Ministry of Supply, a euphemism for a ministry of munitions like the one established in the First World War to direct the national economy in Britain’s first total war. Neville Chamberlain finally bowed to these calls, but the detail of the measure suggested that he was, at most, half-hearted about it. The new ministry would only concern itself with the needs of the army; the other armed services would fend for themselves. Moreover, the new minister was to be Leslie Burgin, who was moved from the Ministry of Transport. No-one doubted his competence, but he was a low-key administrator. The most powerful voice advocating a Ministry of Supply had been that of Winsto

Eighty years ago, a Scottish Duke bottles out of a slice of Hitler's birthday cake, but an English Baron tucks in

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A host of guests arrived in Berlin to take part in Hitler’s fiftieth birthday celebrations. He had much to celebrate as well as his half-century. The guests included two notable British aristocrats. Lord Brocket headed the Anglo-German Fellowship, and was on very good terms with Neville Chamberlain. He was also a constituent, non-voting of course, of Rab Butler, the extremely appeasement-mind junior Foreign Office Minister. Brocket himself was an enthusiastic appeaser. The Duke of Buccleuch had recently been appointed as the High Steward of Britain by King George VI. This was rather more than an empty Court Office. The holder served as the link between the sovereign and the House of Lords and was usually a former senior politician. Buccleuch vigorously supported a negotiated settlement between Britain and Germany and was to continue doing so well in the Second World War. Buccleuch’s attendance might not have been to the taste of Buckingham Palace and he rapidly returned to Bri