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Chamberlain resigns May 1938

Discussion in 'Leaders of World War 2' started by PMN1, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. PMN1

    PMN1 recruit

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    In his book ‘Wilfred Freeman – the genius behind allied survival and air supremacy 1939 – 1945’ Anthony Furze says that in early 1938 it was clear that the British rearmament programme (for aircraft at least) was lagging behind that of Germany and there was much criticism of the Air Ministry from Conservative back benchers like Churchill and from the Labour Opposition.

    Much of this Furze says could be directly attributed to Chamberlain’s secret insistence that rearmament should not interfere with the normal course of trade, however, Lord Swinton the Secretary of State for air and Lord Weir, one of Swinton’s advisors on production had to accept the blame for the consequences of this ‘undisclosed constraint’ and resigned on 16th May 1938.

    If it had been Chamberlain who had got the blame and resigned at this time, who would have replaced him and what effect would that have had on the rearmament programme as Chamberlain was still dragging even then his feet convinced he could persuade Hitler to avoid war.

    Was Churchill in a position to become Prime Minister May 1938 or would someone else have replaced Chamberlain and if so would Churchill have even got the chance to become Prime Minister?

    Would Chamberlain’s 1938 replacement (if it hadn’t been Churchill) have been a better PM than Churchill?

    What would Swinton and Weir keeping their roles have had on the air rearmament programme – Swinton was replaced by Sir Kingsley Wood, a lawyer who by his own admission ‘did not know one end of an aircraft from another’.
     
  2. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    This is interesting, as opinions of Chamberlain do vary wildly.
    Even on this site I have seen some comments that have him as the rather short-sighted leader (in the international sense) who only started rearming at the last minute as he was forced to, and some that credit him as deliberately treading softly while launching large-scale rearmament programs!

    I look forward to this discussion...
     
  3. PMN1

    PMN1 recruit

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    additional

    Forgot to add, WW2 still breaks out September 1939 whoever replaced Chamberlain in 1938.

    I agree, views on Chamberlain do vary wildly - I have mentioned on this board that he was PM at a time of massive increased expenditure so I give him credit for what he did authorise and I dont think he was as short-sighted as some of the popular history books like to say.
     
  4. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Re: additional

    I still think Chamberlain was a weak PM. As for a 1938 replacement, I think Churchill would have to be counted out. He barely got the job in 1940 (seems King George VI, among others, didn't like him), so I think there's no way he'd have gotten the nod in 1938. A possibility, one mentioned in 1940 as it happens, would have been Lord Halifax. I'm not too conversant on British political figures of that era, I'm afraid.
     
  5. 2ndLegion

    2ndLegion New Member

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    Lord Halifax would probably have come after him, he was the non Churchill choice during WW2, and Churchill was considered to be a remnant of the last century out of touch with the world.

    However it should be remembered no Munich, no fall of Czechoslavokia, war in 1938 Britain, France Czechs vs Germans, decisive German defeat.

    Another thing to remember is the British declaration of war would have been taken seriously had Chamberlin been out.

    Hitler correctly thought that a France with Daladier in command, and a Britain with Chamberlin in command would not be too effective.

    When Churchill replaced Chamberlin, and Reynaud replaced Daladier Hitler was literally shaking.
     
  6. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    He had every reason to. It's unfortunate that Reynaud inherited a France whose collective backbone had been so effectively removed by the bloodbath of the First World War. Had Britain been in a similar condition, Churchill would have faced an equally impossible task.
     
  7. Castelot

    Castelot New Member

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    I wonder what makes you think France had lost some "national backbone" due to WW1.

    The reason France was beateb are quite obvious, they are the same why Poland, Britain and Russia/among others) were always defeated in 1939-1942.
    These reasons were the revolutionary armour tactics used by the Wehrmacht, and their air superiority.French active divisions in 1940 did not fight less good that their british counterparts, or the russians in 1941.

    The reason why Britain and Russia could survive the early german sucesses were that Britain had the sea between them and Europe and the russians had space+ numerous population.
    France lacked these advantages, so it was conquered.

    Or do you think Britain would not have been conquered if there was no channel between them and the germans?

    Or do you believe Russia would not have been conquered had it the size of France?

    Every nation that participated in WW1 was badly hurt by this war.
    That was the reason for apeasement from Britain and France.
    That was the reason for isolationism from the USA.
    But neither of them lost "national backbone".

    Maybe you can give me a hint why you think that France had lost "national backbone" more than any other country in WW1.
     
  8. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Their devotion to defense as the highest form of warfare. :wink:

    But yes, the point is taken that most of the countries who suffered badly in WW1 (and the resulting wave of Pacifism) were ill-prepared for WW2.
     
  9. GP

    GP New Member

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    Ill prepared doesn't mean lack of back bone.

    (Gosh a Brit sticking up for France).

    The problems of WW2 was due to several factors. Both the Brits and French '
    thought the Ardennes was to hard to fight through in force so only defended it with a small french force (relatively speaking).

    When the Nazis thundered through it with their armour the Brits though it was a diversion, and refused to help the French.

    The French thinking of WW1 speeds of advance put up blocks too late.

    When they realised the speed of the German advance they formed hedghogs (concentrated heavy defensive postions, the Germans simply went around and came back to them one the Brits were isolated at Dunkirk.

    The French fought to the best of their ability and command, just as did the BEF.

    It just wasn't good enough.
     
  10. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    I'm not sure I agree with you completely on this. Especially given how much collaboration (both passive and active) there was in France during the German occupation. Yes, I know that the Germans held onto large numbers of French POWs, but does this really explain, for example, how turning Jews over to the Nazis became the number one participant sport in occupied France? Or the French who actively fought alongside the Germans after D-Day?
     
  11. 2ndLegion

    2ndLegion New Member

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    You are reffering to the French Right Wing. The Right in France was always racist, and always believed what the Germans believed in, the destruction of France was a godsend to them, and they did not want it to end so they helped the German occupiers fight against the allies. The moderates, liberals, socialists, and communists however flocked to De Gaulle to form the ressistance. Unfortunately they lost a lot more then they won, but there were enough of them to show that the French were not for the most part pro-holacaust. The effects of the betrayel by the right wing are still showing today in France since the French Right has never since been elected to the highest office.

    Even with the french right however had it not been for Erick Von Manstien the Battle of France would have gone very differently. The french did have tank divisions, and they had better tanks to. Their performance smashing the Germans twice (The 7th Army destroyed 100 German tanks in Belgium and lost 5, and then there was also the Battle of Hannut) shows had it not been for the Manstien Plan things would have looked very different.

    The other variables were Chamberlin, Gamelin, and Daladier who decided the best way to win the war was to do the Phony War.
     

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