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Leslie Hore-Belisha

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Kai-Petri, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha, 1st Baron Hore-Belisha, PC (September 7, 1893 – February 16, 1957) was a British Liberal, then National Liberal Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister. He later joined the Conservative Party.

    Having succeeded at the Ministry of Transport, in 1937 he was controversially appointed by Neville Chamberlain as Secretary of State for War replacing the popular Alfred Duff Cooper, who later resigned from the government over Chamberlain's policy of appeasement.

    With the knowledge that war was looming, Hore-Belisha sought permission to introduce conscription in 1938 but was rebuffed by Chamberlain, who would not agree to increased defence spending. Senior Conservatives believed that Hore-Belisha was more concerned about the fate of Jewish people abroad than of Britain itself, such that he wanted Britain to wage war against Germany with the sole intention of protecting European Jews. Undeterred, Hore-Belisha sought to reshape the armed forces with modernising programmes similar to those he had implemented at the Ministry of Transport, improving pay, pensions and promotion prospects for working-class soldiers, whose advancement could often be blocked by nepotism amongst the upper classes. He improved barrack room conditions, installing showers and recreation facilities and giving married soldiers the right to live with their families. In early 1939, he was finally allowed to introduce conscription to meet the threat of Nazi Germany.

    As part of his modernisation of the British armed forces, he sacked three prominent members of the Imperial General Staff, replacing them with fresher minds. His attitude alienated seasoned campaigners such as Field Marshals John Dill and John Gort, the latter of whom, it was reported, could not bear to be in the same room with the Minister. Hore-Belisha's changes infuriated the military establishment and this sentiment was passed down to the lower ranks. In the early months of World War II, he banned a popular yet anti-semitic song which had been widely sung by the armed forces, to the tune of "Onward, Christian Soldiers":

    Onward Christian Soldiers,
    You have nought to fear.
    Israel Hore-Belisha
    Will lead you from the rear.
    Clothed by Monty Burton,
    fed on Lyons pies;
    Die for Jewish freedom
    As a Briton always dies.

    In January 1940, Hore-Belisha was dismissed from the War Office in a shock move that many did not understand at the time. Once again, he was accused of having dragged Britain into the war in order to protect Jewish people on mainland Europe, and was considered a warmonger who did not have Britain's interests at heart.

    Leslie Hore-Belisha, 1st Baron Hore-Belisha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Quite an interesting secretary of state for war since 1937 for Chamberlain government.
     

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