Great movie. Did I forget anyone? Bravo Dr. Dr Spencer is being generous in presenting that the scientists were fooled by their thinking, ignorance, or circular logic. The basics of their aberrant science is a collage of junk science that arrives at the conclusion that they want — climate change is our fault — and produces the political clout to impose radical economic, wealth, and social changes in the name of saving the planet.
This is a political effort and a specific agenda, not a group of scientists that went astray. They were purposely sent astray by the mandate a la Maurice Strong to show that global warming is manmade a la Trofim D Lysenko. They knew the answer, and just needed to fabricate the science. The more that the real science can be nailed down and demonstrated and the jun science revealed and debunked, the greater the chance of shooting down this agenda as word spreads of the supportable science and the planet continues to do its own thing. It is quite convenient, I must say that they used the latest warming period to begin to sell manmade global warming.
I cringe at the idea that, if the natural cycle was longer or happened to skip a cycle, the reality of the planet would not have been realized until it was too late and the idiots had taken over. Of course, that does not mean that they will not continue to try. He once worked on the Russian Space program and argued that much of human illness is supported by our trained overbreathing over-emphasis on O2 intake , which lowers our internal C This cause all sorts of spasms and mal-reactions in our bodies that appear as the chronic diseases we end up wrestling with.
We have more than enought O2, but without adequate CO2, the body lacks the chemical flag that weakens the affinity of 02 to hemoglobin and thus you suffer from lack of Buteyko today is endorsed as a non-medicinal asthma treatement in Britain and in Russian and is relatively well known in Australia. This is quite a different take from the common mistake of seeing C02 purlely as a metabolic waste product.
Spencer says: You see, the legislative train left the station many years ago, and no amount of new science will slow it down as it accelerates toward its final destination: forcibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Mother Nature had nothing to with the hockey stick nor hide the decline nor bad temp data nor useless tree ring data nor….
Judging by the impairment of air and watersheds in this country, I would hazard a guess that Nature does indeed care how many steaks we eat or how many jets we fly. Does a disregard for consumptive limits make sense yet? Should we be telling our children that eating five pounds of corn-fed, hormone-laced beef everyday is just fine by us, and Nature?
Has anyone here been paying attention to the statistics on obesity in the USA?
Podcasts - Talk Radio Europe
Wise though he may be, Dr. Spencer is clearly not an ecologist. To say that the Earth has historically been CO2 limited and, therefore, an increase in CO2 is a beneficial thing is ridiculous. Instead, we get algal blooms, which have all sorts of negative impacts on human systems. As usual, what ruffles my feathers is not the fact that skeptics feel the way they do about AGW.
CRS, Dr. How would you feel then? Charles Higley : Precisely, that is the danger of Anthropogenics Agenda. By the time the Alarmists have gained enough momemtum to actually put a Climate Forcing Operation into motion, the climage will have reversed itself. We have run this in another thread probably more than once. Now, plans are close to reality to force emergency suicide cooling.
There are fingers on buttons that are very twitchy. Well I hate to say it; but how many times have I said it here already? The first was named whimsically for that chap Birdseye; who invented flash freezing of food to preserve it; without destroying the cells. The aim of the Birdseye experiment is to rid the atmosphere of every last molecule of H2O, while leaving all othe components including GHGs unchanged. To assist in the removal process, it is assumed that the entire earth surface; defined here as the boundary between the Atmosphere, and the Non-Atmosphere is flash frozen; well actually it is only frozen in the sense that the temperature is instantly reduced to zero deg C at that boundary, and above UNLESS the place is already colder than zero deg C, in which case it retains its present temperature.
Note that this does NOT freeze the oceans; only the surface temperature is zero which is above freezing for sea water. All water in the atmosphere simply drops to the surface where it is; either as rain or snow depending on what the pre-existing surface temperature was.
This zero C or less atmosphere then has a much lower saturated vapor pressure for water; and finally we use tweezers or what have you to remove the last remaining H2O molecules, and drop them on the surface. So that is the starting condition. The atmosphere is zero or less, with no water molecules but otherwise same as normal, the surface is zero or less, and below the surface is what it was previously. So now we restart the movie and watch what happens. The cloud cover is now zero; so suddenly the earth albedo is reduced dramatically, with only the surface ice and land giving very much reflectance.
How long do you think it takes for the very first H2O molecule to break free of the surface, and contaminate the atmosphere with H2O? Is this enough forcing to raise the surface temperature of the ocean from zero, and get some more water molecules into the atmosphere? As the water pollution of the lower atmosphere increases; along with the enforced warming; the lower moist air is going to start to rise, since everything above it was at zero deg C, so is denser. Eventually some of that moisture contaminated air is going to reach the saturation vapor pressure at zero deg C, and with all the dust blown up from the non-wet ground, some water droplets are going to form and clouds will start to appear.
This will bring on a new phase, since the clouds will now reflect some of the sunlight back out into space; despite all the CO2 in the air above; and they will also block additional sunlight from the ground; thus lowering the warming rate. Since the earth is rotating, this super blow torch is going to scan the surface, and all the previous phenomena will start to occur on the previously dark side of the planet.
Unfortunately for Dr. I will buy your book, and recommend it to my friends. One problem in non-english-speaking countries is that the majority only read books in their native language. And guess who makes sure they control which books should be translated? Trouble is of course they prefer telling us pygmies what to think. No, David Middleton. The present is the key to understanding the past. It is not myopia but ignorance that you are talking about. It is hubris combined with ignorance that drives ideology. It was buried under a bunch of old copies of National Geographic pre copies, before they ruined it with all the Eco-friendly junk.
You see, geophysicists are rather myopic. These are events which occur external to the normal, internal operation of the globe. But what they have ignored is the potential for angular momentum to cause its own change. Violating the first law of thermodynamics is simply what the system does, owing to its complex, dynamic, chaotic internal behavior. In other Global Warming news today, there are heavy snowstorms across Colorado.
Must be because this is the warmest month EVAH or something. Looking forward to the read. Anthony, please consider posting an article related to the Bill when its released on Monday. Plants will fix carbon until a steady state is reached whereby the rate of carbon mineralization is equal to the rate of geological non-biotic carbon influx; basically vulcanism. Plants, photosynthetic and chemolithotropic bacteria use a hung amount of energy in fixing carbon, CO2 is essentially limiting to the overall biosphere, at least on land.
This opportunity cost limits the size of the biosphere; more CO2, more plants, more animals and more niches open up. No oxygen, no oxygenases can break down the lignin, peat formation, then brown coal formation and finally bituminous coal formation. Dennis Nikols : No, David Middleton.
I think that they are blinder-ed by ruling theories paradigms. This is a form of self-inflicted myopia. Well done Dr Spencer. Along with most regular readers here, I follow your writings with interest. I will certainly buy your book. George E. You water free atmosphere would be easy to do, take a couple of soda bottles and purge them with nitrogen. In one add dried silica gel and the other 5 ml of water.
NOTE BY THE TRUSTEES.
Now just place them out doors and wait. I suspect that one will see a huge difference in the temperature of the one with water, compared to the one without. Bravo for your last paragraphs about the planet being starved for CO2. I have contended this for a while; stating it publicly is a good way to make yourself a magnet for criticism, but I think we must boldly state the truth regardless of how much ridicule it draws. In the end vindication will come; the weight of research is on this side. The biosphere would absolutely love us to stabilize the CO2 content around PPM, between 2 and 3 times what we have now.
Guys like me my PhD is in mathematics are easily dismissed as crackpots for such assertions, but Dr. Spencer is not so easily mocked. I am afraid CRS is exactly correct above. If you are not close enough to a nest of AGW alarmists to actually know what they believe, you better wake yourself up! Hansen et al. I checked the reviews at amazon.
I would say the planners actions are self evident, fully disclosed and hardly secretive. A quick read of Thomas Paine lays bare the machinations of those who would be Emperors. Steam for one generation, serve cold to the next. Phil M. We should seek to conserve energy as a matter of economic prudence while developing better, less polluting e.
We have plenty of time to do this and must not allow greed and puerile politics to drive us into a wild, destructve panic. Enneagram : No, that train is the legislative laws and acts that are going to be crammed down our throats to de-construct our modern way of life, and for no real, physical reason. They then invented PNS to support their dubious science. The conclusion was that it would be due to CO2 depletion long before the Sun became too hot. The notion was that we had maybe million years left before CO2 became so scarce in the atmosphere that the plants would be dead and the animals would be dead.
It was said that this would happen very gradually with one species after another becoming less and less successful until they finally die out. We can already see evidence of that with gymnosperms where a 2x increase in ambient CO2 results in a 10x increase in seed production. Clearly current CO2 levels are not optimal for gymnosperms, once the dominant forest group. Same rules as ever — who ends up with the cash when the music stops.
Who paid for all this? Who are the dummies? The know they are getting buggered and they giggle over chatting points while the shaft is sunk. The role of clouds in influencing temperature was discovered by yours truly long before the good doctor began his education. When I was about 8 years old 56 years ago I arrived at that conclusion as I noticed whenever my view of the sun was blocked by a cloud it felt cooler, only to have the reverse occur when the cloud no longer blocked the sun.
Then again this was not a peer reviewed observation. Oh well. I am a skeptic of AGW, and I do not condone boundless consumption. I in turn resent the arrogant and self righteous attitude of the core of AGW believers, particularly when merely questioning is treated with such hostilaty. Why do you draw a straight line between attitudes towards CO2 and excess N and P? That in itself is enough for me to be cynical and critical. And do you think it is healthy to stifle questioning, disagreement, dissent?
I am somewhat angry about AGW because I think far from helping raise awareness of the world around us I loathe that expression it has created strong partisan view points, when what we really really need is open and free thinking. For me Easter Island is an incredible example of what happens when we humans do not comprehend that there are limits. They Easter Islanders must have been so fixated on fighting each other, probably brought about by running out of space, that they cleared all the trees. I can imagine one of the islanders being sceptical about following the course they were on and how they would have been treated.
Well, we know what happened. They just had to keep on building those statues, and making them bigger and bigger, because that is the way we are. We should deal with the simple problems first.
While I agree that one should never ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity, there is a class of operators in politics whose goals are sheer power. They will use any available tool to achieve power. This book is needed. We need to support politicians who clearly understand that any form of coercion is a warning flag. Kindle version please. After decades of computer use, I prefer to read blogs, news, and books off the screen now.
Kindle book delivery is instantaneous and a couple bucks cheaper than printed media. Nothing not to like, for me. I could be reading right now. Epistemic Closure : I suggest you examine the difference between energy and temperature. You can start by looking at the constant pressure specific heat capacity of water vs.
You forgot the key people who want complete control, the central banksters. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome.
The real enemy then, is humanity itself. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries. Well if you worked your way through my Birdseye thougth experiment above, you should have a process of continuing increase in atmospheric water vapor, and also increasing atmospheric temperature, but the increasing water vapor will absorb an increasing amount of incoming sunlight which will further warm the atmosphere but further cool the surface, by lowering the ground level insolation.
The continually warming moist atmosphere, whether warmed by incomeing solar absorption, or by increasing absorption of outgoing LWIR emissions from an increasingly warm surface, will rise through the colder upper layers bring moisture to ever higher atmospheric layers, and increasing cloud formation which will further lower the ground level insolation. It is conjectured that the diminishing ground level insolation, and increasing cloud cover will eventually bring the warming to a halt at some unknown temperature and atmospheric ,moisture condition.
So that is why we should now do the Venus Experiment; which is the complete opposite of the Birdseye Experiment. In the Venus experiment we want to establish complete cloud cover over the entire earth essentially from the ground to say 20 Km height; pick a number. We want full saturated vapor pressure of water vapor, and nano water droplets forming a single complete cloud from teh ground to 20 km bordering on precipitation.
We did this so fast that no snow or ice on the ground or ocean has melted; and only the air adjacent to the surface is at 50 deg C. Well all the people and animals can go inside; where it is anormal temperature. So now we let reality set in. Th earth albedo is now much higher; probably higher than 0.
So the upper atmopshere is cooling, and convection and conduction is transporting heat from the surface to the top of the clouds; so the surface too is cooling. Since we postulated that the atmosphere is everywhere saturated and even nano droplets of liquid exist part of the cloud ; we can hypothesize that some sort of precipitation should start to occur.
It might rain for 40 days and 40 nights; but precipitation in some form, is going to start removing vast amounts of excess H2O molecules from the atmosphere, so the cloud density is going to thin. Well as the cloud density reduces, the absorption of solar spectrum energy diminishes, and some sunlight starts to reach the ground, which will slow the cooling rate of the surface due to LWIR emissions. Eventually, the clouds will start to break up, as the moisture content diminishes with all the precipitation, and the upper reaches of the clouds may eventually reach the local freezing point so that ice crystal clouds can also form, and eventually snow and maybe even hail will precipitate.
As precipitation continues, the amount of cloud cover diminishes, and more sunlight reaches the ground so the cooling process continues to slow, and the surface temperature may eventually stop falling.
It is conjectured that at some point the amount of sunlight reaching the ground is enough to halt the cooling and a stable amount of cloud cover is established. But I have never actually done this experiment; so I do not know for sure that that is what happens; which is why we should do the Birdseye experiment; to see if the earth can cool withoug limit as this Venus process continues.
Without proof, it is my thesis that the Birdseye experiment reaches a stable temperature the Birdseye Temperature where further heating results in more evaporation and cloud which blocks enough extra sunlight to halt the warming. It is also hypothesized that in the Venus Experiment, the cooling process eventually stops when further cooling results in the precipitation of more water, thus reducing the cloud amount by enough to let more sunlight in to stop the cooling. This would stop at the Venus Temperature. I have no way of knowing if the Venus Temperature, and the Birdseye Temperature are the same value.
Presumably the Venus Temperature would be equal to or greater than the Birdseye Temperature. If those two temperatures are in fact distinct; then presumably an atmospheric state at a Temperature warmer than the Birdseye Temperature, but Colder than the Venus Temperature is inherently unstable, and the system would be drive either up to the Venus Temperature; or down to the Birdseye temeprature.
However it is also possible that there could be more stable Temperature conditions intermediate between these two. They shoud occur in pairs, and each pair would either boud a stable region or an unstable region, with stable and unstable zones alternating. I know of absolutely no experimental observed evidence, that any more stable atmospheric Temperatures and corresponding states, besides the Venus, and Birdseye Temperatures, actually exists; nor am I aware of any theoretical basis for believing that the Birdseye and Venus Temperatures are in fact different.
It seems to me, that the results of these mental experiments suggest that so long as the general orbital and solar TSI conditions remain generally in the present range; that neither thermal runaway to an increasingly hot state; or an increasingly cold state is even possible.
The starting points of each of these two mental experiments, are so hostile to stable existence; that it is inconceivable that either one can ever exist or that our planet can ever be driven to either state. So i will reiterate, what I believe to be true; and have been saying in one form or another for at least five years. The range of comfortable temperatures on planet earth are a direct result of the Physical, Chemical and probably Biological properties of the H2O molecule; and so long as we have those oceans, we can neither raise nor lower the temperature of the planet; even if we wanted to.
And eons of geological history proxies suggest that CO2 has very little effect either. The mechanisms described in these two thought experiments show that variations in both of those variables is easily compensated by the feedback control, due to the co-existing three phases of H2O in the earth atmosphere. So I am interested to see what Dr Spencer has revealed in his book; all I have done is doodle in the sand on a desert island with a stick.
Rick Grimes (Comic Series)
Thanks for the book. I appreciate that your comments and articles always seem balanced to me. First and foremost, I am interested to see the science done right, regardless of political persuasion. One of the most widely accepted results of the use of mathematical models of the atmosphere has been the computation by Manabe and Weatherald of the effects of introducing increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere…Relative humidity and the amount of cloud cover were assumed constant. This model indicated that doubling the CO2 content would raise the [global surface temp] by 1.
However, as noted in Vol 1, water vapour is an effective absorber of most of the same wave lengths which CO2 absorbs; and Budyko cites work of Kondratiev and Niilisk which suggests from consideration of the effect of the atmospheric water vapour on the absorption of long-wave radiation that the changes which have occurred in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere may have had only a small effect on temperature.
This is almost the same as from a doubling of CO2 3. Without negative feed back the temp should have gone up by at least 1 degC Clearly Negative feedback dominates and the IPCC estimate is out by a factor of ten. That is just as much of a hoax as CAGW. The real problem is the high fructose corn syrup and salt put in everything as well as the soft drink and candy machines placed in the schools. All that salt makes everyone buy more drinks full of corn syrup. Fat actually curbs my appetite, perhaps that is why we have the well publicized no fat campaign to make people hungry.
Then take the current craze for recycling plastics. Recycling chops the chain length making the plastic weak so now a pair of rubber muck boots last less than three months before they crack, while my old ones are over 15 yrs old. The same goes for the muck buckets. I have old ones that are fifteen years old and the new ones break in three to six months. No one here is suggesting we should all live like Al Gore. Heck I was a member of Greenpeace and Sierra Club back in the sixties.
Who gave them such control over the laws of Physics? And why did they not simply hold all the temperatures constant, while they increased the CO2 so they could see what the climate effect of that is? My own emphasis is upon neurotoxic metals, and most of the mercury in our seafood originated in coal-fired utilities. That is the source of the surge in autistic disorders we are seeing. Illinois high-sulfur coal is selling very well, as utilities are upgrading their sulfur scrubbers in order to burn this inexpensive source of fuel.
The emphasis of the climate community and their political patrons is upon re-engineering societies habits, energy consumption patterns and transportation choices. The fear was the Fear of our planet being cremated in an apocalyptic fire-hell ignited by AGW, aka a man-made disaster as O would say. Thus, the CO2 apocalypse would be avoided. Underneath was the left-liberal urge for totalitarian Power and central control of the entire world population by the United Nations.
Their torture chamber was at the CRU. The comment by Dr Spencer The climate research community long ago took the wrong fork in the road, and I am afraid that it might be too late for them to turn back. The further our viewpoints diverge the more difficult it is to understand each others argument. This is very unfortunate for reputation of science, in the future there are going to be some red faces out there. One must be careful not to trim away too much using the Razor, as malice has a way of causing far more damage than does stupidity.
Herein lies an appropriate application of the precautionary principle. Fluctuations are things that come and go. Good luck. Is it a proper noun? Ecology is not a science. It is political philosophy cobbled together from politics and religion with a little bit of science mixed in. It is based mostly on objective opinion and faith and less on empirical observaton and facts.
Fortunatley, Dr. Spencer is not an ecologist. On the contrary, he is a skeptical scientist. Nitrates and phosphates are not the constructional basis for all life in aquatic ecosystems. Climate fluctuations are simply deviations from the trend. Some folks call them anomalies. My wife happened to be out on a shopping trip today, and I happened to have a couple of Barnes and Noble gift certificates left over from Christmas.
I may have to spend my own money for those. Has anyone checked? If not, they should. Gail was aware of that. She was being facetious. She was responding to Phil M. Her response implied he was a high-consumption icon. Spencer, One tiny flaw in your logic. Most complex systems contain natural cycles and resonances. This means external forcing does become an issue if there is a synchronization between these the periodicity of the internal natural cycles and the periodicity of the external forcing agent.
A natural internal cycle governing the sea-surface temperature patterns in the Pacific ocean are synchronized with a combination of the A temperature anomaly could be on the trend line. Smith : And why did they not simply hold all the temperatures constant, while they increased the CO2 so they could see what the climate effect of that is? However, convection and latent convection renders this inconsequential! Nothing to see here, move along please! High five George, nice to see you in threads on an educational POV. IOW, CO2 in the lower troposphere makes no difference to temperatures.
Got to go now! Best regards, suricat. Joel Shore : ……The former is a statement of personal religious belief that lies beyond the realm of science; the latter is a statement about science that some us feel shows poor scientific judgement……….. John from CA : Looking forward to the read. Holdren Fact and fiction are seamlessly blended. A President with vision.
It all sounds so reasonable; as does any successful confidence trick. I watch a lecture about a reforestation program to restore Baboon habitat, satellite pictures clearly demonstrated a marked increase in cloud cover over the massive area of the scheme within 20 years, which seems pertinent to this. Spencer, I have your book on order; I greatly look forward to reading it.
CO2 remains a trace gas in our atmosphere, yet it is fundamental to the development of plant life. So your analogy to N and P in terrestrial water bodies limps very badly. Al Gore lives the type of life Phil M. I do much of my shopping at flea markets and buy my food direct from farmers locally. My favorite flea market has been under attack by the holier than thou green community of Orange county NC for the last three years. I think they have crash courses on how to deal with the uncanny situation where someone is trying to discuss AGW versus NGC. Normal Global Cycles The trick is to 1 Attack the messenger.
He said something about tobacco. He is religious. He became quite irritable over unnecessary delays or secretarial foul-ups or generals who proved unwilling or unable to fight. He just as readily could turn off his temper, and his worries. He did not exhibit what are now considered to be the symptoms of major adult depression: prolonged two weeks or more and regular at least yearly periods of loss of interest in work and family, lack of interest in socializing, difficulty in making decisions, sleep loss, feelings of low self-esteem, and feelings of being unloved or not worthy of being loved, sometimes accompanied by spells of inconsolability.
Nor did he show symptoms associated with the mania end of the manic-depressive spectrum: decreased need for sleep, rapid speech, racing thoughts, euphoria or extreme optimism, increased sexual drive, spending sprees, and inability to concentrate. He worried, he fretted, he grew weary at times, but he never despaired.
In fact, it is part of the contradictory nature of the man that he manifested various symptoms of depression—risk taking, excessive drinking, mood swings—not intermittently, but regularly, even daily, and for his whole life. Throughout the war, Churchill, knowing that a dark and defeatist exterior inspired no confidence in those he needed by his side in order to win the war, did not indulge gloom but exorcised it. When visitors to Chequers or the underground No. If I had said anything else, they would have hurled me from office. Nothing diminished his love for his family.
Nothing undercut his love of life. Churchill was never modest, yet he bridled at the suggestion that he had transformed Britons. He believed they had always been heroic. That to me was an honor far beyond any dreams or ambitions I have ever nursed, and it was one that cannot be taken away. Destiny has put me here, now, for this purpose. Only his actions, freely taken, could do that. Destiny, like fate, is all things to all men. Here it may be seen as that dynamic force within Churchill that, in combination with his will, altered history during the summer of It would be a mistake to imagine Hitler in as a deranged Charlie Chaplinesque buffoon given to spewing spittle on the uniforms of dumbfounded Prussian subordinates during purple-faced tirades.
He had served five years with honor in the trenches during the Great War and been awarded the Iron Cross for bravery. He had been wounded three times—twice by shrapnel and once by gas, which temporarily blinded him. He had fought in twelve battles. His regiment—the 16th Bavarian Reserve—had suffered more than percent casualties military statisticians compute casualties based on the ratio of the original number of men in any unit to the number of replacements.
Germany, then, had not deserved victory. This time would be different. This time already was different. Hitler was winning. Adolf Hitler was now the greatest conqueror in German history, his destiny fulfilled, by the exercise of his will. The war, such as it was, was just about over. The British must surely sue for peace, and Hitler was prepared to offer generous terms, for he respected the English race. Britain stood alone in twilight, awaiting the seemingly inevitable descent of darkness.
This was the status of Churchill, of London, of Britain and the British Empire, on the longest day of that year. Churchill did not. The Channel was his moat, England his bailey; he intended to fight from his battlements until he could muster the men and arms necessary to strike out, across the Channel and into Europe, and finally someday, however long it took, across the Rhine and into Germany, to Berlin, where he would achieve his stated objective: final and absolute victory over Hitlerism.
Although he spoke no foreign tongues and had never been overseas, he possessed an intuitive gift for exploiting weaknesses in what Germans call das Ausland, that revealing Teutonic word that welds together all nations outside the Reich into a single collective noun. Again and again in the s, he had dared the allied governments of Britain and France to stand up to his acts of aggression. In the meantime, his armed strength multiplied. Finally, at the end of the decade, after six years of preparation, he was ready. At dawn on Friday, September 1, , he sent fifty-six Wehrmacht divisions roaring eastward into Poland.
Now London and Paris had no choice. They were bound to Warsaw by military alliances. They had to declare war, and, reluctantly, they did. Except for a token sortie in the direction of the Saar and its coal mines and steel furnaces—a meaningless gesture meant to encourage the Poles, yet one from which the Nazis fled—Allied troops remained where they were.
Then, in five weeks of blitzkrieg, or lightning warfare, the Nazi juggernaut crushed Poland, freeing the Wehrmacht to turn westward. The moment had passed. French and British troops steeled themselves for the shock of a German offensive, but none came. They waited. And waited. By May of all had remained quiet on the Western Front for eight months. What fighting there was had been largely confined to the open seas, the realm of the Royal Navy, and the barren coast of Norway.
On land, the great armies squatted idly opposite one another week after week in an unnatural silence. Berliners called this extraordinary hush, unique in the history of modern warfare, der Sitzkrieg. In England and France, the public, feeling emotionally ruptured after bracing themselves for the worst, returned instead to the pleasures of peace. But as the conflict entered its ninth sterile month, life was about to stir within in it. The greatest of all wars was about to erupt at last in a convulsion of violence, slaughter, and terror.
Afterward everyone remembered the weather. Though March was its usual mottled mess, temperatures were exceptionally mild. Then, across the Continent, primroses were out, fruit trees were budding, crocuses teeming. Within a fortnight the season had acquired a radiant, crystalline tone.
So pure was the air that vision seemed enhanced, objects being perceived with a cameo-like clarity as sharp and well defined as a fine etching. Magnolias, snowdrops, and bright azaleas rioted in Kensington and Whitechapel alike. These were approaching their peak in late April and would soon to be joined by graceful white tulips, always the loveliest. In tiny Luxembourg, the beauty of the gladioli was unprecedented. It was that rarity, a genuine idyll, a blessed time of crystal-clear air, of radiant mornings, of gentle twilights, and of soft, balmy evenings, when a delicate, bluish moisture fell on orchards and gardens.
In late April, whipped-cream clouds hung motionless overhead; then the sky cleared. For six weeks not one drop of rain fell. Clothed in sunlight, their spirits soaring, people found pleasure in just lifting their faces to an immaculate heaven that seemed wider and higher and of a deeper blue than any before. Now their sons called it Hitlerwetter. General Heinz Guderian, the Nazi tank commander, was more specific. Paris was Paris in April! Paris was gai— a gaiety which, in retrospect, seems cruelly ironic. Immediately after the declaration of war, all theaters had closed, but now they reopened and were packed.
This year French fields had been plowed by troops. Some officers, among them Colonel Charles de Gaulle, were relieved when the generals were forced to back down. Although there were still fewer than four hundred thousand British soldiers on the Continent—only 18 percent of the Allied ground forces—their quality was high, in part because officers kept spirits up with programs of vigorous exercise. The French did not. As the war entered its third season, the armies of France were stagnating, even rotting. Every allowance must be made for the French, and the French soldier of must be regarded with great compassion.
With the exception of Serbia, no nation had suffered so terribly in the Great War. Because their fathers had been bled white, the World War II generation, unlike that of , simply wanted to be left alone. At the time, this atrophy of spirit was imperfectly understood. The eight-month lull at the front was seen variously. Since the expected curtain-raiser would have brought vast bloodshed, others were optimistic, including some who should have known better.
It was the sort of showy thing they liked to do. The arguments of the distinguished scholar Alfred Sauvy to the contrary, the French masses had accepted the war, however reluctantly. They believed France would win it. Sacrifice was not this time needed. The French government encouraged such lullabies. Factories that could have been converted to munitions manufacture were still turning out civilian goods. The Parisian firms of Lelong, Balenciaga, and Molyneux were exporting silks that Frenchmen would next see in German parachutes. Food was unrationed; so was gasoline, despite the fact that every gallon had to be imported.
Then, when he thinks we are weary, confused, and dissatisfied with our own inertia, he will finally take the offensive against us, possessing completely different cards in the psychological and material line from those he holds at present. The British, possessing on the whole a better record on European battlefields, ought to have been more realistic.
Instead, they were complacent. The Isle looked fine; ergo, the Isle was fine. Blacked out now, it loomed serenely on moonlit nights, invoking in some memories of the imperial capital before the arrival of electricity. The Times, ever the vigilant recorder of multifarious ornithological sightings, reported the return of swallows, cuckoos, and even nightingales. Churchill tried to wake the nation. At any moment these neutral countries may be subjected to an avalanche of steel and fire, and the decision rests in the hands of a haunted, morbid being who, to their eternal shame, the German people have worshipped as a god.
Nevertheless Lord Haw-Haw, a pseudonym for William Joyce, the English traitor who broadcast Nazi propaganda to Britain from Berlin—for which he would later hang—was not yet resented; most Britons considered him merely amusing. The Germans already knew it. The burgeoning spring revealed a minor scandal. The sandbags piled high around entrances to Whitehall government buildings split open and sprouted green weeds, clear evidence that they had been filled, not with sand, as stipulated in contracts, but with cheaper earth. Inevitably a question was raised in the House of Commons, though it was never really answered, largely because no one much cared.
Indeed, the war itself had turned into a tiresome commitment to be grudgingly met. That mood began to shift in the first week of May. The public, misled by the press, which had been misled by the government, had been under the impression that their troops were driving the Germans out of Norway. In fact it was the other way around.
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The fiasco ended on Thursday, May 2, when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain rose in the House of Commons to announce that the British troops, having suffered a stunning defeat, were being evacuated. Parliament debated the Scandinavian losses on the following Tuesday. Clinging to office, the P. All failed. They ought to be. In Brussels the papal nuncio requested an audience with King Leopold to relay a warning from the Vatican.
Hitler was in a state of high excitement. He is very agitated. Then he consents to postponement until May 10, which he says is against his intuition. But [he will wait] not one day longer. Because Britannia ruled the waves, the Admiralty in Whitehall determined overall naval policy for the war, but with the , troops of the British Expeditionary Force outnumbered by over 2,, French, the disposition of troops was fixed by the short, courtly Gamelin.
That had been among the last imaginative maneuvers on the Western Front in — The French had avoided immediate disaster by falling back and rallying on the Marne. Then the sidestepping had begun as each army tried to outflank the other. Neither could. The result was a stalemate. The Allies found themselves defending for more than four years a snakelike chain of trenches that began on the Swiss border and ended miles away on the English Channel.
Breakthroughs were impossible, because whenever a position was in peril it could be swiftly reinforced; troop trains packed with defending troops could rocket to the tottering sector before the attacking infantrymen, plodding ahead at the three-miles-an-hour pace of Napoleonic foot soldiers, could reach their objective. Gamelin foresaw a precise encore. Under his Plan D, he would send his armies into the great northern plain of eastern Belgium and meet the enemy there on the line of the Dyle River. Where else, he asked, could the Nazis come?
This last location held no threat. Every inch of it was now defended by the most expensive system of fixed fortifications in history, the mighty steel-and-concrete Maginot Line, manned by forty-one divisions. Fifty-five billion francs, Chambrun replied, over ten years. Then, realizing his English guests were of a seafaring nation and calculated in pounds sterling, Chambrun put the numbers into a nautical perspective: Had France spent the same amount of money building the biggest and fastest of battleships, of which there were about twenty-five in all the navies of the world, the French fleet would now consist of fifty such behemoths.
Nor did he and his guests take the naval analogy far enough, for battleships are mobile and can react to changing tactical conditions. To be sure, the line ended at the Belgian border. By the process of elimination, Gamelin reasoned, that left the Belgian plain as the only possible battlefield. Although he did not see them, he faced grave problems. Napoleon had warned his commanders against forming a picture—deciding in advance what the enemy was going to do.
That is precisely what Gamelin had done. It never occurred to him that the Germans, having watched one great plan fail in , might have formed another. In any new war between Germany and France, he declared, Belgium would be neutral—as though such an absurdity were possible. He had actually gone so far as to fortify his border with France, and had told the French that an extension of Le Maginot to the North Sea would be looked upon in Belgium as an unfriendly gesture.
De Gaulle was making a pest of himself, insisting that the French must study the swift Nazi conquest of Poland with tanks. Tanks, he said, had revolutionized battle; new strategies were needed to turn them back. Unless France followed the German example, he predicted, the gasoline engine would demolish French military doctrines even as it demolished fortifications. But his superiors thought him absurd. One of them asked the others, Suppose the Boche panzers did burst through the lines. Where would they refuel?
None of them reflected on the fact that since , thousands of filling stations had appeared in northern France. To them they were irrelevant. After all, these petrol stations—which, like 91 percent of the automobiles in the country, had not existed in —were there to serve civilian automobiles, not German panzers.
The fact that both cars and tanks used the same fuel was disregarded. But through the Ardennes, through the Dutch floods, through the Belgian defenses, through the Maginot—through the tank-traps and barbed wire and casemates, in the face of our powerful air force—that was absurd. In adopting the strategic defensive, the French high command was expressing the caution of a France whose World War I wounds were still unhealed.
The survivors lacked the strength or the will to lift the tricolor again. Unlike generations of Frenchmen gone before them, they understandably felt no craving for grandeur, no desire for Gallic supremacy in Europe. They did not want to lose this war, but neither did they much crave victory. In fact, they did not even want victory. France had no war aims. Everything desirable, as they saw it, was already French. They asked for nothing from the Germans but peace. Thus the decision to leave the initiative to the Nazis was more political than military.
The idea of attacking Germany was, the deputies agreed, preposterous. After the Polish collapse, the most bellicose had lost heart. France stands alone against the three dictatorships. Great Britain is not ready. The United States has not even changed the neutrality act. The democracies are again too late. But this was not a chess match, where a gambit could be refused.
And Hitler would deliver no proposals of peace on the upcoming weekend of May He intended to deliver something else entirely. They had rejected every initiative suggested by him—bombing the Ruhr, for example, or mining the Rhine—on the grounds that it might invite Nazi reprisals. Good, decent, civilized people, it appeared, must never themselves strike until after they have been struck dead.
Had Allied planes done the same in early May, they would have been astonished at enemy preparations below. Eight military bridges had been thrown across the Rhine, and three armored columns stretched back from the river for one hundred miles. In fact, one French pilot did see the buildup on the evening of the eighth of May. He was over the Ruhr, returning from a propaganda mission, dropping leaflets urging the German people to overthrow Hitler and thus bring peace. They were driving with their lights on. He reported his discovery.
It was dismissed as not credible. This was not the first time such intelligence had been dismissed, but it would be the last. Five months earlier, as Europe slept away the winter, a German airplane carrying two staff officers was blown off course and forced to land in Belgium. British intelligence perused the captured papers. The high arts of deception and double-cross being well practiced by both the Germans and the British, it was concluded that the papers were a plant, a ruse, and therefore, unbelievable. On Thursday morning, May 9, the th day of the war, Chamberlain faced the bitter truth: he was through.
The debacle in Norway had finished him. It had become obvious that Britain needed an all-party national government, and Labour refused to serve under him. Given the huge Tory majority in the House, a legacy of the general election of , the new prime minister would have to be a Conservative. So did Chamberlain. So did the King. Halifax bowed out. Telephoning London from his battalion, Randolph Churchill asked for news.
At P. The mightiest army in history was ready, and at A. The Wehrmacht was crossing the frontiers of Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg, attacking on a front extending from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier. Hitler had repeatedly sworn never to violate their neutrality, but he meant to conquer France, and the Low Countries were in his way. At A. Belgium asked the Allies for help. Gamelin phoned General Alphonse Georges, his field commander in the northeast. Five minutes later Georges ordered five French armies and the British Expeditionary Force across the frontier.
One official demanded visas from the British 3rd Division—the divisional commander, Major General Bernard Montgomery, put him under arrest—and on several roads Belgian obstacles, erected to block a French invasion, still barred the way. None slowed the Allied troops, now plunging ahead. The BEF was in high spirits. By evening the best trained of the Allied troops were deep in both Belgium and Holland. Here, Gamelin assured everyone, was the German schwerpunkt —the strategic center of effort as defined by Prussian staff doctrine.
His generals could scarcely believe their luck. Yet Britons were calm; no excited crowds took to the streets. For almost a decade Churchill had drummed warnings to his countrymen that this day would come. Three hundred years earlier, during the English Civil War, both the Royalist and Parliamentary armies introduced drummers into their ranks. They went into battle unarmed and beat out coded orders that could be heard over the crash of muskets and cannon: form up, face right, left, volley.
The drummers were not meant to inspire or comfort their comrades, or to introduce confusion and fear into enemy ranks, yet within the blinding stinking smoke and bloody mayhem of combat, their relentless, rhythmic, tap and thrum did just that. Where the drummers of England went, Empire followed. But were his King and countrymen ready for him?
Would Britons join him when the Hun arrived, and fight alongside him to the end? Were they prepared, each and all, to die in defense of family, home, King, and country? Churchill was. The glorious weather held. Lilacs—in English folklore the harbingers of springtime rebirth—bloomed across the land. Cadogan, a Chamberlain loyalist, by then knew that the Chamberlain government was finished. Sam Hoare? Yet, as he rode back from Buckingham Palace, neither he nor anyone else in London felt unduly alarmed over the course of the war. Everything was going as expected, or so it seemed at that hour.
When it finished she switched off the wireless and said a prayer for her father. Churchill was surrounded by his family, whether at No. Churchill, upon first meeting Oliver in , took an immediate dislike to the man, and in a letter to Clementine cut loose. It would not have occurred to Churchill to do so. He measured the man. Mary worked in a canteen and for the Red Cross and lived with her parents. Because she was pregnant, hers was the bottom bunk, and in the early hours of each morning she woke to hear Churchill laboriously climb the short ladder to his.
Clementine slept in another basement bedroom. A recent arrival at No. Charles Wilson, the P. On first meeting the doctor, Churchill treated him as he did all underlings, with a mixture of curtness and impatience. Wilson had found Churchill in bed, at noon, reading papers, which he continued to peruse as Wilson stood nearby, waiting for some acknowledgment. That was why Churchill had named him chief of aircraft production.
England had to have planes for the coming air battle. In pursuit of a vital goal, the Beaver was ruthless, unscrupulous, even piratical. He seized factories, broke into warehouses, and imprisoned those who tried to stop him. None of this was against the law. One section, 18B, effectively removed the habeas from habeas corpus. Churchill could have become a dictator had he so chosen. Instead he became almost obsessive in his belief that the House should be fully informed of all developments. But Morton lacked access to the most vital intelligence, from Bletchley.
The Prof was even odder. German born, educated at Berlin University, a bachelor and vegetarian, he believed that all women looked upon him as a sex object. But he was a brilliant physicist and a consummate interpreter of science for laymen. He was to become the strongest advocate for the unrestricted bombing and burning of the cities of his homeland. Churchill, his family, his colleagues, and his cronies were prepared to meet whatever came their way via Berlin.
If Britons were not yet prepared, Churchill intended that they soon would be. Churchill was no exception. During the Great War he had learned certain precepts of modern warfare, including one of immense significance: tactical breakthroughs were impossible, because whenever a position was in peril, it could be swiftly reinforced. The continuous front had never broken. And another lesson learned: nothing in that war had happened quickly. In the current war, everything was happening quickly—too quickly—and none of it good. German panzers were smashing all the old strategic and tactical paradigms.
His immediate problem was political: Conservative MPs, who held of the seats in the House, dominated Parliament. The new P. The fact that subsequent events had proven him right and them wrong did not endear him to them. An embittered R. After the first clash of war is over it may well be that a sounder Government may emerge. The permanent secretariat at No. For as long as the private secretaries there could remember, Baldwin or Chamberlain had been in power. They swiftly calmed. Whitehall was galvanized, and the office at No. Bells were ringing constantly, telephones of various colors were being installed in every nook at No.
Ministers, generals, and senior civil servants appeared and departed within minutes. Working hours began early each morning and ended after midnight. Sir Ian Jacob recalled that as deferential as Ismay was to his boss and the Chiefs of Staff, Churchill learned quickly that Ismay never allowed the usual feelings of protocol to stand in the way of speed and efficiency of work. At these briefings Churchill passed along any memos he had dictated the night before.
Most were brief queries or suggestions; some were strongly worded opinions. A memo signed in red ink meant Churchill wanted action. They do not exist. The impact of all of this on his civil service secretariat was enormous. Parliament was another matter. On his third day in office, Churchill rose in the House of Commons for the first time as prime minister and invited the members to affirm his new government. I answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is no survival.
The campaign for Norway had lasted two months, from early April until early June. Thus to interdict Swedish war shipments had been the objective of the March plan code-named Wilfred to lay mines in Norwegian waters. The evacuation did not go well. On the afternoon of the eighth of June, , the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious —fleeing Norway with as many aircraft and men as she could carry—was intercepted in the Norwegian Sea by the German battle cruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst.
Glorious, and two escorting destroyers, were sunk by gunfire in just over two hours, with the loss of more than 1, officers and men of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Royal Air Force. Churchill, first lord of the Admiralty when the Norwegian adventure began, and prime minister when it ended, had already taken responsibility for the disastrous outcome. For much of the remainder of the war, the loss of Glorious and the specter of Gneisenau and Scharnhorst moved Churchill at times to dubious naval strategy.
He was still coming to terms with modern naval warfare, and not entirely successfully; the success of the German battle cruisers and the vulnerability of Glorious seemed to imply that fast, heavy ships still ruled the waves. In fact, aircraft carriers, if deployed properly, posed a mortal threat to battle cruisers. Hitler, meanwhile, pocketed the Norwegian and Swedish ore, but would pay heavily for those prizes; during the next four years, more than , of his best troops remained in Norway awaiting the return of the English.
Other than shooting Norwegian patriots and chasing down the occasional British commando, more than twelve priceless Wehrmacht divisions would miss the war. Because Churchill well understood that criticism of his career centered on his history of questionable strategic judgments and his notoriety for being willing to change sides, his chief political concern was reconciliation with the House, and he made a major effort to do so.
I therefore resisted these disruptive tendencies. Inevitably politics determined his cabinet choices. Most senior posts were filled by May Clement Attlee lord privy seal , Arthur Greenwood cabinet minister without portfolio , and Ernest Bevin minister of labour came from the Labour benches. Anthony Eden went to the War Office.
Only one appointment hit a snag. Churchill wanted Lord Beaverbrook as minister of aircraft production. The King objected. That was understandable: Beaverbrook was a highly controversial figure, objectionable in many ways. However, Churchill was going to need a lot of airplanes soon, and he knew this man had the drive and the ruthlessness to get them one way or another. The King bowed to his judgment. Churchill did settle one score. Churchill soon found new duties for the appeaser Reith, at the Transport Ministry. In the country, where his popularity was soaring, his conciliatory manner toward those who had scorned him was remarked upon and widely praised.
Few noticed how he quietly put the greatest possible distance between himself and the most objectionable of them. Presently he would use this very effective maneuver to banish the Duke of Windsor, a sometime admirer of the Third Reich, an admiration as narrow and shallow as he was. But Churchill could not banish their abiding doubts of his abilities. Will it be possible to make it work in orderly fashion? Italy, he bluntly replied, was an ally of Nazi Germany. The British were following this front with special anxiety, aware of the threat to England should the Nazis establish bases that close to Britain.
Enemy successes there were spectacular but not really alarming. But the Belgian, French, and British troops were fighting well. Despite furious German assaults, the Dyle Line had not been breached. These were crack troops, descendants of the poilus whose valor, inspired by the tricolor and their fierce national anthem, had awed Europe in the century and a half since the French Revolution. They drove the Germans back and back, and Gamelin felt vindicated. This, he said, proved that he had anticipated the German schwerpunkt; the Nazis had come where he expected them to come, and the Allied Line was unbroken.
The British were less sure. The RAF had not been caught on the ground, but it had been battered in the air. The Luftwaffe bombers, he pointed out, had achieved air superiority over the northern battlefield, yet they were leaving columns of French reinforcements marching to the front unmolested. Why should the Germans want more Allied troops on this front? The French should have known that—they had held maneuvers there in In planning his drive, Hitler had divided his forces into three army groups. The one that had struck in the Low Countries comprised thirty divisions, including three panzer divisions.
A second, tying down the Maginot Line, in the west, was given nineteen divisions. The great blow would be delivered in the center by the third: forty-five divisions, including seven panzer divisions, commanded by Gerd von Rundstedt. That would put the main German force at a point roughly miles from Paris and miles from the Channel ports of Calais, Gravelines, and Dunkirk. The German high command knew the Allies were vulnerable in the Sedan sector; the line was thinly held by two French armies of older, poorly trained, and ill-equipped married men.
The French high command had estimated that it would take at least fifteen days for any strong enemy force to negotiate the thickets and deep wooded ravines of the Ardennes. The Germans, who had rehearsed elaborately in the Black Forest, did it in two, sweeping Belgian infantrymen before them.
The answer to the question of why the Luftwaffe had allowed French reinforcements to drift northward toward Holland had arrived with terrible certainty: the real schwerpunkt was at Sedan. The Meuse, the Nazis had known, would be their most forbidding obstacle. It was narrow and swift at this point; confronting the attackers on the far bank were well-placed batteries of heavy artillery. That would have sufficed in , but this was a different war. On Monday, Rundstedt silenced every French field piece, every howitzer, by skillful use of tactical air—Stukas and other low-level bombers—which so terrorized the gunners that they abandoned their cannons.
Nazi rubber boats reached the opposite shore unmolested; beachheads were established north and south of Sedan; pontoon bridges spanned the Meuse, then heavy bridges, and, finally, on Tuesday morning, lumbering and growling, came the Nazi tanks. By noon on Tuesday, May 14, the Germans had established a formidable pocket on French soil, three miles wide and two miles deep.
It was time, and past time, for a French counterattack. The French position was far from hopeless. The German flank was exposed to the French tanks, and not all the panzers, artillery, and infantry were across the Meuse and in position. French tanks were well armored; many carried 75mm cannon, heavier than the guns on many German tanks.
Unfortunately, the French chose not to mass their tanks for a steel-fisted assault, instead dispersing them along too broad a front. The French drivers, unable to communicate with one another, could not coordinate an assault. The consequence was disastrous. Within two hours of the battle opening on the fourteenth, the panzers had destroyed fifty French tanks; the rest, a few dozen, fled.
That was the small disaster. The great disaster began sometime between and P. Men threw down their rifles and ran, crowding the roads, and they did not stop until they had reached Reims, sixty miles away. Few officers tried to discourage them. One who did later recalled their response. In a well-disciplined army they would have been shot on the spot. But everyone, officers and men, seemed infected with the fear, which spread. One regiment after another broke, until the entire Ninth Army—some two hundred thousand men—ceased to exist. Meantime the Germans, who were arriving in great numbers, began to capture them.
The French defensive line was now breached by a hole sixty miles wide, and German armor, followed by infantry, was streaming through it. Incredibly, no one in Paris knew what was happening. One man knew better. The premier had studied the possibilities of tank warfare, and he had spies in the army, informers who sent him word of what was actually happening. Germany is trying to deal us a fatal blow in the direction of Paris. The German army has broken through our fortified lines south of Sedan…. Between Sedan and Paris there are no defenses comparable with those in the line, which we must restore at almost any cost.
We have lost the battle! The way to Paris lies open. Send all the troops and planes you can. Over the French coast the prime minister peered down, and Thompson saw his face go gray. There were now over seven million of them fleeing from the Germans, swarming down the highways, shuffling, exhausted, aching from the strain of heavy loads on their backs.
No one had told them to evacuate the battlefields; they were evacuating themselves. Barns, sheds, and garages had disgorged into throughways an extraordinary collection of vehicles: farm carts, trucks, horse-drawn carts, hay wagons, and ancient automobiles saddled with sagging loads of mattresses, kitchen utensils, family treasures, and bric-a-brac.
Cars bombed by the Luftwaffe stood in flames, and here and there among straggling vagabonds lay corpses of children and the very old, who, unable to keep up, had been machine-gunned by Nazi pilots who saw panic as an ally of their comrades in the Wehrmacht. In their memoirs the generals on both sides would complain about the obstacles these people created, but the refugees looked at it differently, and Churchill saw it their way.
The great tragedy was coming into focus for Churchill. Gamelin foresaw the end. Between Laon and Paris I do not have a single corps at my disposal. He dominated the proceedings from the moment he entered the room. There was no interpreter, and he spoke throughout in French. His idiom was not always correct, and his vocabulary was not equal to translating with exactitude all the words that he required. But no one could have been in any doubt as to his meaning. He began by telling them that although their plight was grave, this was not the first time they had been in a crisis together; the Ludendorff offensives of early had nearly destroyed them and their ally, the United States.
He was confident that they would survive this one. Then he asked for a briefing. Gamelin gave it. He said they were advancing with unprecedented speed. Their intentions were unknown; they could reach the coast or turn on Paris. There was a long pause while Churchill, speechless, stared absently at the elderly men carrying wheelbarrows of documents to the fires.
No strategic reserve. It had never occurred to him that commanders defending five hundred miles of engaged front would have left themselves without reserves; no one could defend with certainty so wide a front, but when the enemy broke the line, the defenders should have a mass of divisions ready to counterattack. According to them, Churchill vigorously opposed ordering a general retreat by the Allied troops in Belgium.
This, the P. Churchill may not have argued strategy that day, but he proposed one—to hold fast—and it was unrealistic. It was characteristic of him that he always approved of attacks, and seldom retreats, even when, as here, failure to withdraw would mean encirclement and annihilation. Reynaud silenced him by pointing out that all the field commanders, including Lord Gort, believed the French should fall back. Churchill was, however, thoroughly justified in asking Gamelin when and where he proposed to attack the flanks of the German bulge.
It was, he said, the only way to stop the panzers. Bombing the Meuse bridges was not a proper job for the RAF; nevertheless they had attempted to do it, at great risk, and had lost thirty-six aircraft. Gamelin had touched a vital nerve. Both sides were, to a degree, disingenuous. What the French really believed was that the British should throw everything they had into the struggle for France, and that if the Allied cause were to lose, both countries should go down together. The British believed that if France went down—and they were beginning to contemplate that possibility—Britain and the Empire should go on alone.
At the British embassy that evening, the prime minister weighed the French appeal. It would not be good historically if their requests were denied and their ruin resulted. They reluctantly agreed, provided the Hurricanes returned to English bases each night. In Paris the embassy staff assumed that the good news would be telephoned to the French. Churchill insisted upon delivering it in person. That was awkward. Reynaud and his mistress, Mme la Comtesse de Portes, were living in a small apartment on the Place du Palais-Bourbon, hiding from his wife.
Nevertheless Churchill and Ismay eventually found him there. Receiving them in his bathrobe, he thanked them profusely. Then Churchill insisted that he summon Daladier, with whom the premier was barely on speaking terms. The war minister left his mistress, Mme la Marquise de Crussol, to come and wring their hands in silent gratitude. Back in London, the prime minister found nothing but problems defying solution. Another one hundred thousand Belgians had arrived in Britain, begging for shelter, and every report from the Continent told of a continuing German advance.
Roosevelt reaffirmed the impossibility of loaning Britain U. During these months American aircraft purchased by Britain had to be flown to the Canadian border, where, in order to abide by U. The Ps, Churchill was told, would be ready for delivery in two or three months. Send it off tonight. Clementine attended services at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and returned indignant. The rector had preached a pacifist sermon and Clementine had walked out. That evening—May 19—he was to address the nation over the radio. There he could visit his goldfish, sit in the sun, and reflect, but he found no peace there.
He wanted to feed his black swans, but to his consternation he found that foxes had eaten all but one. Then Anthony Eden called. The matter was urgent, and would become more so in the days ahead. Lord Gort had just called. He was in a dilemma. He could leave the Belgians to their fate and fight southward to rejoin the French, or he could fall back on the Channel ports and fight it out with his back to the sea.
His preference was to withdraw toward Dunkirk. After forty years in the House of Commons, Churchill instinctively swung his head from left to right. That would not do on the BBC, so Tyrone Guthrie of the Old Vic stood behind him and held his ears firmly as he spoke at a desk in a small room, his text illuminated by a green lamp. Addressing the country, he began:.
I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister in a solemn hour for the life of our country, of our Empire, of our Allies, and above all of the cause of Freedom. A tremendous battle is raging in France and Flanders. The Germans, by a remarkable combination of air bombing and heavily armored tanks, have broken through the French defenses north of the Maginot Line, and strong columns of their armored vehicles are ravaging the open country, which for the first day or two was without defenders….
Side by side, the British and French peoples have advanced to rescue not only Europe but mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened and stained the pages of history. Behind them, behind the Armies and Fleets of Britain and France, gather a group of shattered states and bludgeoned races: the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Dutch, the Belgians upon all of whom the long night of barbarism will descend, unbroken even by a star of hope, unless we conquer, as conquer we must; as conquer we shall.
After the men on both sides had laid down their arms, a group of American war correspondents toured the scenes of struggle and concluded, in the words of William L. None of us saw evidence of serious fighting. The fields of France are undisturbed. There was no fighting on any sustained line… no attempt to come to a halt on a line and strike back in a well-organized counter-attack. Strategic bridges had been unblown. French prisoners said they had seen no combat; whenever battle seemed imminent, they were ordered to retreat. The Channel ports, notably Boulogne and Calais, had been defended mostly by the British.
The French, as though drugged, had no will to fight, even when their soil was invaded by their most hated enemy. It was a complete collapse of French society and of the French soul. Even Churchill had begun to have doubts about the French. Even the hopelessly overmatched Poles had held out for three weeks. It was a stunning triumph. They would be vulnerable until their infantry arrived in strength. Hitler knew it and was frightened. In his aerie he envisaged a second Marne, with the French rallying and striking back with a deadly blow. He is worried over his own success, will risk nothing and insists on restraining us….
He rages and screams that we are on the way to ruining the whole operation and that we are in danger of a defeat. This was, in fact, the critical moment; everything that followed turned upon it. As a disillusioned Churchill told the House of Commons four weeks later:. The colossal military disaster… occurred when the French High Command failed to withdraw the northern armies from Belgium at the moment when they knew that the French front was decisively broken at Sedan and on the Meuse. This delay entailed the loss of fifteen or sixteen French divisions and threw out of action for the critical period the whole of the British Expeditionary Force, a total of twenty-five divisions of the best-trained and best equipped troops [which] may have turned the scale.
Gamelin finally saw it. He was a political general, a monarchist, a hero of the militantly conservative Croix de Feu, and an Anglophobe. Despite his age he was exceptionally vigorous, but he had arrived in Paris exhausted, recalled from Syria; immediately after assuming command he went to bed. The situation in the corridor was fluid. Every hour was critical now. The gap between the German armor and its supporting formations was closing. By the time he returned and reissued the order, the corridor was thick with defenders.
After four strenuous days the enemy had strengthened it by rushing infantry and motorized artillery to beef up both sides of it. The chance had passed. God help the B. It was impossible. All lines between Paris and London had been cut. The Flamingo landed at Le Bourget shortly before noon; the P. He was almost in buoyant spirits, having been impressed by Weygand. The plan was impossible—all of it. The Allied forces in the north could not drive southward; all were heavily engaged with the enemy.
And Gort received no instructions from Vincennes. Indeed, he had heard nothing from GHQ for four days. Learning of this at the following afternoon, Churchill called Reynaud—the lines were open again—to ask why. The voices on the other end were incoherent. It was a lie. Weygand had known from the beginning that the Allied cause was doomed. His distrust of England and Englishmen was profound, though not unusual among Frenchmen with his convictions. If so, he found one, and found him quickly. He set his sights on Arras and went after it with two British divisions, supported by sixty light French tanks.
The enemy commander, then unknown, was Erwin Rommel. Weygand heard about this Thursday morning. It was at this point that Churchill assigned Edward Spears the delicate task of improving relations between the two allies. They had been fellow officers in World War I, in which Spears had been wounded four times.
Summoned to Admiralty House in the middle of the night he found Churchill:. He offered me a cigar, looked at me a moment as if I were a lens through which he was gazing at something beyond, then the kindliest, friendliest expression spread over his face as he focused me, his face puckered in a lovable baby-like grin, then he was grave again. You will have the rank of a Major General. See Pug. He will brief you. The situation is very grave. It was more than grave. It was catastrophic. Now all France, like ancient Gaul, was divided into three parts:. In the south, below the Somme—where Weygand actually planned to make his stand—lay 90 percent of France, including Paris.
It was no longer the serene France of those early spring days, however. In the north, a desperate amalgam of Allied forces—more than half the BEF, the Belgians, and three French armies—was fighting for survival. Churchill was aware of the danger. On the Sunday before his flight to Vincennes, Ironside had warned him that the BEF might soon be cut off from the French, in which case they could only be supplied through Boulogne, Calais, and Dunkirk. Now all three had been heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe the previous night. Dunkirk could not be used; ships sunk by the Nazis blocked its entrance.
On Tuesday, Boulogne, directly in the path of the panzers, was reinforced by the 20th Guards Brigade and the Irish and Welsh Guards, the last available army units still in England. It was in vain; the German armored columns were irresistible; on Wednesday, while Churchill was being introduced to Weygand, evacuations were under way there.