Churchill Prevails

On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, Dick Marsh, president of the Churchill Society of Michigan, and Ann Arbor Rotarian started his talk by describing a dire situation for Great Britain:

“The retreat from the Continent was a perilous time for Britain. The Germans were relentless. They were willing to throw everything into making the retreat as dangerous and costly as possible for the island people. The British government was in disarray, with senior government ministers even proposing to negotiate a settlement. Everyone was crying out for leadership. Who was to lead Britain in this terrible crisis? But, enough about Brexit, what about May, 1940?”

He then recounted the fascinating story of how Churchill, then a pariah in the Conservative Party, came to be called upon to lead Great Britain, in World War II.

He focused on Churchill’s relationship with Edward Wood, the Earl of Halifax, who was one Great Britain’s Foreign Minister at the time. Both men were master politicians. When it was clear that the current Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain could no longer continue to lead the government, the choice came down to either Churchill or Halifax. At a crucial meeting on May 10, 1940, Halifax deferred to Churchill, and the rest is, literally, history.

Winston Churchill (left) and Edward Wood, Earl of Halifax (right) in London.

In conclusion, Marsh speculated on what our world would look like today had Halifax instead of Churchill become prime minister. He painted quite a bleak picture of that world. Halifax, after all, was in favor of negotiating with Hitler, while Churchill would have none of that. We can certainly be thankful that Churchill prevailed and not Halifax.