Re Cameron's almighty co*k-up in the US regarding the US non-participation in WWII in 1940. What sort of grovelling apology to the British people should he make? I know my father who fought from '39-'45 was alive now he would be looking for a rifle! If his grasp on history is this loose should he be in charge of the economy?
SeeCORRELLI BARNETT: BRITAIN BORE THE BRUNT
Correlli Barnett, author and historian
David Cameron's not just a travesty of the truth but also an insult to the memory of all those Britons who fought so heroically in the dark months of 1940, when this country stood alone against the Reich's tyranny.
Contrary to his absurd claim, there was no partnership whatsoever between the U.S. and Britain in that year. indeed, America was not involved in the war at all, either militarily or in supplying material support.
Despite the U.S.'s colossal resources and tradition of liberty, the republic did little to aid Britain's cause against the Nazis. Under the American Neutrality Act, it was actually illegal for the U.S. to ship any goods to a combatant unless cash was paid on strictly commercial terms.
Therefore, in the summer of 1940, Churchill's government had to pay up front for all the military equipment and aircraft it bought from the U.S., almost bankrupting itself by early 1941.
Nor was the U.S. remotely supportive during the Battle of Britain.
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain: Spitfire pilots who valiantly fought to save Britain from destruction run to their aircraft
Remarkably, heroic young Americans who wanted to volunteer for the RAF were warned that they could lose their U.S. citizenship and even be fined if they took part in the fighting, an edict that many of them thankfully ignored.
This reluctance to help Britain reflected the mood of anxious isolationism which gripped America in 1940.
Part of this stemmed from hostility to the old colonial power, part from the belief that conflicts in Europe were nothing to do with the New World.
It was an outlook that could be found right across Congress and the American public.
Even the U.S. ambassador to London, the roguish Joe Kennedy, father of the future President JFK, shared this mentality. In a typically defeatist outburst, Kennedy said in 1940 that 'democracy is finished in England'.
Franklin D Roosevelt himself, though personally much more eager to back Britain, was constrained by these attitudes.
Churchill fought a constant battle against this spirit of separatism.
One of the reasons that he took the notorious action in blowing up the French fleet in July 1940, after France had signed an armistice with Germany, was to impress Americans about Britain's determination to carry on the fight.
He also hoped that the defiance of the RAF against the Luftwaffe would change attitudes. But still the U.S. did not bend.
The dogma of isolationism was ended only when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December, 1941, 'a day that will live in infamy', to quote the words of Roosevelt.
It is no exaggeration to say that America might never have entered the war but for that fateful action.
For the first two years after Pearl Harbor, Britain and America could be described as 'equal partners'.
America might have had more military muscle, but Britain had all the experience of fighting.
At the vital planning conferences during 1942 and 1943, it was Churchill rather than Roosevelt who set the military strategy.
In particular, he saved America from the folly of launching an invasion of France in 1943, which could have only ended in disaster because the Allies were insufficiently prepared and Germany remained too strong.
Far more sensible was Churchill's plan for wiping out the Axis forces in North Africa and Italy.
It was not until D-Day was reached in June 1944 that Britain could be regarded as the junior partner, if only because of the colossal weight of the U.S. forces in Europe.
But D-Day could never have been happened if Britain had not fought so bravely four years earlier, when she alone withstood the might of the all-conquering Nazi war machine.
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