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links for 2010-05-07

Winston Churchill Liveblogs World War II: May 7, 1940

Winston Churchill: May 7, 1940:

The many disappointments and disasters of the brief campaign in Norway caused profound perturbation at home, and the currents of passion mounted even in the breasts of some of those who had been most slothful and purblind in the years before the war. The Opposition asked for a debate on the war situation, and this was arranged for May 7. The House was filled with Members in a high state of irritation and distress. Mr. Chamberlain's opening statement did not stem the hostile tide. He was mockingly interrupted, and reminded of his speech of April 4, when in quite another connection he had incautiously said, "Hitler has missed the bus." He defined my new position and my relationship with the Chiefs of Staff and in reply to Mr. Herbert Morrison made it clear that I had not held those powers during the Norwegian operations.

One speaker after another from both sides of the House attacked the Government, and especially its chief, with unusual bitterness and vehemence, and found themselves sustained by growing applause from all quarters. Sir Roger Keyes, burning for distinction in the new war, sharply criticised the Naval Staff for their failure to attempt the capture of Trondheim. "When I saw," he said, "how badly things were going I never ceased importuning the Admiralty and War Cabinet to let me take all responsibility and lead the attack."

Wearing his uniform as Admiral of the Fleet, he supported the complaints of the Opposition with technical details and his own professional authority in a manner very agreeable to the mood of the House. From the benches behind the Government Mr. Amery quoted, amid ringing cheers, Cromwell's imperious words to the Long Parliament: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" These were terrible words, coming from a friend and colleague of many years, a fellow Birmingham Member, and a Privy Counsellor of distinction and experience...

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