Monday, September 14, 2015

Defeated but still defiant (in a completely understated British way)


Between the collapse of France in May/June 1940, and the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Great Britain faced Hitler alone.

Meanwhile, in England, once it was apparent that Hitler was not going to follow up Dunkirk with an immediate invasion, the shock of defeat turned into a kind of relief that, somehow, strangely enough, life had at least become simpler. King George VI spoke for many when he wrote to his mother: 'Personally, I feel happier now that we have no allies to be polite to and pamper.'
Alister Horne, To Lose a Battle
When the news of the surrender appeared in the papers, a London newsstand chalked the following on their sign

"FRENCH SIGN PEACE TREATY: WE'RE IN THE FINALS"
A common sentiment apparently:

An elderly general stopped stopped at the entrance to his club shortly after Dunkirk and said to the porter, ‘this is very serious, isn’t it?’ To which the man replied, ‘Oh, I don’t know sir: we’re in the final and we’re on our own ground.
Vincent Orange Dowding of Fighter Command
And this from a salty Yank

But the British are a most illogical and stubborn race. Had they been more logical and less stubborn, they would swiftly have surrendered to Hitler after the Fall of France, and the question later of how successfully to stage an invasion impossible of success would never have risen to plague them. But running true to British doggedness even in the face of inevitable defeat, they neither accepted defeat after Dunkirk nor the impossibility of landing once again in Europe, even after their disastrous attempt at Dieppe.
Edward Ellsberg, The Far Shore


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