Military history


Book One

Chapter 1

1Siegfried Sassoon.

Chapter 2

1 Conservatives 413, Liberal 40, Labour 151.

2 Theodore Lessing, murdered by the Nazis, September, 1933.

Chapter 5

1 Four years later, Sir Thomas Inskip, Minister for Co-ordination of Defence, who was well-versed in the Bible, used the expressive phrase about this dismal period, of which he was the heir: “The years that the locust hath eaten.” – Joel, 2:25.

2 Now Major Sir Desmond Morton, K.C.B., M.C.

3I cannot resist telling this story. The Oxford Union invited me to address them. I declined to do so, but said I would give them an hour to ask me questions. One of the questions was, “Do you think Germany was guilty of making the last war?” I said, “Yes, of course.” A young German Rhodes scholar rose from his place and said, “After this insult to my country I will not remain here.” He then stalked out amid roars of applause. I thought him a spirited boy. Two years later it was found out in Germany that he had a Jewish ancestor. This ended his career in Germany.

4 I his excluded the Russian losses.

Chapter 6

1 Japan.

Chapter 7

1 The amendment stood in the names of Mr. Churchill, Sir Robert Horne, Mr. Amery, Captain F. E. Guest, Lord Winterton, and Mr. Boothby.

2 The Marquess of Londonderry, Wings of Destiny, 1943, page 128.

Chapter 10

1 See also my conversation with Count Grandi. Appendix A, Book I.

Chapter 11

1 Keith Felling, Life of Neville Chamberlain.

2 It was actually smitten.

3 This was the reverse of the truth at this time. The signers of the Peace Ballot were at one with me upon armed collective security.

Chapter 12

1 See Appendix C, Book I.

Chapter 13

1 See Appendix D, Book I.

Chapter 14

1 Feiling, op. cit., page 338.

2 Ibid.

Chapter 15

1 Schuschnigg, Ein Requiem in Rot-Weiss-Rot, page 37 ff.

2 Nuremberg Documents (H.M. Stationery Office), Part I, page 249.

3 Schuschnigg, op. cit., pages 51–52.

4 Hitler’s Speeches (N. H. Baynes, Editor), volume 2, pages 1407–08.

5 Schuschnigg, op. cit., pages 66–72.

6 Nuremberg Documents, Part I, page 251.

7 Schuschnigg, op. cit., pages 102–03, and Nuremberg Documents, Part I, pages 258–59.

8 Feiling, op. cit., pages 347–48.

9 Lord Chatfield, It Might Happen Again, chapter XVIII.

Chapter 16

1 Nuremberg Documents, Part 2, page 4.

2 Feiling, op. cit., page 350.

3 Hitler’s Speeches, op. cit., volume 2, page 1571.

4 There is, however, some evidence that Benes’ information had previously been imparted to the Czech police by the Ogpu, who wished it to reach Stalin from a friendly foreign source. This did not detract from Benes’ service to Stalin, and is therefore irrelevant.

5 Nuremberg Documents, Part 2, page 10.

6 Printed in Georges Bonnet, De Washington au Quai d’Orsay, pages 360–61.

Chapter 17

1 Feiling, op. cit., page 367.

2 Quoted in Ripka, Munich and After, page 117.

3 Published by Professor Bernard Lavergne, in L’Année Politique Française et Etrangère in November, 1938. Quoted in Ripka, op. cit., page 212 ff.

4 Feiling, op. cit., page 372.

5 See Feiling, op. cit., page 376.

6 Les lettres secrètes échangés par Hitler et Mussolini. Introduction de André François-Poncet.

7 Quoted in Paul Reynaud, La France a sauvé l’Europe, volume 1, page 561, note.

Chapter 18

1 Livre Jaune Français, pages 35–37.

2 Ibid., pages 43–44.

Chapter 19

1 Ciano, Diary, 1939–43 (edited by Malcolm Muggeridge), pages 9–10.

2 Feiling, op. cit., page 603.

3 Nuremberg Documents, op. cit., Part 2, page 106.

4 Ibid., page 107.

5 Feiling, op. cit., page 406.

Chapter 20

1Hitler’s Speeches, op. cit., volume 2, page 1626.

2Quoted by Reynaud, op. cit., volume 1, page 585.

3Ciano, Diary, op. cit., page 90.

4 Hitler was evidently quite ignorant of the facts of Jutland, which was from beginning to end an unsuccessful effort by the British Fleet to bring the Germans to a general action in which the overwhelming gun-fire of the British line of battle would have soon been decisive.

5Nuremberg Documents, op. cit., Part 1, pages 167–68.

6Nazi-Soviet Relations, page 15.

Chapter 21

1This difficulty was, of course, overcome later, but only by very elaborate methods after several years of research.

2Ciano, op. cit., page 123.

3Quoted in Reynaud, op. cit., volume 1, page 587.

4Nazi-Soviet Relations, page 41.

5Reynaud, op. cit, volume 1, page 588.

6Nuremberg Documents, Part 1, page 210 ff.

7Nuremberg Documents, Part 1, page 173.

8Ibid., Part 2, pages 157-58.

9Ibid., page 158.

10Ibid., page 166.

11Hitler-Mussolini Letters and Documents, page 7.

12Ibid., page 10.

13 Ciano, op. cit., page 136.

14Nuremberg Documents, Part 2, page 172.

Book Two

Chapter 1

1Feiling, op. cit., page 420.

Chapter 2

1Feiling, op. cit., page 424.

2See also Nuremberg Documents, op. cit., Part 4, page 267.

3German Submarines


4 This submarine was commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Bickford, who was specially promoted for his numerous exploits, but was soon afterwards lost with his vessel.

5This referred to a criminal act unconnected with the war.

6The following are the corrected figures:

British Merchant Shipping Losses by Enemy Action September, 1939


In addition there were losses in neutral and Allied shipping amounting to 15 ships of 33,527 tons.

7We now know that only two U-boats were sunk in September, 1939.

Chapter 3

1Feiling, op. cit., page 425.

Chapter 4

1See Appendix B, Book II.

Chapter 5

1Advanced parties of the British Expeditionary Force began to land in France on September 4. The First Corps were ashore by September 19, and the Second Corps by October 3. General Headquarters (G.H.Q.) was set up initially at Le Mans on September 15. The principal movement of troops was made through Cherbourg, with vehicles and stores through Brest and Nantes, and assembly-points at Le Mans and Laval.

2See map.

3Actually the German bomber strength at that date was 1546.

Chapter 6

1See Appendix E, Book II.

2Alas, these hopeful reports are not confirmed by the post-war analysis.

3See Appendix I, Book II.

Chapter 10

1 See Appendix J, Book II.

2 See Chapter 5.

Chapter 11

1 September 29, 1939. First Lord calls attention of the Cabinet to the value of Swedish iron ore to the German economy.

November 27, 1939. First Lord addresses a minute to the First Sea Lord asking for examination of proposal to mine the Leads.

December 15, 1939. First Lord raises in Cabinet the question of iron-ore shipments to Germany.

December 16, 1939. Circulation of detailed memorandum on the subject to the Cabinet.

December 22, 1939. Memorandum considered by the Cabinet.

February 5, 1940. Detailed discussion of issue in connection with aid to Fin land at Supreme War Council in Paris (W.S.C. present).

February 19, 1940. Renewed discussion of mining of Leads in British Cabinet. Admiralty authorised to make preparations.

February 29, 1940. Authorisation cancelled.

March 28, 1940. Resolution of Supreme War Council that minefields should be laid.

April 3, 1940. Final decision taken by British Cabinet.

April 8, 1940. The minefields laid.

2 See Appendix J, Book II.

Chapter 15

1 The landing at Tanga, near Zanzibar, in 1917.

Chapter 16

1 Temporary Surgeon-Lieutenant H. J. Stammers, R.N.V.R.

Appendix M, Book II

1 The Fiji class mounted 6-inch guns. None the less, the 6-inch cruisers Ajax and Achilles later fought a successful and glorious action with the Graf Spee mounting 11-inch guns.

2 The Argus was commissioned and performed valuable service training pilots for the Fleet Air Arm in the Mediterranean.

3 Many practical difficulties were encountered in the development of these nets. The early trials were unsuccessful, and it was not until 1942 that the equipment was perfected. Thereafter it was fitted in over 750 ships with varying success. Ten ships are known to have been saved by this device.

4 This refers to an incident on September 26 when the Home Fleet was attacked by aircraft in the North Sea, without suffering damage. It was on this occasion that the Ark Royal was singled out for special attention. The Germans claimed that she had been sunk and the pilot who made the claim was decorated. For weeks afterwards the German wireless reiterated daily the question, “Where is the Ark Royal?

5 Throughout the war a special section of the Trade Division dealt with the needs of fishing vessels working round our coasts.

6 See Chapter 7.

7 General Smuts replied that of course he would do as we wished.

8 This policy did not become possible until a later phase in the war.

9 See Chapter 7 and Appendix H dealing with the magnetic-mine problem.

10 Plans for this ship went forward. She became H.M.S. Vanguard.

11 See Chapters 7 and 11.

12 This minute refers to the unrotated projectile (rocket propulsion), which was then being developed for use against low-flying aircraft. The device consisted of a battery of rockets which, on reaching a predetermined height, released long trailing wires, each carrying a small bomb at the end, and supported by a parachute. An aircraft fouling one of these wires would draw the bomb into its wing, where it would explode.

This device was a stop-gap necessitated by our grievous shortage of short-range weapons. Later on it was superseded by more effective weapons.

13 The development of concrete ships promised important relief to our vital war industries. It seemed that they could be built quickly and cheaply by types of labour not required in normal shipbuilding and would save large quantities of steel. These claims were found on examination to be based on false assumptions and many unforeseen technical difficulties arose. An experimental ship of two thousand tons was built, but was a failure, and although experimental work continued, the use of concrete hulls was only successful in barges up to about two hundred tons.

14 This plan was swept away by events. The Fleet Air Arm made its contribution to the R.A.F. during the Battle of Britain. Later the development of the U-boat war taxed to the utmost the resources of Coastal Command which itself drew heavily on Bomber Command to meet its ever-growing commitments.

Later again in 1941 the advent of the “Escort Carrier” type enabled the Fleet Air Arm to play a conspicuous part in the defeat of the U-boats operating beyond the range of normal shore-based aircraft.

15 This refers to the mining of the Norwegian Leads. Owing to many political complications referred to in Chapter 11, the operation did not take place until April 8.

16 In Chapter 8 my minutes are recorded dealing with the difficulties which arose over bringing the Exeter home after the River Plate action. She now remained under repair for many months.

17 The “fast escort vessels” became known as “Hunt” class destroyers, as their names were all selected from famous packs of hounds. Large numbers were built and they served with distinction both in the anti-U-boat war and in our amphibious operations. Later ancient names were revived.

The “whalers” became known as “corvettes” and later types were called “frigates.”

Escort vessels became “sloops.”

18 As a result of these deliberations the battleship Warspite was ordered to return to the Mediterranean, but with the opening of the Norwegian campaign she was recalled to Home waters and did not reach the Mediterranean until May.

Before the Italian declaration of war in June, the Malaya, Ramillies, and Royal Sovereign had also joined the Mediterranean Fleet from convoy duty in the Atlantic.

19 See also First Lord’s Minute of April 12 above.

20 Our ships were using Skjel Fiord in the Lofoten Islands as an advanced base. This covered the approach to Narvik through West Fiord.

21 Iceland was occupied by British forces on May 10.

You can support our site by clicking on this link and watching the advertisement.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!