HIS DARKEST HOUR By David R Graham
June 3rd 1940
Twenty four days have passed since I gratefully accepted your Majesty’s invitation to be the Prime Minister of your Government. Throughout those days I have come to realise just how serious a situation your army and your people face from Herr Hitler’s military actions on the Continent and in eastern Europe. It galls me to say it your Majesty, but say it I must. They are actions that appear to be unstoppable.
The plain and unsavoury truth is that the combined forces of Great Britain and France have proven to be no match for the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. And, as I had privately long suspected, the Maginot Line has proven to have given General Gamelin and his Chiefs of Staff a false sense of security. The Wehrmacht have simply marched round its impressive, but ultimately ineffective fortifications and entered Belgium through the ‘impenetrable’ Ardennes: flouting that country’s neutrality with impunity.
After withstanding repeated hammer blows from the might of the Germany Panzer brigades, General Van Caelenberge and his brave Belgian troops were fought to a standstill and, in a desperate bid to prevent the total annihilation of his forces, he surrendered.
Likewise, in the Netherlands, General Winkelman, by his own admission, had insufficient forces and materiel at his disposal to mount any long term defence against the seemingly unstoppable might of the Wehrmacht and he too was forced to surrender.
This sorry situation has been played out yet again in Norway; particularly at Narvik, where allied forces, under the command of Major General Fleischer, were ultimately unable to recapture the Port and deny its use as an ice free harbour to the enemy.
Coupled with these major military setbacks is the advent of Italy’s entry into the war. At a time when the soldiers of French were already fought to a standstill, ‘the hand that held the dagger has stuck it into the back of its neighbour,’ to borrow the words of President Roosevelt. This treacherous act on the part of Il Duce, left General Winkelman with no other recourse but to surrender his forces to the Germans. The subsequent lamentable martial stamina of the Italian forces henceforth, speaks for itself.
In tandem with the aforementioned, is the stark, undeniably, reality that our own forces have proven to have been totally inadequately prepared to fight a modern war. Suffice it to say that our troops have been badly trained and ill equipped from the outset. In consequence of this appalling and unjustifiable mismanagement and mishandling, over many years, a very desperate rescue operation is underway to try to bring home as much of our shattered army as is humanly possible. I pray God that not many more of your Majesty’s brave soldiers will die needlessly on the blood-soaked shores of Dunkirk.
It is now12:01am and my heart lies heavy in my chest at the very thought of having to write the following words to your Majesty. They are word that I have agonised over for many days and week; words that can only hint at the many more weeks of intense debate with my fellow members of the War Cabinet and those of your Majesty’s Government: words, which I never imagined I could ever bring myself to think, let alone utter and never actually to write to your Majesty. But write them I must. I, Winston Churchill, your most obedient servant and Prime Minister of your Government, seek your Majesty’s leave to sue for peace with Nazi Germany.
Your obedient servant and Prime Minister,
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, Hon, RA.