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World in the Balance: The Perilous Months of June-October 1940

“In the five months, June-October 1940, the British army was driven weaponless off the Continent, and the French army disintegrated before the screaming Stukas and the flanking grinding panzers. The French Third Republic collapsed into occupation and the accommodationist Pétain government. Outside Britain much of the world saw the 'wave of the future' about to engulf Britain also, or at least to compromise Britain into an accommodating peace. Russia encouraged and abetted Germany, sending much needed war materials. Isolationists in the United States restrained their government from being of much aid.

But the British people rallied to their eloquent if pudgy prime minister and took the imperialist old soldier’s voice for their own. They were an island nation, unconquered in almost a thousand years and not about to let that record fall without the fiercest fight. They had written the Common Law and forged courts of rights, and they were not about to see those trampled by any foreign tyrant. They would fight. They were bombed; they saw their sons fly up daily to fall down in flames; they saw their hospitals, churches, and schools smashed, their babies and mothers and old people blown apart in their homes, and their young women in uniform die at their posts, and they said all this was preferable to seeing Europe – indeed the world – succumb to a regime of race hatred and savagery. Nor would they parley with such a regime. Rather they would struggle to expunge it. If liberal government was to be saved, they would have to be the ones to save it. They knew this would be a day far off, and that to reach that day first they could not allow themselves to be defeated. That was the work of these five months.”