Halifax.

My gratitude knows no bounds at the wisdom of the British people, who elected my Government for the next term of Parliament. A majority of twenty-seven was a clear and decisive answer. As such, I must hand my thanks to being allowed longer to re-arm and ensure the national security of the United Kingdom.

The week following the election was yet another stressful time in my time as Prime Minister. News filtered through that Germany, Japan and Italy had concluded a tripartite pact, which, it could reasonably be assumed, was aimed at the Soviet Union. During cabinet discussions, we made the point of declaring our support for the Soviets, should there be an invasion of their territory.

In what could only be construed s another act of support, Anthony Eden visited Moscow; during which time he stated that he stated our support for the Russian government should an invasion occur. Despite all of the abuses and of which we all know the Soviets to have perpetrated, in doing so we should be supporting the lesser evil.

Around this time, intelligence reports started circulating that the Yugoslavians were being pushed into becoming a signatory of the Axis pact. This would have grave consequences on our policy towards the defence of Greece, and as such I personally visited Belgrade. The response of the Yugoslavian people was immense. I was overwhelmed by the cheering in the streets, and as such gained confidence when I visited Prince Paul.

The Prince however, was wedded absolutely to the idea of complete neutrality. This concerned me, and I pointed out that should he decide that instead of joining the Axis, should he join our alliance with France, Norway and Greece, then he would be supported by us in terms of both fiscal aid and military support.

I have to say, he was not impressed by my promise, stating that the Germans had just defeated us and the French, what was to stop the same happening again in the south? I did however manage to convince him that whatever the outcome, Yugoslavia would remain neutral. I also promised support in case of invasion by Axis forces.

October saw my visit to Washington D.C. I have to say that I was shocked by the state of Phillip. He joked upon my commenting on his health that he would not last much longer than John Buchan. Despite this, I have to admit that I was worried and offered to recall him, so that he could spend the last few months in England. He declined, stating his role was too important. We could all learn lessons from such a man.

He advised me that the President was of the opinion of support for our cause in Europe, but could not gain support from within the US Government, which still, in the main, took an isolationist stance. He also pointed out that our credibility as a defence against the tide of fascism went down following Versailles.

Upon meeting the President, I must confess to warmth in relations between us. We discussed many areas, on which we agreed, and I believe I managed to turn his opinion around on the issue of the peace deal. I am now, as I was then, stridently in favour of gaining the support of the United States of America. Our common, shared values meant that we gained more support than I expected. I did, however manage to gain from Roosevelt, the promise of that should war break out anew in Europe, we should gain material aid at a discounted price from the United States.

There was a condition, that should we not be able to take the goods, we should still have to pay for them, but the deal was in our interests. As such, whilst not gaining an outright alliance, I had gained some form of direct support from the Americans.
 
With regards to MV's, an interesting idea has been suggested on the France Fights On board.

The British Shipbuilding Problem

The British problem with building more merchant ships in FFO lies with shipyard management (which was poor), shipyard labour relations (which were very poor) and under-investment in the yards since the start of the 'great freight rates slump' in 1921. In 1939, the British shipbuilding industry was still building the same 'standard tramp' (a riveted 10 knot 6000-9000GRT coal fired triple expansion or steam turbine vessel) as it had been building in 1895. These ships were very cheap to build and operate, but British industry had not progressed as much since 1918 as its international competitors. While some British companies were indeed building modern motorships (with their crewing advantage over steamers), most were not.

This all presents a serious problem. The answer is obvious, reactivation of some of the 60-odd derelict yards on the Clyde, with its excellent infrastructure network. However, this is impossible on a yard basis as they are all obsolete, small and owned separately. There would be a great duplication involved, and Clyde labour and management practises were obsolete at best.

The only viable solution is immediately obvious. The British government has to purchase a suitable number of old, closed yard sites, clear them, and build a new yard as a Government-Industry Dockyard.

This yard will have to break with Clyde (and British) management and labour practises. This was actually a national aim of the Government, but no way could be found to do this in OTL despite strenuous efforts. Purchasing old derelict yards, clearing and amalgamating their land, and creating a new government-funded (but privately run and not RN) yard allows the Admiralty to control the process at Leathers and Beaverbrooks suggestion, and also allows them to import US construction, labour and management practises into a mass production yard.

This means that the yard need not be unionised, or, if it is, that the fallback is one yard shipbuilding union and not a free-for-all of 40-50 separate 'craft' unions with the resulting disastrous demarcation disputes. Quite justifiably, Beaverbrook and Leathers would be able to point to the 'linear modular production line' nature of the yard complex and its sole use of welding and diesel engines, and say that the old union model simply does not fit. As part of the deal in building the yard would be to build worker facilities (canteens, toilets/dressing rooms/shower facilities, most work under shelter etc) equivalent to those in US yards, traditional union goals would be pre-met as part of the business model.

Funding. Funding this yard is simple. The money allotted by Treasury in late 1940 for the purchase of 100 elderly US freighters will be used.

Engines. With turbine blade cutting capability stretched to breaking point and triple expansion engines unable to provide the speeds needed, there is no choice but to obtain the necessary speed from making all new merchant ships motorships. Therefore, the yard has to have a large medium speed diesel plant attached to it to build these diesels. Once standard diesel is required, with single or twin installation. The standard diesel will be a version of the Burmeister & Wain 6-Cyl. 662-140 series slow-speed, 6-cylinder diesel engine. A naturally aspirated engine will deliver about 5300bhp. The turbocharged variant will produce 6000 BHP at 135 RPM. Engines will be built and fitted on-site by an existing diesel-building firm in new facilities.

Description. It will take nearly 3 years from the decision to create the yard until the first of the most complex ships is launched. The situation is easier for the monitors, as some of the existing slip foundations can be used to start building these ships while the rest of the yard is being completed. Meanwhile, standard small monitor hulls can be produced by small mercantile yards lacking other orders.

The yard will be unusual in that it will be a linear yard with sideways launching for all ships. The old yards were 1880s slipway yards, with the yard a series of sheds around one to four slips perpendicular to the river. The railway net feeding the yards was parallel to the river, about 400 yards inland. Therefore there is no choice but to place the new yard on the old sites between the river and the railway corridor. The basic yard module is a materials yard, and a large construction hall fed by internal module construction points. Ships will be assembled inside the halls on a mobile bed, then rolled out to a side-slip, warped on to the slip, and launched.
Standard ships will be launched completed, making the largest mass to be moved the net tonnage, no more than 6,500 tons.

There will be one Cargo Liner hall (2 ships simultaneous side-by-side assembly), two Tramp halls and one tanker hall.

Construction Methods. All vessels will be all-welded. All vessels will be assembled from prefabricated modules.

Production cannot be too big simply due to demand on British steel.

AN early estimate of full monthly production:

1.5 x 13,000 cargo liner
0.75 x 15,000 GRT tanker
2.5 x 10,000 GRT tramp

56,000 GRT a month at full production. The limiting factor here is engines. Even with a chunk of the 'large order for US machine tools' that Churchill gave away to the USSR in OTL, this is still 7 x 3,000 HP diesels a month for the engine-works to build. That's a lot. I do not think the issue of hulls is much of an issue. Hulls are easy, cheap and simply to build. SO I think there WILL be additional hulls produced for Naval use, but the engines will have to come from elsewhere.


http://francefightson.yuku.com/topic/640

http://francefightson.yuku.com/topic/659?page=1
 
I think the idea of Beaverbrook invovled with shipbuilding rather than aircraft (although that isn't explicitly said here), is an interesting alternative WI.
 
I think the idea of Beaverbrook invovled with shipbuilding rather than aircraft (although that isn't explicitly said here), is an interesting alternative WI.
He is in both areas, according to the FFO people, in the OTL he actually did try to implement the shipyard idea but it didn't get anywhere.

Unfortunate really as it may have had a better effect that all his messing about at MAP.
 
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November saw the conclusion of the secret committee on the reasons of the reverse of the previous conflict. It was particularly damning in all aspects. In terms of tactics, leadership and overall planning, we were comprehensively out thought, and as a result we were out fought. As a result many changes were put into effect. Of these, the primary changes were that our armour would primarily be stationed in the North, and the French armour would be positioned in the south.

It was estimated that should the German Army be in the process of invading another state, then we should be able to reach the old Maginot line within a fortnight. The French, who following the peace treaty transferred 200,000 soldiers to the Gendarmerie, also stated that they could consolidate our successes quickly and help our push into Hitlers Reich.

This in itself was of importance, especially considering how our own intelligence reported that German forces were moving rapidly to their Eastern frontier, within Poland and were thus bordering the USSR.

It was now the reckoning of the military that, given our guarantee to the Russians, that we should be at war again within a few months. The very thought, whilst horrifying to anyone, particularly myself, having seen service during the Great War was repugnant, yet it would if fortune and grace were in our favour, we would rid the world of tyranny of the Nazi menace.

Discussions in this period also led to France agreeing to lend us all the information from their nuclear bomb project, which would be merged into our MAUD committee, alongside all their members. It was hoped that this would speed matters along. We were now in a far stronger position than in June. Talk no longer permeated defeatism. Talk was only of victory, every day which passed saw us gain strength.

Much of this was down to the magnificent efforts of Lord Woolton, the Minister of Production, who took Government control of the Clyde dockyards, giving not only many thousands work but helping ensure the British merchant fleet grew back to and beyond the strength upon the German invasion of Poland.

At the end of the month, Mackenzie King and Jan Smuts visited me at Chequers. I made clear to them that my opinion was one that we should be at war with Germany and Italy within the following six months. Both, to their credit promised me their support should we go to war, as indeed did Robert Menzies, whom I had several telephone discussions with over the period.

The position of Menzies was actually particularly significant, given the fact that Japan was within the Axis pact. The fact that the Australian Government had public support for us was invaluable.
 
Menzies' support at this point is unnecessary. Australia did not ratify the Westminster Statute until 1942, under the Labor government, and so at this point had no independent foreign relations or policy. When the UK declared war in 1939, that declaration brought Australia into the war.

Australian politics could be quite different with this interim peace - IIRC one of the major reasons Menzies got the punt was that everyone in parliament was unhappy with how he was running the war.
 
Menzies support may not be technically necessary, but there's a massive difference between being dragged along by Britain and agreeing with the policy.

If the Australian government didn't support the idea then I'm sure they could find countless ways to ensure no servicemen left the country and that Britain received no practical support at all.


Anyway, another interesting update though I admit I'm still struggling with an assertive Halifax over the usual cliched portrayal of him.
 
Australian popular opinion was actually very belligerent at the time. In 1937 Menzies got the nickname Pig Iron Bob after he intervened in a dockworkers strike aimed at preventing scrap metal being exported to Japan. With a 1940 peace, Australia has barely gotten involved at all - the first round two divisions raised, the 6th and 7th, first saw combat against Italy in North Africa, a conflict which has not happened here. If the British government has recognised that Japan is as much a threat as Germany, as seems to have been suggested, then Australia would be even more committed to the alliance.
 
Menzies' support at this point is unnecessary. Australia did not ratify the Westminster Statute until 1942, under the Labor government, and so at this point had no independent foreign relations or policy. When the UK declared war in 1939, that declaration brought Australia into the war.

Australian politics could be quite different with this interim peace - IIRC one of the major reasons Menzies got the punt was that everyone in parliament was unhappy with how he was running the war.
WHAT!!! Really!? That late!? Why the heck didn't they do it earlier? I see from Wiki that the Kiwis didn't bother to do it until 1947. Wow.
 
I must admit, when I first saw the word 'Halifax', I did give an involuntary shudder.

I'm glad to say it was totally unwarranted. Great work! :)


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I'm not sure that the exact date of NZ signing the Statute is too relevant - as past 1947 we would still be very inclined to abide by UK requests for assistance in wars - we also got involved in the Malayan Emergency for one
 
I'm not sure that the exact date of NZ signing the Statute is too relevant - as past 1947 we would still be very inclined to abide by UK requests for assistance in wars - we also got involved in the Malayan Emergency for one
Sorry to sidetrack things. I was just astounded that Australia and New Zealand ratified Westminster so late.

BTW, Fletcher, while I thought after the first post or so that this might be a 'Halifax PM, Britain does peace' cliche, it is turning out to be something rather more interesting than that.

Keep up the good work.
 
Guys

I could have sworn I had posted already but seems to have got lost. Trying to remember what I wrote and put it in again. :(:mad:

I’m more than a little concerned about the way things are going and how likely the events are. My concerns are:

a) I don’t think that the western powers would be ready for a major war for a while yet. Possibly a desperate conflict if forced but not the strength to engage in a major conflict with Germany with any real likelihood of success. The air forces will be materially a lot stronger but may not have absorbed all the lessons in terms of tactics and requirements for new equipment, let alone totally new designs perhaps. However both armies took serious losses in manpower [in the French case especially] and equipment. The latter could probably be made up by this time but I suspect only by mass production of existing equipment, which would prevent re-tooling for newer designs. Also it would take time to develop, test and propagate through the forces.

b) Hence I could see a defensive alliance and plans made for waging war with Germany if it attacks the SU and looks like winning quickly. If only because such a victory would seem to take Germany too powerful to be resisted. However I doubt they would seek to establish an alliance with the SU prior to such an attack. Because I doubt that neither Stalin nor the western powers would be interested Stalin would probably think that the allies were seeking to split the Nazi-Soviet alliance. For the western allies they would still see Stalin as Hitler’s primary ally and deeply mistrust the communist regime. Also it means totally sacrificing the Poles and other nations attacked by Stalin over the last year. Much better to wait until Hitler attacks and then bargain from a position of strength. This might have a couple of other bonuses.
i) Possibly the allies could persuade Stalin to return the land seized from Finland in return for aid, which would have the bonus of giving a chance of keeping the Finns out of the conflict.
ii) If a formal alliance exists then Stalin will demand immediate western support. It would be much better if the allies can wait until the Germans are heavily committed, deep in Soviet territory.

c) Actually, given how openly hostile the allies are I would think that the Germans, for all Hitler’s desire to strike east, will look to attack in the west 1st. They can’t afford to leave a powerful western alliance in their rear while fighting in the west. Furthermore it is in their interests to do this before the western powers re-arm and regroup. Actually attempts to make a pact with Stalin is doubly dangerous here. It would be in Stalin’s interest to leak any such approach to the Germans as his interests would be best served by a new conflict in the west distracting the Germans from any attacks in the east. Also if the Germans find out, by any means, that the western allies are planning such a move it makes clear to them that they need to clear their rear 1st.

I think it would be far more logical for the allies to sit tight for the moment. Get ready to fight if attacked or if Germany strikes east and looks like they will win quickly. Otherwise bide their time and rebuild their economic and military strength. If the eastern allies fall out and begin a long and bloody conflict wearing each other out so much the better. Also they need to consider the situation in the Far East. With the allies looking weaker and their prestige affected they need to consider possible conflict there as well.

Steve
 
This is interesting, but I have a few questions.

When is Hitler going to attack Russia? In OTL, he did this in 41, but he actually has some problems this time around.
(1) he has less access to Western Euorope manufacturing (germany is out of foreign exchange by now, and he hasnt looted France/Belgium/Holland). he also doesnt have the French army supplies he looted (I presume).

(2) While in OTL Germany was still at war at that point, and so could keep the full war economy going, this time he isnt. Granted, hes going to attack Russia, but if Germany keeps up full war production while at peace, even Stalin is going to notice! Given Germany's economic state, and military superiority, it makes no sense unless hes planning an attack. So it would see likely the Germans wouldn't actually attack until 1942 (allowing them 2 years to build up munitions, rebuilt the Luftwaffe, and rationalise the army's armour).

Does this seem reasonable? Only the allies do seem rather militaristic, given they just lost in France..!! Given a reasonable idea Germany is gearing up to attack someone in 2 years (probably Russia, attacking France again doesnt make much sense), their rearmament would be geared to that time frame, with the obvious idea of stabbing Hitler in the back once hes fully engaged in Russia...
This would make a big differnec to what the British did to rearm the army - given that timeframe, I;d see something like making sure the Valentine (in 1940, their latest tank) was in thorough working order, probably rearmed with the 6-pdr (already ready for production), and quite possible a better engine. I'd see a replacement tank in design as well, depending on what Germany is doing with its tanks. They'd certainly be standardising on the Pzr III/IV, but with no Russian invasion, would they bother with anything heavier? Maybe just put a descent 75mm on the Mk IV...

Air wise, the germans haven't realises the Ju88 is as poor as it was at that point, and will be standardising on it (their orginal plan). With no BoB, they wont realise the Me110 is a dog too... The British will certainly keep developing the Spitfire, and they know the Battle is useless. So what else will they develop in 2 years? With less money, maybe the Hurricane as the Hurribomber, but I dont see if they will have the resources to build the Typhoon. Certainly better FAA aircraft, in addition to Germany they have to keep an eye on Japan, and Norway showed they need better organic air for the fleet. A Sea Hurricane, certainly, possible a Seafire, and a better dive and torpedo bomber.
They'd probably keep on with the Beafighter development, again they dont know the Me110 is a dog, so there would be more demand for a heavy long range fighter
 
(2) While in OTL Germany was still at war at that point, and so could keep the full war economy going, this time he isnt. Granted, hes going to attack Russia, but if Germany keeps up full war production while at peace, even Stalin is going to notice

Im a bit skeptical about this as I read recently that the US has effectively managed to keep itself on a permanent war footing since the end of the second world war. It was a dubious source admittedly but when you think about the vast proportion of US GDP going to defence it rings true.

At this stage the Germans can use the weak excuse that they are just rearming themselves after so many years under the Versailles Treaty too.
 
In the hope that its ok, I'll answer a few of the points and questions together.

Menzies was given a particular mention since he, as much as Halifax I suspect would be concerned at the Axis pact and Japanese inclusion in it. As such, he will likely be badgering the British to build a stronger force east of Suez. Since I'm doing the tl in the first person looking back, I could hardly say he was badgering me, but he could compliment the Australian contribution to the re-armament of the UK, and their staunch maintenence of the UK-Aus alliance.

No, the western powers indeed are not ready yet. They are however in a far stronger position than the UK alone was in OTL. One aspect I will give away is UK matrial aid to be stored in France will rise dramatically over the next seven-eight months, in the main to be UK equipment looked after by the French Army. As to the strength of the forces, whilst I see your point, the Germans are hardly likely to expected to keep their crack divisions in the west at the moment.

As to technology, with the exception of The MAUD Committee, which I've mentioned a couple of times and which the French have moved all of their planning under, I'll make a filler post in the next couple of days if you want, but any help will be appreciated.

As to the Nazi PoV in all of this, they are happy with Britain and to an extent France sabre-rattling. They occupy a portion of France, the French Army has been limited in size, although they realise many French soldiers are now officially Gendarmes, they dont believe there are enough UK troops to make a breakthrough and following their rather easy victory in 1940, they will be suffering from over-confidence.

They can also use Franco-British aggression as the reason for keeping Germany in a strong military position. Stalin should believe that, especially how given he would be aware of the British lobbying every nation from Yugoslavia to Greece to Norway to join an Anti-Nazi alliance.

A new Triple Alliance of France, the USSR and the UK will not appear until the invasion though. Aside from strong suspicions and intelligence reports indicating it, they cannot have been 100% sure that Russia was going to be invaded.

With regards to Allied planning, they have indeed taken this into account and the Defeat Committee, whatever name I gave it, analysed the defeat and causes. Rest assured, lessons will be learned. That being said, the Allies are still smarting from defeat earlier in the year. Whomever said 'revenge is a dish best served cold', may have a point.....
 
I

No, the western powers indeed are not ready yet. They are however in a far stronger position than the UK alone was in OTL. One aspect I will give away is UK matrial aid to be stored in France will rise dramatically over the next seven-eight months, in the main to be UK equipment looked after by the French Army. As to the strength of the forces, whilst I see your point, the Germans are hardly likely to expected to keep their crack divisions in the west at the moment.

As to technology, with the exception of The MAUD Committee, which I've mentioned a couple of times and which the French have moved all of their planning under, I'll make a filler post in the next couple of days if you want, but any help will be appreciated.
My initial thoughts are that the failings are not so much in the equipment, as in the organisation/doctrine. For example, the Matilda tank was virtually invulnerable to German AT guns until someone bought up 88s, so it'd be very unlikely that we'd see major technoligical leaps (developments of king size "Super Tanks"/allied version of the Tiger for example).

There would be more of a change in the Air Forces - the battles in Franch showed up some of the weaknesses (for example the Fairey Battle squadrons getting chopped up trying to tke out bridges), so you're more likely to see old types being reassigned/retired.

One lesson learned will have been about dive bombing - in fact the Allies probably have an exagerated view of its effectiveness. This is likely to lead to ground forces having more short range AA capability built into any re-organisation (more Bofors guns, early development of vehicles such as the Crusader AA (Crusader tank with 2 x 20mm in the turret instead of the big gun) to accompany armoured formations etc)

Given the new view of dive bombing effectiveness, both the RAF and the French will probably want to develop their own divebombing capability. It'll take time to develop completely new aircraft, but as an interim measure, the Fleet Air Arm currently has a dive bomber in service, and still in production - the Skua. A couple of squadrons worth could be redeployed to the RAF, and new aircraft built to enable them to develop doctrine/tactics while a new and better dive bomber (possibly suitable for both RAF and FAA use?) is developed.
 
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I agree that the allies will want a dive bomber, but have they also noticed how vulnerable the Stuka is?

The RAF already have an available aircraft, the Henley. They can also develop the Hurribomber, as the SPitfire will be taking over as the main fighter.

While the Air Marshalls will no doubt still be fantasizing about strategic bombing, it played no part in the defeat at all. Will the government insist it gets a lower priority over what is seen as more vital needs? Not dropped, but at least given a lower priority.

Interesting point about Hitler being happy with the UK and fRance being aggresive in order to keep his war machine going! However how is Germany going to get the raw metarials it needs now it cant loot France? For example, it was French oil reserves that fuelled a lot of Barbarossa...
I see it evening out a bit. Less production over the winter, and less matrial looted from France, but otoh less planes lost in the BoB, and less troops held in the West and Norway, so a higher proportion of the army can go east.

On tanks; given that they see Germany going for Russia soon, the only contender really is the Valentine, however some considerable improvements can be made to this in the time available (most needed is a better engine and the 6-pdr gun, both easily doable in the time available - given its reliability, that would make it a good tank for this time period).

One thing that is going to be going full blast is R&D - given limitations to the size of forces, the obvious counter is to give them better equipment. Also since the French limits iirc are to manpower, I can see the deployed army being very heavy on tanks (the infantry to be made up on mobilisation)
 
An interesting timeline, but I'd like to make two side remarks.

Until very recently, the French Gendarmerie was legally and technically a branch of the Armed Forces. It means that the trick with massive transfer of the troops to the Gendarmerie wouldn't do - it's an obvious violation of the armistice and its clauses.

And the name of the Czechoslovak President is, of course, Emil Hácha. A simple slip, I suppose.
 
An interesting timeline, but I'd like to make two side remarks.

Until very recently, the French Gendarmerie was legally and technically a branch of the Armed Forces. It means that the trick with massive transfer of the troops to the Gendarmerie wouldn't do - it's an obvious violation of the armistice and its clauses.

And the name of the Czechoslovak President is, of course, Emil Hácha. A simple slip, I suppose.
I'm sure the French government can quickly pass a bill separating them first...:) :)
 
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