The Forge of Weyland

Driftless

Donor
And yet popular history judged him so harshly.

I think the "Peace in our Time" commentary was rhetorical over-sell. In hindsight, he might have been better served by making the Munich agreement sound less like a diplomatic victory and more like a diplomatic stall-for-time. Of course, that doesn't look so well in the papers, but it would be more of a wake-up call in Parliament.

He was "whistling past the graveyard".
 
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I think the "Peace in our Time" commentary was rhetorical over-sell. In hindsight, he might have been better served by making the Munich agreement sound less like a diplomatic victory and more like a diplomatic stall-for-time. Of course, that doesn't look so well in the papers, but it would be more of a wake-up call in Parliament.

He was "whistling past the graveyard".
However from comments he made at the time, it seems he really DID think he'd achieved peace in his time. So no, not giving him a pass
 
Dan Carlin had a good thing to say on Chamberlin: 'Look at the people around him, how happy they are with that [peace in our time] statement' [paraphrasing]
If the peace had lasted Chamberlin would still be praised for adroit diplomacy averting a potentially catastrophic war, just as Kennedy is lionized in the US. Sadly it turned out the 'warmonger' Churchill (and ol' Winston was in a very minority position at the time) turned out to be right and Hitler's words could be broken at his convenience.

I'm not going to blame a guy for not knowing in advance what only seems obvious in hindsight.
 
I have to say using human names for tanks is just terrible, just look at what the US did with their carriers, they don't have this weight to it unlike the names use from pre-WW2.
USS Franklin, unfinished 74 gun Ship of the Line, 1813
There's history on that, Battles and Statemen.
 
However from comments he made at the time, it seems he really DID think he'd achieved peace in his time. So no, not giving him a pass
It doesn't help his case that up until the invasion of Norway he still didn't accept that the war wouldn't be settled in the conference room with Hitler agreeing that he was wrong and going back to how things were in 1936.
 
I have to say using human names for tanks is just terrible, just look at what the US did with their carriers, they don't have this weight to it unlike the names use from pre-WW2.
To be honest naming ships after admirals still sound off even if turn into legend as it go through fighting.
I don't know - the RN would be missing something without Queen Elizabeth, King George V, Prince of Wales, Duke of York (well, we don't want another one) Anson, Howe, Rodney, Iron Duke, Nelson or Hood. And that's just a couple of battleship squadrons. Using very recently dead (or worse, living) politicians is awful though. Bad enough that Churchill got a tank named after him.
 
Because the lack of readiness was his fault, first as Chancellor then as PM.
Disagree as did Churchill btw. The cutting period is pre Hitler from 34 ( German rearmament is Nov 34) Oct 35 there is a cabinet paper where as Chancellor he is a) welcoming the PM is bringing it to full Cabinet so he and others are fully informed and complaining that the RN and Army proposals are poorly developed compared to the RAF and as the situation had changed ( this would also include Abyssinia) the financial situation had changed and 'gives particulars on how the increase could be financed' what he does not want is folk suggesting a loan ay be on the cards. The FO if anything is still looking at disarmament.

After that they tend to approve everything they can when asked the difficulty is from 36 the estimates are spinning up industry is estimated to take 3-5 years because of capital and manpower supply. Early on (Dec 36) Chamberlain is not unreasonably looking at how to deter Hitler now and pointing out that having 15 TA divisions able to go to France ready in 3-5 years does not do this, expansion of the Air force and Navy might. And in 36 the Decision before Cabinet is whether to equip the TA at the same scale as the RA and postponed. April 37 Chamberlain is complaining that the Army estimates are wildly unclear, varying from 4-8 divisions equipped in various ways pus two TA division as AA units and themselves expanding -so What do you want?

With the conclusion that Chamberlain should beat heads together. May 37 the conclusion is the RA and two TA AA divs should be fully equipped with the most modern kit immediately and 12 not the 4 or 8 originally envisaged TA divisions should be equipped and trained in peace to be ready for 1940. Its worth remembering that 1940 is just a date all the discussions are about raising the Peacetime Military on a permanent basis not fighting on a war on a date already determined. Once war comes you can mobilise the bulk of the economy and produce a lot more.

2 Feb 39 ( With chamberlain as PM and Simon as Chancellor) the proposal is the Mobile Div is split into two smaller divs, 4 RA divs fully equipped ( And the AA divs), 2 Colonial Divisions created with colonial scales of equipment and reserves War Equipment and reserves for 4 TA div. Training equipment for the rest of the TA to RA standards. Chamberlain explicitly refers financial questions to the Treasury, but does point out two things. 1 In the event of a long war financial strength matters and the proposal also delays the deployment of the BEF to France, and you might want to ask them whether they would rather have a smaller BEF on day X or a larger one on day X+20 but nothing on day X. Which based on WW1 and the Franco Prussian war would be shortly after the major battles have been fought.

Simon notes that Cabinet is just about to receive proposals on ADGB (but the Army proposals in his view have higher priority - but also notes this will be largest military budget ever and has to be sustainable again no predestined war.

22 Feb - 3 weeks later the proposals come back. At his point Chamberlain is very prescriptive. Mobile Division split into two smaller mobile divs - £5m - This is a technical matter Army gets what the Army Wants - do it.
First two regular divs with full kit and reserves ( i.e. equipped for offensive action ) £13m available in 21 days Second two same equipment levels £11m available in 60 days. - There is no alternative.

Two colonial divisions from existing field forces - Deferred pending discussions with the Govt of India £11m the sense of this is more units may be available from India.

War reserves and kit for 4 TA divs. £30m Chamberlain explains that the TA is now 4 AA divs, 9 ID, 4 Mobile ( I take to be Motor infantry) and the making of one other Div but that unless this is approved none but the AA will be ready for war and it is imperative that they are made ready for deployment within 6 Months - but no decision on deployment to France pending discussions with the French And Belgian Staffs.

March 39 - non agenda Item on Conscription - Chamberlain says he is in favour and thinks its a good idea but there is a lot of cooperation from the TU and Labour party on munitions work and he wants that to continue so defer discussion until a wider national conversation can take place. Pending which, lets raise the TA to War Strength, and double it £80- 100m which the Chancellor has already approved, plus the Corps and army level formations to follow, and since the burden cannot fall only on citizen soldiers increase the RA by 50,000. And then national service is introduced.

Its difficult to see any obstacle from Chamberlain from 34 on to any proposal from the Military except on reasonable geopolitical or military grounds. The problem is within tank production. The Army gets what it wants as fast as it can be produced for small arms uniforms, trucks, artillery AA artillery, carriers the works . The March 39 issue as noted in the minute requires doubling war production which they are fine with, uncosted. But the Brits only have the MkVI ready to go. The army not knowing there will be war in 1939 has not settled on the Cruiser or I tank designs ( and in fairness to Martel he really wants a Universal Tank but its not technically deliverable so if its a fast cruiser lets make it a fast cruiser) and the ones it does have are inadequate no point in producing early cruisers or Matilda 1 unless there is a war in the immediate future.

Given a 50mm armour ( 50% more than the just introduced P3) and a gun available its difficult to see how the establishment would not just order it. The second issue is that the timing means army production is in direct conflict for labour with the RAF who have settled on the next gen of designs and are ramping up production so without wartime labour allocation all the skilled guys will be working for Aircraft companies. Third issue is doubling the TA means halving the training cadre and bringing back time served officers and NCOs who are not familiar with the new kit you have just decided on.

So yes Chamberlain does say Peace in our time but he then comes back and presides over the largest peacetime expansion of the British military in history the worlds first integrated air defence system and tries to secure the quadruple alliance of Britain France the USSR and Poland ( which the Poles scupper btw) gives guarantees anyway to Poland Greece and Romania. Or that the French screw up the deployment and lose in 5 days.
 

Driftless

Donor
It doesn't help his case that up until the invasion of Norway he still didn't accept that the war wouldn't be settled in the conference room with Hitler agreeing that he was wrong and going back to how things were in 1936.

He - and others - weren't able to deal with or even recognize a sociopath/psychopath at the top of the political food chain.
 
He - and others - weren't able to deal with or even recognize a sociopath/psychopath at the top of the political food chain.
It's interesting that the Ancien regime monarchies in Europe during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were able to view Napoleon as such a threat. (Rightly or wrongly)
 
It's interesting that the Ancien regime monarchies in Europe during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were able to view Napoleon as such a threat. (Rightly or wrongly)
Not really the same.

All the monarchies in Europe were long established. Napoleon had got to power in a regime that had got rid of the monarchy so was opposite to all of them. The USA was too small to matter and would probably accept Napoleon. The UK possibly could accept the overthrow as well, but this was France and it was having a good chance of dominating Europe, so reject France because of that not who was in charge, a steady monarch doing the same things would have been an enemy
 
you are forgetting that napoleon inherited the french state from the terror and the conflicts from it rather than napoleon itself doing things. He was viewed as a usurper thanks to that by the way rather than napoleon being the founder of a new french ruling dynasty .

That hitlers explanation was that the traty of versallies was super duper unfair and annexing german speaking peoples was the explanation why the rest of europe didnt react properly to him . You have to remember we have hindsight helping us. And seriously people were truly horrified by doing another ww1 and were hoping for the best is the only explanation that makes sense at all for the british especially. This was also part of the reason why french didnt do great aswell , they werent enthused about the war at all.

But yeah im pretty sure the last few updates have been otl based wich is a truly horrific part of british thinking that we dont want a continental war suddenly and we will just let raf win the war.
 
That's entirely what it was driven by. He knew full well that radar wasn't ready, Fighter Command wasn't ready and the Army wasn't ready.
True. But the Germans weren't either. If the Germans had had to conquer Czechoslovakia, which was prepared, they would have had to leave the western frontier poorly defended, and France could have invaded easily. Also, the Soviets would have been glad to flood Czechoslovakia with men and arms - even if the men and the arms had to travel through different countries.
Germany desperately needed that extra time to build up her own forces, and made better use of the time than the Allies did.
If Europe HAD gone to war in '38, the Allies would have won faster.
 
True. But the Germans weren't either. If the Germans had had to conquer Czechoslovakia, which was prepared, they would have had to leave the western frontier poorly defended, and France could have invaded easily. Also, the Soviets would have been glad to flood Czechoslovakia with men and arms - even if the men and the arms had to travel through different countries.
Germany desperately needed that extra time to build up her own forces, and made better use of the time than the Allies did.
If Europe HAD gone to war in '38, the Allies would have won faster.

Probably, but nobody in 1938 knew that. The Germans were very good at propaganda and making their armed forces look huge. They were flying squadrons of aircraft from one airfield to another overnight and repainting them so observers thought they had hundreds of modern fighters and bombers rather than a similar handful as the RAF and AdA had. Everyone thought the Germans were ready for war, that's why they capitulated at Munich.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Types of dogs? After all, fast WW1 tank was a Whippet.
Nuffield Newfoundland, Morris Malamute, Mastiff, Leyland Labrador, Lurcher ...

Dachshund, Alsatian, German Shepherd...
Because he seemed happy to toss the Czechs under the bus
It should be recalled that Chamberlain's sell-out of the Czechs was enormously popular, not just with the establishment (right to the top - King George VI & the then Queen Elizabeth even offered his the stage at Buck House for his public applause) but with a majority, even a vast majority, of the general public. It wasn't until Hitler seized the rump Czech state in March 1939 that the scales fell away from most British eyes.

Recall Daladier's return to Paris. He feared he would be lynched, but found the crowd celebrating wildly. He muttered "idiots" to an aide. Yet he did little to help France prepare, even being a problem for Reynaud.
 
Because the lack of readiness was his fault, first as Chancellor then as PM.
Those decisions didn't happen in a vacuum, they were heavily influenced by public option. Now not being in their shoes, and with 90 years hindsight, we can say that ideally government should do what's 'right' regardless of public opinion, but it's hard to buck the public consensus. There's also the actions that were taken which Gannt the Chartist has outlined.


Because he seemed happy to toss the Czechs under the bus
Happy or pragmatic? It wasn't so long ago that the map of Europe was redrawn to try and better reflect the ethnicities/nationalities on the ground, so to people of the time period there was a certain natural justice to moving the Sudeten Germans to Germany.


Bad enough that Churchill got a tank named after him.
There's some justification considering the backing he gave to the development of the first tanks IIRC.
 

Driftless

Donor
Was the Churchill tank named after John Churchill - Duke of Marlborough, or by sheer coincidence, his descendant Winston? ;)

(Or yes to both questions.....,)
 
Marlborough, unless my memory and sources have completely let me down. That there was a Winston of the same name in the PM's chair at the time is a happy accident, though I'm sure it helped weigh the scales.
 
Marlborough, unless my memory and sources have completely let me down. That there was a Winston of the same name in the PM's chair at the time is a happy accident, though I'm sure it helped weigh the scales.
In an episode of 'Killer Tanks' the narrator claimed that good old Winnie pushed for the tank's development due to the name, no idea if that's actually true though.
 
30 May 1938
30th May 1938

"Do you have a moment, Sir?"

Major Jackman looked up from the report on his desk at his subordinate, and nodded.

"What's the problem?"

Lieutenant Spears had a sheaf of papers in one hand, which had made the major assume something needed sorting out.

"Well Sir - it's not exactly a problem. Or at least, not our problem. "The Major raised an interrogative eyebrow as the young officer continued. "Well Sir, I've been following up on the changes we'll be making to the bridging units - the new pins, steel, that sort of thing - to make them stronger. While I was going through the metallurgy reports, I came across one sent to us a while ago from Teddington. Apparently they'd been asked to do some tests on a unit of tank track that someone at the MEE had sent over to them. They were rather busy, so the report took a while, and it only came in a little while ago. No-one seemed to be waiting on it, so it was just sitting around."

Major Jackman took the proffered report with interest. "That's odd, why would someone want them to examine a tank track?"

"Well, Sir, it seems it wasn't one of ours. They were testing a Czech tank over at MEE, and were a bit puzzled as to why its tracks seemed to last a lot better than ours. They wondered of it was something in the metallurgy, so they, ah, liberated a spare tread and sent it down to Teddington for analysis. "

"I see. And did they find it was something special?"

Spears smiled slightly. "Well, Sir, yes and no. It's definitely better than what our chaps have been making the tracks out of. But it's not exactly new. The somewhat embarrassing bit is that the track used a manganese steel, which stood up a lot better. What's embarrassing is they started using it in Britain in the 1870's, for railway track!

"Really?" Jackman looked down at the report in his hand. "I suppose that makes sense, a railway line gets a lot of heavy use. I'll take a look through it, then we'll pass it on to the manufactures. They can probably use it to improve our own tracks, and a longer-lasting track is something the RTC will probably like. Good work, Spears."


1st June 1938, Bovington


The first three of the new Infantry tank, the Vickers A11, had just arrived, the Scammel carriers complaining rather more than usual under the heavy load. The crews, as well as anyone else who could contrive a reason for being there, had been crawling all over their shiny new monster tanks.

The biggest topic for discussion was the weight - they were wondering what such a heavy tank would do to some of the road surfaces - and the fact the huge gun was controlled mechanically in elevation. This was a new idea to British tanks, but having seen the size of it, the gunners agreed it couldn't have been controlled in the old way, unless they replaced themselves with gorillas!

The tanks had been accompanied by a small team from Vickers, who were there to explain the details that might not be so obvious, and to help sort out any immediate teething problems. This was appreciated by the crews - despite the type acceptance testing, when they actually started to use them there were always small issues. Having the Vickers engineers there helped smooth these out so much more easily, and the few that were recaltreant were noted down, with the promise that they'd see what they could do back at the factory.

It was an interesting experience for the engineers as well. As one of them had pointed out, while they designed and built the beasts, they never actually got a chance to drive around in one, and the tank crews were happy to give them that experience. The most common comment was on the lack of room, especially when fully loaded with kit. While they'd checked the available space when designing them, they hadn't realised all the bits and pieces, from greatcoats down to mess tins, that a tank crew actually took along with them on operations. When asked why they didn't just leave the stuff behind, the tankers pointed out that this was all stuff they needed in the field - they often ended up staying out overnight, or in poor weather, and having your greatcoat or kettle back at the base wasn't terribly helpful.

Still, a tank full of gear rather offended the sensibilities of one of the engineers, who wondered if something could be done to square the circle, as it were. He thought about it, then asked the crew if they could put all their kit in a box, so he could measure how much space it took up. The crew were puzzled, but did as asked, curious to see what the man had in mind. He took some measurements, then, under the curious eyes of the crew, climbed up on the tank and too some of the turret. Finally he clambered down, looking thoughtful, as the crew demanded to know just what he'd been up to.

He looked at the tank and started to gesture, explaining that if they could fit a box to the back of the turret, it wouldn't be in the way of anything, and they could store all their kit in it until they needed it. It needn't be fancy, a light steel box was all that was needed. The crew considered this. It seemed so simple, really. And if they could have it fitted with a padlock, then their kit and tools would be safe from the endemic pilfering. The engineer promised to try something out when he got back to Vickers - it would be a simple addition, the base workshop could handle it easily.


3rd June 1938, War Office.

The initial reports on the testing of the new A12 infantry tank had been received with eager anticipation. While work on the A11 was progressing satisfactorily, the Army had been worried that only having one infantry tank in production would leave them in a very unfortunate position if anything went wrong with it. The report was very favourable, and now they had to decide what to do about ordering it. In order to save time, it was decided not to wait for the full tests to be completed, small faults found could be fixed in the production models. The intention was to order an initial 70 tanks, enough to form a battalion. This was seen as fewer than would have been preferred, but they decided to wait until delivery times could be decided on before expanding the order.

Another problem was the time that would be taken before the tanks would arrive. Vulcan didn't have the large tank factory Vickers had been building, and the method of making the tanks didn't seem well suited to the sort of mass-production method used in it. The A12 looked like using more traditional method. Which wasn't felt to be so bad a thing, as it would allow them to place some of the orders with other companies more familiar with these methods. It was decided to see if Fowlers of Leeds, Ruston Hornsby and the LMS would be interested in taking some of the tank order.

As it was obvious that even with an immediate order the tanks wouldn't be turning up for a year, it was also felt that an additional order for the A11, of 50 tanks, would be placed through Vickers and Harland and Wolff. This would allow a full regiment, plus the allowance for training and spares.
 
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