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The Fall of Britain, 1940 by Raymond Speer

Author says: what if Panzer Commander Hans Guderian received an advance order from Hitler at Dunkirk? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

On Saturday, May 25, the commander of the British Expedition Force, Gort, decided that his Army woulld evacuate from Dunkirk and he requested full assistance in that task from his country. The previous day, French General Weygand had noted that the British were fleeing lines they had promised to hold, fallng back twenty five miles in order to reach the ports.

Also that Friday, Adolf Hitler had radioed from von Rundstedt's headquarters a question to Hans Gunderian, chief of the Panzers which spearheaded the German offensive. Did Gunderian feel confident in his forces' present order, or would he want to delay his advance and re-organize? Gunderian wanted to go ahead at full speed and Hitler instantly ordered that. In the coming week, the Nazi armor and infantry arrived at the shoore, usually in place before the British came upon them. Brave British units lost heavily trying to brush the enemy away from their only hope of evacuation.

On May 24, Churchill and the five members of his War Cabinet listened in the basement of the House of Commons for news of the BEF's extrication from Dunkirk.

Foreign Minister Halifax suggested that Britain should accept an offer from Mussolini that Italy would broker a peace between Britain and Germany. "Maybe we will get decent terms," Halifax said, and Churchill had a temper tantrum, predicting that Germany would insist on Britian's enslavement.

Referring to Hitler as "That Man," Churchill said that Hitler would insist on the surrender of the Fleet and would elevate Mosley to be his lieutenant in London. Churchill stated that "I am convinced that every man of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I was for one mment to contemplate parley or surrender. If our long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground."

On May 25, heavy bombardment by the Luftwaffe joined German cannon in saturating would-be evacuation beaches. By midnight May 25, the Navy reported that the Germans were on all the beaches and were preventing the BEF from leaving them.

Churchill suggested that a major raid be made for the purpose of clearing at least one Dunkirk port. "It will be a complete surprise for the foe." The general's comment to the Prime Minister was that his project would be a slaughter.

On May 30, Gort informed Churchill that the Expeditionary Force was out of supplies and was sorely pressed by German forces that were concentrating on their perimeter. On May 30's afternoon, Churchill authorized Gort to capitulate formally and to avoid needless slaughter.

But by dinnertime that early evening, Churchill was speaking of contaminating the beaches with poison gas "if that should be to our advantage". Churchill chose to fly to Paris the late evening of May 30 in order to encourage resistance by the ally. Prime Minister Churchill left behind a Cabinet worried about the soundness of his judgment, knowing that Churchill would risk poisoning his own soldiers in hopes of killing some number of Germans.

In Paris, Churchill and his companion, Clement Attlee, looked to Premier Reynaud and General Petain like civilians dumbfounded by their loss of their land Army. A call up of civilians for national defense would raise three divisions. Also Canada could be expected to raise an infantry force that could be shipped to France to carry on opposition to Germany from western France. "All we have to do is fight on," said Churchill, "and we will conquer." The translator for Churchill broke down and openly cried. "If either of us collapse, we shall be vassals and slaves forever."

On the morning of May 31, the Prime Minister and Attlee strolled around the nine Hurricanes of their air escort. Attlee already knew that the news from Washington was that nothing was going to arrive from the Americans. The Labour leader was not happy that Churchill lived in a fantasy so he expected large US reinforcements of warplanes.

Later that Friday, arriving back in London as German radio celebrated the surrender of Lord Gort and his British Army, Churchill conferred with his military leaders. Two thousand men had squeezed through the German barricades, many of them trying to swim to ships. A third of a million soldiers and airmen, a third of them French, went into German captivity.

Churchill's last orders as Prime Minister were made on June 1, when the Director of the National Gallery memoed him for permission to send its most valuable paintings to Canada.

"No," responded Churchill. "Bury them in caves and cellars. None must go. We are going to beat them." Soon after breakfast, an unannounced gathering of the whole Cabinet requested the Prime Minister to attend them in the Cabinet Room. "Christ," commented Churchill. "I assumed we would hold out longer than the frogs." Halifax spoke for the Cabinet, announcing that they had decided to ask Mussolini to sound out Hitler for peace terms. "You don't make peace with That Man," complained Churchill. "You are all committing suicide by signature."

Within five days, the National Gallery was sending selected paintings over to Canada for the duration.

Author says to view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

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Raymond Speer

Guest Historian of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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