On December 8th 1941 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill suffered a fatal heart attack.
But a few hours before, Churchill had addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress, asking of Germany and Japan, What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?
That evening as a guest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House, Churchill rose to open a window sash, and experienced a tremour from his heart through his left arm.
In public, he had seemed to epitomize the bulldog fighting spirit but in private, the strain was taking its toll. And that strain had become intolerable since the events of 10th December.
The killer blow was unwittingly delivered by telephone to Churchill's bedside by Sir Dudley Pound, the First Sea Lord - so distressed that the Prime Minister had great difficulty to discerning his message.
Prime Minister, I have to report to you that the Indomitable1, Prince
of Wales and the Repulse have been sunk by the Japanese - we think by aircraft.
[a trusted friend of Churchill, British Admiral] Tom Phillips is drowned.
Churchill noted in his diary In all the war, I never received a more direct shock... As I turned over and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me. There were no British or American ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor, who were hastening back to California. Over all this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme, and we everywhere were weak and naked.
The news of Churchill's death would have profound implications for Mohandas K. Gandhi, who ironically enough had been described by the Prime Minister as a half-naked fakir.
By December of 1941, the view of the Indian National Congress had changed sharply - British would probably not lose the war.
Unable to rely upon the Axis Powers to force the British to Quit IndiaGandhi devised a new proposal. Whilst British forces might remain in India, their Government should depart.
The key opponent of this proposal was now dead; Churchill had denied that the Atlantic Charter principle that the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live applied to (his words and those of the Daily Mail) the darker races .
In a final act of irony, the successful defence of India would build a new multi-faith nation, subduing the calls for a breakaway Muslim state.
From Churchill and the Great Republic addressing Congress on December 26, 1941, Churchill won over his audience by telling them, I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way round, I might have got here on my own.
He added that the distressing pattern of recent events might persist for an extended period: Many disappointments and unpleasant surprises await us.
Shortly after the speech he suffered a mild heart attack, a diagnosis that his personal doctor concealed from everyone, including Churchill himself.
1) The Indomitable arrived too late to save Singapore - a
weakened Force Z was dispatched to the Far East, and the Prince of Wales and the
Repulse were sunk on 10th December 1941 gifting the Japanese the keys to
Britain's Far Eastern possesions. The original British plan had called for a
larger fleet which included the new Illustrious-class aircraft carrier
HMS Indomitable for air cover, although the plan had to be revised when
Indomitable was damaged en route.
Steve Payne, Editor Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
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.