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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Military/History Related Hobbies > Alternate Timelines

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Alternate Timelines The plausible "what if's" of military history.

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  #1  
Old 07 Aug 17, 21:16
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Dunkirk a Disaster

I suppose its been covered......but What if the allied armies at Dunkirk were trapped and forced to surrender/killed? Churchill had just been in charge for a few days, Would Britain have surrendered,or made a sort of peace with hitler to remain neutral? On another site someone posted a video made in Britain a few years ago that made a very strong case that very well might have happened.
Curious what you all think, Would it have happened and why or why not?
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  #2  
Old 07 Aug 17, 21:31
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May well have sought a negotiated peace with Hitler following Halifax's (Edward Wood) assumption of power.
Never a "surrender" though.
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Old 11 Aug 17, 00:51
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There were more than enough canadians australians NZ indian troops to make another army.
yes it would suck in the short term but if the british public does not lose heart then it would have delayed the inevitable ( defeat of Germany) by maybe only 6 months ( if that much)

Dont forget the germans were streched thin, if cornered maybe the british and french might be able to break the siege too

What if RN comes down in force, all available RN BB and crusiers with RAF to cover them and lays down devastating supporting firepower to crush the panzers ?
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Old 16 Aug 17, 19:58
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May well have sought a negotiated peace with Hitler following Halifax's (Edward Wood) assumption of power.
Never a "surrender" though.
Halifax had the chance of becoming PM at the beginning of May 40, but he turned it down.
He really really didn't want the job.
Even when they thought that only around 40,000 men could be rescued, the war cabinet including Halifax and Chamberlain agreed that the UK should not seek any peace terms from Germany
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Old 16 Aug 17, 21:20
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Halifax had the chance of becoming PM at the beginning of May 40, but he turned it down.
He really really didn't want the job.
Even when they thought that only around 40,000 men could be rescued, the war cabinet including Halifax and Chamberlain agreed that the UK should not seek any peace terms from Germany
It would be nice to believe so, but in the event of a cataclysm at Dunkirk who can say how popular opinion might have changed ?
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Old 22 Aug 17, 07:12
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Originally Posted by BELGRAVE View Post
May well have sought a negotiated peace with Hitler following Halifax's (Edward Wood) assumption of power.
Never a "surrender" though.
May 1940 was the closest that the UK came to defeat.

Lord Halifax and Churchill had a big argument about considering negations with Germany. Halifax suggested that we should put feelers out to Germany via Italy, who were then still neutral, about a negotiated settlement that would ensure the continuation of the Empire. Churchill wouldn't allow any suggestion of negotiation, he knew that once that rubicon was crossed there was no going back.

Remember during this time Lord Halifax was the political heavyweight and Churchill was unpopular within the Conservative Party and had only been PM for 3 weeks, so it wasn't a easy battle for Churchill to win. They argued all through a cabinet meeting, and if Lord Halifax wouldn't back down, he had the support to have collapsed the Churchill government.

Apparently Churchill took Halifax for a walk alone in the gardens for a discussion There was no witnesses or no record of what was said between the two, but that walk was the closest that Britain came to losing the war. After Churchill buttered up Halifax during that walk, he went on to win the argument the next day in a full cabinet meeting.

Everything else that followed, including the evacuation from Dunkirk, came from the political will to fight on whatever the cost.

Last edited by JFKvsNixon; 22 Aug 17 at 07:30..
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Old 22 Aug 17, 08:40
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Halifax was not in as strong a position as is made out in some of these posts. The war cabinet had only five members. Churchill, Halifax, Chamberlain, Atlee and Greenwood and at the meeting in question Chamberlain, Atlee and Greenwood all supported Churchill. Halifax was isolated. Halifax's support was mainly in the Lords and to oust Churchill he needed to win over the Commons in which Chamberlain still had considerable support, Between them Chamberlain and Atlee could 'deliver' enough Conservative and Labour MPs to keep Churchill in office.
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Old 22 Aug 17, 09:38
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Halifax was not in as strong a position as is made out in some of these posts. The war cabinet had only five members. Churchill, Halifax, Chamberlain, Atlee and Greenwood and at the meeting in question Chamberlain, Atlee and Greenwood all supported Churchill. Halifax was isolated. Halifax's support was mainly in the Lords and to oust Churchill he needed to win over the Commons in which Chamberlain still had considerable support, Between them Chamberlain and Atlee could 'deliver' enough Conservative and Labour MPs to keep Churchill in office.
Let's look at the historical context of the situation. May 26th 1940, the day of the meeting, was declared a national day of prayer. Britain was faced with the very real prospect of it's Army being wiped out. Very real doubts existed as to if it was in the British interests to carry on the war. So many people believed that it was no longer a question of defeating Germany, but securing the best deal for the Empire.

So within this context, if Lord Halifax went, most of the historians I've read agree that Chamberlain would have walked with him. They also suggest that at that time Churchill seen as a maverick, with lots of historical baggage including being labeled a warmonger. So he was deeply unpopular with the Conservatives.

Remember that power rests with the Houses of Parliament, the PM can only rule with their consent, so it's a possibility that the Tories could have brought the Churchill's government to it's knees.

Last edited by JFKvsNixon; 22 Aug 17 at 09:46..
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Old 22 Aug 17, 11:11
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Let's look at the historical context of the situation. May 26th 1940, the day of the meeting, was declared a national day of prayer. Britain was faced with the very real prospect of it's Army being wiped out. Very real doubts existed as to if it was in the British interests to carry on the war. So many people believed that it was no longer a question of defeating Germany, but securing the best deal for the Empire.

So within this context, if Lord Halifax went, most of the historians I've read agree that Chamberlain would have walked with him. They also suggest that at that time Churchill seen as a maverick, with lots of historical baggage including being labeled a warmonger. So he was deeply unpopular with the Conservatives.

Remember that power rests with the Houses of Parliament, the PM can only rule with their consent, so it's a possibility that the Tories could have brought the Churchill's government to it's knees.
Which historians are doing the agreeing? The ones I've read point out that Chamberlain was on record as stating that he wouldn't.
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Old 25 Aug 17, 18:13
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The loss of the entire BEF for sure has to increase the odds of a negotiated settlement and if that did not happen, also increase the chance of a swift German invasion before Britain could regroup.

Aside from this, Britain would have had to prioritise home defence and scale back or abandon completely other theatres, such as North Africa and Burma.

Less obvious now what the American entry point is for the European theatre, or if it even happens in that decade.
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Old 25 Aug 17, 20:19
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The loss of the entire BEF for sure has to increase the odds of a negotiated settlement and if that did not happen, also increase the chance of a swift German invasion before Britain could regroup.

Aside from this, Britain would have had to prioritise home defence and scale back or abandon completely other theatres, such as North Africa and Burma.

Less obvious now what the American entry point is for the European theatre, or if it even happens in that decade.
The entire BEF was not at Dunkirk
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Old 26 Aug 17, 03:15
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The entire BEF was not at Dunkirk
Near enough to matter it was. I don't think a Division here or there would change the bigger picture. No Dunkirk evacuation and the BEF was finished as an effective fighting force at the campaign level. Sure it could be rebuilt but only with time. As much of the junior officer cadre was at Dunkirk, it would have been a slow rebuild.
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Old 26 Aug 17, 10:29
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The loss of the entire BEF for sure has to increase the odds of a negotiated settlement and if that did not happen, also increase the chance of a swift German invasion before Britain could regroup.

Aside from this, Britain would have had to prioritise home defence and scale back or abandon completely other theatres, such as North Africa and Burma.

Less obvious now what the American entry point is for the European theatre, or if it even happens in that decade.
From a purely military point of view, the loss of the BEF would have had minimal effect on the prospect of a German invasion.

In simple terms, the RN maintained overwhelming supremacy in the Channel, and the Germans had no means of conveying any sort of invasion force across it in any case.
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Old 26 Aug 17, 10:30
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England would have sued for peace and Churchill would have been politically finished.

With England and France out of the war the United States would have been out too.

From this point forward pure speculations...which can be fun.

-------

I think that France would have been made to pay Germany war reparations, perhaps German troops on French soil (akin to what happened to Germany after the war) to really stick it to the French and humiliate them, would make sense from the historical track record of what he French did to the Germans.

England could have gotten a pass (Hitler never wanted a war with England in the first place, he saw the English people so similar as well as important as a major power in terms of balance) this could have meant no war reparations with trade and business to commence as usual. Let's agree to this being a mistake and a small skirmish and start fresh over kind of thing, it was just all a misunderstanding.

The war would have ended.

Germany would have retained her ancestral lands in the east, and been unified with Austria.

-------

Or...

If the war continued, Germany and Russia duking it out bleeding themselves dry.

The Italians wouldn't have been able to do anything without a German alliance and simply gone back to riding scooters.
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Old 26 Aug 17, 10:36
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Near enough to matter it was. I don't think a Division here or there would change the bigger picture. No Dunkirk evacuation and the BEF was finished as an effective fighting force at the campaign level. Sure it could be rebuilt but only with time. As much of the junior officer cadre was at Dunkirk, it would have been a slow rebuild.
In point of fact, around 224,000 British troops were lifted during 'Dynamo' and a further 192,000 as part of the post Dunkirk evacuations, so 'Cycle' & 'Aerial' could hardly be described as lifting 'a Division here or there.'
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