links for 2010-05-09
links for 2010-05-10

Winston Churchill Liveblogs World War II: May 10, 1940

Winston Churchill: May 10, 1940:

Then for the first time I spoke. I said I would have no communication with either of the Opposition parties until I had the King's Commission to form a Government. On this the momentous conversation came to an end, and we reverted to our ordinary easy and familiar manners of men who had worked for years together and whose lives in and out of office had been spent in the friendliness of British politics. I then went back to the Admiralty, where, as may well he imagined, much awaited me.

The Dutch Ministers were in my room. Haggard and worn, with horror in their eyes, they had just flown over from Amsterdam. Their country had been attacked without the slightest pretext or warning. The avalanche of fire and steel had rolled across the frontiers, and when resistance broke out and the Dutch frontier guards fired an overwhelming onslaught was made from the air. The whole country was in a state of wild confusion.

The long-prepared defence scheme had been put into operation; the dykes were opened, the waters spread far and wide. But the Germans had already crossed the outer lines, and were now streaming down the banks of the Rhine and through the inner Gravelines defences. They threatened the causeway which encloses the Zuyder Zee. Could we do anything to prevent this?

Luckily, we had a flotilla not far away, and this was immediately ordered to sweep the causeway with fire and take the heaviest toll possible of the swarming invaders. The Queen was still in Holland, but it did not seem she could remain there long.

As a consequence of these discussions, a large number of orders were dispatched by the Admiralty to all our ships in the neighbourhood, and vlose relations were established with the Royal Dutch Navy. Even with the recent overrunning of Norway and Denmark in their minds, the Dutch Ministers seemed unable to understand how the great German nation, which up to the night before had professed nothing but friendship, should suddenly have made this frightful and brutal onslaught Upon these proceedings and other affairs an hour or two passed. A spate of telegrams pressed in from all the frontiers affected by the forward heave of the German armies. It seemed that the old Schlieffen plan, brought up to date with its Dutch extension, was already in full operation...