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Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to the editor of The Spectator (Wilson Harris)

The circumstances under which Churchill became Prime Minister were not as L. S. Amery represents them in his review of Churchill’s book (The Gathering Storm).

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Transcript

11th. October, 1948.
To the Editor of “The Spectator”

Sir,—

The Churchillian Epic

In the interests of Historical accuracy I must express my dissent from the impression conveyed by the conculding† paragraph of Mr. Amery’s review of Mr. Churchill’s book {1}.

No doubt it is true that it was the decision of the three men on May 10, 1940 that made Mr. Churchill Prime Minister. But this decision was based on the political situation in the House of Commons.

It was generally recognised that in the national emergency there must be a Coalition Government. The Labour Party had refused to serve under Mr. Chamberlain. The question of serving under Lord Halifax never arose, but it is inconceivable that they would have agreed, first, because he was in the upper House and secondly, because he had been an active supporter of Mr. Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Hitler. They were prepared to serve under Mr. Churchill. No other possible choice presented itself.

These facts may not have been positively known at the time by all the three men. But there was the strongest presumptive evidence that they were true.

Yours etc.,
[blank]

The Editor,
The Spectator,
99, Gower Street,
London, W.C.1.

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{1} The Second World War, Vol. 1: The Gathering Storm.

† Sic.

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Hugh Dalton

Will try to speak to the Cambridge Indian Majlis (see 1/178) after his debate at St Catherine’s. Will send a copy of the evidence he intends to give to the Colwyn Committee nearer the time. Intends to go with the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United States this year. Encloses a copy of a letter he wrote recently to Dr Lange.

Draft of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Hugh Dalton

Congratulates him on his appointment to the Privy Council, and comments on his radio broadcast. Wishes to discuss the purchase tax with him.

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Transcript

June 9
My dear Hugh

First let me send u my hearty congrats on your richly deserved P C {1}, th one honour which seems to m worth having & which does give one useful standing in the H/C {2} for more effective work.

Next let me tell you how much interested I was in your b-c {3} last night. I have been thinking all along tht it was H’s {4} petrol tank that probably wd give him his greatest trouble & it hasn’t escaped me how the B {5} bombers have gone above everything else for his petrol dumps. Your b.c strengthened my opinion & I imagine wd have th same effect on the B P {6}. In short I think your b.c was intended to say to the B P. “Hold on in good heart—if we can keep H at bay till Oct we are well on the way to victory.” I think you got this a x {7}

Now for a spot of criticism which I think a true friend shd always give. You struck me as being a little too dramatic & emphasised certain words too much, with the minor result tht those words did not come too well over the air & the major result tht you did not give as much the sense of strong confidence as you wd have done. You have probably noticed the difference between Churchill & D C & will understand when I say you were [there follows a mathematical formula representing ‘D.C.’ squared, divided by ‘Churchill’]. Finally I am not sure it pays to sound quite so venomous about the Germans as you did. It smacks a little of the Mikado & his boiling oil.

All this with your big heart you will take in the spirit in which it is written.

Ever yours
[blank]

If you have any free time say Tuesday evening or Wedday I should much enjoy a talk w you about the purchase tax.

[I have myself copied this letter out & sent it to H D from Twys.] {8}

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{1} Privy Councillorship.

{2} House of Commons.

{3} broadcast.

{4} Hitler’s.

{5} British.

{6} British Public.

{7} across.

{8} The square brackets are in the MS. This sentence was presumably addressed to a secretary.

Letter from L. S. Amery to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

112 Eaton Square, S.W.1.—His own view of the circumstances under which Churchill became Prime Minister has been corroborated by Brendan Bracken.

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Transcript

112 Eaton Square, S.W.1.
12th October, 1948.

My dear Pethick,

I shall be interested to see your letter in The Spectator. Curiously enough I had information directly contrary to your conclusion only three days ago. Brendan Bracken told a friend of mine that on the evening of May 9th 1940 Attlee told him that he would be willing to serve under Halifax but not under Winston. Bracken vigorously argued about this and ended by shaking Attlee considerably. In any case the decision, if it had been subjected to a Parliamentary vote, would certainly have gone to Halifax as the overwhelming majority of the Conservatives would have preferred him, as a safer man. Don’t forget that up to the last Winston was widely distrusted on all sides.

Yours sincerely,
L S Amery

The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence of Peaslake.

I fear the above is confidential so I cannot use it to reply to your letter!

Carbon copy of a letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to Eamon De Valera

Congratulates him on the conclusion of the treaty between Great Britain and Eire. Refers to their previous meetings at Washington and elsewhere and to her efforts to expose the abuses of the Black and Tans. She has touched on some of these matters in her book My Part in a Changing World, which has just been published.

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Transcript

26th. April. 1938.

Dear Mr. De Valera,

May I offer you my warmest congratulations and express my great delight at the conclusion of the Treaty between Great Britain and Eire. I am very thankful that harmonious relations have been established at last between the two countries.

You will not remember me of course, but I spoke on the same platform with you in the City of Washington at a protest meeting against the treatment of Mr. MacSweeny {1}, the Mayor of Cork, in prison and I have also met you on other occasions. I followed with very great grief the horrible episode of the Black and Tans in Eire and I was the first person to get the abuses exposed in the “Daily News” becuase† I went quietly to Eire and obtained sworn statement which I was prepared to stand over in a Court of Law. I am only telling you these incidents because I would like you to know how I have followed events in your country with deep sympathy which enables me now to rejoice all the more in this happy conclusion.

I have touched on some of these matters in a book I have just published entitled “My Part in a Changing World.[”] I do rejoice with you and my other friends, the patriots of Eire, who cherished the dream of her freedom when it seemed impossible and have seen that dream come true in their life time.

Yours sincerely,
[blank]

Rt. Hon. Eamon De Valera,
Government Buildings,
Dublin,
Ireland.

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{1} i.e. Terence MacSwiney.

† Sic.

Letter from Eamon De Valera to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Roinn an Taosigh, Baile Átha Cliath (Department of the Taoiseach, Dublin).—He has not forgotten her assistance at Washington. Those English people who deplored their Government’s treatment of Ireland in the past must feel relieved at the prospect of improved relations between the two countries. Hopes that the partition of the country will soon be removed.

Extracts from letters from Rajkumari Amrit Kaur to Carl Heath and Agatha Harrison

(To Carl Heath:) Gandhi is distressed by the proposed division of India, but is determined to make the operation as free from bitterness as possible.

(To Agatha Harrison:) Gandhi has not been able to persuade Jinnah to discuss the question of frontiers with the Congress Ministry, in order to avoid a referendum. He may go to Kashmir. ‘Otherwise Bihar and Noakhali hold his heart and mind.’

(Carbon copy of typed extracts.)

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