Summer 1950 (Age 75)

“We have as great dangers to face as we had ten years ago.”

Churchill supported the Attlee government’s backing of the U.S. resolution in the United Nations Security Council when North Korea invaded the South on 25 June 1950. Nevertheless, he was openly critical of British defence policy in debate on 27 July 1950:

“…so far, I have only spoken of the Soviet forces with which we are confronted eight or nine to one against us in infantry and artillery, and probably much more than that in tank formations….If the facts that I have stated cannot be contradicted by His Majesty’s Government, the preparations of the Western Union to defend itself certainly stand on a far lower level than those of the South Koreans….I warn the House that we have as great dangers to face in 1950 and 1951 as we had ten years ago. Here we are with deep and continuing differences between us in our whole domestic sphere, and faced with dangers and problems which all our united strength can scarcely overcome….It is with deep grief that I have to say these things to the House, and to reflect that it is only five years ago almost to a month when we were victorious, respected and safe.”

In early August, Churchill spoke at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in favor of a European Army: “There must be created, and in the shortest possible time, a real defensive front in Europe. Great Britain and the United States must send large forces to the Continent. France must again revive her famous army. We welcome our Italian comrades. All‹Greece, Turkey, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Scandinavian States‹must bear their share and do their best…. Those who serve supreme causes must not consider what they can get but what they can give. Let that be our rivalry in these years that lie before us.”

Later that month, he urged President Truman to guarantee West Germany’s defense should it contribute troops to a European Army: “…I said at Strasbourg that if the Germans threw in their lot with us, we should hold their safety and freedom as sacred as our own. Of course I have no official right to speak for anyone, yet after the firm stand you have successfully made about Berlin, I think that the deterrent should be made to apply to all countries represented in the European Army. I do not see how this would risk or cost any more than what is now morally guaranteed by the United States. Perhaps you will consider whether you can give any indication of your views. A public indication would be of the utmost value and is, in my opinion, indispensable to the conception of a European front against communism.” Truman’s reply was noncommittal.

During this period, Churchill continued to work on Volume IV of his war memoirs at the expense of his leisure. He declined an offer from his son in-law, Christopher Soames, to accompany him pheasant hunting and momentarily gave up even his beloved painting, observing in a letter to a cousin that “I have had to give up all my holiday and cannot even squeeze a tube. Volume IV is a worse tyrant than Attlee.”

Later in the summer on 12 September and based on confidential information from a source in private industry, Churchill strongly condemned the Attlee government for continuing to sell machine tools to the Soviet Union based on a trade agreement negotiated three years earlier by future Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. “It is intolerable to think that our troops today should be sent into action at one end of the world while we are supplying, or are about to supply, if not actual weapons of war, the means to make weapons of war to those who are trying to kill them or get them killed. I was astonished when I was told what was going one. I was astounded by the attitude that the Prime Minister has taken. I should think that the feeling of the great majority in this House would be that no more machine tools of a war-making character and no more machines or engines which could be used for war-making purposes should be sent from this country to Soviet Russia or the Soviet satellite nations while the present tension continues.”

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