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After Germany and the USSR divided up Poland in 1939, Hitler set many dates for an attack on the West. There were repeated cancellations due to bad weather. A date of May 5 was set but it was delayed again due to morning fog expected to interfere with Luftwaffe attacks. The attack finally came on May 10. What difference did the five days make? In the meantime, Parliament had a debate over the disastrous battle in Norway. Chamberlain won the no-confidence vote but lost so much support that he resigned and Churchill became Prime Minister in a coalition government on May 10.
What if conditions had been better and the attack had commenced on the 5th? The debate over Norway would doubtless have not occurred since everyone would have been concentrated on the epic struggle. It’s hard to believe that anything substantively different would have happened in the fighting. The Germans took 11 days to reach the English Channel and split the allied forces in two. When the British Expeditionary Force began its evacuation, Foreign Minister Halifax proposed approaching Mussolini for peace talks. Churchill disagreed and Chamberlain supported him.
But what if Chamberlain had still been Prime Minister? He wobbled in September 1939 when Hitler attacked Poland. In spite of the guarantee he’d given Poland, he hesitated to declare war on Germany. One could easily envision him asking for terms if he had been PM with the BEF in danger. What a difference five days made in the history of the world.Published in