19th August 1941. Pious Words.
‘In wartime truth is so precious that she always be attended by a bodyguard of lies’: Churchill to Stalin at Tehran Conference.
Today a Tuesday in 1941, Churchill arrived back at King’s Cross Station, London after a secret mission to Argentia, Newfoundland, where he had met the American President, Franklin D Roosevelt.
Travelling on the battleship Prince of Wales, Churchill attended the Conference (code-name Riviera), between the 9th and 12th of August, the outcome of which, and later termed, (by the Daily Herald), was ‘The Atlantic Charter’.(1)
As the meeting wouldn’t be reported owing to security, newspapers had to resort to trivia, for as the Daily Telegraph reported the next day: ‘London Cheers return of Mr Churchill-Premier bronzed and happy’.
Mrs Churchill it said was, ‘a tall slim figure in a two piece suit of navy blue with a long fur stole’.
‘Churchill walked the platform to cheers of good old Winnie’. ‘Mr Attlee Lord Privy Seal and Deputy Prime Minister in Churchill’s absence, was also present’.
The train was 40 minutes late. Most of the War Cabinet were there including Sir Alexander Hardinge, the King’s Private Secretary and Senior Staff Officers of the three services.
Churchill was wearing the brass-buttoned reefer jacket and peeked-cap, as an Elder Brother of Trinity House, which he wore when at sea.
After thanking his driver with the ‘V sign’ and ‘thumbs up’, he drove off, no doubt leaving the myriads of officials to depart to their clubs. I wonder who was looking after the shop? (see Addenda).
The meeting was to soften up the Americans who were not to enter the war until December, and as Churchill later said it was to ‘reassure the world of our righteous purpose in wartime’.
However the News Chronicle regarded the Document, which preached future colonial freedoms, ‘as a symbol of hypocrisy’, saying that we will gladly concede to a Yugoslavia after the war, but withhold it from the ‘jewel’ of the British Empire: India.
Churchill was obviously unhappy with the clause of self determination for European Colonies, and also argued for an interpretation which allowed the Soviet Union, our allies at the time, to continue to control the Baltic States.(2)
(1) A term which Churchill used in the Commons on 24.8.1941. The Herald is now defunct.
(2) This was rejected by America until March 1944, when Roosevelt planned to raise the issue after the war, but alas died before war’s-end.
Ref: ihr.org/jhr/atlantic-charter-smokescreen.Charles Lutton.
A veritable Who’s Who? of the period.
The main officials were Sir John Anderson Lord Privy Seal, Mr Alexander First Lord ACM Sir Charles Portal, Chief of Air staff, Eden Foreign Secretary, Lt. General Sir Henry Pownall vice- Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and Sir Edward Bridges, Secretary of the Cabinet.
Then Major General, Sir Hastings Ismay Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence, Viscount Cranborne, Dominion Secretary, Sir Phillip Game Commissioner of Police, Brendan Bracken, Minister of Information and Sir Walter Monkton, Director General of the Ministry of Information.