A surprise incursion into Persia by the Soviets on March 10th created a crisis for Axis commanders in the Middle East. The need to move troops to the Turkish-Iraqi border with Persia allows British troops to move up through Egypt, which reached Alexandria by March 25th, and creates a gap in Axis lines, cutting off Italian troops in Libya from German and Italian forces in Syria and Iraq.
With the Persian surrender by April 1st, Hitler could not afford to move troops out of the Middle East, but makes the decision to launch Operation Sea Lion, despite the pleas of his top military officials to postpone.
‘Operation Columba’ Review: Carriers of Hope
Bombardment by cannon fire and Luftwaffe bombers made it impossible for British troops to move in by the time they learned of the attack. At the same time, the Strait of Dover and St. George's Channel have been cut off by 'wolf packs' of U-boats, and the Royal Navy sustained heavy losses in the attempt to break Kriegsmarine lines. Initially, German troops advance only a few km inland, establishing beachheads before taking defensive divisions.
The US troops stationed in Norfolk quickly repel the German division before they can make progress inland, and a trench-warfare style standoff ensued, hampering British plans to move the US troops further south. By mid-day, Franklin D. Roosevelt has heard of the invasion, and makes an on-air declaration of war against Germany, fully taking the United States into the war.
Cornwall fell under German control by April 20th, but several regiments of British troops repel the Germans to the far west of the peninsula. A stalemate situation has occurred, with Kreigsmarine control of the seas around Britain, but British troops far in superiority on land.
The only areas German forces have control over by May are a beachhead between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft in Norfolk, Hastings, an encircled division in Brighton, the southern half of the Isle of Wight, the Dartmoor region with a small stretch of land going through Modbury to the beaches at Holbeton, and several divided regiments of troops trapped east of Falmouth. Trenches were dug in, and a desperate Hitler, terrified of American reinforcements, orders Fallschirmjager troops dropped to reinforce existing troops, and supples delivered to the troops in Devon and Cornwall by parachute.
However, in U. S Congress, the decision to declare war is extremely unpopular, with riots taking place in New York and San Francisco over the decision to get involved in what is seen as a European war. In May, Roosevelt comes to the decision that materiel and armament deliveries to Britain will continue, but troops will not be transported unless Germany directly attacks the United States.
This satisfies many members of the public, but protests continue in the Deep South, with state senator Strom Thurmond utilising the situation to gain support for Nuremberg-style laws that would increase the segregation of blacks and whites in the Southern states, as Hitler's recent successes have convinced many pro-segregation politicians that a racially pure society will benefit greatly. This also becomes infused with the idea of 'States Rights', and an alarmed Roosevelt attempts to draw parallels with this and the conditions that led to the Civil War.
This had the contrary effect of raising support for Thurmond amongst whites in the South, and racially motivated attacks against blacks increase. When a 20, strong Ku-Klux Klan rally in Birmingham, Alabama takes place with Klan members marching in a Nazi style with outstretched arms in the fashion of a Nazi salute, Roosevelt considers sending Home Guard troops into the Southern states to prevent breakouts of violence. He decided that this could create more violence rather than stop it, and the attention shifts from Europe to the escalating violence which is now taking place from Texas to North Carolina.
With casualties mounting, German troops in Eastern and Southern England are forced back to the beaches, with Brighton finally re-taken by June. Only Devon was under full German control, with the exception of the port of Plymouth, which had been reduced to ruins in many areas by continuous bombing by the Luftwaffe. Troops in Cornwall attempted to move east, but fierce resistance by British troops cut off from reinforcement led to trench warfare and attrition reminiscent of the Western Front in World War I. Hitler was dismayed by the resources being used up, and wary of building Soviet strength in Persia, was pressured into removing his troops from the beaches, and essentially abandoning his troops in Devon, Cornwall and Wight.
By July 1st, with the Scilly Isles having fallen to German troops, an uneasy stalemate has been reached, with British troops in the Cornwall front supplied by a direct Plymouth link, and German troops in Devon prevented from moving east by reinforcements.
The Germans dug into the Devon moors and hillsides, and waited out while the British troops built up manpower for a full attack. With heavy local resistance to the German troop presence, Field Marshall Walther von Brauchitsch made fierce attempts to establish defensive positions before a British counterattack can take place.
With troops held up in the south transporting German prisoners, and securing beaches in case of a future invasion, military action is at a standstill, allowing dozens of miles of trenches to be constructed in Devon.
Images, Myths and Forgotten Experiences since 1914
Luftwaffe patrols keep RAF action in the area to a minimum, and casualties begin to mount on the Cornwall front. The British government attempts to portray the failure of Operation Sea Lion as a British victory, but the presence of German troops on British soil and the choke hold on the Channel is cause for repeated revolt in London, particularly by minor Socialist parties and Labour supporters, who have begun a campaign to begin a ceasefire with Hitler in return for assured safety of the British population.
Hitler was enraged at the failure of the campaign in only a few months, and replaced several high-ranking generals, which caused rifts in Wehrmacht military command. With the growing Soviet threat in the Middle East, and fears of an American intervention in Europe, Hitler grew more and more distrusting of the Italians, believing them incompetent and unable to secure territories they capture, especially during the capture of southern Italian Somaliland by British troops in June.
Mussolini's inability to control Abyssinia, as well as repeated failures to move troops north through the Sudan, have caused trouble within the Italian government. Few believed Mussolini to be capable of properly controlling the military. Von Brauchitsch established a de facto command centre of forces in southwestern England in the village of Modbury, with bunkers being dug into the surrounding hillsides to protect from increased RAF activity in the area. Trench warfare was now the norm, with the Cornwall front becoming an increasing concern for the German forces in England.
Von Brauchitsch knows unless reinforcements arrive, his men will be decimated. Hitler, however, had refused to allow a surrender or a retreat, threatening to attack the Devon German forces if they retreat or collaborate, condemning what he sees as a potential act of treason. Hitler makes the decision to put the vast majority of Luftwaffe forces on bombing campaigns in England, with Kriegsmarine forces guarding the Atlantic route to Europe, and Wehrmacht forces divided between Romania, Turkey and Iraq.
The stretching of German forces is buffered by new troops brought in from the absorbed former South Africa; the Afrikaanercorps , many joining the German army to escape rampant poverty and famine which has struck southern Africa due to collapse of local governments in the area. German and Afrikaaner forces made use of the crisis in colonial command by spreading their forces far into the interior and along the coasts.
Local African populations also revolted, with northern Angola receiving de facto independence from Portugal. A panicked British government sent Kenyan and Tanzanian forces south to combat German incursions into Bechuanaland and Rhodesia. Herero revolts in Namibia caused destruction at Walvis Bay, with local populations destroying fuel dumps and port facilities. The Germans responded with a two-week extermination process, with local black populations reduced by over , from gunfire, disease and exposure from being pushed into the interior desert by advancing Germans.
Terrorist activity by British settlers was rife in former South Africa, supported by a small regiment of troops still in control of a coastal area of the Eastern Cape. Local Afrikaaners, having set up a shaky series of local communes with little overall control, engaged in a campaign of driving British, local Africans and Indians out of farmland and city interiors, where the refugees resorted to setting up shanty towns with extremely limited food supplies. An outbreak of cholera grounded the already weakened British soldiers and settlers, and Afrikaaner began to move these populations onto large labour farms, where extremely high mortality rates prevailed.
American Naval activity had previously prevented much Axis shipping along the African coast, but with the crisis faced back in the U. S, Roosevelt's government had reduced military autonomy in fear of a coup, and kept most commanders nearby in Washington D. C, effectively paralyzing American Navy activity.
This led to the U.
S fleet in Honolulu being brought to San Diego, causing fears of a Japanese invasion of the Philippines without Naval support to stop them. Stalin perceived Hitler's building of forces along the Soviet border as preparation for attack. He believed the German forces to be much more powerful than they actually were, and so prepared himself for a preemptive attack on Germany.
He ordered Soviet weapons and armour production to be moved west of the Urals, with a focus on the Donbass and Minsk regions, to keep military supplies as close to the front line as possible. Workers were drafted in from the Far East to complete this task, and in the harsh winter of , deaths to due abhorrent conditions began to mount. Several mutinies were brutally crushed, keeping locals loyal to the government by way of force.
Purgings of the bureaucracy in the wake of these mutinies led to inept officials being promoted. A puppet Persian government allowed export of almost all oil production north through the Caucasus, making the city of Baku a global commander in oil reserves. This massive oil capacity kept the Soviet economy soluble, and prevented economic collapse, and allowed the completion of the arms factory removals and the development of fuel-heavy tanks and trucks. Control was kept in Persia by heavy military presence: over one million Soviet troops were stationed in various areas, maintaining order, and buffering an Axis advance in the west.
In an attempt to bolster Soviet forces in Europe, an absorption of the Baltic states by Russian forces took place on the first of September With Lithuanian forces retreating north, and Estonian forces retreating south, , Baltic soldiers and civilians were pushed into the Courland, managing to hold off Soviet forces and setting up a Cour Republic, with it's capital at Jelgava, only 30 km from where the Red Army had set up camp. Finland, alarmed by the Soviet aggression and already having lost territory during the Winter War, sent troops and supplies by sea to the Cour Republic.
The Finnish government was divided on the issue, but on November 1st , placed a request to Hitler for German troops to be brought to Finland along with armaments to be used by Finnish forces. Hitler responded with five divisions of soldiers, ecstatic at the chance to further the defensive lines in the East. With his troops beginning to encircle Soviet defenses Hitler said 'We need only tighten the noose, and the diseased mule will succumb immediately'.
Following the Japanese defeat at Khalkin Gol, the Japanese Military commanders realised the superior strength of Soviet and Mongolian forces, the Japanese kept military forces in Manchukuo strong, to prevent any further attacks, and signed the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact in April , days before the German invasion of Britain. Initially, the Japanese had no interest in expanding territory further north, being more interested in maintaining an empire to the south and west.
But, with oil supplies low and the imperial navy stretched to its farthest extent, Germany was able to broker a deal with Japan on December 8th , known as the 'Golden Pact', promising that Japan would keep large divisions of troops in Manchukuo, prepared to invade should the Red Army ever mobilise against Germany, in exchange for Axis oil being shipped to Thailand, ensuring a steady and reliable fuel supply for the Japanese navy in Southeast Asia.
By October , the Germans in Southwestern England were in dire straits. Only Dartmoor and western Cornwall were held, with a narrow corridor for reinforcement at Holbeton. Kriegsmarine and Royal Navy were constantly fighting in the Channel, with only the U-boat attacks giving Germany the upper hand.
Hitler realised he could not hold his forces in England, and a possible American or Soviet attack would cripple his far-flung forces.
Blog | Hilda Kean
Nazi officials made contact with IRA operatives in Ireland, interested in the possibility of occupying the country as a staging ground for a siege of Britain. In short, appeasement remains a subject of endless scholarly and popular interest. Given the crowded terrain, ploughing a new and original furrow is far from straightforward.
Gottlieb attempts to interrogate these two issues, firstly by addressing the fact that the voluminous appeasement literature is almost uniformly guilty of leaving women out. That the appeasement story has been written almost exclusively by men and about men is all too apparent. Guilty Men was written by three men with a cast list of 15 men. The subsequent historiography is also dominated by men, whether protagonists penning influential and self-exculpatory memoirs Winston Churchill, Duff Cooper, Anthony Eden, et al , or the plethora of historians providing more scholarly appraisals think Lewis Namier, A.
Taylor, D. Parker, Robert Self, and so on. However, when read as a whole, the analysis can seem a touch fragmented, and the rather frequent episodes of repetition are slightly jarring. Similarly, there are too many printing errors, often in close proximity — the level of scholarship here deserves more attentive copy editing.
More importantly, perhaps, the book would have been enhanced by providing a more substantial conclusion. Each individual chapter has its own concluding section in which broader arguments and areas of continuity and discord are duly noted , but the short section at the end of the final section serves as both chapter summary and overall conclusion. A dedicated concluding chapter would have allowed Gottlieb greater scope to tease out the broader significance of her study. This would have been beneficial, as Gottlieb engages with numerous issues, and the arguments made are multifarious.
As is the case throughout, Gottlieb provides a veritable treasure-trove of insights and commentary provided by contemporary women of all political stripes. As a result, women are relatively absent from studies of the lates, when appeasement reached its zenith. The first half of the book, therefore, provides the essential context, exploring how women in inter-war Britain began to feature more prominently in political debate.
- Free Will & the Future (Selecting Your Psychic, From Main Street To Wall Street);
- 10 Best Alt-History World War II Novels?
- Zombie Fiesta: Volume III!
Even so, suggests Gottlieb, by the lates and earlys a certain perception of women remained dominant, whereby their maternal instincts rendered them more inclined to pacifism. And, with regard to Conservative women in particular, there was an unspoken assumption that they were overwhelmingly non-confrontational and quiescent. The net result was that women were believed to be unquestioningly supportive of appeasement. Making extensive use of Mass Observation data, she detects a distinction between the responses of British men and women to the diplomatic crisis in September Distinctly gendered responses were equally apparent across the many thousands of letters and telegrams the Twitter of their day, according to Gottlieb received by the Chamberlains.
Women demonstrated a proclivity for unabashed thankfulness whilst the notes of criticism were most often penned by men. These ego-documents not only provided women with an outlet through which to express an opinion, but also furnished policymakers with crucial insights into the national mood. Such insights, Gottlieb contends, are of use to gender historians revealing how women self-identified and the role of gender within this process and to historians of appeasement demonstrating how contemporary foreign policy debates assumed a distinctly gendered hue.
Taken collectively with the letters and diaries of men, they are also of value to historians of emotion, providing an invaluable resource for those interested in emotional and psychological responses to periods of acute international tension. This alternative narrative compels historians of appeasement to consider domestic responses to appeasement, responses overlooked by the majority of historians but most certainly acknowledged by contemporaries.
This conclusion is hard to refute. Chamberlain frequently sought affirmations of his own righteousness and popularity, and when they arrived he was not shy to revel in them. The regular letters he received from his sisters consistently massaged his ego and applauded him on his wisdom, courage, and his obstinate refusal to be distracted from his task by unmerited criticism.
Chamberlain also enjoyed much support amongst men, notably within the Cabinet, the Conservative Party, and the vast majority of British newspapers.
That Chamberlain collected and retained such a volume of supportive letters indicates that he took much comfort from them, and, on more than one occasion, he did specifically reference his popularity with women.