The Second World War, 1939–45

  • William D. Rubinstein


The British declaration of war on 3 September 1939 led to an immediate reorganisation of the government, with Chamberlain forming a small War Cabinet of nine men. This was not the innovation that it seemed, for most, including especially Halifax at the Foreign Office, were holdovers from Chamberlain’s previous Cabinet, while arch-Appeasers like Simon (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Hoare (Lord Privy Seal) were well represented. Some faces were new, above all the appointment of Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty. After ten years in the political wilderness, the prime anti-Appeaser was now back in a position of leadership. As noted, Churchill had been First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911–15, and held that post at the outbreak of the First World War. ‘Winston is back’ was the famous Naval signal; there is an equally famous story that Churchill went to the offices of the Admiralty and found the maps on the wall exactly as he had left them in 1915.


Prime Minister Labour Party Pearl Harbor British Politics Great Ally 
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© William D. Rubinstein 2003

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  • William D. Rubinstein

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