The situation was dire. British and French forces were pinned down on the coast of France as the evacuation of more than 300,000 troops to Britain was underway. Much to Churchill’s dismay the King of the Belgians had instructed his Commander-in-Chief to ask the Germans for an armistice to take place at midnight on 27 May.
Foreign Minister Lord Halifax and others wanted to negotiate with Herr Hitler, but Churchill was defiant, saying ‘Nations that went down fighting rose again, but those which surrendered tamely were finished’.
The War Cabinet adjourned at 6:00 PM on the evening of 28 May. War Cabinet members left the room and remaining were twenty five junior cabinet members. Churchill, tired from two hours of arguing against any kind of negotiation, explained to the remaining members the dire situation at Dunkirk and the likelihood that the Germans were going to take Paris with terms. Churchill commented, ‘there was no doubt whatever, that we must decline anything like this and fight on’.
There were loud cries of approval all around the table and members ran to Churchill’s chair patting him on the back. Hugh Dalton, Minister of Economic Warfare, noted in his diary, ‘No one expressed even the faintest flicker of dissent’.
Get the Churchill Bulletin, delivered to your inbox, once a month.