This post was most recently updated on March 22nd, 2018
The date was the 3rd of September, 1939. It was a Sunday and unseasonably warm out, in London at least. In homes across the nation preparations were underway for the usual Sunday lunch of roast beef or chicken and those who had a wireless already had it on, its familiar voices prattling in the background.
At 11.15 precisely, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was to address the nation. As the time drew near mothers put down the potatoes they were peeling, fathers called their children inside and the whole family gathered, stomachs churning in anticipation of what they knew was coming.
For a while now, war had been in the air. The Munich Agreement and its promise of ‘Peace For Our Time’ was only a year old but already felt like a relic of a different time. In recent months, civilians had been enlisted to the Auxiliary Fire and Air Raid Precautions services, backyard air raid shelters had been built and gas masks issued. Two days earlier, the evacuation of children had begun.
Now that Germany had invaded Poland the fates of many were sealed. Chamberlain’s long struggle to win peace had failed and Britain, alongside France, now had no choice but to stop Germany by force. Chamberlain’s speech ended with the words; “Now may God bless you all. May He defend the right. It is the evil things that we shall be fighting against – brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution – and against them I am certain that the right will prevail.” (1)