The Hinge of Fate
May 1940. Four days which nearly changed history as Britain wrestled with fighting on, or seeking peace with a German army which had blitzed over Europe at an alarming rate, pegging the British forces in at Dunkirk.
The issues between Winston Churchill and Viscount Halifax surrounded the possibility of Italy mediating between the Allies and Germany to negotiate a peace. The issues blew up at a war cabinet meeting on 27th May at 4.30pm when Churchill broke with protocol and confronted Halifax about his plans.
After a number of war cabinet meetings where the two men continued to bicker and argue it was left for Churchill to wait until a meeting of the outer war cabinet on 28th May where he declared that it was to be a fight to the death. With all the other ministers support Halifax’s campaign had ended. It was the first, but possibly the most significant victory of Churchill’s premiership.
Barely two weeks later Italy were in the war, France out and Britain standing virtually alone but with Churchill in charge they would fight to the very last breath where necessary. It was quite simply Britain standing on the “Hinge of Fate”. How differently history may have looked had Halifax got his way.