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Thread: The King's First Minister - a UK AAR

  1. #1
    Colonel Le Jones's Avatar
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    The King's First Minister - a UK AAR

    The King's First Minister - UK AAR
    Introduction, Houses of Parliament, 10 May 1940




    The meeting had concluded. The War Cabinet had met in emergency session as the news from Flanders came in. Neville Chamberlain, as ever eager to remain as Prime Minister, had ineffectually argued that this was not the time to appoint a new leader. And then, as one by one the ministers failed to rally to their leader, his fate had been sealed.

    Edward Frederick Linley Wood, 3rd Viscount Halifax, sat with his Conservative colleagues and not for the first time felt like a senator assassinating his Caesar. As one by the political knives plunged in, Halifax saw the realisation dawn on his Prime Minister. The game was up. As Kingsley Wood, the Lord Privy Seal and a key Chamberlain ally joined in, bluntly criticising Chamberlain’s leadership, it was all over. Chamberlain’s hurt expression as this Brutus plunged the final knife in showed that he knew it. Finally, as Attlee’s Labour Party sent word that yes, they would serve in a National Government, but that Chamberlain could not continue as Prime Minister, the Cabinet rose and the only question was the choice of successor.

    Halifax had until now been utterly sceptical of his prospects as a war leader. Please, do not test me so, he had prayed to his God. He had also found solace in his diary:

    ‘He thought that it was clearly Winston or myself, and appeared to suggest that if it were myself he might continue to serve in the Government. I put all the arguments I could think of against myself, laying considerable emphasis on the difficult position of a Prime Minister unable to make contact with the centre of gravity in the House of Commons. The PM did not think so much of this, arguing that, ex hypothesi in the situation there would be comparatively little opposition in the House of Commons. The conversation and the evident drift of his mind left me with a bad stomach ache.’

    Chamberlain, eager to pass the premiership to an ally, had made it his aim to create a Halifax administration. His PPS, Lord Dunglass, had sent ministers and envoys to persuade the Foreign Secretary to agree. Grumpy, and about to visit the dentist, he found himself cornered by one of his own ministers, Butler.

    “My Lord, it is simple. You have to succeed Neville.” Halifax absent mindedly rubbed his stomach. He looked far from determined.

    “I will be stwanded”, Halifax unfortunately murdered the word, “like Asquith in the last war, suwwounded on all sides by my opponents.”

    Butler sighed, exasperated. “What opponents?”

    “Labour, Amery, Eden,” he gave a huge sigh. “Winston.” Butler rounded on his master, wagging a flabby finger.

    “One, Attlee and his band have agreed to serve under anyone, so long as it isn’t Neville or John Simon. Secondly, Amery and Eden hate each other as much as you.”

    “But Winston?”

    “What about Winston? War is,” Butler paused, trying to think of the right word, “catastrophic. We need careful leadership if we are to survive this. You have said all this yourself. Winston is tainted after Norway, so let him make his noise whilst you make the policy. But, as a man who has worked for you through this time, do not let the Party appoint that man.”

    “I’m obliged for your counsel, Rab,” Halifax muttered softly. He already felt that a war had been fought. But tomorrow, he knew, Chamberlain would demand that a decision be made. The obvious choice, favoured by King, Party and Parliament was a lanky peer with a withered left arm and no left hand. But could he bring himself to accept?

    [Game Effect] UK Blitzkrieg AAR. Normal settings with an aggressive AI. Assume that everything up to May 10th is historically correct.
    Last edited by Le Jones; 28-11-2008 at 20:05.

  2. #2
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    How dare you? Halifax?











    Count me in anyway. But expect frequent rants about Britains leadership.
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  3. #3
    Lord Halifax is your Prime Minister then, ah?

    Then perhaps Germany may win the war not really.

    I'll be following.

  4. #4
    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    Halifax as PM. Well that's Britain surrendering to ze Germanz, possibly as soon as the day after his appointment.

    I can just see his first speech to Parliament;

    Members of Parliament, people of Britain and her Empire beyond the seas. Having looked at the idea of fighting I don't fancy it, so I for one welcome our new German overlords.
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    Colonel Le Jones's Avatar
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    Chapter 1, Parliament, 11 May 1940



    Neville Chamberlain stroked his moustache. Halifax’s aide had been earnest and eager in his request. Not unreasonably, Halifax, heir apparent to Chamberlain, wanted to meet. Also, and equably not unreasonably, he wanted Churchill present as the leadership was debated. And so the three key grandees of the Tory party gathered in Chamberlain’s office in Parliament.

    Against the predictions of many who knew Halifax, who suggested that this reasoned Christian peer would find it difficult to reconcile being in the Lords and acting as Prime Minister, he had found his voice in this meeting. Criticising Churchill’s conduct of the war, particularly in the Norway debacle, he refused to back a ‘fight at all costs’ mentality and was prepared, he contended, to come to terms. Churchill had replied ferociously, swiping at Halifax’s appeasement of Germany and raising again the issue of having the first noble Prime Minister since Lord Salisbury at the turn of the century. The discussion had become a debate, the debate an argument. Chamberlain, ailing with the cancer that would soon kill him, announced that he had consulted the constitutional lawyers. Halifax could (and, Chamberlain hoped, would) act as Prime Minister. Legally he could also be permitted to sit in the Commons, debating and speaking as required whilst being unable to vote. Halifax felt a sharp twinge in his belly.

    “Pwime Minister, I am concerned over one matter. I have found myself looking back at the last war,” he looked at Churchill. “Asquith was hounded by members of his own party, particularly the mavericks.”

    Churchill, smouldering, growled defiantly. “Do I detect a rebuke, Edward?”

    Halifax was equally defiant. “Merely a concern. If you were given the war, would you allow a Prime Minister to lead the nation?”

    Churchill half rose from the table. “Of course!”

    Chamberlain smiled slyly, like a crocodile regarding its prey. Turning to Churchill, he once again realised how close they had come to letting this most troublesome of men lead the Party, his Party.

    “I think the decision before me is clear. Winston to direct the war with Edward serving as Prime Minister. It should be noted that I have already discussed this proposal with Attlee. He agrees, the opinion of his party being ‘stick to the war, Winston’. Are we agreed?”

    “Agreed,” Halifax said, sounding far from certain.

    “Agreed,” Churchill growled, fuming.

    [Game Effect] Lord Halifax succeeds Chamberlain as PM

    Trekaddict, Red Eagle, El Pip - Noting the Halifax hating...
    Last edited by Le Jones; 11-11-2008 at 12:11.

  6. #6
    Marshal of the Empire BritishImperial's Avatar

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    'we shall fight on the beaches... but if we lose those we're screwed, so there won't be much point delaying the inevitable.'

    we'd better hope the war goes well then, hadn't we, or halifax will throw in the towel and germany will rule europe evermore
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    Quote Originally Posted by BritishImperial
    'we shall fight on the beaches... but if we lose those we're screwed, so there won't be much point delaying the inevitable.'
    "We shall talk to that nice Mr Hitler, who is clearly an honest honourable man and get him to promise not to invade, because it's not like he's ever lied before, then everything will be fine."

    It's not so much hate for Halifax's aims, just sheer exasperation at the fact he was a buffoon who was utterly incapable of grasping the concept that some people weren't completely honourable with good intentions.
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    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip
    "We shall talk to that nice Mr Hitler, who is clearly an honest honourable man and get him to promise not to invade, because it's not like he's ever lied before, then everything will be fine."

    It's not so much hate for Halifax's aims, just sheer exasperation at the fact he was a buffoon who was utterly incapable of grasping the concept that some people weren't completely honourable with good intentions.

    Indeed.
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  9. #9
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Well, I am not an Halifax basher. Sure, he isn't Churchill...more like Jimmy Carter. A good person in a position of power. Certainly Carter had his failures but he also had his successes. I feel Halifax will have a bit of both.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien
    Well, I am not an Halifax basher. Sure, he isn't Churchill...more like Jimmy Carter. A good person in a position of power. Certainly Carter had his failures but he also had his successes. I feel Halifax will have a bit of both.
    Halifax as successful as Carter?

    Britain will be speaking German by June 1940 in that case! ( )
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  12. #12
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    Chapter 2, Over Belgium, 12 May 1940


    The pair of Boulton Paul Defiants, all that was left in the squadron, flew East to meet the oncoming German raiders. Making best use of the light, and the cloud cover, they arrived over Wavre to find a trio of Ju 88s, fresh from their raid on the ammunition depot, heading back to their base. Seemingly without escort, the British fighters plunged into the German group. With one of the bombers trailing smoke from her left engine and another descending, the Defiants prepared to go in again, their turret gunners ready for another opportunity.

    And then the Me 109s struck. Diving from out of the clouds they pounced on the British fighters. Learning from earlier encounters they attacked the Defiants head on, making the most of the Defiant’s crucial lack of forward armament. Within seconds both British aircraft were plummeting towards the French countryside below. On this occasion both pilots managed to escape, but the turret gunners, struggling to don their parachutes (the Defiant’s turret was too cramped) couldn’t get out in time.

    A routine encounter for the Luftwaffe in the Battle of France.

    [Game Effect] - None really, but I wanted to give an impression of the uselessness of the Defiant and the heavy RAF casualties in the 1940 campaign
    Last edited by Le Jones; 11-11-2008 at 12:09.

  13. #13
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    Chapter 3, Buckingham Palace, 12 May 1940



    The King was the first to receive the new Prime Minister. As the column of cars wound their way into the courtyard of Buckingham Palace Prime Minister Halifax felt a tension in his stomach. As a Viscount and close friend of the Royal Family it was hardly a nervousness as to his surroundings that worried him. What really troubled Halifax as strolled up the staircase, noting the portraits of an ancestry that he too enjoyed, was the realisation of the burden he now faced. Churchill had been tamed, for now, but as a powerful member in the Commons and as the party’s best orator he would doubtless cause trouble in Parliament. Also, and here Halifax felt particularly vulnerable, there was the simple truth that Churchill had been right. Not in everything, good God no. Norway had been a debacle that should have claimed Churchill’s scalp as well as Chamberlain’s. But Churchill had been right about Hitler and the world he was creating, and that shook the deeply religious Halifax to the core.

    “My Lord, the King will see you now,” the Equerry, a young Lieutenant Commander, smiled softly as he led Lord Halifax into the study. The King, beaming, waited for Halifax to complete his bow, and strode over to shake his friend’s hand. His stammer, as they were in private and therefore not under pressure, was not as pronounced.

    “Edward! Welcome!” Halifax smiled and thanked the King.

    “I am glad it’s you. Chamberlain was here earlier, looked awful poor man. He seemed so deflated when he offered his resignation. Shame to lose a g-good man.” Halifax murmured his agreement. “But I need your energy if we are to prevail at this time. Is there any further news from the war?”

    “It is grim, Sir”.

    “Tell me, please. I h-hate being kept in the dark.” A footman silently entered and placed a pot of tea on the console table behind Halifax.

    “The Germans are advancing through the Low Countries. Gort and the French are moving to respond but the German advance is,” here Halifax paused to think of an alternative to ‘relentless’, which he knew he would mangle, “er, determined.” The King gasped. Halifax continued. “It all rests on the Belgians, and the French, to halt the invasion. Churchill and Ironside have flown over there to assess the situation. We may be facing utter disaster.”

    [Game Effect] - Halifax's tenure as PM begins. Given that he was the first choice of the King, most of the Conservative Party and was acceptable to Attlee, this AAR will rely on 2 assumptions. 1) That Halifax gave in to the pressure upon him and accepted Chamberlain's nominating him. As for 2), wait and see...
    Last edited by Le Jones; 11-11-2008 at 12:10.

  14. #14
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Not bad.

    Three Chapters and Halifax hasn't given up.

    Just kidding. Well done. I agree with you about the Defiant. Good idea on paper but... well, the rest is a burning wreckage.
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  15. #15
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    I now it's irrational, but I primarily don't like Halifax because I once read an Alternate History where he couped against Churchill in 1940, made a peace with the Germans, got the UK occupied, made it possible for the Nazis to advance to the slope of the Urals which in turn lead to the total annihilation of Germany via Nuclear weapons in 1947, when the US nuked every town with more than 5000 inhabitants.


    It can be bought via Amazon I think, it's called "The Big One".
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  16. #16
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    Britannia does not have an army.

    Good luck Halifax, maybe you bring peace to end all the other peaces!

  17. #17
    Marshal of the Empire BritishImperial's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict
    I now it's irrational, but I primarily don't like Halifax because I once read an Alternate History where he couped against Churchill in 1940, made a peace with the Germans, got the UK occupied, made it possible for the Nazis to advance to the slope of the Urals which in turn lead to the total annihilation of Germany via Nuclear weapons in 1947, when the US nuked every town with more than 5000 inhabitants.


    It can be bought via Amazon I think, it's called "The Big One".
    sounds good, if terrifying.
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  18. #18
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BritishImperial
    sounds good, if terrifying.

    Indeed, especially when your hometown is specifically mentioned as a target.
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  19. #19
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    I once read an alternate history essay by historian Andrew Roberts called "Prime Minister Halifax". Gee...I wonder what that is about?

    Anyways, Roberts speculated Halifax making peace through Italy, the Americans fighting a seperate war in the Pacific, and the Soviet Union taking over all of Europe.

    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict
    Indeed, especially when your hometown is specifically mentioned as a target.
    Gee...that really sucks.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip
    Halifax as successful as Carter?

    Britain will be speaking German by June 1940 in that case! ( )
    No one said defending Halifax is easy.
    Last edited by Nathan Madien; 11-11-2008 at 18:17.
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  20. #20
    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien
    No one said defending Halifax is easy.
    Or even possible.

    I think my 'favourite' Halifax alt-history has the witless buffoon negotiate a deal with Germany that they then promptly break the moment he de-mobilises the country. The Navy just about escapes with the Royal Family, the RAF crashes itself into the sea and Churchill goes down fighting in Whitehall. Still it ends on a cheery note with Halifax being beheaded on charges of utter stupidity and comprehensive failure to learn even simple lessons.

    I may have embellished that last sentence slightly.
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