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Atlantic Meeting

de H. V. Morton

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Morton's account of attending the 1941 Atlantic Treaty meeting between President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill which established the Allied policy for post-World War II Europe In August 1941 Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt met secretly on HMS The Prince of Wales, moored just off the coast of Newfoundland. H. V. Morton was invited to accompany the Prime Minister and his entourage, a trip which was not without its hazards. This is a unique account of the events leading up to Churchill's discussions with Roosevelt and a fascinating account of the practicalities--and occasionally humor--involved in such a perilous journey. Only a handful of people knew Churchill had left Britain and in America the press merely reported that Roosevelt was enjoying a few days' away from Washington, fishing. The Atlantic Treaty, while not achieving all that Churchill had hoped for, was a key document in the development of the war and post-war strategy. Churchill had hoped that at the resolution of the meeting the U.S. would join the war during the summer of 1941, but this was not to be. H. V. Morton's account was not released for publication until 1943 and subsequently numerous documents have been made available at the National Archives. A new appendix lists these together with a chronology and detailed bibliographies of the key figures who participated in the discussions. … (més)
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80 years ago on this day, August 4th 1941, Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill set sail across the Atlantic to make history.
Upon Sunday, August 3rd, 1941, Mr Winston Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff travelled by train to the North, where on the following day, and in conditions of the greatest secrecy, they embarked in a battleship.  Five days later, upon Saturday, August 9th, the battleship dropped anchor in a lonely bay off the shores of Newfoundland.  American warships were waiting there with President Roosevelt, who had come so secretly to the rendezvous that the entire Press of America was speculating on his disappearance.  In that desolate bay, which reminded everyone of the Hebrides, with low hills rising mistily in the air, the warships lay at anchor while the two statesmen conducted their conference, the published outcome of which was the Atlantic Charter.  (p.9)

So begins H V Morton's account of this remarkable WW2 meeting which changed the course of history.

HVM, then one of the best-known journalists in Britain, received his invitation to be present under strict wartime conditions of secrecy, from Brendan Bracken, the Minister of Information.
'I have an extraordinary proposition to put up to you,' he began.  'I want you to leave England for three weeks, but I regret to say I can't tell you where you are going or what you will see when you get there.  I can only say that you will see history in the making and be present at one of the great moments of the war.  Will you go?'

'Yes,' I replied, 'of course I will go.'

'Then I can tell you this.  You will leave London tomorrow, and you will leave England on Monday in a battleship.  You will be at sea for about a week.  You will be for several days in or near a foreign country, and you will then return in the battleship.  I can tell you no more.' (p.21)

Bracken, reading HVM's unvoiced suspicions that this mysterious affair must be a naval action, with a troop landing, perhaps in Russia, reassures him that it's unlikely that he'll hear any shooting unless Germany sends out a pocket battleship to intercept them.  He gets a more helpful clue, that this is a diplomatic mission, when Bracken tells him most certainly to take a dinner jacket. 

This is a serious book about a significant moment in world history, and HVM is immeasurably proud of Churchill's courage in venturing into regions patrolled by Hitler's u-boats, but his pen occasionally lightens the mood.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/08/04/atlantic-meeting-by-h-v-morton/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 3, 2021 |
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Morton's account of attending the 1941 Atlantic Treaty meeting between President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill which established the Allied policy for post-World War II Europe In August 1941 Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt met secretly on HMS The Prince of Wales, moored just off the coast of Newfoundland. H. V. Morton was invited to accompany the Prime Minister and his entourage, a trip which was not without its hazards. This is a unique account of the events leading up to Churchill's discussions with Roosevelt and a fascinating account of the practicalities--and occasionally humor--involved in such a perilous journey. Only a handful of people knew Churchill had left Britain and in America the press merely reported that Roosevelt was enjoying a few days' away from Washington, fishing. The Atlantic Treaty, while not achieving all that Churchill had hoped for, was a key document in the development of the war and post-war strategy. Churchill had hoped that at the resolution of the meeting the U.S. would join the war during the summer of 1941, but this was not to be. H. V. Morton's account was not released for publication until 1943 and subsequently numerous documents have been made available at the National Archives. A new appendix lists these together with a chronology and detailed bibliographies of the key figures who participated in the discussions. 

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