Part Three: Second Premiership
Transatlantic Journey, January 1952
...He addressed the huge gathering most affably, but he instructed me to procure a detailed list of the officers attached to the Embassy. I did so when we returned to London and discovered that there were, amongst many others, forty-seven lieutenant-colonels and forty-three wing commanders. Evidently nobody had given thought to reducing the vast staffs established in a war which had ended six and a half years previously.
And then the PM began to plead for a token American brigade, or even a battalion of Marines, to be sent to the Suez Canal.
PM: ‘Now that we no longer hold India the Canal means very little to us. Australia? We could go round the Cape. We are holding the Canal not for ourselves but for civilization. I feel inclined to threaten the Americans that we will leave the Canal if they don’t come in.’
General Adler: ‘Could not America be invited to send this token force? If this is not done, I doubt if Congress will play.’
PM: ‘I want it as a symbol that it is a United Nations project. Stalin was responsible for the United Nations and for the coming together of the two great English-speaking peoples; without him it might not have happened for generations. The architect of the Kremlin “builded better than he knew”.
‘Since Persia the Egyptians have felt that America would not support Britain. A token brigade would convince them they were wrong.’
...That afternoon Churchill and Truman presided over the fifth and final Plenary meeting of their conference. The subject under discussion was a possible meeting between the Western and Communist leaders. At the present time, Churchill told Truman, he would not be in favour of proposing a meeting with the leaders of the Soviet Union to review the major questions outstanding between Russia and the West. ‘A different situation would however arise,’ Churchill added, ‘at any time the Soviet leaders indicated that they were prepared to make a genuine effort to reach an understanding with the democracies.’
...‘WSC: “Prof! How many pints of champagne in cubic feet have I consumed in twenty-four years at the rate of a pint a day, and how many railway carriages would it fill?” The Prof (after rapid calculation): “Only a part of one.” WSC: “So little time, and so much to achieve.”’ (Kay Halle, editor, The Irrepressible Churchill, page 222.)