On this day in history : 10th May 1940 – Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain – after losing a confidence vote in the House of Commons….
In 1938 Chamberlain had signed the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler, handing over the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany…. In doing so Chamberlain claimed it would bring “peace in our time”…. However, in September 1939 Germany invaded Poland and in return Chamberlain declared war on Germany….
Under the direction of Chamberlain Britain proved ineffective at stopping Hitler – and when British forces were unable to prevent the German occupation of Norway in April 1940, with the loss of some 4,000 British troops, Chamberlain was to face the withdrawal of support from many members of his own Conservative party…. On the 10th of May Germany invaded France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – and Chamberlain completely lost the confidence of the House of Commons….
Initially Lord Halifax was offered the position of Prime Minister but was to decline…. So, with his track record of military leadership Winston Churchill was appointed Prime Minister…. Labour leader Clement Attlee had made it clear his party would not work with a coalition under Chamberlain – but Churchill was to form a successful coalition and quickly won the hearts and support of the nation…. “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” ~ Winston Churchill in his first speech as Prime Minister….
Chamberlain served briefly under Churchill in the War Cabinet as Lord President of the Council, until retiring through ill-health in October 1940…. He died the following month of cancer….