CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

'CHURCHILL'S "UNTHINKABLE" WAR'

Daily Telegraph – 5 October 1998

May I add to your fascinating report (October 1) about Churchill's contingency plan for a possible conflict with the Soviet Union after VE Day?

The diary of Sir Alan Brooke, then Chief of the Imperial General Staff, noted on May 24, 1945, that he had spent the evening going "carefully through the [Joint] Planners' report on the possibility of taking on Russia should trouble arise ..." He went on: "We were instructed to carry out this investigation. The idea is, of course, fantastic and the chance of success quite impossible. There is no doubt that from now onwards Russia is all-powerful in Europe." On May 31, he recorded that the Chiefs of Staff, at their meeting that morning, had become more convinced than ever that the idea was "unthinkable".

A decade later he recalled (Notes on My Life): "Winston had come to us expressing his anxiety at seeing "that Russian bear sprawled over Europe" and instructing us to examine from the military point of view the possibility of driving him back to Russia before the Americans and ourselves demobilised our forces!"

According to Brooke, the military chiefs concluded that "the best we could hope for was to drive the Russians back to about the same line the Germans had reached. And then what? Were we to remain mobilised indefinitely to hold them there?"

Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
House of Commons
London SW1