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Aftermath of Munich: Strategic priorities in British rearmament October 1938 - August 1939.

Grimwood, Ian Roderick (1996) Aftermath of Munich: Strategic priorities in British rearmament October 1938 - August 1939. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

Slessor, Douglas, Spaight et al justified the Munich Agreement as providing a 'breathing space' to accelerate British rearmament. Whilst Chamberlain realised Britain's military weakness, feared a German 'knock-out blow', and underestimated the Czech Army, his prime motive was to prevent, not postpone, a war which he abhorred. Nevertheless he realised the need to accelerate defensive measures such as fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft guns and civil defence. Anxieties that Germany would invade Holland, seizing strategic airfields and the Channel Ports, over ruled the policy of 'limited Liability'. French pressure, and Lord Halifax's support enabled Hore-Belisha to raise equipment for an enlarged field force. Chamberlain opposed conscription for fear of alienating the trade unions; whilst he believed a Ministry of Supply would lose industrialists' co-operation with rearmament and undermine economic recovery. Hitler's Czechoslovakian coup, French requests for an appropriately enlarged British field force and the Premier's desire for a permanent couverture of anti-aircraft guns, combined to beget conscription. Disclosure of 50-60 week delays for deliveries of machine tools finally ended opposition to a Ministry of Supply. Extensions of subcontracting and the shadow factory system enabled British aircraft production to match Germany's by September 1939. By then both Fighter and Bomber Command enjoyed improvements in number and quality. Radar now covered most of Britain. However Germany gained considerably by annexing Czechoslovakia. She seized equipment for 15 infantry divisions. Czech tanks provided three additional armoured divisions in 1940. Greater Germany was the second largest Industrial power and less vunerable to blockade. Mismanagement denied her the heavy bombers and submarines necessary to defeat Britain. Had Britain acted with greater urgency to establish a Ministry of Supply and provide a substantial field force, the Battle of France might have been extended or even won, thus postponing or avoiding the Battle of Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: History, Military
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2238

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