January 6, 1940 – Shakeup At Whitehall – The Matter Of Hoar-Belisha
January 6, 1940 – A day of aftermaths. Hot on the heels of the sudden departure of Secretary Of War Leslie Hoar-Belisha, official announcements were delivered to Parliament on this day by the Prime Minister and the outgoing Secretary.
Speculation ran rife. It was said that Hoar-Belisha clashed with several high-ranking officials of the Military and it was the key which prompted his swift dismissal from the office. His personality and manner of dealing with colleagues left some with the impression he wasn’t suitable material for Whitehall. Still others said it was because Hoar-Belisha was Jewish and that a wave of long-standing anti-Semitism was bubbling to the surface.
The bottom line – Leslie Hoar-Belisha was out at a crucial time in the War.
This news broadcast, from the BBC Home Service in London, outlines the points of both statements and discussing the impact the Hoar-Belisha resignation would have. Prime Minister Chamberlain pointed out that enlistments from Britain and all the possessions was dramatically up these past few weeks. Mr. Chamberlain also announced that Export Licenses were bring granted for the relief of War material from Finland. Chamberlain went on to say that, at the moment, there was a lull in the operations of war, but at any time that lull was thought to be sharply broken. Events might occur within a few weeks, or even a few hours, which would reshape the history of the world. At no time, Chamberlain added, would there be a change of Army policy, nor was it to be expected. With regards to the rumors of Hoar-Belisha’s abrupt departure; Chamberlain said they were all unfounded and they were, as he put it; “mischievous invention”. There had been no difference in policy between Hoar-Belisha and his colleagues.
Meanwhile, there was still a war going on, and France was right in the middle of it.
And this is what it sounded like, on January 6, 1940 from The BBC, as relayed to the U.S. by Mutual Broadcasting.