May 8, 1940 – A day with repercussions – In Britain, a vote following the Norway Debate on the deteriorating UK military situation, Neville Chamberlain’s government survived what amounted to a motion of no confidence.The government, although having a majority in the House of 213, won the vote with a majority of only 81 votes: 33 Conservatives and 5 of their governing allies voted with the opposition, and many other Conservatives abstained. Churchill, who had been appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in September 1939, mounted a strong defense of Chamberlain and his Government in the debate, ending his closing speech with these words:
“At no time in the last war were we in greater peril than we are now, and I urge the House strongly to deal with these matters not in a precipitate vote, ill debated and on a widely discursive field, but in grave time and due time in accordance with the dignity of Parliament.”
With the Prime Minister being strongly criticized on both sides of the House and there being a strong desire for national unity, the vote was catastrophic.
Meanwhile as eyes were on the situation in Britain and Norway, preparations were underway for the German invasion of The Netherlands. The campaign against the Low Countries and France was slowly and quietly taking shape. Germany attacked in the west on May 10, 1940. Initially, British and French commanders had believed that German forces would attack through central Belgium as they had in World War I, and rushed forces to the Franco-Belgian border to meet the German attack. The main German attack however, went through the Ardennes Forest in southeastern Belgium and northern Luxembourg. German tanks and infantry quickly broke through the French defensive lines and advanced to the coast. But on this 251st day of war in Europe, people in The Netherlands were preparing for the inevitable.
All that, and much-much more, including several direct reports from Paris and Berlin on this May 8, 1940.