History Lessons (Or Not)

Hat-tip: Beau Bo D’Or

Call Me Dave has been claiming in Washington that the US  stood by Britain during The Blitz in 1940:

‘I think it’s important in life to speak as it is, and the fact is that we are a very effective partner of the US, but we are the junior partner. We were the junior partner in 1940 when we were fighting the Nazis.’

This has been rightly attacked as being utter cobblers. However, for those of us who see Call Me Dave as the Heir To Blair, he was just copying his hero in the aftermath of  the September 11th 2001 attacks (Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Yo Blair!, p.84):

‘My father’s generation knew what it was like. They went through the Blitz…there was one country and one people that stood side by side with us then. That country was America, and the people were the American people.’

Seriously, you wonder where and how leading members of our Political Class  learnt about history. If I am being charitable, I guess the idea that the United States (as opposed to the Commonwealth, Greece, the Free French and various European Governments in Exile) stood by Britain in 1940 (as opposed to hedging its bets) comes from two main sources. First, repeated showings in television programmes about World War Two of London Can Take It!, which simply because it has an American journalist (Quentin Reynolds) narrating it has led to historical ignoramuses to assume the US was on Britain’s side during the Blitz.

Another in Michael Bay’s Ongoing ‘Lots of  Loud Things Blowing Up’ Movie Series…

Second, that dire 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, which to my credit I haven’t seen, but I am led to believe it is the American pilots who save the day during the Battle of  Britain. This leads one of the RAF officers to say something along the lines of ‘You Yank chaps taught us how to fight Jerry!’ Totally embarrassing and totally historically inaccurate:

The Royal Air Force roll of honour for the Battle of Britain recognises 595 non-British pilots (out of 2,936) as flying at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit of the RAF or Fleet Air Arm between 10 July and 31 October 1940.These included 145 Poles, 127 New Zealanders,, 112 Canadians, 88 Czechoslovaks, 28 Belgians, 32 Australians, 25 South Africans, 13 French, 10 Irish, 7 Americans, and one each from Jamaica, the British Mandate of Palestine, and Southern Rhodesia.

So from a hotch-potch of vague televisual memories, bad films and a pining to be Americans, leading members of the British Political Class get World War Two completely wrong. These are the sort of people who want British History to be a compulsory subject  in schools, but if they believe that this sort of stuff should be taught as Facts, perhaps they should just drop the idea.


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