attack had long been anticipated but not the location of its Schwerpunkt
nor its massive armoured follow-through. French forces that had advanced
into Belgium were cut off and obliged to surrender. The rest of the army was
thrown back in disarray, the British expeditionary force was hastily withdrawn
to Dunkirk, and within six weeks the Battle of France had turned into a rout.
The President of the Council, Paul Reynaud, resigned on 16 June, handing over
to Pétain, the First World War hero and recently appointed Vice-President,
needed if diplomacy with the Soviet
Union failed, launching a propaganda drive to rebut Soviet propaganda that continuously condemned British foreign and defence
policy, and completing the North Atlantic Treaty negotiations as a
matter of urgency.88 On 4 March 1947 Britain had signed the Treaty
of Dunkirk, a defensive pact with France against an attack from
Germany. This was enlarged on 17 March 1948 with the Treaty of
Brussels, signed by Britain, France and the Benelux countries, committing them to collective defence against any armed attack for fifty years.
unable to console herself with thoughts of ‘the Flag’ or
religion, in an atmosphere ‘of bandages and blood’. As time elapsed and she
saw more of the war’s effects via her work with Dr Hector Martin’s Flying
Ambulance Corps near Dunkirk and St Malo, she found that her previously
firm views on soldiering and warfare were now wavering. ‘All my previous
ideas of men marching to war have had a touch of heroism, crudely expressed
by quick-step and smart uniform’, she wrote after a visit to the shattered town
of Furnes, ‘Today I see tired dusty men, very hungry looking and
sport under the exigencies of war. For a sporting nation like the
British, this was just one more way in which the war threatened to
wear down the Dunkirk spirit and to nibble away at civilian morale.
Working and not working
As it happened, the effect of restrictions on leisure was less than it
might have been. For a sizeable proportion of the civilian population there was in reality very little time for leisure activity at all. If
it meant nothing else, total war meant work – work for every available pair of hands. By 1941 the drafting of young men into the
enemies’ (Lord Mayors’ Pageants, vol. II, p. 185).
Earlier that year Christopher Clitheroe (the Lord Mayor in 1635)
made a speech to Parliament about the dangers of Dunkirk privateers
(see Thrush, Oxford DNB, ‘Clitherow, Sir Christopher’).
See Kellett, ‘The breakdown of gild and corporation control’, pp.
382–4. ‘Foreigners’ were non-free inhabitants of the City; ‘aliens’ or
‘strangers’ were the terms used for those from overseas in this period.
See Hardin, ‘Spectacular Constructions’, p. 76. Brenner writes that
the Merchant Adventurers ‘at the turn of the seventeenth