Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha, Jewish British Secretary of State for War


         

Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha

 
 
 
 

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The German Victory in 1940 and the Jewish Factor

By Harold Levy

One of the most mysterious episodes of the second world war was how did the Franco-British armies, superior in numbers to the Germans, whose French tanks were of higher quality than the Panzers, whose Franco-German border was protected by an impregnable defence, come to be crushed by the enemy?

The pre-war issue most exercising the Government was not Hitler, but what the press had termed "The Massacre on the Roads". To solve this acute problem, the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, appointed as Transport Minister a dynamic young man whose vigour, as a junior member of the government, had created quite an impact. He came from the "right" class. Had served with distinction in the First World War. He had been Mentioned in Dispatches.

His father had been an officer in the Royal Fusiliers, followed by a career as a cotton broker. His mother was similarly socially "correct", with a finishing school background and also an author of children's books. His family had been settled in England for hundred and fifty years and were committed to their Jewish faith. Indeed, he had only failed to make his public school's Rugby team because it would have entailed playing on the Sabbath.

After the war, in which he reached the rank of Major, he served as a King's Messenger; a role of extreme responsibility, which carried with it the onerous duty of personally delivering the most important of state documents. He then went on to Oxford University where he was elected President of the Union, became a Barrister, and then entered politics. Chamberlain appointed him Minister of Transport, and immediately the nation felt the impact of his personality.

He created driving tests, also a code of behaviour that had to be followed; Road crossings were introduced, marked by a flashing beacon. In a twelve-month period, in the face of increasing road traffic, Injuries were reduced by 12,805; Deaths by 822.

Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha had arrived.

Hitler now dominated the Horizon. War was inevitable. The British Army was in a state of crises with twenty thousand men below strength and deeply unpopular. On the 25th May 1937 Belisha was appointed Secretary of State for War.

He called in Sir Isadore Salmon, head of Lyons Corner House to advise on catering. Barracks were to be centrally heated, provided with spring beds, showers, recreation rooms, radios. Married men could sleep with their wives out of Barracks. Soldiers under 21 could sleep at their parent's home. Generous pensions were to be provided. Men with dentures were to be accepted. Soldiers leaving the service were to be trained, on full pay, for a civilian occupation. He replaced the tunic with the practical battle dress. Promotion was to be on merit.

The result was that recruitment rocketed with the Territorial Army doubling in size.

There now occurred an extraordinary side effect:

The British League of Fascists lost its most prominent member, General J.F.C. "Boney" Fuller. "Because," he announced "of what a Jew was doing for the army".

The Army at this stage was becoming mechanised and Belisha appointed a Tank officer to the command of what would become the 1st Armoured Division. The Chief of the Imperial General Staff opposed this because it would involve cavalry officers taking orders from an officer from the Army's mechanical branch.

Belisha sacked him. He then sacked the Adjutant General, and went on to sack The Master General of Ordinance.

He now forced through, in the face of fierce opposition, conscription. In cabinet he was compared to Stalin. Never the less his actions delighted the Prime Minister.

At the outbreak of war France's border was protected by the impregnable Maginot Line. Belgium, demonstrating "The Triumph of Hope over experience," had declared itself neutral and forbade the extension of the Line along its border. This meant that an attack on France would come via Belgium.

The Allied plan, Plan D, was to advance into Belgium and there, because of overall superiority, defeat the Germans. Belisha, far from happy with this Plan, wanted the original defence system strengthened. This was to be done by building 240 pillboxes (small forts).

The Army told him it would take 3 weeks to construct a pillbox. Belisha ascertained that it would take 3 days. Accordingly he brought to France a team of Civil Engineers to do this. Unfortunately the Army resented them and gave minimal co-operation.

Belisha now visited France, and attended a meeting of senior officers, which included the commander of the British force, Lord Gort.

A shocked Belisha found that the 1st item on the agenda was "Over which shoulder should a soldier carry his steel helmet when it was not on his head?" He also found that only 2 pillboxes had been constructed.

On his return he reported the situation to the Army Council, and informed the Prime Minister who said that if he wanted to sack Lord Gort he would support him. Belisha refused to do this. Instead he sent General Packenham Walsh to convey to Lord Gort the Army Council's disquiet at the state of his defences.

In doing this Belisha had committed a breach of etiquette. An officer can only be reprimanded by a senior. Packenham Walsh was junior to Lord Gort.

This faux pas increased the already deep hostility to Belisha to a blinding rage. Lord Gort referred to him as Belli; His Chief of Staff General Sir Henry Pownell now referred to him as a "Shallow brained, charlatan, political Jew boy". Michael Foot, later to become leader of the Labour party thought of him as "a shit". Chips Chanon a prominent socialite referred to him as "An Oily Jew".

An army song went:

    "Onward Christian Soldiers,
    You have nothing to fear
    Israel Hore-Belisha will lead you from the rear,
    Clothed by Monty Burton
    Fed on Lyons Pies
    Die for Jewish freedom
    As a Briton always dies.

Other officers were referring to him as Horeb Elisha.

Aware of this viscous attitude the Chief of the Imperial General Staff visited France. On his return he supported the Armies attitude, and reported to the King who called in the Prime minister. On January 4th 1940 Belisha was sacked.

On May 10th the Germans attacked through Belgium, and the British Army following plan D advanced to combat the enemy. They were then completely out flanked, and but for the miracle of Dunkirk would have been annihilated.

After this debacle Belisha was asked, "why were you dismissed?" "Jew boy." was his reply.

~~~~~~~

from the July 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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