Churchill dismisses fighting in 1944 - 'let 'em starve!'

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On 1 September 1944, when his military advisers believed that the German occupying forces in the Channel Islands may surrender, because they were running out of food, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was having nothing of it. "Let 'em starve", he wrote on the report from the War Cabinet Chiefs of Staff Committee. He added: "No fighting. They can rot at their leisure." There has been much debate since over whether Churchill's remarks were directed solely at the German occupying forces, or whether he was including the Channel Islands population. Certainly he was not prepared to sanction any move to supply food to sustain the islanders, in the knowledge that this could be appropriated by the Germans. In the event, efforts independent of the British Goverment were able to secure approval for Red Cross parcels to be sent, solely for consumption by islanders. They began to arrive on the vessel Vega, a few weeks after Churchill penned his remarks. Churchill was much revered in the islands at the time of the Liberation in May 1945, but they would have had no idea that he had made these remarks. When news of this emerged, a significant proportion of islanders were convinced that Churchill, who had refused to defend the islands in 1940, leaving them open to the German occupation, cared little for these British subjects and may well not have cared had they, too, starved. It is noteworthy that although the King and Queen visited the islands in the days after the Liberation, as eventually did Field Marshal Montgomery, Churchill never showed his face in what he referred to in his famous speech on the eve of Liberation as "our dear Channel Islands"
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