....but when he toured Kent at the end of June and saw how weak things were at that point - and had dinner with among others the CO 1st Canadian Division - on June 30th Churchill ordered General Ismay to prepare for use of chemical weapons under a "Plan Y". He said: "It is my intention not to wait too long before England shall use chemical weapons"
Ah, the problems with working from memory...
I at last found some of my old notes; it wasn't the C.O. of the Canadian 1st division that Churchill had to lunch at Chequers with that weekend, it was actually Gen. Andrew Thorne of XII Corps. Anthony Eden had toured XII Corps on 29th June 1940, and reported the acute and "reckless" shortage of heavy weaponry to Churchill - who had been in the area also
, visiting the Canadians; IIRC that famous newsreel clip of Canadian troops exercising repelling parachutists from a Coastal Defence Battery with Churchill looking on dates from that weekend! As a result of this lunchtime discussion, Churchill became much more aware of the parlous state of the expected invasion area, INCLUDING the fact that XII Corps' only completely-equiped and trained division was due to be sent to Northern Ireland!
The meeting - being "off the record" - was not minuted but John Colville, in Fringes of Power
, records that immediately after the meeting Churchill ordered that that division remain in the South-East and that it remain under Thorne's command. Churchill had previously been very pessimistic about the Army's ability to hold the planned river lines - but in fact thought they should be able to hold the beaches ok!...until he met with Thorne
After this, "the next day
", according to Colville, he ordered Ismay to evaluate and plan for "drenching" the invasion beaches with mustard gas. Which makes it 1st July 1940 that he memo'd Ismay.
It's also worth noting that in his diaries, Brooke also noted for 22nd July 1940 that he "...had every intention of using sprayed mustard gas on the beaches". I used to have a list of what materiel for road and baech spraying was stockpiled where, have to look for that again.
Twenty years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs....
Lord, please keep Kevin Bacon alive...