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Is it important to get historical facts right?

10:32 UK time, Thursday, 22 July 2010

David Cameron has been criticised after mistakenly saying the UK was the "junior partner" in the allied World War II fight against Germany in 1940. Should he face criticism for saying this?

"We were the junior partner in 1940 when we were fighting the Nazis" he said during his first trip to the US as prime minister.

However, the US officially declared war on Germany on 11 December 1941, shortly after Hitler launched hostilities against the US and four days after the Pearl Harbor attacks which drew the US into conflict with Japan.
No 10 said Mr Cameron had not meant to belittle the efforts of British troops.

What do you think of David Cameron's historical slip? Could his mistake alienate former troops? Is it important to remember historical dates? If so why? Given his speech was about the relationship between the US and the UK and not about WWII, does it matter that he got the facts wrong?

Comments

Page 1 of 10

  • Comment number 1.

    I hope he's not as absent-minded when it comes to today's troops.

  • Comment number 2.

    1: mistakes happen.
    2: not being one I wouldn't know
    3: yes
    4: if you have to ask that question you'll never know why
    5: not sure. let me think on it

  • Comment number 3.

    This goes to show what a complete fool we have running the country, he doesnt even know his history, my god, we are now the laughing stock of the world.

  • Comment number 4.

    It is not just an insult to former troops its a damn right insult to the whole Ministory of Defence, all the people who fought for this country and all the people who are fighting for this country. He has not a clue.

  • Comment number 5.

    Is it important to get historical facts right?

    Yes, yes it is.

    Although much as i dislike defending Cameron (i shall wash afterwards), its perfectly possible to put forward an argument rooted in sound historical sources that Britain was indeed the 'junior partner' in 1940.

    Its not an argument I agree with but it is valid.

    History - rarely as black and white as you think its going to be.

  • Comment number 6.

    A poor as Cameron's comments were, Millibands in response were worse. He had all the time in the world to get it right, get the best people on the job to write the best put down on Cameron and he came up with something as factually incorrect.
    We did not stand alone. Russia were fighting the war against the Nazis, the Free French were still fighting, countries from around the world were helping us with people travelling from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Holland, Norway etc etc to join our armed services to fight, the Poles had squadrons in the RAF to help fight.
    To say we stood alone is a slight on the memories of all those from outside of Great Britain who fought and died during our "finest hour".
    Mr Milliband a question for you: Was yours a slip or a slight?

  • Comment number 7.

    Who cares; it's not as if he doesn't have enough on his mind - no thanks to Gordon Brown and his also unelected cronies, all of whom have now too been consigned to history....

  • Comment number 8.

    What is a historical fact ?

    Depends upon who is writing history ! Britain is as good as any other country at rewriting history to suit the cause of the time.

  • Comment number 9.

    Politicians are always in trouble when they tell the truth.

  • Comment number 10.

    So he made a mistake, he maybe a Conservative, but he is still Human!

    Anyone can make mistakes, how many of the veterans complaining remember everything about the first world war? Or the facts about the conflict in 1903-04 between the UK and Tibet?

    People only really remember things of personal importance, given that he was born after the war... or so I believe, it probably isn't as important to him as it is to those who experienced it first-hand.

    He is also not walking robot... or so I believe. He shouldn't be expected to remember everything.

  • Comment number 11.

    The 40`s date relates to the era stupid, and after Dunkirk with the army beaten and less its equipment, the country in a perilous state, we were more than a junior partener...with anyone.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    This was probably a slip of the tongue rather than a considered opinion. Either way, it leaves us looking foolish & somewhat insignificant.
    He should move quickly to apologise and/or correct his gaffe

  • Comment number 14.

    Personally I think he has insulted every citizen of this country by his remarks.

    We are not partners with the US we are allies, different thing. Stating we are a junior partner implies that we must do what we are told by our superiors (USA).

    If Mr Cameron actually believes this then we are in worse trouble than we thought.

    Making the historical reference was very silly, if you are going to make historical references, they must be acurate to ensure you don't look a complete idiot.

  • Comment number 15.

    Disgusted at Camerons comments. So much for private education. He is a Tory and does not know who lead this country and the rest of the Free world in WW11. It certainly was not the USA they came in the at the end only after they got attacked. I suggest he apologies to all the old soldiers their families and people who fought so hard to stop Hitler taking over this country and the rest of the free world.

  • Comment number 16.

    Well, if someone with a brain the size of a planet such as "Wiser than You" can believe the Nazi-Soviet pact of August 1939 was actually signed in 1938, then it's perfectly understandable that an inferior being like Cameron might get his dates wrong.

    Still, in 1940, Britain was the junior partner to nobody in WW2 as there was no-one left apart from Britain (and its empire, of course).

    However, I'm sure using 1940 to an American audience would simply confuse them as all Americans know that WW2 started in December 1941.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes it is important to get your facts right (by the way it was Germany who declared war on the US)
    Making such an error on such an iconic time for the UK puts Cameron in the class as Regan and to make such a crass error so early in his tenure does not bode well for the future.
    Also to make such an error could be a Freudian slip on how Cameron (or to be more accurate his speech writers) views our relationship with the US i.e. not as an independant state more as a junior partner and that cannot be good for us in the future given how the US treats its allies when their usefulness has passed the sell by date and given the rhetoric coming from the Obama administration it seems that time has come for the UK.

    So as far as I am concerned such a crass error is insulting towards those who fought during WWII, worrying about Cameron's level of education and knowledge and disappointing that even our own politicians appear to look upon us as a lap dog of the US.

  • Comment number 18.

    In response to comment number 6 RB_sheff
    Let's call it a slight slip EH?

  • Comment number 19.

    Its just a reminder of how many of his pre-election promises he has also forgotten, if he cannot remember a few months ago, how can he effectively remember common knowledge historical events prior to his birth, or the same, vice versa.

  • Comment number 20.

    Cameron is not up to the job of representing Britain abroad, and Clegg is not up to the job of minding the shop while Cameron is away.

  • Comment number 21.

    Yes it's important
    He wonders why people don't care about being Great in Britain and talks of a broken society - maybe its because who can feel national pride when our leader says our greatest moments summed up as 'we wouldn't have gotten anywhere without you'.


    I get that our leaders jump when the US ask but surely they can do that without insulting our history?

  • Comment number 22.

    Of course it is. How any politician learn from the past and at the same time be ignorant of it? Not only were the Americans not in the WW2 for the Battle of Britain, they also initially supported the Vichy French because they didn't like De Gaul!

  • Comment number 23.

    David Cameron meant to say that - it wasn't a mistake. In this day and age, who (and especially someone of Cameron's education) doesn't know even the most general facts about World War II?

    He said it because that's what the Americans want to hear (because that's what they believe).

    Disgusting. Insulting.

  • Comment number 24.

    Why would he even think to say such a thing? Sucking up the the US? I know that Mr Cameron has a lot to learn - the first of these is that we are an independent nation made up of independently thinking (well mostly) people. We are not a state of the USA!

  • Comment number 25.

    So in 1940 - before the USA entered the war - who was the senior partner? USSR was on Germany's side at that time, so it wasn't them.

    There are thousands of dates to remember in history - there are a few for the UK which stand out, such as:

    1. Battle of Hastings

    2. Great Plague

    3. Great Fire of London

    4. WWI start and finish

    5. WWII start for UK

    6. Pearl Harbour (yes, I know that's to do with America)

    7. D Day

    Any schoolboy with David Cameron's background should be able to answer these without thinking about them. If you can't remember, don't commit yourself.

    What an appalling example of private education. I hope he's never on my team for a pub quiz.

  • Comment number 26.

    On the whole it's important to get facts right - historical or otherwise - if you are running the country.This was not a slight inaccuracy on a small obscure piece of history, though; it spoke to a period of British history that significantly contributes to our sense of who we are. This was gaffe of significant proportions.

  • Comment number 27.

    It seems that America have a new poodle.
    And I had such high hopes.

  • Comment number 28.

    Junior Partner, Yo Cameron.................

    Meet the new boss, same as ............

  • Comment number 29.

    If you use the terms senior and junior partnerships, Britain had to be the senior in 1940. Russia and the USA did not join the Allies until 1941. Indeed Russia was a German ally until they were invaded in 1941. But all the allies played their part in defeating Nazi Germany and none of their efforts should be belittled by Politicians on both sides trying to make petty political points.

  • Comment number 30.

    Quote from an American web-site, "The Phoney War was that part of WWII which happened before the US came in." Written by someone with a poor grasp of history, same correspondent also thought only the the US fought against the Chinese and N.Koreans in the Korean War.
    Obviously someone who got their history from Hollywood.
    However there are plenty of people on this side of the Atlantic who would make similar mistakes.
    Historical fact and historical myth are intertwined in popular culture, unfortunately the myths seem to win most of the time.

  • Comment number 31.

    6. At 11:49am on 22 Jul 2010, RP_sheff wrote:
    A poor as Cameron's comments were, Millibands in response were worse. He had all the time in the world to get it right, get the best people on the job to write the best put down on Cameron and he came up with something as factually incorrect.
    We did not stand alone. Russia were fighting the war against the Nazis,


    Not in 1940 they were: they had a non-aggression pact with the Nazis and they were not at war with Germany until June 1941 when Hitler invaded the USSR.

    After June 1940 until June 1941, Britain, and its Empire, was alone in fighting the Nazis. As you say, a lot of Poles, Czechs, French etc were fighting in Britain against the Nazis but there were no other free nations doing so.

  • Comment number 32.

    I was more worried about his grovelling toadyism which this was an example of, hardly the Dunkirk spirit was it.

    Yet he constantly cites the Dunkirk spirit as how we should now "restore" the country to it's former glory.

    Maybe we should just ask our American Masters to come and sort it all out for us, despite the fact that the economic mess we're all in was caused by their recklessness in the first instance.

    Get a backbone Dave and get better advisors who know the facts, didn't they teach you anything at Eton and stop taking history lessons from Mr Murdoch!

  • Comment number 33.

    6. At 11:49am on 22 Jul 2010, RP_sheff wrote:
    To say we stood alone is a slight on the memories of all those from outside of Great Britain who fought and died during our "finest hour".

    ------------------------------------------------

    Britain did stand alone, no other nation (as a nation) gave official support. Russia, France, Poland, had their own countries to defend. Spain was already in a war.

    What was Britain's "best ally" doing?

    I know even America provided pilots, but that still a far cry from actual "Alliance" behaviour.

    British Forces is British Equipment manned by men under control of British Commanders. I don't think it is necessary for the people fighting to be british to be classed as a British Force. e.g. Gurkhas.

  • Comment number 34.

    I have a huge regard for Mr Cameron. His comment was a stupid mistake. but fortunately it does not really matter and everyone will have forgotten it in a couple of days.

    Britain stood alone in 1940.
    The US did nothing in 1941 until the Germans declared war on America
    1942 US did very little in Europe except a minor part in a botched invasion of North Africa whilst the 8th Army did most of the fighting
    1943 America played an equal part in the fighting in Sicilly and Italy
    1944 D-Day despite American propoganda to the contrary the bulk of the fighting in June 1944 was carried out by British and Commonwealth forces not American. There were 5 beaches on D-Day. Only two were American. During June eight panzer divisions fought the allies of these ONE fought the Americans the other 7 were fighting the British and commonwealth troops as the Germans had a very low regard to American fighting ability.

    The Americans did not "give" us anything in WW2 they sold us a massive amount at over inflated prices.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think this is what we call a storm in a teacup.

    I am pretty sure that he knows that the US took a long time before they actually joined the war so his use of the date 1940 was a slip up. Big deal. There are surely more important things to talk about.

    As for the outrage being manufactured over his description of the YK as a junior partner in the war - well, it was. That doesnt mean that the British troops weren't brave or that their individual inputs were in some way less valued or valuable than the Yanks'.

    Come on everyone, lets get over it. It was a minor slip. Now, lets talk about something important like world trade, BP, Afghanistan, budget cuts, NHS etc etc etc etc

  • Comment number 36.

    One can only imagine the furore in the right wing press had Gordon Brown made this silly mistake and yet today – not a mention in any of the rags. It seems Cameron and his, what shall I say, “junior partner” Clegg are immune from criticism from this direction. It just goes to show the bias which has always distorted our national politics.

    On a related point, I thought Eton was renowned for good education - it obviously needs to brush up on how modern history is taught. Let’s hope Westminster School is better at it, but they seem to have fallen short in teaching morality, loyalty and principles.

  • Comment number 37.

    He's a fool, and clearly happy to be a US lapdog. There were some people in 1940 that felt we should have a similar 'partnership' with Hitler!

  • Comment number 38.

    Phew!, I have just been thru the Beeb's 3rd Degree, just to make a comment here. Facebook it's not but come on, lively debate (without defamation etc) is surely the core reason for allowing Have Your Say - isn't it?

    Anyway, re Cameron and the 'junior partner thing' - whilst there is bound to be some controversy re this, he is in fact making a statement that could be considered pretty accurate. By the time we reached WWII, GB was pretty much a spent force on the world stage and years of appeasement had weakened our standing. In the end, it took a lot of assistance from others round the globe, Australia, NZ, India and many other Empire colonies, as well as the US, to defeat the Nazis. At the end of the conflict, GB was pretty much bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the Marshall Plan. Don't forget also the Roosevelt's 'Lend Lease' scheme also saved (sometimes literally) our bacon.

    In some respects, we were 'lucky'. Germany had been re-arming since the early 30's and by the time of the start of WWII, were in a much better position than GB. It was only really due to the ongoing poor strategy applied by a mad dictator called Hitler, that stopped them from being more successful.

    The USA's entry into the war was caused by another regime believing it could do more than it could and the belief by the Americans that the US would never be attacked on home ground.

    Funny how history repeats itself!

  • Comment number 39.

    A disgraceful comment by cameron, he should apologise to all the people who have been offended by his comments.

    Should we be surprised by this mistake? No. cameron and the rest of his cronies in governement have already shown on countless times how incompetant they are. The worrying thing is they have only been in government for less than two months.

  • Comment number 40.

    What's the big deal? Britain WAS the junior partner in World War II. It's an open secret that your armed forces, particularly the British Army, performed with a distinct lack of initiative and enthusiasm throughout the war. Regardless of the Battle of Britain, you had already been driven out of Europe and had essentially lost the war, with little hope of recovery, by the time America entered in December 1941.

  • Comment number 41.

    Of course it is. What a really dumb question. If we jumble everything up how on earth can we be sure of facts or learn from the past ? Mind you, interpretation is another matter.

  • Comment number 42.

    Being a serving member of the army, i have got to say I am severely unimpressed with Cameron's statement. To get so wrong the history, that myself and all serving regard as so important, is tragic. To do it to stroke American media just plain annoys me.

    We were never a junior ally in WW2! Britain still had the vestiges of empire in 1940, fighting by land and sea around the world, from Europe to Africa, the Middle East to the Far East. We operated in some places the Americans never went to during the war. We brought to bear hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth personnel to defeat the axis powers. This is to say nothing of our intelligence efforts that were far superior to the Americans till the late 1940s. The actions of SOE, the breaking and exploitation of Enigma plus Operation Overlord cut years off of the defeat of the Nazis.

    Cameron should have remembered we stood shoulder to shoulder then, as we do now, in matters of war. Our efforts have never been 'junior' to anyone else's.

  • Comment number 43.

    Perhaps it comes from receiving an Education based on ability to pay rather than ability to learn.

    I suspect he meant in the 1940's Though this wouldn't be entirely accurate as right up to and including the Normandy Landings some 70% of combat troops deployed in Europe were British or British Commonwealth and higher percentage applied to Naval and Air Assets. If you see any Hollywood version of D Day you could be forgiven for thinking that all the personnel involved were Americans.

    So Davy (Man of the People (failed History)) Cameron is in a land where he will not be alone in his ignorance.

  • Comment number 44.

    It depends on the curcumstances. David Cameron was speaking to an American audience and therefore had to say things that appealed to their sense of history. It wouldn't for example have been very sensible to point out that that they kept out of the first world war to 1917 and the second world war until Japan attacked them in December 1941.
    Although Cameron quoted the wrong year by referring to 1940, it is pretty clear that without the Americans we would not have been able to win the war. Indeed in 1940 we were very lucky not to lose it. If we had not been an Island, and Hitler had not have decided to start a second front by attacking Russia we would have lost. Even after 1940 we were in real danger of being starved in submission, and it was only American aid that stopped this. Anybody who thinks we could have staged D-Day without the Americans is very deluded.

  • Comment number 45.

    Cameron seems to have gone over there with a remit to say anything to curry favour.

    Perhaps he would have been better regarding World Wars to say that the Americans had been late for the last two and now look like they are doing their best to make up for it by ensuring that they are there for the start of the next one...

  • Comment number 46.

    Get your facts RIGHT boy.

  • Comment number 47.

    "Given his speech was about the relationship between the US and the UK and not about WWII, does it matter that he got the facts wrong? "

    Is probably the single stupidest question the BBC has ever asked. Most of the problems we are facing in Afghanistan, Iraq and the wider middle east are because people do not remember or never learnt in the first place the histories of these countries. The looting in Iraq after the liberation was identical to the looting of Damascus in 1918 by the Arab army. Anyone who had read Lawrence of Arabia's '7 Pillars of Wisdom' would have anticipated the same thing happening again and planned for it. Not our or the American politicians though!

  • Comment number 48.

    Essential Rabbit no 27 says -

    It seems that America have a new poodle.
    And I had such high hopes.

    ------------------------------
    Sounds like someone else needs a history lesson!! - you only have to go back to Thatcher fawning over Ronald Regan to see what the Tories are like with the USA.

  • Comment number 49.

    "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" George Santayana.
    Repeated by Winston Churchill, a politician who did know his history.

    It is obvious that David Cameron and his pal George Osbourne have not learned from the economic history of the 1930's. They are repeating the same mistakes that were made by their predecessors. The misery which was caused by these mistakes gave fascists the opportunity to blame foreigners and the enemy within. The result was tens of millions of deaths and many more ruined lives.

    Our only hope is that Santayana and Churchill were wrong.

  • Comment number 50.

    He shouldn't ever have had the word "junior" in his head. Even when the US joined in we were not the junior partner. In fact, we were the veteran partner having been in the war a lot longer than they.

    However, it was a mistake made during an informal talk, rather than a pre-prepared speech and so should not cause too much fuss.

  • Comment number 51.

    If Britain was already the junior partner in 1940, when the US had yet to actually enter the war, presumably it was when America did join in '41 that Britain first stooped even lower, to being the prostrate chattel it remains.

    I honestly couldn't believe that anyone in his position would so publicly and actively pander to the self-importance and ignorance of America's re-written history of the world. Perhaps the pre-election effort to forget his blood ties to the Queen, Boris Johnson &tc was also actually a genuine inability to recall past events?

    As we speak his advisors are probably suggesting he confirms Britain's debt to America for decyphering the enigma machines and coming over the hills at the last minute during the battle of britain. And seeing off the Vikings.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Financially speaking Cameron is correct but it's very subjective. I think this was a bit of diplomacy for the visit, wasn't it? Aren't we grown up enough to see that? Is this really news story?

  • Comment number 54.

    In his eagerness to ‘uber’ please his hosts our Prime Minister has demoted Britain to the role of a ’junior partner’ in the WWII struggle.
    Truly, this is over and above the call of duty, unprecedented!

  • Comment number 55.

    I agree historical facts should be accurate. However some people on this forum have over-reacted in a spectacular manner. Put things into perspective people.

  • Comment number 56.

    25. At 12:12pm on 22 Jul 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:

    So in 1940 - before the USA entered the war - who was the senior partner? USSR was on Germany's side at that time, so it wasn't them.

    There are thousands of dates to remember in history - there are a few for the UK which stand out, such as:

    1. Battle of Hastings

    2. Great Plague

    3. Great Fire of London

    4. WWI start and finish

    5. WWII start for UK

    6. Pearl Harbour (yes, I know that's to do with America)

    7. D Day

    Any schoolboy with David Cameron's background should be able to answer these without thinking about them. If you can't remember, don't commit yourself.

    What an appalling example of private education. I hope he's never on my team for a pub quiz.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You're quite right with most of your analysis, but I would also point out that number 6 - Pearl Harbour, that we actually gave the Americans our invention - Radar, and they were actually using it on the morning of the attack. The American Radar operators saw the planes flying in, but were not believed when they raised the alarm. Had they been believed, countless lives may have been saved.

  • Comment number 57.

    Lest we forget eh?. oh deary deary me Mr Camer(a)on

  • Comment number 58.

    Britain WAS in some respects factually a junior partner in the reality that we were humbled by our unaffordability of the war and our lack of resources and ultimately needed a senior partner to fund our needs, ESPECIALLY in 1940.

    The night of 3 June was the last night of evacuations of Dunkirk, on 4th June 1940 the Germans hoisted the swastika over the docks from which so many British and French troops had escaped.

    What did NOT escape was the equipment of the British army, the tools NEEDED for the army to function, the tools needed to withstand any German invasion and of which we just did NOT have because they were abandoned at Dunkirk in France.

    Hence we were TOTALLY reliant upon MASSIVE USA supply and funding of military equipment and as such we were pretty subservient and in extremely DIRE straights as to our FACTUAL ability to even survive, and even freely handed the USA ALL our MAJOR secrets, technology/research etc in return for military aid and support.

    As such, we may have been the front line of the war in Europe but we were also factually and historically indisputably a junior partner in our economic/industrial/financial abilitys to produce that which we most importantly needed.

    Hence, like it or not, in all truth and reality, Cameron is actually, factually and indisputably correct!

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    "What did you do in the War Daddy?"

    "I was a junior partner to a Country that wasn't involved"

    Blimey the standard of Education at our fee paying top toffs academy leaves something to be desired.

    My local comprehensive managed to inform me that the United States did not join the War until 8th December 1941.

    So that was £25,000 per year well not spent!

  • Comment number 61.

    What Cameron said was shamefully wrong! If we were the junior partner it was to the Russians.

    America didn't come on the German scene until quite late in the war.

    Black mark, Mr Cameron. If that's the best you can do then God help us when we need to show Britain off.

  • Comment number 62.

    More a slight on Eton's education than himself, maybe I won't invite him to join my quiz team!

  • Comment number 63.

    "6. At 11:49am on 22 Jul 2010, RP_sheff wrote:
    A poor as Cameron's comments were, Millibands in response were worse. He had all the time in the world to get it right, get the best people on the job to write the best put down on Cameron and he came up with something as factually incorrect.
    We did not stand alone. Russia were fighting the war against the Nazis, "

    You must have been taught history at Eton too. In 1940 Russia was fighting WITH the nazi's. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact divided Poland equally between Germany and the USSR (and allowed the USSR to invade the Baltic states at the same time). Stalin then liquidated over 20,000 Poles (the people we went to war to protect) in the Katyn forest.

    In fact in 1940 Britain considered declaring war on Russia after Russia's war of aggression against Finland.

    Your point that other nations men & women fought alongside us is 100% true but they fought as individuals in British uniform and with British weapons from bases in Britain. We didn't totally stand alone but we were the only sovereign nation fighting Hitler on our own soil.

  • Comment number 64.

    It ALWAYS matters if you get the facts wrong, especially if you're a politician making speeches.
    I just can't understand why he had to say anything so silly in the first place. Surely the British PM can visit the US and say nice things about the two countries' friendship without grovelling about their relative strengths 70 years ago, AND getting the year wrong?
    I guess the date was a mistype not picked up by the team, but surely he doesn't need to read out that sort of a speech, dates and all. Or maybe we have a historically-challenged PM.....

  • Comment number 65.

    Winston Churchill and all the RAF heroes who save mankind must be spinning in their graves. Statements like that just confirm that Cameron is an upper class twit would does not know his own history.

  • Comment number 66.

    As 90% of the contributors to this "blog" are ignorant of 90% of historical facts (especially recent political history which blames all bad things on Brown and all good things on Thatcher), I would say any the gainsayers are pretty well likely to make their silly points with no view to tolerance at all and to how irrelevant it all is anyway

  • Comment number 67.

    Cameron is an intelligent man & a consumate politician. He made a stupid comment, & was most-likely instantly remorseful. Move on.

  • Comment number 68.

    I would imagine it was probably a simple 'slip of the tongue' where he meant to say in the 1940s.
    If that is the case, then I think the words "molehills" and "mountains" spring to mind.

  • Comment number 69.

    Foolish boy David. I am all for being nice to your hosts but do try not to make yourself look ignorant while doing it.

  • Comment number 70.

    #51 "As we speak his advisors are probably suggesting he confirms Britain's debt to America for decyphering the enigma machines and coming over the hills at the last minute during the battle of britain."

    But that did happen!
    I saw Ben Afleck shoot down the entire Luftwaffe in 'Pearl Harbour' and Jon Bon Jovi & Harvey Keitel captured the Enigma machine in 'U-571' ! Hollywood would surely never rewrite history to glorify the US at our expense would they?

    And on that note its worth pointing out that contrary to 'Saving Private Ryan' etc the majority of forces landed on D-Day were Commonwealth troops and the landing craft landing the US forces on Utah and Omaha beach were mostly skippered by Brits. My great uncle (who was merchant navy, not even Royal Navy) lost a leg delivering US troops to Utah after his landing craft hit a submerged mine.

    It was only late in 1944 that US forces outnumbered Commonwealth troops in Europe and even then British troops were tasked with taking the most dangerous bridge during 'Market Garden', clearing the Schelde Estuary in Belgium (more dangerous than D-Day) and during the Battle of the Bulge US troops had to be taken from Bradley's command and given to Montgomery to hold the flank.

    We were reduced to the 'junior partner' at Yalta by 6 years of war and debt but we were by far the senior partner before then.

  • Comment number 71.

    You can't remember the dates of everything that happened in history. But that is a big clanger!
    I would say that this country was nobody's junior in either world war at any point.
    But to call us the junior to our American cousins referring to a point where they were yet to get into the action for pretty much a year is a massive oversight for the PM.
    At a time when the UK runs to aid the US in a military intervention in retaliation for a terrible (though single) terrorist act, it would serve him well to remind the president how long it took the US to lift a finger to help the UK when she faced the very real threat of being overthrown by a much greater enemy than the Taliban, and only acted when attacked directly. A fact that I'm sure many in the US would point out if the UK only acted after the 7/7 bombings!

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    In 1940 the British & it's Empire's enemy was the Germans. The Americans were supplying us aid (at a price).

  • Comment number 74.

    So many disgusting statements emerging in the news today!

  • Comment number 75.

    If you want to be pedantic, up to around June ish in 1940, UK was the junior partner in the Second World War, junior to France who had overall command. Generally, unless politics intervene, its the partner who brings the most hardware and troops to a war who is the senior and thus commands, and that was France. We led as senior partner until the Americans came on stream and they took over. Its why Eisenhower was the overall commander of D-Day, for example, and not a UK general

  • Comment number 76.

    Regardless of whether it's factually correct, why would an elected official say such a thing?

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    Cameron's trip to the US has been a fiasco from start to finish.

    From his dreadfully twee press conference with Obama through his rushing to meet the four Senators, his statement on foreign soil that the FO will be pushing "buy British"(which they already do)to his mistake over the date of the USA's entry into the second world war he's shown himself to be an even more third rate PM than Brown or Blair.

    It's a good thing the majority of Americans and the rest of the world take little notice of these type of meetings.

  • Comment number 79.

    To be honest,when they saw this fool and his team coming through the door, the Yanks were probably thinking "where's Kermit?"

  • Comment number 80.

    40. At 12:20pm on 22 Jul 2010, Pat Burger wrote:

    What's the big deal? Britain WAS the junior partner in World War II. It's an open secret that your armed forces, particularly the British Army, performed with a distinct lack of initiative and enthusiasm throughout the war. Regardless of the Battle of Britain, you had already been driven out of Europe and had essentially lost the war, with little hope of recovery, by the time America entered in December 1941.


    --------------------------------

    Obviously taken from the script of yet another completely inaccurate Hollywood script...

    I've never read such rubbish...

    It would be interesting to know how we had effectively lost the war by 1941...

    Yes the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), sent to help the French had been driven back to Dunkirk (May 1940). The BEF made up just one tenth of the defending forces.

    We were fighting in North Africa quite successfully from 1940, before the USA even entered the war.

  • Comment number 81.

    58. At 12:33pm on 22 Jul 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    Britain WAS in some respects factually a junior partner in the reality that we were humbled by our unaffordability of the war and our lack of resources and ultimately needed a senior partner to fund our needs, ESPECIALLY in 1940.....

    What did NOT escape was the equipment of the British army, the tools NEEDED for the army to function, the tools needed to withstand any German invasion and of which we just did NOT have because they were abandoned at Dunkirk in France.

    Hence we were TOTALLY reliant upon MASSIVE USA supply and funding of military equipment and as such we were pretty subservient and in extremely DIRE straights as to our FACTUAL ability to even survive, and even freely handed the USA ALL our MAJOR secrets, technology/research etc in return for military aid and support.......

    Hence, like it or not, in all truth and reality, Cameron is actually, factually and indisputably correct!"



    Complete and utter tosh. Our army was equipped with Sten submachine guns, Mk III & IV Lee-Enfield rifles, Bren and Vickers machine guns. All british made. Our artillery was British made as was our tanks. Our airforce was equipped with Hurricane and Spitfires. All British Made. The few fighter aircraft the US supplied in 1940 were far inferior and only fit for the desert war.

    The US supplied us with all our transport aircraft and our jeeps and most of the trucks. They supplied us with thousands of Sherman tanks (after 1943) and a few ships but everything else was made by Britain. All our Bombers (Lancasters, Hurricanes, Mosquitos) were British. The majority of our tanks (Churchills and Cromwells) were British. ALL our guns were British.

    Before American entered the war in Dec '41 they supplied us with 50 WW1 destroyers that barely floated in exchange for half the ports in the West Indies and a handful of barely airworthy tanks. Lend-Lease and the useful kit only started appearing in 1943 and much of that was British Designed (such as the P51 Mustang fighter)

  • Comment number 82.

    Cameron is right.
    Britain was never fully engaged in WW-II (unlike WW-I. Now, that is different.).
    British presence in the Continental Europe ceased almost as soon as the war started. There were some battles in North Africa and Southeast Asia. The rest was about defending Britain from German invasion, which didn't take place thanks to USSR and then USA.

    British losses in WW-II is 382000. USA losses is 416000. Soviet losses is 10 million. German losses 5 million.

    The modern portrayal of British involvement in WW-II is marginally better than romantic rubbish.
    Even the US involvement in overblown.
    The war really took place between Germany and USSR.

    So, Cameron knows history better than more than half of the people here.

  • Comment number 83.

    "Britain did stand alone, no other nation (as a nation) gave official support."

    So the fact that New Zealand declared war on Germany in September of 1939 doesn't mean they - and their troops - were giving official support as a nation? Australia may have decided that the British declaration included the Dominions, but NZ made their own declaration. Or are you going to get into the nitty gritty facts about whether or not the Dominions were independent until they adopted the Statute of Westminster, or whatever?

    Mr Cameron's comments were poor, but so were Mr Milliband's.

    I suggest they both look at the nationalities of "The Few" who fought in Battle of Britain.



  • Comment number 84.

    A slight mistake in an unrehearsed speach. In private, forgivable, but on a world stage these things can break political careers.

  • Comment number 85.

    you can't blame poor David, "after all it was Labour that got us into this mess!" Blah, Blah.....

  • Comment number 86.

    Is it important to get historical facts right? After reading George Orwell, I would think so!

  • Comment number 87.

    Mistakes happen but to insult the last generation at the time when no procecution of the G20 incident makes transparent government a farce.Now as an act of transparency apologies for both incidences before Nick Clegg takes your thunder?

  • Comment number 88.

    I can not use the words to describe my dissgust at Cameron, as this post would never pass the moderators.

    What a spineless excuse for a national leader he is. This is tantamount to treachery. I am totally disgusted and embarrssed by him. I can only imagine what those who did and were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice might think of this belittlment of their efforts.

    In a few years time, if, God forbid, he somehow manages to cling onto his position, will he be saying the same about the UK forces who are presently making the same sacrifice in Afghanistan?

    I have said this once before in a post and will state it every time it is warranted ... for Heavens sake Dave, why dont you just shut up.

  • Comment number 89.

    17. At 12:05pm on 22 Jul 2010, who2believe? wrote:
    Yes it is important to get your facts right (by the way it was Germany who declared war on the US)
    --------------
    Indeed, facts are a good thing to get right. The US formally declared war on Germany on December 11, 1941 (Japan on December 8, 1941).

  • Comment number 90.

    It's not the "1940" bit that worries me - that's merely a slip.

    The words "junior partner" are what really concern me. Even the EU have never called us that.

    Thanks Dave - you've confirmed we're the 51st state. Let the righties never mention the UK's sovreign rights again.

  • Comment number 91.

    OK...You tell me which historical facts ARE correct then...

    None of us know the truth about anything, we think we do, we like to appear 'knowledgeable', to conform to the common view... We are told what to believe and we believe everything we are told.

    The future fog of the internet and media control will 'destroy' history, just look at any modern film set in the past to see how our modern views colour it. Just hear any conspiracy theory, just have a bigoted view, just be religious, your history could be anything.

  • Comment number 92.

    i said right at the beging they were a imcompetent bunch and this latest gaff goes towards proof of it.he went to eton for godsake! the best of a education wasted on a no brian and what do we do make him, PM.some of the postings have already made the point and there right,we are a laughing stock, it's an insult to all those brave men who went through the ordeal of dunkirk then the battle of britain and i might add, one certian chap from the good old USA called kennedy was reporting that he did'nt think we would last much longer.no what with clegg and his gaffs its too much to bear,do the decent thing, GO!

  • Comment number 93.

    Wether "Historical Facts" are correct or not depends upon who is writing the story. The victor in a military conflict becomes the story teller, and generally vilifies their advesary. Histroy's records of atrocities rarely include those perpatrated by the victor, and often enhances those of the vanquished. As time passes true history becomes more tainted by design as records are altered or destroyed.

  • Comment number 94.

    As much as it might pain people to know it, david Cameron is probably correct. Don't forget, Britain was on the verge of bankrupcy in the 1930's as WW2 started. True, we did play a significant part in the conflict but don't forget, we also relied heavily on Indian, New Zealand and Australian troops in the far east. The Russians eventually provided the military force in Eastern Europe. The Americans and Canadians re-supplied and reinforced the allied effort and those two countries paid a heavy price for their efforts. Britain ceretainly faced adversity and great hardship. We did play a significant role in the conflict but we weren't the senior partner in the allied effort. If we were Montogomery, not Eisenhower would have been in command on D-Day.

  • Comment number 95.

    "What's the big deal? Britain WAS the junior partner in World War II. It's an open secret that your armed forces, particularly the British Army, performed with a distinct lack of initiative and enthusiasm throughout the war. Regardless of the Battle of Britain, you had already been driven out of Europe and had essentially lost the war, with little hope of recovery, by the time America entered in December 1941"

    Right. So I just made up Monty outwitting the Desert Fox in Africa then did I? And all those Battle of Britain pilots flying sorties 24 hours a day to fend off the Luftwaffe weren't flying with any enthusiasm? How about the Battle Of Kasserine Pass in North Africa? American defeat wasn't it? Like the Phillipines. America won the war because of it's production capabilities, which, unlike Europe's weren't affected by bombing.

    You are talking nonsense.

  • Comment number 96.

    "56. At 12:32pm on 22 Jul 2010, Len Day wrote:
    You're quite right with most of your analysis, but I would also point out that number 6 - Pearl Harbour, that we actually gave the Americans our invention - Radar, and they were actually using it on the morning of the attack."

    Yes - the point I was making was that if you know the date of Pearl Harbour, and the fact that that catapulted the USA into WWII, you would be able to calculate that in 1940 they were not at war!

  • Comment number 97.

    I think there has been and there still is a lot od dodgy re,writing of history going on (especially in the US and other fundimentalist nations).
    i think its important that Cameron doesnt air brush us out of history any more that the US already has.
    Its shocking the sheer ignorance over WWII thats coming out of the US posters on this topic.

    The UK was the only country to stand up to Hitler...FACT
    The war would have been won eventually even without US troops, but perhaps not without thier trade....FACT
    Finally it was RUSSIA that had the greatest input.....FACT

    The UK and the USSR won the war. the US were just tourists with big wallets.

  • Comment number 98.

    6. At 11:49am on 22 Jul 2010, RP_sheff wrote:
    A poor as Cameron's comments were, Millibands in response were worse.
    ----------------------------------------------

    Getting a tad boring and repetitive this 'your mistake is bigger than mine' carry on.... Gove, Clegg, Cameron... all screwed up something within weeks of taking the chair...

    Rather than sniping at the opposition, you should be seriously worried that if they cant get the small stuff correct, then what hope is there in getting their main activity correct. Its being proved that one does not know what the other is doing.

  • Comment number 99.

    As importantly, what do the Scots think about being badmouthed by him at the first available opportunity? Presumably they're third assistant to the junior partner in Dave's mind.

  • Comment number 100.

    What's it matter ??? Cameron is just telling the "yanks" what they think anyway...they were brought up on old war movies starring Errol Flynn and John Wayne who single-handedly won World War 2 ...... according to Hollywood and countless TV movies.The US public think Flynn captured Burma after all and that the American navy captured the Enigma decoding machine in 1939 by capturing and sinking a german u-boat(two years before they were actually at war with Germany...pretty good going) and don't forget half the RAF Battle of Britain pilots were yanks masquerading as canadian(explains the texan drawl) !!!

 

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