This week in the War, 22–28 April 1940: Clare Boothe Luce

This week in the war, on 25 April 1940, American journalist and author, Clare Boothe Luce, left France for England. She had been in Europe since February and had already visited Italy and had toured the Maginot Line in France. She subsequently recounted much of what she had heard and seen on her travels in her book Europe in the Spring (Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1941). Of her arrival in London, she writes: “There were bright azaleas in the window-boxes…, and tulips in the court of Buckingham Palace. Sheep browsed in park enclosures, ducks splashed joyously in park pools, and hordes of pink-faced people lounged happily in tuppenny deck chairs on the Hyde Park greens, feeding pigeons.”

Luce’s crisp prose notes how the entrances to buildings were guarded by sandbags that had “lost their pristine plumpness” and “sagged limply,” and how the black-out gave Londoners their first experience of star-filled nights. She remarks, most tellingly of all, “I was just beginning to suspect…France and England had been dangerously lulled to sleep by the self-induced illusion that they had both time and impregnable defences.”

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