75 Years Ago: Churchill Says Italy Should Oust Il Duce

Our first “75 Years Ago” feature comes courtesy of the San Mateo Times of California, with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill urging citizens of Italy to oust Benito Mussolini before Britain has to come to “closer grips” with Italy.

The_Times_Mon__Dec_23__1940_

LONDON, Dec. 23 (UPI) — Prime Minister Winston Churchill tonight appealed to the Italian people, monarchy and army to cast out Mussolini and come to peace with Great Britain before British forces are compelled to come to “much closer grips” with Italy.

Churchill’s appeal to Italy was directed over the head of Mussolini, who the British prime minister declared had forced his country into war against Great Britain “against the crown and the royal family of Italy, against the Pope and all the authority of the Vatican, and of the Roman Catholic Church.”

By this action, Churchill said, in an address broadcast simultaneously from London, Athens and Cairo, Mussolini has “arrayed the trustees and inheritors of ancient Rome upon the side of the ferocious, pagan barbarians.”

Italy, he said, has ranged against herself the entire force of the British empire and has lost the sympathy of the United States and other nations of the western hemisphere.

Armies in Flight
Churchill’s appeal was addressed at a moment when Italian armies, repulsed in their attempts to invade Greece, were being driven back deep into Albania, when British troops were knifing fiercely in Libya after smashing Fascist preparations for a blow at Egypt, and when the British fleet and royal air force were carrying the war home to Italy’s fleet and mainland cities.

These events and the dismissal by Mussolini of the high chiefs Italy’s armed forces have given rise to widening reports of dissatisfaction and anti-war feeling within Italy itself.

The British prime minister revealed that he appealed to Il Duce not to enter the war when France collapsed and warned him that Britain would fight to the end with the support of all the American nations.

He reminded Italy of Britain’s long friendship with her and recalled how Britain and Italy had fought side by side in the world war against “the barbarous Huns.”

 

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