I came across another interesting historical snippet recently while revising my television scripts for “An Absolute Secret”. Does anyone remember Harry Hopkins, the adviser to President Roosevelt during the war years? The man who spent 3 ½ years living in the White House and travelling to Moscow and London to evaluate the fighting spirit of the Allies. In January 1941 at the darkest moment of Britain’s war effort – remember the Blitz went on until May 1941 - Roosevelt sent Hopkins to London to assess Britain’s determination to resist attack by the Nazis. Churchill escorted Hopkins all over the UK. Before Hopkins returned to the US, he proposed a toast to his hosts at a hotel in Glasgow:
"I suppose you wish to know what I am going to say to President Roosevelt on my return. Well, I am going to quote to you one verse from the Book of Ruth ... 'Whither thou goest, I will go and where thou lodgest, I will lodge, thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’”
What an amazing gesture of solidarity with the British people. We talk today about the special relationship between Britain and America, well this unforgettable tribute and gesture of friendship by Hopkins says it all.
Hopkins went on to administer the American Lend-Lease program which gave or loaned warships, warplanes and weapons in exchange for leases on army and naval bases in Allied territory. The $50 billion program supplied Britain, the USSR, the Free French, China, and other Allies with the necessary equipment to wage war against the Nazis. But it wasn’t a one-way street, Britain supplied the US with its design of the cavity magnetron which allowed scientists to build extremely efficient radar sets that could spot enemy planes, ships and even submarine periscopes from miles away in the dark. Without this technology American lives would have been lost on planes and ships so it was obviously worth the investment.
Hopkins was Roosevelt’s eyes and ears during those war years, and he had a major voice in policy. He travelled to Moscow in July 1941 at the outbreak of the German invasion of the USSR, Newfoundland, Cairo, Tehran, Casablanca and Yalta.
I hope you all have a pleasant week.
*Originally posted in March 2019