Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Churchill Series - Jan. 6, 2009

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

The three most powerful WW II allies: America, Britain and Russia.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee: America and Britain.

Why wasn't Russia represented?

In The Grand Alliance Churchill explained it this way:

The Russians were not represented on the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee (because they) had a far-distant, single, independent front, and there was neither need nor means of Staff integrations.

Of course there was more to it than that, but in this brief post we won't get into whys and wherefores historians have disputed for more than half a century.

We'll move along to something else Churchill said about the Combined Chiefs:

The enjoyment of a common language was of course a supreme advantage in all British and American discussions.

The delays and often partial misunderstandings which occur when interpreters are used were avoided.

There were however differences of expression, which in the early days led to an amusing incident.

The British Staff prepared a paper which they wished to raise as a matter of urgency, and informed their American colleagues that they wished to "table it."

To the American Staff "tabling" a paper meant putting it away in a drawer and forgetting it.

A long and even acrimonious argument ensued before both parties realized that they were agreed on the merits and wanted the same thing.

Whatever the case with Russia, any historian questioning Churchill's "table it" story, need only look up table in The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

table verb [T]

1 UK to suggest something for discussion:

An amendment to the proposal was tabled by Mrs. James.

2 US to delay discussion of a subject:

The suggestion was tabled for discussion at a later date.

With that now cleared up, what do you say to tabling further discussion?


Winston S. Churchill, The Grand Alliance. (pgs. 686-689)


Anonymous said...

That's pretty funny.

As an Australian I can understand this as were taught to speak the Queens English but more often then not now have to work with US English.

It provides some interesting and confusing moments. Especially when I refuse to drop the U in colour (and other words) and get asked by an American 'can you speak english?'. Argh!

And also the editor that I just typed this in tells me I spelled 'colour' wrong..... You cannot win.

Scott S.