The Start of the British Nuclear Era: 1952–5

  • C. J. Bartlett


Politics are full of ironies, but there can be few better examples than that of 1951–2, when Winston Churchill found himself engaged in the reduction of a defence programme devised by a Labour government. For the first few months he served as his own Minister of Defence, a decision that caused some of his leading colleagues a little uneasiness. Harold Macmillan was later to remark that it was not really possible for him at his age to undertake this dual role’. Early in 1952 he appointed Field-Marshal Alexander in his stead, but he continued to take a very active interest in the formulation of defence policy until his retirement in 1955. Macmillan, who served briefly under Churchill as Minister of Defence, found his interest and interference something of an embarrassment, but gave the Premier full marks for the way in which he conducted the first Conservative defence review in the winter of 1951–2 immediately on his return to office.


Nuclear Weapon Defence Policy Canal Zone Conventional Force Strategic Reserve 
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© C. J. Bartlett 1972

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  • C. J. Bartlett

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