The final year of the war began in a particularly sombre mood. The progress of the war had slowed down, political problems between the West and the Soviet Union, and between the British and the Americans themselves, were becoming more acute, and in Britain itself the end of the coalition government was in sight. The euphoria of September, when the Joint Intelligence Committee had predicted an early endo the war and when Anglo-American forces had crossed the German frontier, had dissipated to the point where Churchill described the military situation in early December 1944 as ‘serious and disappointing’.1 Earlier calculations about the end of the war had been sufficiently upset for SOE to have retained or recalled personnel due for release. In mid-December the German Ardennes offensive had substantially slowed down progress on the western front, and the positions lost were not regained until the end of January. Meanwhile, the renewed Red Army advances early in the year further strengthened the Soviet position in Eastern Europe. In Western Europe, the assertion of British political interests caused considerable controversy. In late November, Churchill intervened to prevent the appointment of Sforza as Foreign Minister in the Italian government, and on 29 November British troops were used to prevent radical and left-wing demonstrations against the Belgian government. On 6 December, fighting broke out in Athens between British troops and the armed Greek resistance.


Special Operation Coalition Government Foreign Minister Resistance Movement Italian Government 
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© David Stafford 1983

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  • David Stafford

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