Thomas Graham’s Diary – 18th June 1939

This entry refers initially to Japan and what happened on the 14th of June and came to be known as the Tientsin Incident. This was an international incident when the Imperial Japanese Army blockaded British settlements in the North China Treaty Port of Tientsin, now known as Tianjin. At this time, Japan was at war with China and their Imperial Government, led by Emperor Hirohito since 1926, objected to Britain’s policy of supporting China. Thomas’ remarks are prophetic as Japan entered the Second World War in 1941 as one of the Axis powers supporting Germany.

Thomas then goes on to discuss what he sees as one of the impediments to the rearmament of Britain, the Peace Ballot of 1934 – 1935. This was organised by the President of the League of Nations Union, Robert Cecil in an attempt to show that the British people were not in favour of further hostilities and wished to follow the policies of the League of Nations, an international organisation formed after the end of the First World War. The ballot paper contained 5 questions and addressed whether Britain should disarm and whether the sale of arms internationally should be prohibited by international agreement.

Thomas is consistent in his view that Britain should have been re-arming at this time and that the views of such men as Cecil and Baldwin have left the country in a weakened and vulnerable situation and says as a consequence ‘we shall richly deserve what may be coming to us’.