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<   No. 2609   2010-03-19   >

Comic #2609

1 {scene: London, 1940}
1 Steve: Let's go to the War Office! We can let them know Hitler's plans! We can end the war years early! Crikey!
2 Terry: "Excuse me, Mr Churchill. We're from the future. Fortify Yugoslavia." That sort of thing?
3 Steve: Oh. Yeah, I see the problem with that now.
4 Steve: They'll never trust Australians!

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I had trouble finding a decent piece of advice that one might give to the British in late 1940 that could realistically lead to a shorter war, that could also be expressed pithily enough for Terry's line. My initial though as I wrote this script on the train to work one morning was, "Fortify Belgium." But unfortunately, as I discovered when I checked the dates, the Nazis had already run through the Netherlands and Belgium and occupied the entirety of France by mid-1940. So there was no saving France.

I did briefly consider "Increase funding of Bletchley Park," but that would have been a bit wordy, and arguably of marginal value to the overall course of the war, since it was pretty well funded as it was.

Something that definitely could have helped would have been to better protect the British merchant convoys crossing the Atlantic from German U-boat attacks. But there doesn't seem to be any easy way for the British to have achieved that, and certainly none that could be expressed in a sentence or less.

So I decided to go with moving the "Fortify Belgium" idea over to Yugoslavia. Being on the eastern side of the Axis powers, this would have been ridiculously difficult for the British to actually do, and probably of marginal benefit, but hey. There's always the chance that having stalled in Yugoslavia the Nazis might have been prevented from occupying Greece, which could have delayed Operation Barbarossa, and... well, who knows? It's all up in the air by that point.

Performing what-ifs on the Second World War is infamous for creating arguments between armchair historians. I'll be disappointed if this comic doesn't start some serious conflagrations of its own.

But besides all that, "Fortify Yugoslavia" has two benefits: 1. It's pithy and exactly the sort of line Terry needs to say there. 2. It uses the word Yugoslavia, which I haven't had need to use for nearly 20 years now.

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Last Modified: Friday, 19 March 2010; 03:11:02 PST.
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