Hor-Belisha, Sir Leslie, 1894-1957

Hore-Belisha was the British Secretary of State for War from 1937-40. He was the only Jewish member of the Cabinet and was very outspoken in his views. As Secretary of State for War his brief was to modernize the Army but he ran into problems with his Chiefs of Imperial General Staff: GORT and later IRONSIDE. He criticized the slow speed of rearmament and was one of the ministers who agreed that Sir John Simon should tell CHAMBERLAIN to declare war at once on 2 September 1939. His outspokenness led to his fall in January 1940, but from the back-benches Hore- Belisha spoke out against CHURCHILL’s conduct of the war. During the Vote of Confidence debate in June 1942, Hore- Belisha made a detailed attack on the War Cabinet’s conduct of the war saying ‘The army must have more mobility and more armor’ but in the vote Hore-Belisha supported Churchill.

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