Kevin Myers: Everything people believed about Hitler's intentions toward Britain was a myth created by Churchill
It's good that the Government is going to pardon the thousands of Army deserters who enlisted in the British forces during World War Two. Of course, no army can allow desertion; however, these men were not court-martialled, but were subject to a blanket ban on state employment that deprived them of their constitutional right to due process. Moreover, the vast majority of them deserted from June 1941 onward, when the theoretical possibility of a German invasion had all but vanished, and after De Valera's government had, by deciding to retain the volunteers indefinitely, violated the original terms of enlistment (between one and two years) for which most had signed up in 1940. The men who deserted did so after being effectively cheated into becoming soldier-serfs, cutting turf on the Bog of Allen.
That was the second great lie of their young lives. The first one was that Ireland ever faced a serious threat of invasion by Germany, which was the spawn of an even vaster falsehood -- that in 1940, Hitler wanted to invade Britain. But he didn't. He actually admired the British Empire, with its inherent presumption of racial superiority. We know from the diaries of Lord Halifax, the British foreign minister, that Hitler offered terms that did not involve German control of Britain. Churchill refused to allow these terms to be read to the cabinet, and they remain prudently concealed under the 100-year rule.
Instead, Churchill's determination to keep Britain at war turned what had been merely a continental defeat of its army into the enduring myth that in 1940, Britain faced a war for national survival.