There is snow everywhere. The little paths cut through it are strewn with ashes. All very ugly and sad. On my table is a bowl of Iris reticulata. Those gay and fragile flowers remind me of the life that existed before 3rd September. It is as if some apoplectic dimly remembered the days before he had his stroke.
DIARY 10th February, 1940
The Prime Minister makes a statement about Finland which is very loudly applauded. Also one about Norway and the Altmark. Winston, when he comes in, is loudly cheered. I talk to Roger Keyes who was in the Admiralty while it was all going on. He says that our flotilla commander was assured by the Norwegians that there were no prisoners aboard the Altmark. He was shaken by this and telegraphed home. Winston replied, 'Well, find out from the Captain of the Altmark what he has done with his prisoners.' It was clear that the Norwegians would not cooperate and the final decision had to be made. Winston rang up Halifax and said, 'I propose to violate Norwegian neutrality.' The message was sent and they waited anxiously in the Admiralty for the result. What a result! A fine show. Winston, when he walks out of the House, catches my eye. He gives one portentous wink.
DIARY29th February, 1940
I go to see Vansittart. He is very worried by the return of Joseph Kennedy, the American Ambassador. He says that Kennedy has been spreading it abroad in the U.S.A. that we shall certainly be beaten and he will use his influence here to press for a negotiated peace. In this he will have the assistance of the old appeasers, of Maisky, and of the left-wing pacifists.
DIARY14th March, 1940Paris
Finland appears to have surrendered completely, and loses one-tenth of her territory and her strategic independence. I go to see Georges Mandel  at the Colonial Ministry. I find him seated at a desk on which the papers are piled as if they had just been spilled out of a suitcase. He asks me about the effect of the Finnish collapse upon British opinion. I say that I cannot tell from the newspapers and must wait till I get back to the Lobbies. He says the effect on France will be tremendous. `You see,' he says, 'our Governments decided on war as the only alternative to admitting German domination. Yet when one decides on war one also decides to sacrifice many lives, to run many risks and to endure many defeats. We are at present trying to conduct a war of appeasement, which means that Hitler may win.' He asks me what they think of the French Government in England. He is also very anxious to know about our coming men. What of Eden? Is he a strong man? What about Herbert Morrison? 'Il nous faut des hommes!' he says.
Dine with Bob Boothby at Maxim's. He has been in Switzerland, and has in fact set foot in Germany, having placed one foot over the frontier at Basel. He had met many Germans and many Swiss. He says that the Swiss think that we can win but that we won't. Unless we seize Narvik and Baku  we shall not win. Never has Hitler had such a hold upon his own people. His conduct since the war has been admirable, his speeches moderate and his general drive superb. But the Germans are very frightened that we may bomb the Ruhr, and they are also afraid that they may run out of petrol and iron-ore. They think it will take them years to get the Russian machine working. The atrocities in Poland are unbelievable. They are killing all the young men, driving the old into the fields and sterilising the women. A German Colonel who had been dining with Bob's Swiss friend broke down in the middle of dinner and cried. His nerves had been shattered by what he had seen in Poland.
DIARY16th March, 1940 Paris
Try to write my Spectator article, but I am interrupted all the time. Mario Pansa 3 comes. He says that Sumner Welles  was horrified by his reception in Berlin. Their confidence in their coming victory was unbounded and their manner was arrogant and brutal. He also tells me that the German invasion of Holland in November and March was prevented by Mussolini and Roosevelt. The former said that if the Germans did anything so suicidal he would part company; the latter said that it would practically mean war with the United States. The moderates were therefore strengthened in Germany. Lunch at the British Embassy. Malcolm MacDonald  is there, as he is over for a conference with Georges Mandel. Go a short walk with him afterwards. He is none too happy about the way things are going. Louis Gillet comes to see me. He is horrified by the lack of energy and drive in the [French] Cabinet. He says that there are two central points at which this war can be won—Narvik and Baku—and that we are mad to dawdle on, waiting for Hitler to accumulate his advantages one by one. We cannot go on conducting this war in kid gloves.
DIARY19th March, 1940London
Have a terrific time dictating accumulated correspondence. John Sparrow looks in. He is about to get a commission and hopes for the Coldstream Guards. Lunch with Ronnie Tree and Dick Law. We try to persuade Dick not to make too violent a speech this afternoon. The House is very crowded. Chamberlain makes a good debating speech, putting the whole blame for the Finnish collapse on the Scandinavian powers,' and claiming that we had 'answered' all Finland's demands and had done all we could. Dick Law makes his speech. He says that the P.M.'s arguments are all very fine, but we have seen again and again a Minister stand up 'at that box' and explain the reasons for failure: people who have made so many mistakes should not remain in power. Harold Macmillan also makes a fine attacking speech, pointing out the discrepancy between what we sent to Finland 4.and what she actually received. Chamberlain, who had sat through the whole debate, replies vigorouslrlife is a remarkable man: there is no doubt about that. There is also no doubt that he wants to win the war. He gave the impression of great obstinacy and has enhanced his reputation. One thing that strikes drama is that he announces that at that very moment we are attacking the German air-bases at Sylt.
DIARY25th March, 1940
After luncheon I walk to Sissinghurst Place and drive with Lindsay and Bunny Drummond to Fisher's Gate. We call in at Withyham and visit the Sackville Chapel. I choose the little plot of ground where my urn will repose. I tell Bunny where it is. I feel in a strange way rather invigorated by this grim expedition. Then on to Buck's. 3 Billy is there, and Harry and Kitty, and a young Coldstreamer of the name of Christopher Soames. Buck does not think that Chamberlain will get the Opposition leaders to join his Cabinet. He feels with me that this would be a mistake. On the one hand, they are needed to keep their own left wing in order, and on the other, we must keep up our sleeves some alternative Coalition for the moment when real disaster comes. It would be just like Chamberlain with his total lack of vision to get them in now when it is not really necessary. We are gay for once and happy, and it cheers me up.
DIARY27th March, 1940
For once things seem to be going well, which always preludes a major disaster. Yet three things are now apparent.
(1) The Germans dare not attack the Maginot Line.
(2) We have won the war at sea.
(3) In the air our pilots are superior to the German pilots. If only we can convey the possibility of our victory to the neutrals they will pluck up heart. At present they seem convinced that the Germans must win.
 On 12th March the Russo-Finnish war ended with Finland's acceptance of Russia's harsh terms of peace.
 The extremely able French Minister for the Colonies.
 The defeat of Finland brought about the fall of Daladier's Government on 21st March. He was succeeded as Prime Minister by Paul Reynaud, but retained his office as Minister of Defence.
 Narvik in northern Norway, in order to interrupt supplies of Swedish iron-ore to Germany; and Baku on the Caspian, to deprive Russia and Germany of oil.
 One of H.N.'s oldest Italian friends. He was then Counsellor at the Italian Embassy in Brussels.
 The American Under-Secretary of State, who arrived in Berlin on 1st March on a mission from President Roosevelt, to see if the war could be stopped before the slaughter began.
 The postponement of the German offensive in November had been due to quite different reasons. The Army was not ready and the weather was very bad. Mussolini had no influence on Hitler's plans at this stage, and was not even told of the projected offensive. Hitler had no intention of attacking France in March, for he was busy planning his campaign against Norway.
Norway and Sweden had refused to allow British troops to pass through their territory to the aid of Finland.
 Lord De la Warr's house near Withyham, Sussex.
 The Sackvilles had been buried in the crypt of Withyham church since the sixteenth century, and V.S-W.'s ashes were placed there in 1962. But H.N. later changed his mind on the grounds that he was not himself a Sackville, and requested that his ashes be placed in the churchyard at Sissinghurst.
 Lord De la Warr, who was then President of the Board of Education. Lord De la War's three children.
 Arthur Christopher John Soames, Baron Soames, GCMG, GCVO, CH, CBE, PC. Lord Soames married Mary Churchill, the youngest child of Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier, on 11 February, 1947. They had five children, of whom the best known is his eldest son the Hon. Nicholas Soames, the former Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Defence. Lord Soames died from pancreatitis aged 66 and is buried within the Churchill plot at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire.