Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC (3 January 1883 – 8 October 1967) was a British democratic socialist politician, who was elected as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1945. He had served as Deputy Prime Minister under Winston Churchill in the wartime coalition government, before leading the Labour Party to a landslide election victory over Churchill at the 1945 general election. He was the first Labour Prime Minister to serve a full Parliamentary term and the first to have a majority in Parliament.
Attlee's ministry was dedicated to rebuilding the post-war U.K., establishing a variety of programs based on democratic socialist principles, which saw nationalization of a number of services, an emphasis on income equality and worker's rights, and decolonization abroad. While Attlee initially sought to maintain good relations with the Soviet Union, he came to see the USSR as a possible threat, and grew much closer to the West as the Cold War began.
While Attlee held his office after the 1950 election, it was by a thin margin. Labour, now an aging party with little in the way of new ideas, was divided by a number of issues. In a bid to shore his party's majority, Attlee called for snap elections in 1951, but the plan backfired, and Labour instead lost to the Conservatives. Attlee was succeeded by his predecessor, Winston Churchill. Attlee continued as Labour's leader, but met with increasing challenges from within his party. He contested the 1955 election, but the Conservatives held the government. In the aftermath of this defeat, he retired from the party, but maintained his social activism. He died in 1967 after contracting pneumonia.
Prime Minister Attlee and French President Vincent Auriol immediately contacted U.S. PresidentHarry Truman, invoking the NATO treaty. Truman, in the hopes of mollifying his allies, ordered a mission to bomb Pechenga, the base where the Soviet bombers had flown out of. Truman even used flyers from Britain and France.
After this initial attack, Britain proper went largely unmolested for the next few months. British forces met the Soviet invasion of West Germany when the ground war phase of World War III began in earnest later in February. Mid-April saw the Soviets launch a series of bombing raids against British airfields, using conventional explosives. While the attacks were destructive, in many ways, they were a nuisance compared with the atomic attacks. In fact the British (and allied) war effort was hindered in April when the Soviets were able to get an atomic bomb into on a freighter and detonated it in the Suez Canal, thoroughly destroying the canal.
Attlee issued a statement condemning the attacks and affirming Britain's commitment to the occupation. He then ordered the rebuilding of the two monuments. Attacks continued on British occupation forces though, and the British abandoned their efforts to garrison Germany at the same time as the U.S.