Who was Neville Chamberlain? Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Britain from 1937 to 1940.

  • Neville Chamberlain was born on 18th March 1869 in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
  • He became a Member of Parliament at the age of 49 in 1918.

  • Before becoming Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain was the Minister for Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
  • Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister in May 1937, taking over from Stanley Baldwin who retired.
  • Chamberlain was Prime Minister at a time when Adolf Hitler‘s Germany was becoming increasingly aggressive. Germany had forced Austria into becoming a part of Germany, and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia was the next target.
  • Chamberlain thought that the best way to avoid war with Germany was to give Hitler some of the things he wanted. This strategy was called ‘appeasement’. In the Munich Agreement of 1938, Neville Chamberlain agreed to allow Germany to take over Sudetenland.
  • People in Britain believed that Neville Chamberlain had managed to avoid a war and bring about peace. They celebrated the signing of the Munich Agreement and Neville Chamberlain was very popular.
  • Some people, such as Winston Churchill, were more critical of the situation. They thought it would be likely that Adolf Hitler wouldn’t stick to the terms of the deal.
  • Unfortunately, the appeasement policy didn’t work. Germany continued to be aggressive, and invaded Poland.
  • Britain declared war on Germany on 3rd September 1939.
  • Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister for the first 8 months of World War 2.
  • He resigned from office on 10th May 1940, following a failed military campaign to take northern Norway.
  • Winston Churchill took over as Prime Minister and Neville Chamberlain was praised for the dignified way in which he had handled the situation.
  • Chamberlain was made Lord President of the Council and took part in the War Cabinet.
  • In July 1940 Chamberlain started to experience constant pain. Surgeons found that he had terminal bowel cancer, but they didn’t tell him.
  • On 22nd September, feeling weak and tired (due to having to sleep in an air raid shelter because of the German bombing of London), Neville Chamberlain resigned.
  • Chamberlain died on 9th November 1940. He was 71.
  • He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

What next? Discover some more World War 2 facts by visiting our WW2 resources page.