Two years before Yalta, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met for a late-night wartime meeting. Their mission? Drink lots of wine, according to new records released by the British National Archives.
Churchill and Stalin's wild drunken night took place one evening in August 1942. The leaders had earlier discussed plans for a North Africa invasion and a possible "Second Front" in Europe, but the meeting grew tense as Churchill suggested the invasion wouldn't happen. Determined to not leave on a bad note, Churchill requested a late-night rendez-vous in the Russian leader's private room. Here's what happened, according to Sir Alec Cadogan, a diplomat present during the occasion:
"There I found Winston and Stalin, and Molotov who has joined them, sitting with a heavily-laden board between them: food of all kinds crowned by a sucking [sic] pig, and innumerable bottles. What Stalin made me drink seemed pretty savage: Winston, who by that time was complaining of a slight headache, seemed wisely to be confining himself to a comparatively innocuous effervescent Caucasian red wine. Everyone seemed to be as merry as a marriage bell."
According to Cadogan, the festivities lasted until three in the morning.
Historians consider the relationship between Great Britain, the U.S. and the Soviet Union as key in defeating Nazi Germany. There was plenty of tension between "The Big Three" leaders (FDR being the third), however. Since 1941, when the U.S. became involved in the war, Stalin and his operatives had pressed the U.S. and the UK to open a second front in Europe to take some of the pressure off the Soviet Union. The Red Army had suffered great losses during the war, and by 1942, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov even told the U.S. that Germany might win the war if Moscow didn't get extra support. As the years passed and no invasion had taken place, Stalin grew increasingly frustrated
The National Archives released 600 UK documents from World War II and the Cold War. Check out their website for more anecdotes.