Memorial world war II cemetery in the Netherlands
Memorial world war II cemetery in the NetherlandsiStock

A letter written by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill shortly after taking office telling France why the UK could not send it any more planes as the Nazis approached Paris is set to be auctioned off for an estimated $5,400.

Churchill was responding to a plea from French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud asking for more British air support as France was being bombarded by the German military during the Battle of France in June 1940.

The British leader felt that his country needed all the planes it had to fight off the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and so he turned down Reynaud’s request.

At that point, the Royal Air Force had already leant more than 20 squadrons of fighters to help France battle the Nazis.

Churchill wrote in the letter than sending further planes to France would make the UK “inadequately defended.” He explained that if that were to happen, the Nazis could have attacked the UK at “a few hours notice [striking] a blow which might irretrievably damage the Allied cause.”

Not long after, on June 14, the Nazis occupied Paris.

The letter is owned by a private collector who is selling it through Chiswick Auctions in West London. It is expected to fetch at least $5,400 at auction.