W o r l d W a r I I ended unexpectedly early. N o t the war w i t h Germany which the British Chiefs of Staff in 1944 had forecast wou ld end four mon ths before the actual surrender on 9 May 1945. It was the collapse of Japan soon afterwards in mid-August that had not been foreseen: no one knew for sure h o w the first atomic bombs wou ld w o r k . 1 An interval of eighteen mon ths between the t w o surrenders - christened Stage II - had been envisaged in Anglo-American planning before the death of Roosevelt in April . T h e new President and the new administration that succeeded h im had had too little t ime to adapt those plans to the very different prospects opened up by the atomic b o m b . In Britain, welcome as the earlier conclusion of hostilities was bound to be, it did away w i t h the period of transition in which a more gradual adjustment migh t have been made from an economy t ight ly organized on a war t ime footing to one that could sustain itself in the changed conditions of peace. As in the Uni ted States, a new government faced a sudden change of circumstances w i thou t adequate preparation. Tak ing office on 26 July, in the middle of the Potsdam Conference w i t h Russia and the Uni ted States and only eleven days before the dropping of the first atomic b o m b on Hiroshima, Mr At t l ee and his colleagues we re deprived of the brea th ing-space between all-out war and the final cessation of the armed struggle that a cont inuat ion of the war w i t h Japan would have provided. Three weeks after the July General Election, the war was over.