|Oliver Lyttelton. Peerage.com|
Looking first to General Sir Brian Robertson who hastily declined, and Field Marshal Slim, who claimed he was "too old to go flipping around in an Auster aircraft in the trying climate of Malaya", the report was forwarded to Prime Minister Churchill's office. (Coates, 111) It just so happened that Field Marshal Montgomery was lunching with the PM that day, and the press speculated that Monty would be asked to take the task.
The next day Lyttelton recieved the following letter:
Malaya: we must have a plan.
Second, we must have a man. When we have a plan, and a man, we shall succeed.
Montgomery, Field Marshal.
Lyttelton's response, a classic example of crisp British understatement was, "I may, perhaps without undue conceit, say that this had occurred to me." (Coates, 112)