Table It

Pulling out the paper on the invasion of mainland Europe, I place it on the table before me.


This is what they came for.


“The British Chief of Staff’s Committee would like to table the paper on the topic of invading mainland Europe.” I announce to the Combined Chief’s of Staff Committee.


Half the room, the Americans, erupt in surprise and disappointment.


“What do you mean table it?” General Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army replies, representing the American side.


I thought they’d want us to talk about this. It is their bailiwick, after all.


“Yes, we’d like to table the motion of invading mainland Europe in 1942.” I repeat.


They may have simply misunderstood me the first time.


“We can’t table that” General Marshall retorts, almost instantly. “That is a primary topic we came to discuss.”


Of course it’s what we all came to discuss. That’s why we brought it up. Why are they fighting it.



The entire American delegation huddles together. Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of the Army Air Corps. (Why is their Air service part of their Army? They’ll learn.) and their Secretaries of their Army and Navy. So much brass and pinstripes, one would almost feel sorry for the marching band from which they must have pilfered it.


“The invasion of mainland Europe is of prime importance to our side. We must insist it not be tabled at this time. Otherwise, we have nothing further to discuss today.” General Marshall announces in a commanding, yet gentle, voice.


If it’s so important to you, and us, then why must we not table it at this time?


“Yes, the invasion of mainland Europe is of prime importance to our side as well, which is the very reason we wish to table it at this time. There are other topics which can wait until we address this one.” I reply, still not understanding the American’s insistence to prevent it from being discussed.


“Perhaps, I may offer a point of clarification.” Air Marshall Harris chimes in.


“It appears to me both sides which to discuss the invasion of mainland Europe. Is this correct?” the Air Marshall asks the room.


“Yes, that is correct.” General Marshall replies.


“Yes, right then.” Harris quickly retorts.


You’ve got it Harris, that’s it!


“Then perhaps we are on the same page, and simply the definition of ‘Table It’ is what’s ruffling the matter.” Harris offers.


Slowly the American delegation retakes their seats.


“So, we’ll discuss the invasion of mainland Europe next then?” General Marshall asks.


“If by next you mean now, then yes.” I reply. “For us, next means after what we’re doing right now.”


General Marshall looks at me.


General Arnold of the United States Army Air Corps slams a cigar on the table.


Major General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, slams his fist in a laugh.


“Gentlemen, may we proceed with discussing the invasion of Mainland Europe?” I ask.


In unison, the room erupts. “YES!”


“Let’s Proceed.” I declare.











Turns out the same words don’t always mean the same thing. During the Second World War the British and Americans came together at multiple conferences to plan the conduct of the war. One of the first, ARCADIA, took place from late 1941 through early 1942 and formed the foundation of the British American alliance, which persists to this day. Yet, at that conference not everything went as smooth as it could. Here is a quote from Winston Churchill discussing the event:



The enjoyment of a common language was of course a supreme advantage in all British and American discussions. The delays and often partial misunderstandings which occur when interpreters are used were avoided. There were however differences of expression, which in the early days led to an amusing incident. The British Staff prepared a paper which they wished to raise as a matter of urgency, and informed their American colleagues that they wished to "table it." To the American Staff "tabling" a paper meant putting it away in a drawer and forgetting it. A long and even acrimonious argument ensued before both parties realized that they were agreed on the merits and wanted the same thing.









This story is from my upcoming book Threads of The War, Volume IV. If you like what you've read here, please consider Pre-Ordering the book here.



Table (parliamentary procedure)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Look up table in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

In parliamentary procedure, the use of table, as a verb, has two different and contradictory meanings:

●   In the United States, to "table" usually means to postpone or suspend consideration of a pending motion.

●   In the rest of the English-speaking world, such as in the United Kingdom and Canada, to "table" means to begin consideration (or reconsideration) of a proposal.

Motions which use the word "table" have specific meanings and functions, depending on the parliamentary authority used. The meaning of "table" also depends on the context in which it is used.


Difference between American and British usage[edit]

Both the American and the British dialects have the sense of "to table" as "to lay (the topic) on the table", or "to cause (the topic) to lie on the table". A related phrase "put on the table" has the same meaning for both dialects, which is to make the issue available for debate.[1][2][3] The difference is when "table" is used as a verb.[1]

The British meaning of to "table" is to begin consideration of a proposal.[1] This comes from the use of the term to describe physically laying legislation on the table in the British Parliament; once an item on the order paper has been laid on the table, it becomes the current subject for debate.[4]

The American meaning of to "table" is to postpone or suspend consideration of a motion.[1] In this meaning, to begin consideration of the topic again, it would have to be "taken from the table". The use of terms such as "tabling a motion" in connection with setting aside or killing a main motion can cause confusion with the usage of this term in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, where it has an opposite meaning—that is, to propose a motion for consideration.[5][6] To make the intent clear internationally, Congressional Quarterly and its associated CQ publications, in reporting congressional votes, usually follow the word "table" (as used in Congress) with the word "kill" in parentheses.[7][8]

Use in the United States[edit]

In the United States, use of "table" as a verb usually refers to the motion to "lay on the table". Different parliamentary authorities describe such a motion in different ways. It also depends on whether the assembly is anorganization or a legislative body.


Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR)[edit]

Lay on the table (RONR)Class

Subsidiary motion

In order when another has the floor?


Requires second?




May be reconsidered?

Negative vote only



Vote required


Under Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (the book used by most organizations), the subsidiary motion to lay on the table is properly used only when it is necessary to suspend consideration of a main motion in order to deal with another matter that has come up unexpectedly and which must be dealt with before the pending motion can be properly addressed.[9] It has, however, become common to misuse this motion to end consideration of the pending main motion without debate, or to mistakenly assume that its adoption prevents further consideration of the main motion at all, or until a specified time.[10][11] Using "table" as a verb usually indicates misuse of this motion.[12] The book states, "It is preferable to avoid moving 'to table' a motion, or 'that the motion be tabled.'"[12]

Take from the table (RONR)Class

Motion that brings a question again before the assembly

In order when another has the floor?


Requires second?




May be reconsidered?




Vote required


A main motion that has been laid on the table may be taken up again by adoption of a motion to take from the table.[13] A motion can be taken from the table at the same session (or meeting) or at the next session (or meeting) if that session occurs within a quarterly time interval.[14] Otherwise, the motion dies.[14]

The use of the motion to lay on the table to kill a motion is improper; instead, a motion to postpone indefinitely should be used.[11] Similarly, it is improper to use the motion to lay on the table to postpone something; a motion to postpone to a certain time should be used in this case.[10] If debate is not desired, a motion to close debate (the previous question) should be used.[11] One of the disadvantages of trying to kill a measure by laying it on the table is that, if some opponents of the measure subsequently leave the meeting, a temporary majority favoring the measure can then take it from the table and act on it; or they may do so at the next session if held within a quarterly time interval.[15]

Although the motion to lay on the table is not debatable, the chair can ask the maker of the motion to state his reason in order to establish the urgency and legitimate intent of the motion or the maker can state it on his own initiative.[16]



In both houses of the United States Congress, the motion to table is used to kill a motion without debate or a vote on the merits of the resolution.[20] The rules do not provide for taking the motion from the table, and therefore consideration of the motion may be resumed only by a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules.[21]

Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure[edit]

Most state legislatures use Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure. In this book, the motions to lay on the table and to take from the table have the same characteristics as under RONR.[22] Mason's Manual has another motion, take from the desk, which a member uses when they desire to take up a matter that is on the desk, but on which no action has yet been taken.[23] The differences between the two motions are that the motion to take from the table is used after an item has been placed on the desk by a previous use of a motion to lay on the table and the motion is given a preference over new main motions offered at the same time. Take from the desk is used when an item is taken up that has not yet been introduced and this motion has no preference over new main motions that may be made at the same time.[23]

Example of Anglo‐American confusion[edit]

In the Parliament of the United Kingdom and other parliaments based on the Westminster system, to "table" a measure means to propose it for consideration, as in bringing it to the table.[4][5][6] In his book (The Second World War, Volume III, The Grand Alliance), Winston Churchill relates the confusion that arose between American and British military leaders during the Second World War:[24]


to table

In the US, meetings are often held according to Robert's Rules of Order, a popular guide to 'parliamentary procedure'. (We may not have a parliament, but we have the procedures! The Congress has its own set of rules.) In the parlance of Robert's and AmE generally, if a motion has been made and is up for discussion, it is on the floor, as in the following quotation from thePrinceton Union Eagle:

After a few minutes, Weisenburger said to Girard, "There's a motion on the floor, it's been seconded. Do something."

If you want to remove the motion from the floor--that is, to postpone discussion of it until a later time, you can put it on the table, or table the motion. (You'd then say that the motion is or has been tabled.) So, a tabled motion is not on the floor--it cannot be debated.

In BrE (where parliamentary procedure--or Standing Orders--seems to differ depending on the type of bill being debated and in which House), a motion that is being discussed is on the table. So, you table a motion when you want to bring it up for debate. You can also table questions (bring them up for discussion), according to the House of Commons Standing Orders for Public Business:





A kill!

Going down with a flame and black smoke trailing from the engines and across the left wing, his Spitfire plummets toward the body of water.

That was a good pilot.

Watching the plane as it descends in a smoking twirl toward the sea, I see the pilot emerge with a parachute.

Good he’ll make it.

I’ve got to get out of here!

As I pause a moment to reassess my position, I check the fuel gauge. I’m not surprised, but forlorn, to see it teetering near empty.

Where did I end up? How do I get back to a friendly field from here?

I scan the horizon, taking in any landmarks I can use to navigate.

A channel of water rests calmly below me.

Ah, the Channel. I just need to cross that and I’ll be home.

Banking the FW-190, the newest and most advanced aircraft in the Luftwaffe, I line up perpendicular with the channel.

Off in the distance I see an airfield, sprawling before the horizon.

Let’s end this day with a little celebration.

I bank my nimble fighter toward the airfield, wagging my wings in a celebratory greeting as I approach.

Strange, no reply from the tower, or any of the ground crew.

Where are the other planes on the field?

Slowly descending toward the grass strip, I can’t help but wonder about the field.

Doesn’t look right. 

I wish I had more fuel.

Bumping along the field, I bring the plane to a halt near a small building just as a man approaches my plane.

Why does he have a firearm?

He climbs on the wing of my now stopped fighter, as he approaches the cockpit.

This isn’t right.

“Open up!” He demands.

English! This is an English airfield!

What have I done?

“Welcome to Blighty Fritz, and thanks for the plane.” He says as he points a flare gun at me with his right hand, removing my sidearm with his left.

I stand up from my seat. My exhausted muscles scream at the stretch of my body.

Nothing I can do about this. No fuel. No sidearm. No choice.

“Thank you for the warm greeting.” I reply in broken English.

He looks at me, a bit surprised. “Well, what do you know.”

He smiles at me. I smile at him, and we both climb down from what will now likely not be my fighter.

Was fun flying it while I could. What a great plane!





Oberleutnant Armin Faber-Oops I did not mean that to happen.
by dirkdeklein

Oberleutnant Armin Faber was a Luftwaffe pilot in World War II who mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and landed his Focke-Wulf 190 (Fw 190) intact at RAF Pembrey in south Wales. His plane was the first Fw 190 to be captured by the Allies and was tested to reveal any weaknesses that could be exploited.

Oberleutnant Armin Faber anxiously scanned the ground below, his eyes constantly drawn to the fuel gauge of his Focke-Wulf 190 fighter, hoping desperately to spot an airfield. It was the evening of 23 June 1942 and the Luftwaffe pilot, running perilously low on fuel after an intense dogfight over southern England, was searching for somewhere to put his aircraft down.
Minutes later a feeling of relief washed over him. There in the distance was an aerodrome. He rapidly descended, gently bumped the Fw 190 down onto the grass airstrip, cut his engine and breathed a deep sigh of relief.
No sooner had he done so, however, than a man in blue uniform came running towards his plane, holding what looked like a pistol. Strange, the German pilot thought. Then, as the figure came nearer, he recognised the man’s uniform and his heart instantly sank - it was that of an RAF officer!
Before Faber could restart his engine the man reached the cockpit and shoved a Very pistol in his face. Faber realised that he wasn’t in France at all. In fact, the Luftwaffe pilot had landed at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, home to the RAF’s Air Gunnery School.

In June 1942, Oberleutnant Armin Faber was Gruppen-Adjutant to the commander of the III fighter Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2, Second Fighter Wing) based in Morlaix in Brittany. On 23 June, he was given special permission to fly a combat mission with 7th Staffel. The unit operated Focke-Wulf 190 fighters.
Faber's Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3 of III/JG 2 at RAF Pembrey, June 1942
The Fw 190 had only recently arrived with front line units at this time and its superior performance had caused the Allies so many problems that they were considering mounting a commando raid on a French airfield to capture one for evaluation.
7th Staffel was scrambled to intercept a force of six Bostons on their way back from a bombing mission;

the Bostons were escorted by three Czechoslovak-manned RAF squadrons, 310 Squadron, 312 Squadron and 313 Squadron commanded by Alois Vašátko.

All the Bostons returned safely while a fight developed over the English Channel with the escorting Spitfires, which resulted in the loss of two Fw 190s and seven Spitfires, including that of Alois Vašátko, who was killed when he collided with an Fw 190 (the German pilot bailed out and was captured).
During the combat, Faber became disoriented and separated from the other German aircraft. He was attacked by Sergeant František Trejtnar of 310 Squadron. In his efforts to shake off the Spitfire, Faber flew north over Exeter in Devon. After much high-speed maneuvering, Faber, with only one cannon working, pulled an Immelmann turn into the sun and shot down his pursuer in a head-on attack.

Trejnar bailed out safely, although he had a shrapnel wound in his arm and sustained a broken leg on landing; his Spitfire crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon.M
Meanwhile, the disorientated Faber now mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and flew north instead of south. Thinking South Wales was France, he turned towards the nearest airfield - RAF Pembrey.

Observers on the ground could not believe their eyes as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf's undercarriage and landed.
The Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sergeant Jeffreys, identified the aircraft as German while it was landing and he ordered his men to signal it to park in the dispersal area. As the Fw 190 slowed, he jumped onto its wing and took Faber prisoner with a flare gun (as Pembrey was a training station, Jeffreys had no other weapon to hand).
Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley (twin brother of Richard Atcherley).

Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. This was possibly unwise as at one point, the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missed Faber.
What the RAF needed was an intact Fw 190 so that they could unpick the technical secrets of Hitler’s new super-fighter. But how to get hold of one? Various schemes were put forward, one of the more outlandish being proposed by Squadron Leader and decorated ‘ace’ Paul Richey, which sounds like a plot straight out of Dad’s Army.
His plan was for a German-speaking RAF pilot, wearing Luftwaffe uniform, to fly a captured Messerschmitt fighter (of which the RAF possessed several) made to look as if it had been damaged in combat, into France and land at an Fw 190 aerodrome. The “German” pilot, would then “taxi in to where the 190s were, let off a stream of German, say he was a Colonel so-and-so, and wanted a new aeroplane as there was a heavy raid coming this way. With any luck, an airman would see him into a Focke Wulf...and he’d take off and head for home..
But Richey plan was not required because Armin Faber delivered the RAF with the FW 190,'free of charge'.