Ezra Taft Benson, November 17, 1945

-- November 17, 1945
Because of age related issues, George Albert Smith replaced Widstoe and McKay with Ezra Taft Benson to head the European relief mission. Harold B. Lee remembered, "speculating as to who would be called. One of the first men I eliminated was Elder Benson, who had the largest family as well as the youngest." (1)

-- Late December 1945
After several turned Benson down (including former European mission presidents), Fredrick Babbel accepted a "call" as an assistant and translator for Benson. Babbel recalled they did not engage in a lot of conversation. "I never interrupted him at all. I was told before I left that I should never counsel him in any way unless he asked for it. Later on I found out why, because he would consider every matter very seriously. He is an extremely intense individual. I found him to have such a dynamic faith that if a difficult situation arose he believed not in leaving it in the hands of the Lord but in doing everything within his power to help bring it about and then trust that whatever his deficiencies were they would be made up." (1)

-- Early January 1946
Benson is in D.C. preparing to travel to Europe, obtaining visas for a number of countries including occupied Germany. (1)

-- January 14, 1946
Benson's mission is publically announced. (1)

-- January 28, 1946
[David O McKay diary] George Albert Smith blesses Elder Benson: "Do not expose yourself unnecessarily to the assaults of the adversary, because he will be anxious to prevent you from doing the work that you are going to do. But remember that if it is necessary to appeal to the Lord and the circumstances justify, you can go to him with full confidence because you will be acting under his direction and under the inspiration of his Spirit and will be given strength to accomplish everything that is necessary to be done." (2)

-- Early 1946
Benson's faith in the Lord, administrative skills, and experience in dealing with government helped him accomplish the four-point charge given to him by the First Presidency: "First, to attend to the spiritual affairs of the Church in Europe; second, to work to make available food, clothing, and bedding to our suffering Saints in all parts of Europe; third, to direct the reorganization of the missions of Europe; and, fourth, to prepare for the return of missionaries to those countries". He was among the first American civilians to administer relief in many of the devastated areas. (3)

-- February 4, 1946
Benson arrives in London, meeting Mission President Hugh B. Brown and his wife, Zina. He later recalled "People generally are quite downcast and apprehensive of the future . . . Many people have become quite discouraged. Helpless indifference has replaced the usually cheerful disposition of some. . . . England has truly felt the effects of this terrible war." (1)

1 - Gary James Bergera, "Ezra Taft Benson's 1946 Mission to Europe" Journal of Mormon History 34:2 (Spring 2008)
2 - McKay diary as cited in Gary James Bergera, "Ezra Taft Benson's 1946 Mission to Europe" Journal of Mormon History 34:2 (Spring 2008)
3 - Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Ezra Taft Benson," Reed Benson and Sheri Dew, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992

LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson