Is there differant meaning between two sentence blow?
1] Britain was to pay dearly for its lack of resolve.
2] Britain paid dearly for its lack of resolve.
Thank you for your attention.
The to-infinitive (e.g. to pay) expresses an unrealized event; an event that hasn't happened yet or at least not at the time of the spoken reference. In "was to pay", the speaker refers to a point in time in the past ("was") before the event ("to pay dearly") took place. The speaker is referring to the past while giving us a preview of things to come in the future.