Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 16, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 43)

The morning that the Admiralty Board learned that Mr Chamberlain had asked
Winston Churchill to take over the Navy, they signalled to the Fleet: “Winnie’s back.”

It was a dramatic return.

Just twenty-five years previously Churchill had guided the Royal Navy through the opening months of the first World War.

Then, as now, he was the most dominating figure in the Government; then, as now, he was spoken of as a probable war Prime Minister. But then he had stumbled. Whereas this time, his step was firm and sure.

From the first day he was the true leader of Britain.

When Chamberlain offered his broadcast to the nation on the morning of the 3rd of September, 1939, he spoke as a broken-hearted man, saying: “Everything that I have worked for, everything that I have hoped for, everything that I have believed in during my public life has crashed into ruins.”

This was true enough, but it was scarcely the way to rouse the nation. Chamberlain could not rid himself of the past, and as a result he was unable to regard the war as anything but a calamity. Winston on the other hand accepted it as a challenge, and not only dismissed the past, but buried all recrimination with it.

A few months after the Second World War began, Randolph Churchill, participated in a lunch at Admiralty House. Conversation in the Churchill household was always political, and previously one could have been certain of a number of witty sallies at Mr Chamberlain’s expense, but on this occasion, however, the was one of Mr Winston Churchill’s own children who attempted a mild mannered yet hurtful joke, and was immediately astonished to see a scowl appear on his father’s face. Winton, with enormous solemnity he said to my dad Randolph: “If you are going to make offensive remarks about my Chief, you will have to leave the table. We are united in a great and common cause, and I am not prepared to tolerate such language about the Prime Minister.”

That was the public face of the best Statesman Great Britain had ever had…

The first seven months of the war provided a strange hiatus. It was the
long uneasy lull before the curtain lifted on the grand climax. The British
people had been warned of the strength and ferocity of the German Air Force and had braced themselves for a rain of bombs on their towns and cities. Instead there was silence in the West while Hitler concentrated his attack on Poland and divided the spoils with Stalin according to a prearranged plan. Next, Stalin devoured the Baltic States, and invaded Finland; after an inauspicious start the Russian Bear finally smashed the small Finnish army and in March 1940 an armistice was signed.

All this time Britain and France looked on helplessly. Today the world knows how badly prepared they were for the conflict. The German Air Force was twice the strength of Britain’s and the German Army was soon to demonstrate its might against the soldiers of France. The two democracies were eager to help Finland, and the British hurriedly began to train divisions for an ice-bound war. The troops were not ready in time; but even if they had been, there was not an earthly chance of persuading Norway and Sweden, who were desperately clinging to their neutrality, to allow a passage through to Finland.

As a result British soldiers began to sing about “hanging out the washing
on the Siegfried line” and Americans began to refer to “the phoney war.”
This last jibe was a miscalculation of the determination of England; nevertheless it touched a chord that was real. In the early days of the war both
Britain and France were wholly concentrated, on defensive warfare.
France had poured out her strength and money on the Maginot Line, and Britain had concentrated on fast fighters. When you asked military people how the war would be won they answered confidently that Germany would smash herself against the French fortifications and dissipate her air force against the English defences.

The democracies had no plan for assuming the offensive; besides this
there were strong subversive elements in the population, particularly in
France. The extreme Left had taken its signal from Moscow and denounced the war as a capitalist-imperialist project. The extreme Right, on the other hand, still hankered for an understanding with Germany. Poland was gone. How could Britain and France revive her, they argued?

Wasn’t it better to have a strong Germany in Central Europe as a bulwark against
Bolshevism, than to smash the only barrier and open the way for the
barbaric Slavs? Even in England one could hear this argument. In the
winter of 1939 I remember talking to an Englishman who later became one of Winston Churchill’s most energetic and loyal colleagues. “I would give
everything I possess, if I could put an end to this senseless war. I would sign a peace with Germany now and stop the conflict before the whole of Europe is brought to ruin.”

These were some of the sentiments of the phoney war. They were not widespread, but they existed. Winston lost no time in combating them no matter from what quarter they came. He referred to the “thoughtless dilettanti or purblind worldlings who sometimes ask us: “What is it that Britain and France are fighting for?”

To this I answer: “If we left off fighting you would soon find out.”

He referred to Hitler as “a haunted, morbid being, who, to their eternal shame, the German people in their bewilderment have worshipped as a god.” And he referred to the frightened neutral countries who were sitting on the fence, warning them that their plight was lamentable, “and it will become worse. They bow humbly and in fear to German threats of violence, comforting themselves meanwhile with the thought that the Allies will win. Each one of them hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last.”

At the same time that Winston was attacking the enemy, at the same time rousing the pacifists, and combating the defeatist elements on his own side, while trying to galvanize the neutrals into action — he was giving the people of Britain the firm clear leadership they wanted and liked.

“Now we have begun; now we are going on; now with the help of God, and with the conviction that we are the defenders of Civilization and Freedom, we are going on, and we are going on to the end.”

Hitler at once recognized his true enemy, and lost no time in singling
out Winston as the villain of the Peace. Early in October the German
leader broadcast to the world employing the tactics that up until now had
been so successful. Propaganda: “There was no need, for a war with the West. Poland was dead, it would never rise again. Why fight about it? I make
this declaration only because I very naturally desire to spare my people
suffering. But should the views of Churchill and his following prevail,
then this declaration will be my last. We should then fight. Let those
repulse my hand, who regard war, as the better solution.”

Winston gave him a plain answer in a broadcast on 12 November, 1939:
“You may take it absolutely for certain that either all that Britain and
France stand for in the modern world will go down, or that Hitler, the
Nazi regime, and the recurring German and Prussian menace to Europe will be broken and destroyed. This is the way the matter lies, and everybody had better make up their minds to that solid, sombre fact.”

Meanwhile Winston was not idle as First Lord of the Admiralty. The Royal Navy was the only strong force the British possessed and from the first day of the war the senior service was on the offensive. Winston worked an eighteen-hour day. Plans were drawn up for a blockade of Germany; convoy arrangements were made; minesweeping was organized; ships were requisitioned; new building began; and, above all, enemy raiders and submarines were hunted down. By the end of 1939 Winston announced that the British had sunk half Germany’s submarines. But he was wise enough to know that many great battles were coming. Germany’s production in all fields was enormous; the war was only in its infancy.

Chamberlain on the other hand did not appear to grasp the situation.
On 5 April, 1940, he made an astonishing statement to the Conservative
and Unionist Associations: “After seven months of war I felt ten times as
confident of victory as I did at the beginning. I felt that during the
seven months our relative position towards the enemy has become a great
deal stronger than it was.” He went on to elaborate the theme that the
breathing space Hitler had afforded the Allies had made the whole differ-
ence to the war; he could not seem to understand that during this period
Germany, too, had been building up. “Whatever may be the reason, whether it was that Hitler thought he might get away with what he had got without fighting for it, or whether it was that all the preparations were not sufficiently complete however, one thing is certain; he missed the bus.”

Three days later Hitler invaded Norway and Denmark.

The story of the Quisling ‘Fifth Column’ inside Norway, the landing of
the British troops and their dismal withdrawal, ending in a complete
German victory is well known. The House of Commons was angered by
the defeat and met on 7th and 8th of May to debate the events. The admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes declared that if his countrymen had been bold
enough to seize Trondheim, the key to central Norway, the German
invasion could have been frustrated. He charged that the Navy had been
let down by Whitehall and the Army.

It is ironic that this accusation played a large part in the fall of the
Government, because this one time Chamberlain was not to blame. Instead Churchill himself, the First Lord of the Admiralty, had not welcomed the idea of a frontal attack on Trondheim. The assault was to have been a combined naval, military and air operation, and Winston felt that the risks which the Home Fleet would have run were far too great. But when the plan was pressed forward strongly by all the Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of State for War, he acquiesced.
Arrangements went ahead but at the last moment the Chief of Staff developed cold feet and said that on reconsidering the situation they believed that the frontal attack was too perilous.
Instead, they recommended a pincer movement on Trondheim from North and South. Although Winston had never been enthusiastic about the first operation and people even whispered that “the iron of the Dardanelles had entered his soul” and he had no longer the courage to strike boldly, he was indignant at such a late change of plan. Nevertheless, he again acquiesced. Chamberlain was also disappointed but in face of the opposition of both the Chiefs of Staff and the Vice-Chiefs of Staff he felt he could not interfere.

These were the facts and yet the blame for not attacking Trondheim
settled on Chamberlain. So Hitler had missed the bus? Speaker after
speaker flung the Prime Minister’s unhappy remark in his face. Winston
tried to defend him, as he was bound to do, but told the House of Commons plainly that the defeat was not merely due to mistaken strategy, but
to the failure of the Government to maintain air parity with the Germans.

The House, however, was not in a mood for excuses. Although Members of Parliament had no one to blame but themselves for the state of British arms and equipment, they insisted on action and successful action at that. It may strike the onlooker as unreasonable, but democracies function that way. All their wrath turned on Chamberlain for his bad advice and guidance. Mr Leo Amery, a staunch Conservative, attacked the Prime Minister and his colleagues in an impassioned speech ending with Oliver Cromwell’s stinging words to the Rump of the Long Parliament:
“You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart,
I say, and let us be done with you! In the name of God, Go.”

A vote of censure was put down against the Government, and when Winston defended Chamberlain, Lloyd George rose and advised him “not to allow himself to be converted into an air raid shelter, in order to keep the splinters from hitting his colleagues.” Mr Chamberlain called on his friends to save him from defeat, and Lloyd George pointed out with deadly effect that it was not a question of who were the Prime Minister’s friends: “It is a far bigger issue. The Prime Minister must remember that he has met this formidable foe of ours in peace and war. He has always been worsted. He is not in a position to put it on the ground of friendship. He has appealed for sacrifice. The nation is prepared for every sacrifice so long as it has leadership. I say solemnly that the Prime Minister should give an example of sacrifice, because there is nothing which can contribute more to victory in this war, than that he should sacrifice the seals of office.”

The Members went through the lobby and although there was normally a Conservative majority of nearly two hundred and fifty, Chamberlain won by only eighty-one votes. He realized that his Government no longer commanded the confidence of the House, and when he put out feelers to the Liberal and Labour followers for a coalition he was told that neither party would serve under him.

He then offered the King his resignation.

When Winston Churchill first heard the news of the German invasion of Norway he too, made a statement just as wide of the mark as Chamberlain’s. He spoke joyously of ‘the strategic blunder into which our mortal enemy has been provoked. Fortunately this observation was overlooked.

The 10th of May, was a momentous day. When the morning news broke, it appeared that the attack on the West had begun, and that German troops were streaming across Holland.

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That night the King sent for Winston Churchill and asked him to form a Government. ‘As I went to bed at about 3 a.m..’ he has recorded, ‘I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. “At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene.” Even though the situation was grave Winston Churchill’s spirits were far from low.

Just a month in his Premiership, he delivered the most stirring Oratory of his career on June 18th 1940, in a speech that galvanized the nation, strengthened the backbone of our defenders, and populace, and drove them to an unequivocal stand with a strong fighting spirit:

“The House will have read the historic
declaration in which at the desire
of many Frenchmen,
and of our own hearts,
we have proclaimed our willingness
to conclude at the darkest
hour in French history,
a Union of common
citizenship in their struggle.
However matters may go in France,
or with the French Govt.
we in this island and in the
British Empire,
will never lose our sense of
comradeship with the French people.
If we are now called upon to endure
what they have suffered,
we shall emulate their courage,
and if final victory rewards our toils,
they shall share the gain,
aye, and freedom shall be
restored to all.
We abate nothing of our just demands.
Czechs, Poles, Norwegians, Dutch, and
Belgians, who have joined their
causes with our own.
All shall be restored.
What General Weygand calls ‘the battle
of France’ is over.
The battle of Britain is about to begin.
Upon this battle depends the
survival of Christian civilization.
Upon it depends our own British life
and the long continuity of our
institutions, and our Empire.
The whole fury and might of the enemy
must very soon be turned on us.
Hitler knows that he will have to break
us in this Island, or lose the war.
If we can stand up to him
all Europe may be freed,
and the life of the world
may move forward into the
broad and sunlit uplands.
But if we fail,
then the whole world,
including the United States,
and all that we have known and
cared for
will sink into the abyss of a
new Dark Age
made more sinister and
perhaps more prolonged by
the lights of perverted
Let us therefore brace ourselves to
our duty, and so bear ourselves that
if the British Empire and
Commonwealth lasts for a
thousand years, men will still
‘This was their finest hour.’”

One can hear, the cheers and the shouts emanating from the Members of the Parliament rousing the backbenchers and the thunderous applause from the galleries up above…

Imagine listening to this rousing speech inside the ancient Halls of Westminster in the House of Commons in the English Parliament.

And then imagine if you were hearing this from the BBC radio anywhere in England or in the Commonwealth.

Lastly, try to imagine that you were a patriot listening to Winston’s speech from a shortwave clandestine radio, at personal risk of Life & Liberty, in one of the occupied capital cities laying within one of the national lands of Europe already suffering the loss of light & hope, under the terrible deprivations of human rights and freedom, in their dark hour of occupation by the German jackbooted thugs.


Now go and listen to this whole magnificent and long speech yourself here:


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And as one listens to the speech as enunciated from Winston’s lips — then one takes away the strong sense of Resolve and that stirring of Emotion that Winston wanted to intimate to all of his people so they can rise up to the occasion and fight for Liberty as the circumstances demanded of them…

And this He did.

His splendid and brilliant oratory succeeded for his purposes.

And he offers hope every time that he spoke as he did here about the future, and about deliverance that will allows us to Never Surrender.

And here is the Famous Speech after the Dunkirk evacuations and retreat of the British Expeditionary force, back to England.

Winston Churchill: We Shall Never Surrender:

People listened to him from all over the war, and found out that the “Message” they were all waiting to hear. Finally someone was at the Helm of the Free World, who could provide Powerful Leadership. His words were like electric current running through the hearts of the people. But this revived the hearts and now people all across the World were finally energized.

The game was up, and the people enlisted in droves to fight the enemy. Soldiers from all over the world volunteered to come to the aid of the country. And green fresh faced young men from all the colonies and even from every one of the States of the United States of America, volunteered to fight the enemy of the World.

Now, far too many books have been written about Winston Churchill and the second World War, chief of which are the six detailed volumes that Winston Churchill himself has written. In summation it is good to remember that the story of the British war effort falls into two distinct parts.

The first part of the Second World War, is of course the Great Struggle of England and the English people fighting alone, on all fronts — and hoping to survive all alone.

And that they did by the Grace of God.

Yet in human terms, this only happened because Winston Churchill, stood up courageously and unafraid, and said that “we are going to fight” and never ever surrender. And he said that at a time when all others in Leadership, in the Military command, and in Society, and even the Crown — wanted to come to terms with the all powerful German Fuhrer.

Yet thankfully, the only mad contrarian person in Britain at the time, the person that could LEAD THE PEOPLE, was summoned to become the Prime Minister, and he saw the saving his country was HIS DUTY, in front of heaven and earth. Winston recognized in broad terms that he is the Savior of his people, and that if he were to fold — all will be lost.

So he suited himself up — full of fighting spirit — and stood at the helm of the ship of state, like another Nelson, or a modern day Themistocles, commanding the seas, the skies, and the winds, to his indomitable will.

Winston’s fighting and winning attitude, is what ordained to England the “divine gift of time” and the “backbone” that we sorely needed in order to repel an invasion, and fight the battle of Britain in the skies above, while busily rebuilding our armed forces.

This, at the same time that we were fighting alone on all fronts — for the first two years of the War. And we had to survive through the horrible lack of materiel because after the first year of our fighting — we also had to prop up Russia with help, because this was our charge, and we desperately needed to support that second front. The second front is what eventually brought us the Victory we sought, through the amazing resilience of the Russian and the English people.

The “second front” is also what describes the second part of the second world war, because this is the story of the difficult and demanding alliance with Russia, that Winston Churchill single handedly crafted, and the massive aid we gave, in an effort to save Russia, her leader, and his army, from complete annihilation at the the hands of the German Fuhrer Hitler’s tender mercies…

And the third part of the War starts when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and thus ended the neutrality of the United States more than two years into the War that brought about the capture of half of the Pacific, and fully half of all Asia and China, by Japan, the fascist power that was part of the Axis Powers that were aligned to Germany’s dark and evil ideas of the nervous and unstable vegetarian Fuhrer, one Adolf Hitler.

Yet this fourth phase of the second World War heralded the American involvement in the war which in turn led to the fourth part of the History of the War, that eventually through tortuous and narrow yet consistent battle victories, and quite a few defeats, turned the tides around and thus led us to securing the victory and designing the peace, so that we don’t all have to speak German today.

“Ich Liebe es.”

To be continued:

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