Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 16, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 44)

Yet if we are to learn anything from the Leadership, the Statesmanship, and the Exercise of Power from Winston Churchill — we ought to look at the record and then take things in the form of historical sequence, as events dictate history, and great men lead it, and also write it, in both reality, and figure of speech.

For the Western Civilization, first came the struggle to survive, the darkest twelve months that Britain fought absolutely and unequivocally all alone, from the fall of France and the rest of Europe in June 1940, to the German attack on Russia in June 1941.

The highlights of this grim year, are still fresh in the minds of the people who were alive back then.

The horrible defeat and partition of France, & the formation of collaborationist Vichy Government of the half of France cooperating with Hitler.

The relentless Luftwaffe Air Attack on Britain that culminated with the Battle of Britain. The blaring nights of the awful blitz on London.

The vicious setbacks of the war in North Africa and the Sahel, called the Desert War.

The defeat of heroic Greece, and her enslavement in the hands of the Huns.

The Commando raids along the Norwegian and French coasts.

The fall and occupation of Norway by Germany’s storm troopers.

This setback was swiftly followed by the huge setbacks in the Balkans, in Asia, in Africa, and in the Middle East…

The year of 1940 was indeed a dark year of spectacular defeats, losses, and setbacks… Yet during this ‘Annus Horribilis’ the worst calamity of them all — was the failure of Morale and Conviction stemming from the “Loss of Heart” in all of our Allies, our Friends, and even our own Citizens.

Only the Greek people had given us an early Victory when they defeated the Italians early in the war, but this was not to be a lasting victory because the Germans attacked the Greek flank and uprooted the defenders of Liberty, launching their occupation powers and initiating a program of genocide by starvation against these valiant warrior people.


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During this desperate period Winston Churchill became the most inspiring figure in the Western world. He symbolized the fierce spirit of liberty, and clothed Britain’s determination to fight in words that no other Englishman could have summoned:

“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’.

Indeed — this might also have been the finest hour of Winston’s career too.
Certainly it was by far his finest speech ever…

Yet WInston was always modest and in his own account of the war, he declares modestly that at that moment — he was merely interpreting the strong mood and emotion that gripped the country.

He cites as an example the fact that when the crazed vegetarian Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, approached the British government and quite arrogantly made his “final peace offer” in the summer of 1940 — Winston Churchill’s government — the British Cabinet regarded this ‘German Overture’ as so supremely foolish, that not a single member even raised it for discussion.

Nevertheless Winston’s knowledge of military matters and his close concern with all operational undertakings animated the British effort with the necessary vigour and a boldness they had been lacking earlier. And his interpretation of the Country’s cause, not only thrilled millions of people all over the globe but raised British prestige to the
highest level in history.

The truth was that Winston had at last found his destiny. The world looked to him for a lead and all the pent-up energy of the immense machine that throbbed in his heart and mind was brought into play. He no longer knew the frustration of ideas that could not be brought alive, vitality that could not be spent, ingenuity that could not be tested. The
tremendous task that had fallen upon him equalled his stature as a man, and he grasped the supreme power of the State with eager hands.

The whole of 10 Downing Street throbbed with an energy it had not seen since the days of Lloyd George, and perhaps hoped not to see again. The routine of Government was turned topsy-turvy. Churchill stayed in bed half the morning dictating and stayed up half the night talking. Every afternoon, after lunch, he had a nap. Chiefs of Staff, Ministers, civil servants, had to adapt themselves to this routine as best they could. Most of them had to be at work at nine or ten in the morning; even so, woe betide them if they were not men enough to come when he sent for them after dinner, to stay up until the early hours of the morning.

I do not mean to suggest that Winston Churchill’s leadership was not of the most precise, orderly kind. On the contrary, he was a master organizer and at once set about shaping a small, efficient machine that could take decisions swiftly and work with the maximum effect. First he organized a War Cabinet comprised of only four members besides himself: two were
Labour leaders, Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood, and two were Conservatives, Mr Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. This War Cabinet met almost daily and took all the supreme decisions of the war. Besides this tiny, all-powerful, directing force there were sixty or seventy other Ministers of all Parties who formed the membership of the Coalition Government, but the latter were responsible only for their own departments; as Winston pointed out it was only the members of the War Cabinet “who had the right to have their heads cut off on Tower Hill if we did not win.”

Needless to say Churchill was the overriding figure in the War Cabinet. Never before in history has a Prime Minister exerted such wide powers; never before has a Prime Minister exercised so much control over the operational side of a conflict. He was not only the King’s First Minister but Leader of the House of Commons and, even more im-
portant, Minister of Defence as well. In this last capacity he initiated a new system which centred authority in his own hands. The Chiefs of Staff instead of reporting to their own Ministers, the men in charge of the War, Air and Admiralty departments, reported directly to him. He then asked the War Cabinet for permission to have the Joint Planning Committee, a body of professional staff officers of all three services, work under him as
Minister of Defence rather than under the Chiefs of Staff. Thus, by permission of the War Cabinet, he became virtually a dictator of the war machine and all efforts at the defense of England, and the prosecution of the war at all fronts.

He revelled in both the immense power and responsibility of his task,and arranged his day with careful thought. He woke up at eight, summoned his secretaries, read all the telegrams and reports that had come through the night, then from his bed dictated a flow of minutes and memoranda, a large part of which was taken to the Chiefs of Staff at their
morning meeting. Every afternoon he went to bed for an hour or longer, like a child, and slept soundly. This gave him the extra strength to remain at work until the early hours of the morning.

The two links between himself and the military machine, and himself and the political authority, were General Ismay and Sir Edward Bridges. These men interpreted his wishes, carried out his orders, and smoothed his path in. every direction. The huge mass of instructions from the Prime Minister which flowed through their hands were always in writing for Churchill was a firm believer in the written word. He had had enough
experience of Government to know how often verbal orders led to misunderstandings; besides, he had no wish to have his name used loosely.

Soon after he became Prime Minister he issued the following directive to Ismay and Bridges: “Let it be very clearly understood that all directives emanating from me are made in writing, and that I do not accept any responsibility for matters relating to national defence on which I am alleged to have given decisions unless they are recorded in writing.”

Altogether, Winston Churchill’s directives, memoranda, telegrams and minutes amounted throughout the war to nearly 1,000,000 words, enough to fill half a dozen good sized volumes, even though most of them were models of brevity and precision. A one-line minute which he penned to a high civil servant read as follows: “Pray remember that the British people is no longer able to tolerate such plush disorganization.”

No one can study Winston Churchill’s part in the war without being staggered by the scope of his interests and his colossal output. His contribution falls into distinct parts: first, his directives on military operations and second, his public leadership. In the first capacity one has only to study the minutes that are reproduced in his history to gather an idea of the enormous range he covered, and the powerful influence he had upon the course of the war. When Britain was alone, waiting for the full fury of the German attack to descend upon her, Churchill insisted that the nation should not merely sit back with brave endurance but should immediately take the initiative.

“The passive resistance war, (he wrote in a directive to General Ismay) in which we have acquitted ourselves so well, must come to an end. I look to the Joint Chiefs of the Staff to propose me measures for a vigorous, enterprising and ceaseless offensive against the whole German-occupied coastline. Tanks and A.F. V.s [Armoured Fighting Vehicles] must be made in flat-bottomed boats, out of which they can crawl ashore, do a deep raid inland, cutting a vital communication, and then back, leaving a trail of German corpses behind them.”

Amphibious warfare had always fascinated Churchill, no doubt as a result of the ill-starred Dardanelles venture which had been his particular brain child, and which, if it had been truly amphibious, probably would have resulted in the defeat of Germany in 1915. In July 1940 he set up Combined Operations under Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, which initiated the daring commando raids that put Britain on the offensive.

Time and again one finds him urging amphibious tactics. He repeatedly urged the
commanders of the desert war to mount a surprise landing from the sea but this advice was never heeded. And later on, when the attack on Italy was in preparation one finds him anxious to employ the sea-borne landings boldly. “Why crawl up the leg like a harvest bug from the ankle upwards? Let us rather strike at the knee.”

Winston Churchill’s flat-bottomed boats were invented, and not only played a major part in the commando raids, but became absolutely essential equipment for the final cross-Channel invasion of France. But undoubtedly his most important contribution was the idea of the great artificial harbors around which the D-day operation was built He had conceived this idea as far back as 1917 when he prepared a scheme for the capture of the two Frisian islands, Borkum and Sylt, which he submitted to Lloyd George.
In this paper he suggested making an artificial island in the shallow waters of Horn Reef: “A number of flat-bottomed barges or caissons, made not of steel, but of concrete, should be prepared. These structures would be adapted to the depths in which they were to be sunk, according to a general plan. They would float when empty of water, and thus could be towed across to the site of the artificial island. On arrival at the buoys marking the island sea-cocks would be opened, and they would settle down on the bottom. They could subsequently be gradually filled with sand, as opportunity served, by suction dredgers. By this means a torpedo, and weather-proof harbor, like an atoll, would be created in the open sea, with regular pens for the destroyers and submarines, and alighting platforms for aeroplane landings.”

Churchill fortunately did not publish this document when he came to write ‘The World Crisis’ and now he began toying with this particular brain-child again. Frances Perkins quotes President Roosevelt as saying: “You know, that was Winston Churchill’s idea. Just one of those brilliant ideas that he has. He has a hundred a day and about four of them are good. But Roosevelt apparently was unaware that Winston had been mulling over the project for many years, for he continued: “When he was up visiting me in Hyde Park he saw all those boats from the last war tied up in the Hudson River and in one of his bursts of imagination he said: “By George, we could take those ships and others like them that are good for nothing and sink them offshore to protect the landings.” I thought well of it myself and we talked about it all afternoon. The military and naval authorities were startled out of a year’s growth. But Winnie is right. Great fellow, that Churchill, if you can keep up with him.

Yet it was not only in the field of amphibious war that Churchill made his contribution felt throughout. He gave advice over the entire operational field. Scarcely an undertaking was formed; that he did not submit to the Chiefs of Staff detailed and technical papers advising on how the plan should be executed. This was almost without parallel; no British political leader, with the possible exception of Pitt the Elder, had ever exerted such a powerful influence on strategy and tactics; not even Roosevelt, who by rights was Commander-in-Chief of the American Army, attempted to assume any like responsibility. “During the war” (testified General Eisenhower) “Churchill maintained such close contact with all operations as to make him a virtual member of the British Chiefs of Staff; I cannot remember any major discussion with them in which he did not participate.”

Even Lloyd George’s ascendancy in the first World War never reached anywhere near the same scale. Lloyd George had been the inventor of the small, all-powerful War Cabinet which Winston copied. This Cabinet, like Churchill’s, had supreme control as long as it had the support of Parliament. It had the authority to dictate strategy and insist that generals carried out its policies. But in the first War this right was never exercised, for public opinion was strongly averse to political interference in military matters, the professional soldier was king.

The design of a battle was regarded as a matter for generals, and generals alone.

This had disastrous results.

Today very few experts would care to defend the strategy of the first War, with its terrible and unnecessary slaughter. Lloyd George tells how strongly he opposed the futile holocaust of Passchendaele. He protested repeatedly bolt orally and in writing, but he was not strong enough to carry the Cabinet in reversing the commanders on the spot. In his memoirs he gives a vivid discourse on this subject. He denounces the generals who sent their armies time and again to needless doom in scathing tones: ‘Such highly gifted men as the British Army possessed were consigned to the mud by orders of men superior in rank but inferior in capacity, who themselves kept at a safe distance from the slime which they had chosen as the terrain where their plans were to operate. Lloyd George makes the final summary: “Looking back on this devastating war and surveying the part played in it by statesmen and soldiers respectively in its direction, I have come definitely to the conclusion that the former showed too much caution in exerting their authority over the military leaders. They might have done so either by a direct and imperative order from the Government or by making representations followed, if those were not effective in answering that purpose, by a change in the military leadership.”

Churchill took these lessons to heart. He was determined to dominate the military machine from the start. As with Lloyd George, his power was dependent on the War Cabinet, and the War Cabinet on the House of Commons. But in 1940 he was the leader of a completely united nation…

The War Cabinet were inspired by him, and were content to take the burden of home affairs off his shoulders and let him direct the military effort. But it must be remembered that his authority depended on this body. If, for example, the Chiefs of Staff had resented his advice or interference, and had secured the backing of the War Cabinet, he would have been forced to give way. But the issue never arose. The War Cabinet gave him firm support throughout the struggle, and the only man who sat in it continuously from beginning to end, Clement Attlee, the leader of the Labour Party, never faltered in his loyalty. During the difficulties of January 1942 Churchill records that Atdee ‘sustained the Government case with vigour and even fierceness.” It is also worth emphasizing that no crisis ever took place between Churchill and his Chiefs of Staff; not one of them ever threatened to resign during the whole six years of conflict.

This is some proof that the Prime Minister with his wide knowledge of military history, and his detailed study of tactics, was enough of a professional soldier to give advice that was useful and often brilliant. ‘Discussion with him, writes Eisenhower, “even on purely professional grounds, was never profitless.”

Winston’s suggestions for the conduct of the war covered a vast sphere.
Sometimes he advised on the movement of ships; on coastal fortifications;
on the strength and position of Air Force squadrons; the deployment of
troops; equipment of all kinds; the relative merit of different weapons;
new inventions; scientific experiments; and hundreds of other subjects.
On several occasions he pressed the Chiefs of Staff to overrule com-
manders on the spot who did not agree with directives sent them from
London. Churchill directly influenced the decision not to evacuate Calais,
and refused to accept General Wave’s advice to make terms with the
Iraq Government over the Habbaniya incident. General Eisenhower was
fascinated at the control he exerted. When he spent a weekend at Ditch-
ley he saw for himself the extent of Winston Churchill’s influence. ‘Operational messages arrived every few hours from London headquarters, he wrote, ‘and Winston Churchill always participated with the British Chiefs in the formation and despatch of instructions, even those that were strictly military, sometimes only tactical, in character.

Winston Churchill’s authority was very remarkable since, as he himself pointed out to Roosevelt and Stalin, he was the only one of the three who could be dismissed instantly at any time. Stalin was not an elected representative; and Roosevelt was secure for his four-year term. Harry Hopkins delivered a speech at Teheran in which he said that he had made “a very long and thorough study of the British Constitution which is unwritten, and of the War Cabinet, whose authority and composition are not specifically defined.” As a result, he said: “I have learned that the provisions of the British Constitution and the powers of the War Cabinet are just whatever Winston Churchill wants them to be.” This was a tribute to Winston Churchill’s persuasiveness for the hard truth was that, in telling the other two leaders, Winston exercised his authority only by permission of the War Cabinet; and the War Cabinet was willing and able to grant this authority only so long as he commanded the confidence of Parliament.

Once or twice this confidence was in doubt. In the early months of 1942
Winston Churchill’s position was seriously undermined. The previous six months had been grim and anxious. Greece and Crete had been over-run; Yugoslavia was invaded; the British Army had suffered setbacks in North Africa; the British Navy had lost two battleships the Prince of Wales and the Repulse which were sunk by the Japanese at Singapore.

The press was openly hostile and for the first time since he had taken office the Prime Minister was under fire. In some quarters there was even talk of his
resignation, and the extreme Left exerted pressure to put Stafford Cripps
in his place. Winston faced the storm and on 29 January, 1942, demanded
a Vote of Confidence from the Commons. The result was surprising.
Only the Independent Labour Party, numbering three members, refused
to support him, and since two were tellers, only one vote was recorded
against him. Less than six months later his leadership was again challenged.
This time criticism was precipitated by the fall of Tobruk. A Conservative
put down a Motion of Censure against him, but once more he had a
sweeping victory. The vote was 475 to 25. Despite Hopkins’ compliment,
Churchill was always acutely conscious of the fact that his leadership was
dependent on Parliament.

However, it is not impossible to draw a parallel between Winston’s leadership and that of his ancestor the soldier Duke of Marlborough. Professor Trevelyan writes that Marlborough “acted as head of the State in war-time for all military and diplomatic affairs, but he left to his colleagues the management of Parliament.” Winston left to his colleagues the management of home affairs. They both concentrated on war, diplomacy and foreign relations.

It is important to remember that Marlborough was a Commander who assumed the role of statesman — while Churchill was a statesman who assumed the role
of Commander.

All this was behind the scenes. The public saw the Prime Minister as a
fighting man who expressed in stirring language the emotions they felt
but could not put into words. He lifted millions of men and women out
of their humdrum lives and inspired them with a sense of mission; he
emblazoned the British cause across the world as the defence of freedom
and justice. He represented in his own person the spirit of indomitable
England. When he accepted office in 1940 he told the House of Commons,
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” Whereupon, in a
characteristic manner, the nation drew a deep breath of relief and took
new heart.

His fierce and moving speeches, sometimes filled with passion, sometimes with humanity, made him the spokesman of all the democratic world. No one who was in the House of Commons on 4th of June, 1940, when France was being over-run, will forget the thrill of emotion that went through the assembly when he said in his strange rough and garbled almost French accented voice:
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing; strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the homes, we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle until, in God’s good time, the new world, with all its power and might,
steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

No single man had worked harder to prevent the second World War than Winston, yet once the conflict had begun no leader enjoyed the excitement of the clash more than him. From his earliest youth his imagination had been stirred by the great battles that had decided the history of Europe, by the relentless struggle for power between men of different nations, and the clash between the different creeds. He had loved Marlborough, and he had loved the Crusades. He loved the stories of Camelot and he loved King Arthur and the knights of the round table. He loved Merlin and he loved Guinevere and Sir Lancelot too. Churchill was reared to be like them. A soldier for the Empire. A Leader and a fighter. An officer and a gentleman. And here was his own fight to win or lose and he was faced with the greatest battle where the stakes were the highest one could have wished for. Now, for the first time in his life he had the opportunity of employing all of his bountiful genius, his studied and practiced wisdom, and his boundless energy, by putting all of it in the good fight towards the cause of Liberty, Democracy, and Western Christian Civilization, in which he passionately believed. “In my long political experience I had held most of the great offices of State” he wrote, “but I readily admit that the post which had now fallen to me, the Premiership, was the one I liked best. Power, for the sake of lording it over fellow creatures or adding to personal pomp, is rightly judged base. But power in a national crisis, when a man believes he knows what orders should be given, is a blessing.”

He had always been a fearless man and derived excitement from physical danger. During the London blitz it was with the greatest difficulty that he was persuaded not to sleep at 10 Downing Street, which was a natural target for German bombers, but to move to the shelter in a Government building by Storey’s Gate, which came to be known as the Annexe. “Often when there was the drone of enemy planes overhead, when the guns were thundering and flashing and there was the steady crash of bombs exploding, he insisted on going up on the roof to see the sights. On one of these occasions an air raid warden approached him timidly and said: If if you’ll kindly excuse me, sir, would you mind moving?” “Why?” growled Winston. “Well, sir, you are sitting on the smoke vent, sir, and the building’s full of smoke.”

Throughout his life it had always been Winston’s nature to dramatize whatever part he was called upon to play and the war gave him a natural and an extensive scope. From childhood he believed he had been put on earth to perform a special service, and when the Premiership was offered to him at the very moment that German troops were streaming across France he was certain his mission was being realized as he later wrote in his book Their Finest Hour: “I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”

Conscious of his great position, Churchill was every inch a Prime Minister. A low-ceilinged room below the ground floor which, was once the servants’ hall, had been turned into a dining-room, and there were seldom more than seven or eight guests. Winston usually came into the room in a blue siren suit looking remarkably like a teddy bear with an air as autocratic as a monarch. He used to watch the guests struggling between surprise at his comic appearance and awe at his dignity. The success of the lunch depended entirely on what sort of mood he was in; sometimes he ate in such sullen silence your heart sank as you imagined that the war had taken some grave turn for the worse; at other times he was buoyantly talkative and held the table with a brilliant monologue.
But whatever the atmosphere, Winston Churchill was always unquestionably the Master. No one dared pursue a topic of conversation that did not meet with his approval; no one dared to ask any questions or take any liberties. Indeed, most guests would have found royalty easier to deal with…

Winston was aware of the fact that he was making history, and as a result he wrote his minutes and directives with care, so that they would bear the scrutiny of posterity. He saw the great battle Britain was fighting in its true historical perspective, and it is not at all surprising that on more than one occasion he compared his position with that of Marlborough.

For example, in the book, “Their Finest Hour” he comments on the close relationship he maintained with the King and Queen. Winston says that he valued as a signal honour the gracious intimacy with which I, as First Minister, was treated, for which I suppose there has been no precedent, since the days of Queen Anne and Marlborough, during his years of power.

But the feat that Winston executed his task with pride, and even relish, does not mean that he had a cold heart. On the contrary he was always deeply moved by suffering he saw with his own eyes. During the London blitz he often toured the Metropolis to inspect the damage, and on more than one occasion people saw him in tears. When he saw a small shop in ruins he was so upset, imagining the owner’s distress at losing not only a home but a livelihood, and perhaps his savings as well, that he resolved then and there that compensation for all damaged property must be paid by the State. Thus the policy of war damage came into being.

On another occasion General Eisenhower witnessed an example of Winston’s emotionalism. One day a British major-general happened to refer to soldiers, in the technical language of the British staff officer, as “bodies” writes the General. “The Prime Minister interrupted with an impassioned speech of condemnation he said it was inhuman to talk of soldiers in such cold-blooded fashion, and that it sounded as if they were merely freight or, worse, corpses. I must confess I always felt the same way about the expression, but on that occasion my sympathies were with the staff officer who, to his own obvious embarrassment, had innocently drawn on himself the displeasure of the Prime Minister.

Although Churchill carried the great burden of the war with zest, anyone who imagines that he never suffered from its weight is mistaken.
More than once it seemed almost crushing. In his war memoirs he tells how in June 1941 he went to his home at Chartwell, alone, to await the news of General Wavell’s final attempt to destroy Rommel’s army; and how when he learned that the attack had failed he wandered about the valley disconsolately for some hours.

On several occasions family members, friends, and intimates, also saw him deeply depressed. In the autumn of 1940, a close friend of my errant and lady smitten father Randolph, who would do anything for a lively skirt with a good pair of legs and boobs, who this time happened to be a wartime American journalist living n London, wrote, how she had motored to the official Prime Minister’s retreat in Chequers, for lunch and talks with Winston…

This lady was the wartime journalist Virginia Cowles who goes on to write:

“Mrs Churchill was away and only Winston Churchill’s daughter Mary and daughter- in-law Pamela were there. Just before lunch was announced one of Winston Churchill’s private secretaries came into the room and handed him a message from the Foreign Office. He read it standing before the mantelpiece in the drawing-room. Then, unexpectedly, he handed it to me. The message was a report picked up from the Berlin wireless stating that Petain had agreed to turn over to the Germans all aerodromes and ports in unoccupied France.”

“Winston Churchill right then was plunged into a state of gloom. He came into the dining room but ate very little and sat halfway through the meal with his elbows on the table holding his head in his hands. The secretary who had brought the news reminded him that it was only a report from Berlin and likely to be untrue, but the Prime Minister would not be consoled. “If it is true, it is a bitter blow” he said.”

“At last lunch mercifully ended and Churchill went out for a walk. I left about four o’clock and before that time, he came back into the drawing-room as vigorous and as lion-hearted as ever. He had received a message that the report was false.”

The journalist Virginia Cowles further writes: “A few months later I went again to Chequers, this time to be the godmother of Randolph Winston Churchill’s son, Winston junior. The christening took place in a small chapel about a mile from the house. Due to a breakdown in my car I did not arrive until the ceremony had begun, and found a place reserved for me between Winston Churchill and his son. I had always heard that the Prime Minister’s emotions were easily stirred and at times he could be as sentimental as a woman, and on this occasion I had proof of it, for he sat throughout the ceremony with tears streaming down his cheeks. He murmured: “Poor infant, to be born into such a world as this.”

After the christening we returned to Chequers for lunch. Only the family, Lord Rothermere, and the three godfathers, Lord Beaverbrook, Lord Brownlow and Brendan Bracken, were present Beaverbrook rose and proposed a toast to the baby, then turned to Churchill whose birthday it had been the day before, and proposed a toast to him. Beaverbrook was eloquent and reminded us that we had the honour to be in the presence of a man who would be remembered as long as the civilized world existed.

Once again I looked up to see Churchill weeping. When he was called
upon to reply he rose, and in a voice unsteady with emotion, said: ‘In these
days I often think of Our Lord.’ Then he sat down. I have never forgotten
those simple words and if he enjoyed waging the war let it be remembered that he understood the anguish of it as well.

But Churchill was enormously resilient. He never remained downcast for long. Indeed his moods could change so rapidly that frequently those who worked with him were uncertain how to handle him He often punctured his own indignation by a flashing witticism that completely altered the whole atmosphere. Once when he was fuming about his difficulties with General de Gaulle he said suddenly: “Of all the crosses I have to bear, the cross of Lorraine is the heaviest.”

On another occasion his cousin Clare Sheridan tells how she was working on a sculpture of him. She had been given permission to sit in his bedroom in the morning, and while he sat up in bed reading his reports and telegrams, to get on as best she could. She had just finished with the high forehead, and determined mouth, and was moulding the jutting chin…

Churchill who had been concentrating fiercely on his papers, suddenly jumped out of bed to take a closer look at what she had done.

His forbidding expression melted into a warm smile, as he said:

“Forget Mussolini, and remember that I am the servant of the House of Commons.”

To be continued:

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:

Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 16, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 42)

At this moment, the Empire was facing headwinds, and waves, that might split it apart.

Hitler is the most powerful person on the planet.

The Nazis are attacking their targets now outside of Germany.

Europe is going up in flames.

Evil seems to control the day, the year, the century.

And it was then that Winston Churchill found out that he was not to be included, in Stanley Baldwin’s new Government.

He was not even invited to advise on any of his big subjects.

Seems also that the India issue was close to imploding…

And most famously, although all of his timely warnings about Germany were being fulfilled; and the Government had received a mandate to rearm — nobody was taking the looming war or Winston’s advise about how to deflect it, seriously.

Indeed although it was widely forecast in the press, that Churchill would soon be asked to take over the Admiralty, and he could confidently expected the offer to be made any time — still he didn’t believe all these silly rumors.

Still for Winston the clarion call had aroused in him first and foremost the deep sense of duty to fight and lead his people to safety: “The growing German menace made me anxious to lay my hands upon our military machine. I could now feel very keenly what was coming. Distracted France and timid peace-loving Britain would soon be confronted with the challenge of the European Dictators. I was in sympathy with the changing temper of the Labour Party. Here was the chance of a true National Government. It was understood that the Admiralty would be vacant, and I wished very much to go there, should the Conservatives be returned to power.”

But this was not going to pass, because as soon as the election results became known; Baldwin announced through the Conservative Central Office that Winston Churchill would not going to be asked to join the Government.

Now Winston believed that his exclusion was a sop to the pacifist element in the House, but remembering that Baldwin had complained in the late twenties that Churchill flooded the Government with memoranda and advice and that “a Cabinet meeting when Winston was present did not have the opportunity of considering its proper agenda” it seems more likely that he was merely adhering to his resolve never again to have him as a colleague.

However, the Prime Minister was one of the shrewdest Party managers in the history of Conservatism and it stands to reason that he would have put his reservations aside if Winston had commanded any serious political or even popular following amidst the voters of the country. And at this point, we must admit sadly, that Winston did not.

Because back in 1935 Churchill had practically no support either in Parliament or amongst the people. It was a curious situation, since the public freely acknowledged his great gifts, they admired his courage, they read his books, they were impressed by his superb oratory, and yet they would not follow him to the voting station. Maybe because they believed him to be emotionally detached, and politically unsafe like a weathervane that changed too much based on the weather and could jump from one party to another at moment’s notice. Maybe because they had watched his career and listened to his wonderful eloquence for thirty-five years and had thus formed the opinion that his thirst for adventure always led him in search of heroic parts, or maybe because he left the impression that he overly dramatized himself, and the stage on which he performed.

Indeed, it appeared that in his hands, all incidents swelled into large events, and engulfed the whole world. And that is what one understood; if one had the temerity to follow his sturdy, yet easily combustible logic. And that they liked aplenty…

But they also remembered the young Minister who had sent field guns to Sidney Street; and the Home Secretary who had dispatched troops all over Britain in the railway strike of 1911 without waiting for the local authorities to ask for them; same as the First Lord of the Admiralty who had asked to take command of the army defending Antwerp; and the Minister for “War who had secured Allied intervention in the Russian revolution; or the Minister for Colonial Affairs who drafted the Chanak communique… and other Winston debacles, ‘ad infinitum.’

They remembered his frequent warnings that the Labour Party would destroy the constitution of the country, and that self-rule for India would mark the downfall of the British Empire.

Yes, he had exaggerated situations before. And now he was crying “Woolf” in exaggerated tones, and screaming to all the sundry, the Germans are coming.

Is he to be believed?

And if they choose to believe him — how could they know that he was right this time?

But personal misgiving was not the only reason for Winston’s failure to command a following. The public felt that he was offering them little hope of a better world. They had no faith in power politics. The idea of a Grand Alliance, based on the balance of power, had been tried often before and had often failed. On looking back it is clear that the only hope of arousing the people of Britain and France lay in the League of Nations.

Here was a great new concept; here was a concert of nations joined together in a common desire to establish for the first time a reign of international law; in the hope that they will be able to substitute the principles of diplomacy and of negotiation versus the acts of war.

The detractors of the League of Nations argued that it had been hopelessly crippled, soon after birth, by the withdrawal of the United States. Nevertheless, the fact remains that throughout the twenties and most of the thirties Britain and France together, if they had had the will, could have enforced the League’s authority.

But could they have commanded public support?

During the twenties the vast number of people who supported the League regarded it merely as a “moral force.” The Disarmament Conferences were held under its aegis and helped to swell the impression that it was an instrument of pacifism rather than an authority for the maintenance of order.

In the early thirties this conception gradually began to change.

Europe was growing increasingly frightened of Germany and by the middle of 1934 disarmament was abandoned. Many people said this spelled the death of the League of Nations because it had failed to deal either with the Chaco clashes in 1928, or with the Manchurian incident in 1931, or with the German rearmament at present time. So now that rearmament was seriously beginning anew, the last vestiges of its peaceful purpose seemed to have been stripped from it.

Winston Churchill was the only Leader that fought against this feeling of despair and told the House as early as 1932 that he deprecated “the kind of thought that, unless the League can force a general disarmament, and unless it can compel powerful nations in remote regions to comply with its decisions, it is dead and we must do away with it.”

Nevertheless it is a curious fact that even Winston Churchill did not understand the potential power of the League as a weapon for rallying public opinion. In the summer of 1935 it became apparent that Mussolini had designs on Abyssinia. The situation could scarcely have been more awkward. Italy was an ally of Britain and France and the three nations had pledged themselves to stand together against further aggression. On the other hand Abyssinia was a member of the League of Nations. If she was attacked what was the duty of Britain and France?

Winston’s attitude on this question was understandable.

All alone among the leading British statesmen he realized the full gravity of the German menace, and the increasingly desperate case for Liberty and Democracy, across the globe.

Yet in his desperate and lonely efforts to build up a strong balance of power he had no wish to see Italy estranged from France and Britain. In the fresh of July, 1935, he expressed his uneasiness to Parliament and cautioned the Government to move slowly: “We seemed to have allowed the impression to be created that we were ourselves coining forward as a sort of bellwether or fugleman to lead opinion in Europe against Italy’s Abyssinian designs.”

“It was even suggested that we would act individually and independently. I am glad to hear from the Foreign Secretary that there is no foundation for that. We must do our duty, but we must do it with other nations only in accordance with the obligations which others recognize as well. We are not strong enough to be the lawgiver and the spokesman of the world. We will do our part, but we cannot be asked to do more than our part in these matters.”

“As we stand today there is no doubt that a cloud has come over the old
friendship between Great Britain and Italy, a cloud which, it seems to me,
may very easily not pass away, although undoubtedly it is everyone’s
desire that it should. It is an old friendship, and we must not forget, what
is a little-known fact, that at the time Italy entered into the Triple Alliance
in the last century she stipulated particularly that in no circumstances
would the obligations under the Alliance bring her into armed conflict
with Great Britain.”

A month later he was invited to the Foreign Office and asked how far
he was prepared to go against Italian aggression in Abyssinia. He replied
that he thought the Foreign Secretary was justified in going as far with the
League of Nations against Italy as he could carry France.’But that he ought
not to put any pressure upon France because of her military convention
with Italy and her German preoccupations.’ This, of course, was tanta-
mount to doing nothing for as Churchill himself admitted: “In the circum-
stances I did not expect France would go very far.”

Winston’s point of view was understandable, nevertheless it was a serious mistake. Here was the man who had been asking his countrymen to take the lead against the treaty-breaking of Germany, now advising them to hang back over the flagrant aggression of Italy, knowing full well that unless Britain took the lead the act would be condoned. His attitude opened him to a charge of cynicism and expediency and revealed a complete misunderstanding of the drastic change that was taking place in British public opinion. There had been some indication of this evolution earlier in the year when the League of Nations Union sent out a questionnaire under the heading of “The Peace Ballot” the two most important
questions were these: ‘Do you consider that if a nation insists on attack-
ing another, the other nations should combine to compel it to stop by:
(a) economic and non-military measures? (b) if necessary military measures?’ Eleven million people answered (a) in the affirmative and nearly eight million answered (b) in the affirmative.

Stanley Baldwin was conscious of which way the wind was blowing and he fought the election of October 1935 on a promise to uphold the League of Nations. This same month another significant event occurred.

The Labour Party dismissed its pacifist leader George Lansbury, mainly
due to the influence of Ernest Bevin who told a large audience that he
was “tired of having George Lansbury’s conscience carted about from conference to conference” and put in his stead Major Clement Attlee, a Socialist who had been an infantry officer in the late war.

The British Government went ahead and rallied the support of fifty nations in the laying down of economic sanctions against Italy. Once the step had been taken, once Italy had been estranged, Winston gave the League his unqualified support. In a strong and eloquent speech in the House he professed his hope that sanctions would prove a decisive stumbling block to Mussolini’s conquest, and declared with emotion that the League of Nations had ‘passed from shadow into substance, from theory into practice, from rhetoric into reality.’ He announced courageously that if he were asked how far he would go in support of the League Covenant he would go “the whole way with the whole lot.”

But disillusion was soon to set in for Winston Churchill, for the British
people, and for all the whole of the Free world. Prime Minister Baldwin’s sanctions were only sham sanctions. He was determined to prevent war at all costs although we know today that if the Royal Navy had taken action, the matter would have been settled in a very few weeks. Yet, the Prime Minister was not prepared to impose the only sanction that really mattered, that of the oil sanctions. Furthermore, once the gesture had been made against Italy, he did not rule out the idea of a settlement. So no incentive was given for Italy or Germany to shift their position. Somehow, in January the British and French Foreign Secretaries met by accident at Geneva and concocted a plan, known as the Hoare-Laval proposals, which gave Italy a fifth of Abyssinia in return for calling off the war.

This cynical compromise profoundly shocked the British people and rocked the Government to its foundations. Stanley Baldwin was forced to withdraw the proposals and apologize to the House. Sir Samuel Hoare was forced to resign and Anthony Eden took his place. The sham sanctions continued against the fascists, and regardless os all that, Italy went ahead and completed her conquest of Ethiopia, and Abyssinia.

It was a dismal story.

Winston Churchill was traveling in Spain, and North Africa, during the Hoare-Laval crisis. If he had been in England he might have been able to exert enough pressure to force Baldwin to take him into the Cabinet, or at least to accept his positions, because the latter’s prestige had sunk to its lowest level ever. However, he profited from the lesson. He perceived that a new force had come into being in England. He understood the deep urge of the people for a righteous stand against oppression, and he saw that it was only by championing the League of Nations that he could finally rally the masses to his cause: “The cause of maintaining a balance of power on the side of Britain” or towards the right path as Winston saw it.

Two months later, in March 1936, he told this to the Conservative Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs: “You must not underrate the force which these ideals of the League of Nations, exert upon the modern democracy. One does not know how these seeds are planted by the winds of the centuries in the hearts of the working people. They are there, and just as strong as their love of liberty. We should not neglect them, because they are the essence of the genius of this island. Therefore, we believe that in the fostering and fortifying of the League of Nations will be found the best means of defending our island security, as well as maintaining grand universal causes with which we have very often found our own interests in natural accord. He then outlined his three, simple contentions: “First, that we must oppose the would-be dominator or potential aggressor. Second, that Germany under its present Nazi regime and its prodigious armaments, so swiftly developing, fills unmistakably that part. Third, that the League of Nations rallies many countries, and unites our people here at home in the most effective way to control the would-be aggressor.”


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The old cry “Disarmament and the League” was dead, and in its place Winston tried to substitute the slogan “Arms and the Covenant.” Throughout 1936 he commanded a growing following. Labour and Liberal leaders who, only a few years before, had regarded him as an archenemy, were now marching behind his banner. Sir Walter Citrine, the great Trade Union figure and one of the leaders of the General Strike, occasionally sat on his platform. But although Churchill had the moral backing of the Labour Party he failed to win the practical support that was so vital to his cause. The Socialists voted repeatedly in favour of the League of Nations but at the same time they refused to back any increase in armaments. This fantastically muddled policy was put forward on the grounds that Labour did not trust the Tories to use weapons in defence of the League.

Winston was also supported by a number of Conservative MPs but they were only a small splinter group, for the bulk of the Parliamentary Conservative Party was staunchly behind their leader, Stanley Baldwin.

And Baldwin was still determined not to take any risk, no matter how minute, which might lead to war. In March 1936 Hitler electrified Europe by marching into the Rhineland, in direct contravention of all the treaties.

France was paralysed with fear, and refused to move, unless Britain moved with her. But Baldwin still would not commit himself and urged the French to take the matter to the League. As we know today, if the French Army had advanced they would have forced Germany to move back with scarcely a shot fired. Hitler had occupied the Rhineland against the advice of his military experts with only a handful of troops. It was a gigantic bluff. He was gambling on the inertia of the democracies and if his gamble had not succeeded it is more than likely his whole regime would have crumbled. Thus one more chance to avert war was lost.

While France stood back trembling and undecided Winston tried to galvanize the world through collective action. “If the League of Nations were able to enforce its decree upon one of the most powerful countries in the world found to be an aggressor.’ he told the House of Commons on the 13th of March, “then the authority of the League would be set upon so majestic a pedestal that it must henceforth be the accepted sovereign authority by which all the quarrels of the people can be determined and controlled. Thus we might upon this occasion reach by one single bound the realization of our most cherished dreams.”

The people of Great Britain were ready to make a stand but they were not given the chance to do so. The country’s rulers were not prepared to risk anything, no matter how large the gain. Prominent men and leading newspapers began to play the crisis down. After all, at the same time that Hitler had invaded the Rhineland he had offered the democracies a non-aggression pact. The Times and the Daily Herald both expressed their faith in his offer. Such leading statesmen as Lloyd George and Lord Lothian said, respectively, that they “hoped we should keep our heads” and that “after all, they are only going into their own back garden.” Winston pointed out that if Germany fortified the Rhineland, which she was bound to do, it would “enable German troops to be economized on that line, and will enable the main forces to swing round through Belgium and Holland.”

This is indeed what exactly happened later, but at that time, in Britain those in responsible positions of power within the government and in the military — were not prepared to even listen.


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Winston continued to hammer home his theme throughout the years and his following continued to grow. He castigated Baldwin for not fulfilling his promise that British air power would not be “inferior to any country within striking distance of our shores” and turned the full force of his vehement and polished rhetoric upon him.

“The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years precious, perhaps vital, to the greatness of Britain for the locusts to eat.”

Stanley Baldwin’s stock once again was declining; Winston’s stock once again rising. Once again he might have regained high office, but for the strange intervention of fate. An event occurred which tipped the scales heavily the other way.

This was the Abdication Crisis.

Everyone knows the deftness and skill with which Stanley Baldwin handled the Abdication Crisis. As Philip Guedalla put it “the King was handled with a firmer touch than the King’s enemies.” He gave the Sovereign two clear choices: he could either renounce Mrs Simpson and keep the throne, or wed Mrs Simpson and abdicate. There was to be no “morganatic marriage.” The Prime Minister was treading on firm ground for public opinion was strongly behind him. He knew the British people would never accept a thrice married woman as their Queen.

It was expected of Winston to take the King’s side and plead the side of the
King’s cause, whereas in reality he counseled the German leaning fascist and misguided King, to swiftly abdicate. He could not possibly have hoped to gain from it: indeed he had everything to lose. But he had a romantic nature and a sympathy with the monarch’s wish to marry for love, but he couldn’t stand his Nazist leanings. Moreover although he had a deep sense of loyalty, and he had known Edward VIII, since his childhood, and as Home Secretary had read out the proclamation creating him as Prince of Wales — he responded honestly when the King sent for him on his own initiative, to ask for advice and help. As Lord Birkenhead had once pointed out: “Winston never failed a friend, no matter how embarrassing the obligation appeared at the time. He felt it his duty to serve the King until the end.”

Winston actually drew his sword and attacked Baldwin, for trying to rush the issue, and pleaded with the House of Commons for delay. Public sentiment was
so strong, however, that a storm of wrath broke on his head. He was
accused of lacking all principal and trying to make political capital of the
matter. He was accused of trying to form a King’s party and wreck the
constitution. He was accused of his usual bad judgment. The tragedy was
that the following he had gathered, so important for the life of Europe,
began to melt away, while Stanley Baldwin, a discredited Prime Minister,
was once again installed high in public favour. ‘There were several
moments when I seemed to be entirely alone against a wrathful House of
Commons. I am not, when in action, unduly affected by hostile currents of
feeling; but it was on more than one occasion almost physically impos-
sible to make myself heard. All the forces I had gathered together on
“Arms and the Covenant”, of which I conceived myself to be the main-
spring, were estranged or dissolved, and I was myself so smitten in public
opinion that it was the almost universal view that my political life was at
last ended.’ [1 Hansard: 12 November, 1936]

The history of the thirties makes tragic reading. If even a small part of
Winston Churchill’s advice had been heeded the second great world
catastrophe would never have taken place. He will be remembered in
history as a man of war, but no statesman has ever tried more valiantly to
save.the peace. ‘My mind was obsessed by the impression of the terrific
Germany I had seen and felt in action during the years of 1914 to 1918
suddenly becoming again possessed of all her martial power.’ he wrote,
‘while the Allies, who had so narrowly survived, gaped idle and be-
wildered.’ Under Stanley Baldwin the Allies continued to gape; under
Neville Chamberlain they moved forward but on the wrong road.

The vacillation of the French and British and the blindness of the
Americans during the late thirties almost passes comprehension. Nearly
every foreign correspondent in Europe was aware of the derision in which
the dictators held the democracies, and the determination of the dictators
to strike while the going was good. There is a mass of journalistic warn-
ings on the subject. In 1937 Winston had a long conversation with the
German Ambassador in London, Herr von Ribbentrop. The latter told
him that Germany must have a free hand in Eastern Europe, and Winston
replied that he was sure that the British Government would not agree to it.
‘In that case,’ said von Ribbentrop, ‘war is inevitable. There is no way out.
The Fuhrer is resolved. Nothing will stop him and nothing will stop us.
This conversation was not unique. In Germany similar sentiments were
expressed freely to anyone who would listen. Indeed it would be difficult
to find another period in history where the aggressive designs of a nation
were so unconcealed.


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It is therefore even more remarkable that of all the statesmen in the
Western world Winston Churchill alone perceived the danger from the
start and consistently pointed out the only course to follow. He never, for
one moment, took his eyes off the balance of power, and every action he
urged was to strengthen the balance in favour of Britain and France.
During the first half of the thirties he begged the democracies to build up
their strength. ‘If you wish to bring about a war, you bring about such an
equipoise that both sides think they have a chance of winning. If you
want to stop a war, you gather such an aggregation offeree on the side of
peace that the aggressor, whoever he may be, will not dare to challenge.’
This advice was not followed. During the second half of the thirties he
begged the democracies to combine to uphold law and order. ‘Why not
make a stand while there is still a good company of united, very powerful
countries that share our dangers and our aspirations? Why should we delay
until we are confronted with a general landslide of those small countries
passing over, because they have no other choice, to the overwhelming
power of the Nazi regime?’

But even more remarkable than his prescience was his unflagging
courage. His boldness illuminates the darkness of the thirties and saves it
from the scathing judgment of posterity. When in 1937, despite all his
warnings and prophecies, he was shunned by his Party and ignored by
Parliament, a lesser man might have turned from the House of Commons
in despair and occupied himself with his own affairs. But Winston never
faltered. Whether the tide was with him or not he sailed on. He was
derided by his enemies, patronized by his friends, and mocked by the
press, yet he continued to work feverishly to stave off the approaching

Although Stanley Baldwin excluded Churchill from office, he offered
him a sop. In 1935 he invited him to sit on the newly constituted Com-
mittee of Air Defence Research. A man of smaller stature might have
refused the offer, arguing that if his Party did not think highly enough of
him to employ him in a Ministerial capacity they would have to do with-
out his services in minor spheres. But Winston was determined to serve,
no matter how humble the capacity. He asked that Professor Lindemann
should be placed on the Technical Sub-Committee so that they might
work together. For the next five years he mastered every aspect of
scientific air defence. He heard Professor Tizard make his report on radiowave location, which resulted in the setting up of an experimental
organization. In 1939 when the Air Committee held its final meeting
twenty radar stations were in operation between Portsmouth and Scapa
Flow and it was possible to detect aircraft from fifty to one hundred and
twenty miles away flying above ten thousand feet. Winston was also given
free access to the Admiralty and made it his business to acquaint himself
with every detail of the new building programme, and the latest develop-
ments in guns, armour and explosives. Thus when he became Prime
Minister he had more knowledge of the technicalities of sea and air
defence than any other statesman called to lead a nation in war.

Winston’s persistent and lonely efforts to save his country from war for
nearly ten years, unsupported by any single political party in the House of
Commons, are without parallel in English history. Many politicians have
opposed the Government but they have usually had the backing of a Party. Winston stood alone. In 1920 an anonymous writer in the Daily News had written prophetically:
“Politics for Winston Churchill, if they are to fulfil his promise, must be a religion. They must have nothing to do with Winston Churchill. They must have everything to do with the salvation of mankind.”

Winston had found his cause; and no one would argue today that it was not concerned with the salvation of mankind.

The year 1937 was one of the most painful of Winston Churchill’s life. His influence had fallen to zero, partly because of his attitude over the Abdication Crisis, partly because Hitler and Mussolini remained quiet and people began to feel that perhaps there would not be a war after all. Winston Churchill’s stock remained at low ebb throughout the early months of 1938, and it was at this period that a journalist first met him. His son, Randolph, took her to Chartwell House one day for lunch, when Winston Churchill was down by the pond, in a torn coat and a battered hat, prodding the water with a stick, looking for his pet goldfish which seemed to have disappeared. He was in an expansive mood and at lunch the conversation centered, as it usually did, on politics. He expressed his fear that England would refuse to show her hand until it was not only too late to avoid war, but too late to hope to even win a war.

As he talked one could not help being struck by the restless energy and the deep frustration of the man. In spite of his writing, his weekly contributions to
the press, his long and masterly speeches in the Commons, one was aware that only a quarter of his resources were being used, and you felt that he was like a mighty torrent trying to burst its dams.

The sense of frustration was not difficult to understand.

Shortly after this luncheon, people heard him speak in the House of Commons, on the 24th of March, 1938, two weeks after the German invasion of Austria. As they looked down from the gallery on the sea of black coats and white faces, Winston seemed only one man of many; but when he spoke his words rang through the House with terrible finality. He stood addressing the Speaker, his shoulders hunched, his head thrust forward, his hands in his waistcoat pockets, and he just started:
“For five years I have talked to this House on these matters not with very great success. I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on still these break beneath your feet. Look back over the last five years. It is true that great mistakes were made in the years immediately after the war. But at Locarno we laid the foundations from which a great forward movement could have been made. Look back upon the last five years since, that is to say, Germany began to rearm in earnest and openly to seek revenge. If we study the history of Rome and Carthage we can understand what happened and why. It is not difficult to form an intelligent view about the
three Punic Wars; but if mortal catastrophe should overtake the British Nation and the British Empire, historians a thousand years hence will still be baffled by the mystery of our affairs. They will never understand how it was that a victorious nation, with everything in hand, suffered themselves to be brought low, and to cast away all that they had gained by measureless sacrifice and absolute victory gone with the wind.”

“Now the victors are vanquished, and those who threw down their arms in the field and sued for an armistice are striding on to world mastery. That is the position that is the terrible transformation that has taken place bit by bit. I rejoice to hear from the Prime Minister that a further supreme effort is to be made to place us in a position of security.”

“Now is the time at last to rouse the nation. Perhaps it is the last time it can
be roused with a chance of preventing war, or with a chance of coming
through to victory should our efforts to prevent war fail. We should lay
aside every hindrance and endeavour by uniting the whole force and spirit
of our people to raise again a great British nation standing up before all
the world; for such a nation, rising in its ancient vigour, can even at this
hour save civilization.”

When Winston Churchill sat down there was a deep silence for a moment, and then the show was over… The House broke into a hubbub of noise. Members rattled their papers and shuffled their way to the lobby. A prominent Conservative leader talking to a friend, was asked what he thought of the speech he replied lightly: “Oh, the usual Churchillian filibuster; he likes to rattle the long curved saber, and he does it jolly well, but you always have to take it with a grain of salt.” This was the general attitude of the House of Commons in those days. Many years later Churchill wrote: “I had to be very careful not to lose my poise in the great discussions and debates which crowded upon us. I had to control my feelings and appear serene, indifferent, detached. In view of the circumstances, this was no small feat in itself.”

Unlike Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain had a positive policy. This policy was completely contrary to Winston’s belief in the balance of power, and to the age-old formula which Britain had always followed in refusing to allow any single Power to dominate the Continent of Europe. Chamberlain believed that Britain and Germany could come to a peaceful understanding about spheres of interest. In short, Chamberlain thought along the lines of the simplistic philosophy that tottered around the day: “Let Germany extend her influence on the Continent, let Britain look to her Navy and her Empire.”

Chamberlain had not been in office long before he set about putting these ill-fated theories into practice. He forgave the Nazi invasion of Austria and journeyed to Italy to try and establish friendly relations with Mussolini. This brought about the resignation of Anthony Eden, whose heart was in the right place, but who had never had the moral strength to dissociate himself from Baldwin’s vacillating and fascism appeasing policies, that had allowed Hitler to occupy a score of countries unopposed.

Then came Munich.

Chamberlain flew to Germany three times, and returned home with the famous agreement which gave Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to the Germans. When Chamberlain waved that piece of toilet paper to the people upon his arrival back in London, Winston cried foul and attacked the Appeasers of the German Tyrant saying first that this agreement was worth it’s weight as toilet paper and then he spoke more circumspectly and respectfully in the Hose of Commons by saying this: “One pound was demanded at the pistol point. When it was given, two pounds were demanded at the pistol point. Finally the Dictator consented to take all the rest of the gold, in promise of goodwill for the future.”

But Chamberlain enunciated his belief that it was “peace with honor” and what is more “peace in our time” and the whole world acclaimed him as a saviour. Never before, had Chamberlain, been so popular. But this alternative dream made up of fake news, was not to last for very long. Only six months after Munich, and after a solemn declaration from Hitler that he had no “evil intentions towards Czechoslovakia” the German army moved into Prague. At last the scales fell away from the blind eyes of the British leader; and the British public, and at last they all saw what Germany meant as regular business. From that moment on, the policy of appeasement was over, and England and France quickly signed a guarantee for Poland’s defense and territorial integrity.

“By this time, though — the German military, navy, and air force, had every form of military superiority against all the rest of the major powers. The British could never catch up.” This is the story Winston played up on “The Gathering Storm.”

At this point Winston Churchill regarded war as inevitable. There was only one faint hope left, and that was an alliance with Russia. Although Winston had been the Soviet Union’s most hostile critic during the twenties, he welcomed Russia’s entry into the League of Nations in 1934, for he saw it as added reinforcement to the balance of power. A few months before the Munich Agreement he spoke out plainly, describing her as: “a country whose form of government I detest, but how improvidently foolish we should be when dangers are so great, to put needless barriers in the way of the general associations of the great Russian mass with resistance to an act of Nazi aggression.”

After Munich he spoke again, begging Chamberlain to accept the Soviet offer of a Triple Alliance which would bind Great Britain, France and Russia in a guarantee for the safety of the states in Central and Eastern Europe.

But Poland feared Russia as much as Germany, and asked for help from England. But Mr Chamberlain hesitated and didn’t want to offend his new friend the Socialist Mr Hitler, and thus the alliance with Poland was never established. Instead, in the summer of 1939 Hitler outsmarted the old willy Albion, and made a nifty deal with Stalin to carve up neutral Poland n two, amongst themselves.

The secret deal held, and Hitler unsuspecting Poland and annihilated it, same as Stalin did on his half of the Polish corpse of a country.

The systematic murder of all the Polish leadership and intelligentsia numbering in the hundreds of thousands of people — burst upon the world as the Soviet-German Pact.

The English lion slept fitfully…

Germany’s hands were now free for other business.

In September the second World War began.


To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 16, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 41)

Winston Churchill, ever since he was a little child, had always believed in his own special Destiny to achieve great things. And he was indeed grateful for that chance to participate in Life’s great sacred rights.

In his faith it was said that he was living faithfully, always seeking to be in a state of Grace, and it was his bible reading each and every night, that helped him do that easily. Jesus the Jewish revolutionary Rabbi, was his savior, but also the bedrock of his courage, and the secret inspiration for his life’s exploits…

Because he somehow felt certain, that he had been placed upon God’s green Earth, in order to carry out some serious and critical purpose for the maintenance of humanity and for Western Christian Civilization. That is the extraordinary part of his belief that sprang from his Christian faith, and also from the special awareness of the Kingly blood that flowed in his veins, and the Marlborough lineage, but also his own throbbing ambition coupled with the famed Churchill energy, and the supreme confidence in his innate leadership skills, and executive abilities.

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And for all that, is why people saw him as fearless, courageous, and righteous. Because all three things were second nature for him, he didn’t give it a second thought as the regular Winston was acting out and living truly the way that felt natural to him. And today, we are all recipients of this extraordinary nature, that brought him forward to fight and win the battle for the Christian Western Civilization, and that is why this American Churchill writes this book. Not as a memory, but as a “Memento Mori” from someone who lived life as a guided mission for an understanding heart, and nothing more.

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Winston’s belief in his infallibility, also stemmed from his Invictus nature, amply justified because, as a young soldier, he had narrowly escaped death multiple times as all those around him were felled. Indeed, he never dwelt on these experiences, except when he recalled them for friends speaking of these exploits with fascination and awe, and always explaining them this way: “These hazards swoop on me out of a cloudless sky, and that I have hitherto come unscathed through them, while it fills my heart with thankfulness to God for His mercies, it also makes me wonder, why I must be so often thrust to the brink and then withdrawn.”

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Long after he had written these lines, he had many other close escapes from destruction, from intentional assassination attempts from the enemies of his country and cause, or from plain acts of war when he served in the battle field — something that he dod all his Life in one form or another, for Winston was a fighter above all else. As an example we might recall that as a child he fell in a comma after a serious fall over a bridge, and he was not expected to survive, and yet he came out of it alive and well, after three days. And also when he was a tiny tot, he fell in deep icy water in the Blenheim’s frozen pond, during a sustained Oxfordshire snowstorm. He fell, while he was playing at ice-skating, and the thin ice broke, and little Winston fell through. He was somehow saved from drowning in the frozen pond, but the details are murky. He was saved in the Afghanistan campaign of Malakand by grace, when he was surrounded by the famously blood thirsty murderous Pashtuns, who had just slain his commanding officer and he had taken control. Yet without any bullets left in his pistol — he somehow survived, escaped, and also saved his fellow soldiers from that ambush. Another time, he was clearly saved by divine will, during the Cavalry charge at Odurman in Sudan, when his brother soldiers on both right and left of him were cut down. And he was also rather providentially saved, in the nick of time, when during the first World War inside the Somme trench warfare at ‘Plugstreet’ his ‘dugout’ was blown up by a German shell, scoring a direct hit on Winston’s clothes and kit — barely a minute after he had left it. Or as he was saved, due to providence again, when his aeroplane crashed, and he managed to crawl out from the ruin, and walked away with minor scratches. Or when he had a collision with a New York taxi that run him over, while he was looking the wrong way as he was trying to cross the 5th Avenue to find his friend Baruch’s building, and he survived after the requisite hospital stay and the convalescence period, that did him a world of good.

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Later he survived a dozen assassination attempts by the Nazis to dispatch him and another dozen by the Communists. And famously enough, he also survived a joint assassination attempt that was carried against him by a joint effort between the retreating German Nazis and the advancing Soviet Communists that tried to blow up the Hotel “Grand Bretagne” he was staying in newly liberated Athens Greece, where he was negotiating a Peace Accord for this small country’s return to democracy after the Nazi occupation, famine, and privations by both Nazis and Communists splitting the country in a vicious Un-Civil War. He survived that too… after the tons of German dynamite were discovered minutes before their detonation was effected.

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Apparently, all of these near misses, the rewarding risks, his recurrent escapes, and the life saving mishaps, simply confirmed his faith, and further fostered his courage, now that he knew his life was being guarded from above. Surely the reason was that some great labor was expected of him. He assumed that was something that he needed to perform in his public role.

Yet in 1931 that specific role was hard to see.

As it turns out, at this time most pundits, politicians, and journalistic observers, regarded his career as totally finished. They all pointed to his independent and reckless nature that had led him into fierce disagreements with his last remaining colleagues, from both major parties. As a matter of fact, he had quarrelled with all three parties and their leaders so vehemently that he was now, the most hated man in the English parliament.

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The Conservatives had reluctantly forgiven him once, and now that their misgivings had been realized anew, they were not likely to forgive him again. The liberal Party was dead. And the Labour Party was beyond the pale, and still smarting after going for Winston’s hide in earnest.

So what was a man to do? Where was the famous Winston resilience? Where is the next lily pad for this little frog to jump to? Where is the future for this glow-worm?

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These questions must have bedeviled Churchill as he prayed at night for guidance, when he consulted his Bible and pondered the special passages that he marked with scraps of colored paper. Yet it is curious that in 1931, at the very moment when his path was blocked, and his political career had apparently ended in a quagmire, from which there seemed to be no rescue — his fortunes were, in fact at least moving on the upward swing, which was to carry him to world fame. Except himself, didn’t know that, nor did anyone else could have foreseen. The change was not discernible to the public eye, or even to that of the trained observers, because the initial turn of events did not stem from his efforts as a statesman, but from his other activities as a painter, a writer, and an overall creative yet scientifically accurate and imaginative author.

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Because aside form painting his large canvases, back in 1931, he had began writing the life of the first Duke of Marlborough, General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1st Prince of Mindelheim, 1st Count of the English Realm, John Churchill, the son of Sir Winston Churchill (1620–1688) member of the English Parliament House of Commons, a gentleman from Glanvilles Wootton in Dorset, and his wife Elizabeth Drake. For Winston this work was save for the Soul, because the carefully focused and sustained mental effort, and the thoughtful inspiration which he poured into this literary masterpiece, with its stories of tyranny’s domination and the honorable battle that brought about the ultimate salvation — was so strangely and strikingly intertwined and parallel to the unknown story that lay ahead and that was soon to unfold in all it’s majestic glory. In mu mind, it was indeed, this magnificent work of understanding the pure battle between Good and Evil, that informed and prepared Winston for the leadership of Britain in the second World War, and for the eventual liberation of Humanity for the forces of darkness and malice.

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Indeed he drew great stores of divine inspiration, and mental comfort from this monumental and heroic work of historical significance, but most importantly he learned lessons in strategy and diplomacy form his long dead yet brilliant ancestor. Lessons that he put to use immediately in the fight to save his people when all other leaders had given up the battle as lost and wanted to sue for terms under Hitler. Yet Winston would choose to stand up like another John Churchill, and ride “buck naked” all alone, towards salvation, knowing fully well, that in the end, he will be rewarded through Grace’s steady hand…

Talking about divine interference, and intervention, is easy when you see that ever since Winston was a child he had read and devoured everything he could lay his hands on about his great ancestor, John Churchill. Here was a tale that contained every element of drama; the story of the unknown youth who rose from obscurity to become one of the greatest generals of all time and who saved his country and half Europe from the tyranny of Louis XIV; the handsome youth who fascinated the King’s mistress; the penniless youth who became the richest man in Europe; the sought-after youth who loved his wife passionately for fifty years; the ambitious youth who not only won every battle he ever fought but by his brilliant diplomacy virtually became the political master of England. There was nothing missing.

Love, danger, intrigue, bloody battles & all out war, revolution, and counterrevolution — all threaded their way through this astonishing life.

It is small wonder that Winston was tempted to write the thrilling record. There were masses of papers at Blenheim Palace filed away in cardboard cabinets and carefully docketed, containing valuable information that had never been published. Yet there was something that had always stopped him from writing the story. Marlborough’s name had come down through history not only as a hero but also as a terrific villain. He obviously had rendered great services to England but his deeds were darkened by accusations of corruption, and unforgivable treachery.

Marlborough had risen to power through the favour of James the Second. But when he saw that James was determined to turn England into a Catholic country and make himself an absolute monarch, Churchill deserted him, and was instrumental in placing William of Orange on the throne. James fled to France. Six years later, when William organized an attack against the French Fleet at Brest, Marlborough, it is alleged, wrote a letter to James, known as the Cabaret Bay Letter, in order that the French might be informed of the impending operation. Some historians attributed this act to Marlborough’s desire to re-establish himself with the Jacobites in case James one day was restored to the English throne. Others claim that Marlborough’s wish was to see the English commander fail so that he himself might receive promotion. Whatever the motive an act of this nature was vile and unforgivable. Winston till that time had refused to write about John Churchill’s life.

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However, one day he visited his father’s old friend, Lord Rosebery, who urged him to take up the task, and here is the account he gives of the conversation. “Surely,” said Rosebery: “you must write Duke John, because he was a tremendous fellow.” I said that I had from my childhood read everything I came across about him, but that Macaulay’s story of the betrayal of the expedition against Brest was an obstacle I could not face. The aged and crippled statesman arose from the luncheon table, and, with great difficulty but sure knowledge, made his way along the passage of the Durdans to the exact nook in his capacious working library where “Pagefs Examen” reposed. “There,” he said, taking down this unknown, out-of-print masterpiece, “is the answer to Macaulay.”

“Pagefs Examen” proved conclusively that Marlborough’s letter betraying the Brest Expedition was written only after he knew that it had been betrayed already, and could do no harm. Winston’s strict code of military honor was still not appeased; nevertheless, it gave him the heart to start the book. But as his research proceeded he discovered that the letter Marlborough was accused of having written did not, in fact, exist. Only an alleged copy of the letter had been preserved. Winston was able to prove to the satisfaction of most historians that this copy was a forgery.

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Soon Winston was more engrossed in his book “Life of Marlborough” than in anything he had ever written before. He had always had strong sentimental attachments to Blenheim, the massive Palace that had been built for John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his services, for not only had Winston been born there, but he had also proposed to his wife there. Once he remarked to a friend: “At Blenheim I took two very important decisions. To be born and to marry. I am happily content with the decisions I took on both occasions.”

Now he flung himself into the task of clearing his ancestor’s name with passionate concern. He singled out Lord Macaulay, the great historian, as the villain of the piece. Macaulay was only one of many historians who had painted John Winston Churchill’s character in black lines, but whereas the others were no longer widely read, Macaulay’s wonderful sense of drama and lucid, flowing prose still commanded a large segment of the public’s perception and belief.

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Besides, Winston felt a sense of personal grievance against Macaulay. As a
boy he had been under the spell of the master; he had read and re-read his
History of England, his essays, and had even learned by heart a great portion of The Lays of Ancient Rome. Macaulay had taught him more about style and construction than anyone else and now to come to the conclusion that the historian had deliberately sacrificed the truth, at the expense of a Churchill, to make his story more dramatic, roused Winston to real anger.

Throughout the first two volumes of ‘Marlborough’ Winston conducts a duel with Macaulay in the wings. He flings up the historian’s remarks and attempts to show that his interpretation was wholly false. “Unhappily, Macaulay had written, ‘the splendid qualities of John Churchill were mingled with alloy of the most sordid kind. Some propensities which in youth are singularly ungraceful, began very early to show themselves in him. He was thrifty in his very vices, and levied ample contributions on ladies enriched by the spoils of more liberal lovers. He was, during a short time, the object of the violent but fickle fondness of the Duchess of Cleveland. Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland lived from the 27th of November 1640 – to the 9th of October 1709, and she was also known by her marital title as Countess of Castlemaine. She was the quintessential English Royal Mistress, Barbara was the most notorious of the many mistresses of King Charles II of England, with whom she had five children, all of whom were eventually acknowledged and subsequently ennobled. Her influence was so great that she has been referred to as “The Uncrowned Queen” by her contemporaries.
Barbara was the subject of many portraits, in particular by court painter Sir Peter Lely. Her extravagance, foul temper and promiscuity provoked diarist John Evelyn into describing her as the “curse of the nation” whereas Samuel Pepys often noted seeing her, admiringly.

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But with this lovely lady, our Hero’s hero, John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, was almost caught “in flagrante delicto” because on one occasion he was in ‘ardour amour’ entwined with the Royal Concubine in her great bedchamber, and was startled by the sudden arrival of the King.
It was then that John Churchill showed his instinctive Gallantry to protect a “Damsel in distress” as he forced himself to leap out of the window of her second story bedroom, buck naked, as King Charles walked through her boudoir to her bedroom. John Churchill managed to survive the naked high jump, with his manhood untrampled, and still nude got on a horse and rode off, and thus made good his escape. This appears to be a daring escape in a similar way that his great great grandson many years later, made his own escape from the Boers by jumping down from the roof of his internment camp toilets — albeit with his clothes still on.

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This was to be a source of merriment for the drinks session because many times over the years Winston used to recount this story as he joked privately in a rather coarse tone, amongst male friends in the club or at the tea room, when full of guffaws, would start by saying: “That this story he was going to share was politically incorrect for his age and time, let alone for his gentlemanly sensibilities, and yet there’s got to be something with the Churchills jumping the ladies, and jumping from the ladies.”

Often times, he intimated that it was his special trait to be able to survive both feats: “Jumping into the fire and jumping out of the fire.”

“Still the story ended well for our gallant Lover, John Churchill, who was destined to become the Duke of Marlborough, because the grateful Royal Concubine rewarded his hazardous feat of gallantry, his secrecy, and without a doubt his “stud” services, with a present of 5,000 Sterlings. Rewarded with this vast sum, the prudent young hero instantly went and bought himself an annuity of 500 a year, that was secured well on landed property.
And John Churchill invested wisely and thus was rich before long. Already his private drawers contained heaps of broad gold and silver pieces, which, fifty years later, when he was a Duke, a Prince of the Empire, and the richest subject in Europe — remained untouched.” This is how Winston presented his predecessor, in his book ‘The History of Marlborough’ by Winston S. Churchill…

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But history was not so kind to him as his lovers were, and it was here that the historian Macaulay returned to attack John Churchill harping on this theme again and again by writing that: “He subsisted upon the infamous wages bestowed upon him by the Duchess of Cleveland. He was insatiable of riches. He was one of the few who have in the bloom of youth loved lucre, more than wine, or women, and who have, at the height of greatness, loved lucre, more than power, or fame. All the precious gifts which nature had lavished upon him he valued chiefly for what they would fetch. At twenty he made money of his beauty and his vigour; at sixty he made money of his genius and his glory.”

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So many years later, when Winston tackled these imputations against John Winston Churchill’s character — he held a strong card in his hand: “The fact that Churchill had married a penniless girl.” “He was handsome and sought after. He could have won a great heiress; indeed, his family had their eye on one and urged him to consider improving his fortunes by doing so. Instead he married the hot-tempered, fascinating Sarah Jennings who had neither money nor property; and their marriage became one of the great love stories of the age.”

Winston did not only tilt his lance at the historical Macaulay, but he delivered a formidable frontal attack against Macaulay’s literary descendant, Professor Trevelyan, whose faithful, fair, and deeply informed writings are establishing a new view of these times and the men who made them, has offered the best defence in his power for the historical malversations of his great great uncle.
Winston Churchill says in effect that Macaulay, with his sense of the dramatic, vilified Marlborough’s early life in order by contrast to make the glories of his great period stand out more vividly. He had completed the black background, but died before he could paint upon it “the scarlet coat and flashing eye of the victor of Blenheim.”

“We need not reject this apologia nor the confession which it implies. But what a way to write history. On this showing the best that can be provided Lord Macaulay stands convicted of deliberately falsifying facts and making the most revolting accusations upon evidence which he knew, and in other connections even admitted, was worthless, for the purpose of bringing more startling contrasts and colour into his imaginative picture and of making the crowds gape at it.”

“Macaulay’s life-work lay in the region of words, and few have been finer word spinners. Marlborough’s life is only known by his deeds. The comparison is unequal, because words are easy and many, while great deeds are difficult and rare. But there is no treachery or misconduct of which Macaulay’s malice has accused Marlborough in the field of action which is not equalled, were it true, by his own behaviour in this domain of history and letters over which he has sought to reign. It is beyond our hopes to overtake Lord Macaulay. The grandeur and sweep of his storytelling style carries him swiftly along, and with every generation he enters new fields. We can only hope that Truth will follow swiftly enough to fasten the label “liar” to his genteel coat-tails as seen in the History of England, written by noted historian Lord Macaulay.”

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The attack on Macaulay drew a letter of protest from Professor Trevelyan which was published in The Times Literary Supplement on 19th of October, 1933. An extract reads as follows: “I have stated elsewhere that I think Macaulay was wrong in his reading of Marlborough. Indeed, I think it is the worst thing in his History, and I have no wonder that Winston Churchill’s family piety has aroused him to take revenge. All the same, he has no right to call Macaulay a “liar.” A “liar” is not a man who misreads another man’s character, however badly, or who sometimes accepts inadequate evidence; if that were so, almost all historians would be “liars”. A “liar” is a man who makes a statement that he knows to be false. Now, the facts that Macaulay states, barring the Cabaret letter, are not very different from Winston Churchill’s facts.

“Winston Churchill admits that he took for patron the man who kept his sister; that he himself took money from his own mistress, and invested it well; that he deserted James while high in his military service; that he afterwards corresponded with the Jacobites. I agree with Winston Churchill that his desertion of James was in the circumstances commendable, and the other three actions by the standards of the times not unpardonable. But there is a surface case against Marlborough, and many people in his own day thought ill of him. A historian who, before the days of our modern research, was deceived by these phenomena into thinking Marlborough a bad man was not necessarily dishonest.”

Winston’s attack on Macaulay was only one small aspect of his biography. It constituted the stepping stones by which he led Marlborough to the summit from which, he believed, posterity should view him. But the importance of the work lies not only in his central figure but in the skill with which he brings alive all the leading characters of the time. Sarah Jennings, Godolphin, Prince Eugene, Queen Anne, Bolingbroke, and many others walk confidently through his pages and their complicated relations with one another, developed with a true touch of genius, reveal a century of tumultuous history which slowly unrolls before the reader’s fascinated gaze. As a history it is as dramatic as Lord Macaulay’s own, written in the same grandly flowing prose.

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As a literary work it is on the same colossal scale as Tolstoy’s War and Peace and handled with such technical brilliance that one can admire it as an artistic achievement even though the characters are limited to a framework of fact.

Yet what makes the Life of Marlborough truly distinctive is the feeling that no professional historian could have written it. The story of Marlborough is the story of a struggle for power. Sometimes the struggle was in ruling circles in England, sometimes on the battlefields, sometimes at a foreign court, but throughout the book it is a strong and constant clash.

This subject, the essence of history, had always interested Winston more than any other. He had spent many months of his life studying its causes and effects and he had witnessed it at first-hand in the years preceding the Great War and in the war itself. Besides, his long experience in Parliament had given him special knowledge of the rivalries and emotions, of the jostling for position behind the scenes, and he drew upon his rich knowledge in interpreting the characters and the actions of a bygone day. His chapter on the Camaret Bay Letter is a masterpiece of evidence and argument that could only have been written by a man who understood every current of political life.

Altogether, the biography was deeply satisfying. It gave Winston the opportunity to vindicate his ancestor and also the opportunity to study the art of war, an art which had always thrilled and fascinated him. He could write proudly of Marlborough that “he never fought a battle that he did not win, nor besieged a fortress that he did not take.” But even more important than the battles was the glorious cause for which they were fought: the freedom of England and the independence of Europe. Here was a theme to which he responded with all the fire of his innermost being, when writing that: “Europe drew swords in a quarrel which, with one uneasy interlude, was to last for a quarter of a century. Since the duel between Rome and Carthage, there had been no such world war. It involved all the civilized peoples; it extended to every part of the accessible globe; it settled for some time or permanently the real relative wealth and power, and the frontiers of every important European state.”

It is significant to note that Winston Churchill wrote these words in the preface to his first volume, which was published in 1933, the year that Hitler came to power in Germany, and after Winston’s private fact finding tour across Germany, where he discovered the perils of National Socialism, and Hitlerism, in situ.

During the early thirties Marlborough became Winston’s chief preoccupation. Although a National Government which was overwhelmingly Conservative in composition had replaced the Labour Government, in 1931, he was not disappointed in being excluded from its counsels. He had not expected office. Indeed, he had announced publicly that he would not accept a position in a government that pursued a policy over India of which he disapproved, when the controversy was at its height. He took a lively interest in the parliamentary debates, but free of the responsibility of a Ministry he spent long weekends and most of his parliamentary recesses at Chartwell, where he did his work.

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Writing was not the painstaking labour to Winston that it is to most people. When he was a young man of thirty he once addressed the Authors’ Club in London and told his audience that: “No one could set himself to the writing of a page of English composition without feeling a real pleasure in the medium in which he worked, the flexibility and the profoundness of his noble mother tongue. The man who could not say what he had to say in good English, could not have very much to say that was worth listening to at all.”

Winston had the ability to marshal his thoughts rapidly and words came easily. He liked being involved in a major work. He explained further by saying: “Writing a long and substantial book, is like having a friend and companion at your side, to whom you can always turn for comfort and amusement, and whose society becomes more attractive as a new and widening field of interest is lighted in the mind.”

He set about the task of collecting material with characteristic precision.
He employed several scholars to comb the archives and sort through documents at Blenheim, in London and Paris. He also engaged the services of naval and military experts to help him reconstruct the famous campaigns. In the meantime he did an enormous amount of research himself, for he was never prepared to accept the findings of any of his assistants without subjecting them to a searching examination which often developed into a heated, if somewhat one-sided, argument. Besides that, he visited every battlefield on which Marlborough fought, and spent hours studying the composition of the armies until he knew the strategy and tactics as well as Marlborough himself.

He also made one of these expeditions abroad in the summer of 1932, accompanied by his family and Professor Lindemann. They travelled slowly along the line of Marlborough’s celebrated march in 1705 from the Netherlands to the Danube. They spent a day on the battlefield of Blenheim, then drove to Munich where they stayed a week. All these recollections and the linkages from the battle of Blenheim to the losing battles of the Second World War, are detailed in his book, The Gathering Storm.

Winston soon discovered that the Germans were concerned with only one topic and that was the Hitler Movement which was gaining thousands of new recruits every day. He asked many questions about it, and was interested when a lively, talkative young man, who spoke perfect English, came up to him at the Regina Hotel and introduced himself as Herr Hanfstaengl, and talked enthusiastically about the Fuhrer. Winston invited him to dinner, and the young man amused the company quite a lot, during that evening, by playing the piano and urging everyone to sing the old familiar songs. In the course of the dinner celebrations in Munich, Winston learned that Herr Hanfstaengl, was on intimate terms with Herr Hitler, the Fuhrer, and often entertained him in a similar manner.

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Astonishingly, during the course of the evening, Herr Hanfstaengl, also suggested that Winston Churchill should meet the Fuhrer who, he said, came to this very hotel every day at five. In order to mask his intelligence gathering intention of this journey, Churchill masked his true purpose by writing that: “I had no national prejudices against Hitler at this time. I knew little of his doctrine or record and nothing of his character. I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat, even though I am on the other side. He had a perfect right to be a patriotic German. I had always wanted England, Germany and France to be friends. However, in the course of conversation with Herr Hanfstaengl, I happened to say: “Why is your chief so violent about the Jews? I can quite understand being angry with Jews who have done wrong, or are against the country, and I understand resisting them if they try to monopolize power in any walk of life; but what is the sense of being against a man simply because of his birth origin?”

“How can any man help how he is born?”

“He must have repeated this to Hitler, because about noon the next day he came round with a rather serious air, and said that the appointment he had made for me to meet Hitler could not take place, as the Fuhrer would not be coming to the hotel that afternoon. This was the last I saw of “Putzi” for such was his pet name although we stayed several more days at the hotel.”

“And thus Hitler lost his only chance of meeting me. Later on, when he was all-powerful, I was to receive several invitations from him. But by that time a lot had happened, and I excused myself.”

It was at this point that the struggle for Europe in Marlborough’s time began to identify itself in Winston’s mind with the new struggle that seemed to be emerging in his own day. He returned to Britain with deep apprehensions. The resurgence of a martial spirit which Winston Churchill had witnessed in Germany, offered a sharp and disturbing contrast to the pacifist mood that gripped England. This is what Winston described brilliantly in his book about that period, the Gathering Storm…

Factually in 1932 Britain was still in the throes of an economic depression largely caused by the American crash of 1929. The unemployment figures touched
the three million mark and were the worst in the nation’s history. This, people said, was the price of the war. First came the slaughter and the suffering, then came the dislocation, the strikes, the poverty and the hardship. Whatever happened, there must never be another war. And since the pacifists seemed to have the only solution for making war impossible, the English public became overwhelmingly in favour of disarmament. This fitted in nicely with the Government’s financial predicament; the Exchequer was strained to its utmost limits, and Baldwin was only too glad to back a policy which had almost become a necessity.

Disarmament as a deterrent to war was a sound proposition if all nations agreed to play the same game, but disarmament by some and rearmament by others was bound to fail. Winston’s intensive study of the struggle for power had not convinced him that human nature had altered much. He could understand the feeling of revulsion of the victors against war that had caused so much dislocation to their agreeable way of life. He could also understand the feelings of the vanquished, smarting under the humiliation of defeat, and determined to redress their grievances.

Churchill believed that Germany’s grievances should be removed, but he did not think it wise to make concessions through weakness. In Germany he had heard whispers of “British decadence” and had not failed to notice how much bolder the German demands were becoming as German strength increased. Shortly after Winston returned from Munich in the summer of 1932, Germany flatly demanded the right to rearm. The Times of London, regarded the proposition favourably and spoke of “the timely redress of inequality” but Winston warned members of the House of Commons not to delude themselves, by alerting them to the facts saying:
“Do not let His Majesty’s Government believe, that all that Germany is asking for is equal status. That is not what Germany is seeking. All these bands of sturdy Teutonic youths, through the streets and roads of Germany, with the light of desire in their eyes to suffer for the Fatherland, are not looking for status. They are looking for weapons, and, when they have the weapons, believe me they will then ask for the return of their lost territories and lost colonies, and when the demand is made, it cannot fail to shake and possibly shatter to their foundations every one of the countries I have mentioned. The removal of the just grievances of the vanquished ought to precede the disarmament of the victors. To bring about anything like equality of armaments between the vanquished and the victor nations, if it were in our power to do so, which it happily is not, while those grievances remain un-redressed, would be almost to appoint the day for another European war to fix it as though it were a prize fight. It would be far safer to re-open questions like those of the Danzig Corridor and Transylvania, with all their delicacy and difficulty, in cold blood and in a calm atmosphere and while the victor nations still have ample superiority, than to wait and drift on, inch by inch and stage by stage, until once again vast combinations, equally matched, confront each other face to face.”

Two months after Winston’s speech, in January 1933, Hitler came to power. But the British Government took notice neither of Churchill nor Hitler. In March “The MacDonald Plan” was put forward urging further disarmament upon the French. Winston attacked it with all his force: “Thank God for the French Army” he declared to the disgust of a large section of the House. “When we read about Germany, when we watch with surprise and distress the tumultuous insurgence of ferocity and war spirit, the pitiless ill-treatment of minorities, the denial of the normal protections of a civilized society to large numbers of individuals solely on the ground of race when we see that occurring in one of the most gifted, learned, scientific and formidable nations in the world, one cannot help
feeling glad that the fierce passions that are raging in Germany have not found, as yet, any other oudet but upon Germans. At a moment like this, to ask France to halve her army while Germany doubles hers, to ask France to halve her air force while the German air force remains whatever it is, is a proposal likely to be considered by the French Government, at present, as unseasonable.”

The French Government agreed with Winston Churchill, and refused to reduce the size of their army. Instead they offered to destroy a large part of their heavy artillery. Hitler’s answer to this concession, which he regarded as purely insufficient, was not only to quit the Disarmament Conference, but to leave the League of Nations as well. This, said the pacifists, was the logical consequence of France’s refusal to co-operate. The strength of this view was revealed a fortnight later when a by-election was fought at East Fulham. A safe Conservative seat was lost to a pacifist by a ten thousand majority.

Winston watched these manifestations uneasily. He had no faith in disarmament. He believed that the only way to prevent war was through strength. He recognized the new Germany of Hitler as a potential aggressor and he knew that Britain’s duty must be to oppose the unlawful expansion of her power. He had a firm belief in the simple, old-fashioned formula which Britain had always followed, based on the maintenance of the Balance of Power. In writing his life of Marlborough he had reflected deeply on this principle, and reaffirmed his faith in it. In a speech to the Conservative Members Committee on Foreign Affairs in March 1936 he
outlined his conception clearly and simply; and since this conception has
always determined his attitude, and still determines it Today, it is perhaps
worthwhile to print in part what he said:

“For four hundred years the foreign policy of England has been to oppose the strongest, most aggressive, most dominating Power on the Continent, and particularly to prevent the Low Countries falling into the hands of such a Power. Viewed in the light of history, these four centuries of consistent purpose amid so many changes of names and facts, of circumstances and conditions, must rank as one of the most remarkable episodes which the records of any race, nation, state, or people can show. Moreover, on all occasions England took the more difficult course. Faced by Philip II of Spain, against Louis XIV under William in and Marlborough, against Napoleon, against William of Germany, it would have been easy and must have been very tempting to join with the stronger and share the fruits of his conquest. However, we always took the harder course, joined with the less strong Powers, made a combination among them, and thus defeated and frustrated the Continental military tyrant whoever he was, whatever nation he led. Thus we preserved the liberties of Europe, protected the growth of its vivacious and varied society, and emerged after
four terrible centuries with an ever-growing fame and widening Empire, and with the Low Countries safely protected in their independence. Here is the wonderful unconscious tradition of British foreign policy. All our thoughts rest in that tradition Today. I know of nothing which has occurred to alter or weaken the justice, wisdom, valour, and prudence upon which our ancestors acted.”

Winston was convinced that the next war would be largely decided in the air, and uppermost in his mind was the thought of the swiftly growing German air force that could cause the utmost destruction — as he prophetically stated. Indeed at this time, the chief disadvantage of being out of office, and far out of the cabinet, was the fact that Winston had no official information to support his contentions.

However, he was determined not to allow this difficulty to dip his wings, and at once set about creating an intelligence service of his own. He began to build up contacts both abroad and at home. He had close friends and colleagues, at all the Intelligence services, and also at naval Intelligence, and also at Whitehall, and the War Office, and also inside the Foreign Office who now all became frequent visitors to the Chartwell house, for working lunches, or for dinner conversation followed by late night study, or for walks & talks in the Kent valley. He also renewed acquaintanceships in Ministerial circles in France, and cultivated the German exiles, and thus began to establish new lines of communication with dissidents and with the friends of Bonhoffer and the von der Schulenburg family, in Berlin and throughout Germany. He gladly received any newspaper correspondent who he thought could tell him anything, and opened the doors of his house to all the Germans who disliked the Hitler socialist totalitarian regime, as much as he did.

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In those days, Chartwell House, became a smaller version of the Foreign Office of its own, with its constant stream of visitors supplying information, working out statistics, doing research, and analyzing current events, through searching arguments and careful discussions. On an average day, you could see Churchill conversing with simple Jewish or political refugees from Nazi Germany, ex-Parliamentarians, and as time went on, escapees, and ex-political leaders from Austria and Czechoslovakia — all made their way to Winston’s Kentish home. But probably the most important member of this “inner circle” of Winston’s information and intelligence networks, was Frederick Lindemann, the Professor of Experimental Philosophy at Oxford, who had accompanied him abroad on his summer trip to Munich and Germany to observe and study the German Socialist movement and it’s leader Hitler and his cohorts. Indeed Lindemann spent countless weekends at Chartwell House, in compiling statistics and advising Churchill on the latest technical and scientific developments which covered many fields, including radar, military airplanes, and self powered projected missiles. The two men often sat up discussing these subjects until two or three o’clock in the morning wee hours.

Winston’s intelligence service was so thorough and well informed, that soon they were supplying him with very valuable information, which made his speeches to the House of Commons, singular and rather important events. He stressed the point that although Germany had been forbidden a military air force under the Versailles Treaty he learned that her large civil aviation force and her national glider dubs had been organized and designed so that they could be expanded instantaneously for war. He warned the House that Britain was only the fifth air power in Europe while the Germans, “those very gifted people, with their science and with their factories, with what they call their “Air Sport”, are capable of developing with great rapidity a most powerful air force for all purposes, offensive and defensive, within a very short period of time.”

Eight months later Winston had precise information on which to base his arguments. He immediately told the House of Commons this: “First, I assert that Germany already, at this moment, has a MILITARY AIR FORCE, that is to say, military airplane squadrons, with the necessary ground services, and the necessary reserves of trained personnel and material, which only awaits an order to assemble in full open combination; and that this illegal air force is rapidly approaching equality with our own.”
“Second, by this time next year, if Germany executes her existing programme without acceleration, and if we execute our existing programme on the basis which now lies before us without slowing down, and carry out the increases announced to Parliament in July last, the German military air force will this time next year be in fact at least as strong as our own, and it may be even stronger.”
“Third, on the same basis that is to say, both sides continuing with their
existing programmes as at present arranged by the end of 1936, that is, one year farther on, and two years from now the German military air force will be nearly fifty per cent stronger, and in 1937 nearly double. All this is on the assumption, as I say, that there is no acceleration on the part of Germany, and no slowing-down on our part.”

The House was startled by this information, but Mr Baldwin allayed its fears by categorically denying Winston’s figures saying: “It is not the case that Germany is rapidly approaching equality with us. Germany’s real strength is not fifty per cent of our strength in Europe. As for the position this time next year, we estimate that we shall have a margin in Europe alone, of nearly fifty per cent.”

However, it soon became apparent that Winston Churchill’s private intelligence was far better than the official channels, on which the Government relied. In March 1935 the German Chancellor stated openly that the German Air Force had achieved parity with the British. And in May of the same year Stanley Baldwin was forced to make an astonishing retraction to the House: “Where I was wrong was in my estimate of the future. There I was completely wrong. We were completely misled on that subject.”

“I will repeat here that there is no occasion, in my view, in what we are
doing, for panic.’ ‘But I will say this deliberately, with all the knowledge I
have of the situation, that I would not remain for one moment in any
Government which took less determined steps than we are taking today.
I think it is only due to say that there has been a great deal of criticism,
both in the press and verbally, about the Air Ministry as though they were
responsible for possibly an inadequate programme, for not having gone
ahead faster, and for many other things. I only want to repeat that what-
ever responsibility there may be and we are perfectly ready to meet
criticisms that responsibility is not that of any single Minister; it is the
responsibility of the Government as a whole, and we are all responsible,
and we are all to blame.”

Strangely enough, “Mr Baldwin’s Confession” as Winston soon dubbed it, did not have an adverse effect on his popularity. If anything, his popularity slightly increased, for the British public was deeply impressed by his honesty.

They liked a man who could admit he was wrong.

Winston had the dazzle and the eloquence, but Stanley Baldwin was the man you could rely upon.

At the General Election a few months later they showed their confidence by returning him with a handsome majority.


To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 16, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 40)

This whole period in Winston Churchill’s life seemed strangely out of tune with his character as a man.

Because although he was a deeply Christian person, always seeking to help others, and working hard to bring about Peace — he will not be remembered in history as a humanitarian, because his political leanings, and his personal interests have made it possible for his enemies to paint him as an unjust Conservative hardliner.

But that he was not.

He was a compassionate and kind person, because got his guidance from the Bible that he read every night, and also opened it at random all mornings, in order to start his day in the right note. His random opening of the great book populated with the words of the Lord, sharing the story of Jesus the Savior, had a huge temporizing and civilizing effect on his wisdom. Even his wild mood swings, were always couched in compassion and kindness, because by nature he was always warm hearted and magnanimous.

But why did we end up thinking of him as a grand master?

Methinks that Winston Churchill was painted with this wide brush, because due to party affiliation and conservative expectation it came to pass, that throughout the nineteen-twenties his attitude towards the working class appeared hard, narrow, and uncompromising. Of course in retrospect, we now know that his outlook to political life at that time, was influenced by his deep dislike of Bolshevism, yet we must also admit that his policies and actions at this time alone, were short-sighted and through that they had the opposite effect. Indeed some Socialists claim that Winston Churchill’s retrograde policies, strengthened the British Socialist movement than other politically leading factors.

However, the truth was that at the time, Winston Churchill was out of joint with the times. Methinks that he had started to play the part of the country squire, and the conservative MP, and when he got back in the cabinet, as a Tory — he did not care to make an effort to understand the reasons why the changing economy was a necessity for all Society and he was trying to stem the tides. Indeed, he was also bucking tides in his political life, because he had been defeated in two successive elections, by the votes of working people, in favour of a Labour candidate.

These hard realities however, did not increase his sympathy with the Socialist labour cause, but definitely increased his appeal towards the Common Man, because he recognized the value in being a “Middle of the Road” candidate, and fulfill his need to appeal to the median common person, in order to earn their respect, their hearts, and their minds — hopefully followed by their votes.

Yet since he joined the Conservative Party, the disaffection with his stated overall policies widened, because for the first time in twenty years he was subjected to all the pressures and influences of die-hard Toryism in his committees, and in Parliament, and like all new converts he went to extremes, to show that he was one of them, in order to be admitted amongst the zealots of the Tory party. However, having the epigenetic and memory knowledge of his Father’s destruction at the hands of the Tory leaders because he was a man with differing sexuality and with fresh ideas of Tory Democracy.

Regardless of his public face, during these early days as a Conservative, Winston Churchill, was still espousing the ideas of compassionate Capitalism, and Humane Conservatism — but was guarded from opening up his heart, fearing that he will end up like his Father, and get ostracized by the intolerant Tory party. So he played his part, and he pretended to be even more conservative than the Tory zealots could even fathom.

And that is what made Winston Churchill a doubtful choice for the job of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but there was some sense of justice in his assuming the job his father was thrown out of… So he dutifully accepted the High Ministerial appointment, as the second man in the Cabinet simply based on his great belief in the ideas of Adam Smith and his contemporaries. Yet he was also following the current movements, Macro-Economics, and the Economic theories of the Austrian school, and those of Karl Marx, and industrial statistics, although he was bored and disinterested in accounting & simple finance. “He was basically uninterested in the problems of high finance” writes Mr Robert Boothby, who served as his Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Treasury.

People disparage the government of the moment, and criticize the PM, because they claim that to have Winston in charge of the Treasury, at a time when his outlook towards the working class was peculiarly rigid and defiant, was a calamity both for the nation and himself. But the reality is that Winston cared deeply about unemployment and poverty, the twin evils, against which he had championed so fervently under Lloyd George’s inspiration. Yet, now for appearance’s sake, these twin evils, seemed to awake no indignation in his heart. People still say, that if he had had a burning desire to protect the lowest wage earners of Society, from further hardships — it is difficult to believe that his brilliant brain would not have found a solution. And they go even further to suggest that “It was the sympathy that was missing, not the ability to solve the Social problems of his day.”

Yet what these people are all missing, is the fact that in Politics appearances matter. And indeed Winston was a master politician, with the finesse of an actor, and he knew how to do the right thing even when accepting the barbs of the very people that he is trying his damnedest to help…

The spark of his old-time Radicalism allowed him to discover what powerful economic weapons — Winston Churchill, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer held in his hands and was able to shape society to his liking. And this is what he did, by helping the poorest people in all the ways he could — yet acting in a veiled way, having the memory of his Father’s Tory Democracy downfall due to the Conservatives intolerant attitude towards Randolph’s personal choices.

Proof of that is that when the General Strike ended and the Prime Minister calmly left for his annual holiday at Aix-les-Bains, Churchill didn’t content himself merely in trying to persuade the miners to accept the owners’ terms, with some slight modifications, and go back to work, but he effected a grand compromise so that people will have gainful work to return to. Unfortunately by this time the owners, flushed with their triumph over the T.U.C., were more adamant than ever in resisting a compromise, and while the Prime Minister refused to intervene, and the Cabinet was busy preparing a Trade Disputes Act designed to curtail the powers of the Unions — Churchill spoke to the strikers daily.

Meanwhile the coal miners’ strike had continued.

Mr Boothby, a Conservative M.P., and at that time the ‘baby’ of the House, wrote Winston Churchill a long and apprehensive letter stating: “I told him that the impression was growing every day that the Government had now divested itself of all responsibility for the conduct of our national industries in the interests of the country as a whole, that it had capitulated to the demands of one of the parties engaged in the mining industry, and was now preparing legislative action at their behest in order to compass the destruction of the other. I asked how can the Government, having placed the weapon of longer hours, in the hands of the owners, could stand by and allow the miners to be bludgeoned and battered back, district by district? Bludgeoned and battered they will be, in parts of Scotland at any rate. And the instruments? Longer legal hours, cold, and starvation If this is to be followed by legislative action calculated to convey the impression that the Conservative Party has utilized the power given to it by the electorate to plunder the funds of the principal Opposition party, and smash the trade unions, then in Scotland at least a fearful retribution awaits it at the polls.”

Winston showed this letter to the Cabinet; and invited Mr Boothby to become his Parliamentary Private Secretary. Apart from that, he did little else, seeing that there was zero appetite for any social change amongst this conservative government. And although he declared privately that he thought the coal owners were a loathsome lot, and that he was determined that ‘not a shilling’ of Government money should subsidise the miners’ pay packets, because that was the job of their employers — he did not fully subscribe to the orthodox Tory view that the State must not interfere with the laws of supply and demand.

Yet the law of unintended consequences, brought about the opposite result, as the coal strike pursued its long, bitter, and useless course, and predictably ended in the complete defeat of the coal miners. It also cost the country 800,000,000 pounds — a sum which, as Mr Boothby pointed out, “could have settled it, at any time, on fair terms. This left a legacy of bitterness which continues to this day.”

Still, while the coal miners were still on strike Winston Churchill followed the
Prime Minister’s example, and went abroad on holiday in an effort to shift the public conversation, remove the focus of the newspapers, and thus let things cool down on their own. So he took a trip to Egypt and Greece, where he painted the Pyramids and the Parthenon, and on the way home stopped in Italy to observe and study the experiment that Mussolini’s new Italian society, promised.
This he did sloppily because the sights, the smells, and the sounds of Italy captivated him and he spent all his time painting the various vistas, and hardly any time at all talking to Mussolini. Yet just before he departed he gave a statement to the Italian press which shows how far his dislike of Bolshevism had led him, by saying: “I could not help being charmed as so many other people have been by Signor Mussolini’s gentle and simple bearing and by his calm detached poise in spite of so many burdens and dangers.”

He continued by writing this: “If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been wholeheartedly with you from start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. But in England we have not had to fight this danger in the same deadly form. We have our way of doing things. But that we shall succeed in grappling with Communism and choke the life out of it. Of that I am absolutely sure.”

“I will, however, say a word on an international aspect of Fascism. Externally, your movement has rendered a service to the whole world. The great fear which has always beset every democratic leader or working-class leader has been that of being undermined or overbid by someone more extreme than he. It seems that continued progression to the Left, a sort of inevitable landslide into the abyss, was the characteristic of all revolutions. Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the mass of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilized society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter, no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against cancerous growths, and every responsible labour leader in the
country ought to feel his feet more firmly planted in resisting levelling
and reckless doctrines.”

At first glance this statement strikes the reader as one of the most surprising deflections of Winston Churchill’s political career. Yet it is not inconsistent with his classic interpretation of foreign policy. As far as Britain was concerned he was a constitutionalist and a democrat. Yet as far as Europe was concerned, he was willing to hold out a hand of friendship to any country, regardless of its system of government, especially hoping that they would likely want to align themselves, against Britain’s major enemy, Communism. Because at that time Winston regarded Bolshevism as the greatest threat. Dictators who tried to export their wares were not to his liking. Mussolini, as well as Stalin, was soon to learn the truth of this.

Meanwhile, Winston spent nary a weekend away from his country homehouse, the Chartwell manor. His wife was a clever, sympathetic companion who took a keen interest in politics, as well as running the house to Winston’s exacting satisfaction and enjoyment. Since as he frequently said, Democracy was the worst system exempting all others — he practiced this form of government in his loving home as well… and it was here that he declared himself the assistant to the Prime Minister, proving that his wife fulfilled the role of PM in their house far better than himself. At home he was trusted to be the laborer, building cottages, pools, walls and generally laying bricks with a professional abandon and attitude of the proud labour, that made meaningful contribution to life.

As it turns out, Chartwell was also close enough to London for guests to motor down comfortably for lunch and dinner, and almost every Saturday and Sunday, there were relays of people coining and going. Winston’s favourite relaxation was good political talk which he always got from his close friends, Lord Birkenhead, Lord Beaverbrook and Lloyd George. He liked to sit up late at night, and although he woke early in the morning, often did his work in bed, dictating to his secretary and puffing a cigar.

His bedroom was a high, oak-beamed study equipped with a huge desk which was usually covered with foolscap. On the walls were a picture of his nurse, Mrs Everest, a contemporary print of the Duke of Marlborough, and a cartoon of Lord Randolph Churchill. When Parliament was not sitting, he applied himself to the task of finishing the last two volumes of The World Crisis. Often his morning work was interrupted by the shouts and cries of his four children, who ranged in age from eleven to one; and sometimes when the din was too great he put aside his work and joined them in the garden.

They adored his company, for Winston was still a good deal of a schoolboy himself. He loved doing things. He put up a tree-top house, built a goldfish pond, and a bathing pool. But best of all he showed them how to dam the lake and make miniature waterfalls. Frequently, like the children themselves, he got so wet he stood dripping outside the house while maids hurried to put newspapers on the floor.

Winston never forgot how he himself longed for his father’s confidence and love and as a result he made it a point to spent as many hours with his own boy talking to him as a grown-up and letting him share his interests, as humanly possible. Once when he drove Randolph back to Eton he remarked sadly: “I have talked to you more this holiday than my father talked to me in his whole life.”

Part of Winston’s love of doing things sprang from the interest he took in applying a methodical and systematic technique. Just as he enjoyed writing because he liked to fit the sentences neatly to one another and to build up paragraphs that in turn were carefully linked, so he enjoyed the constructional side of manual labour. Probably this is what attracted him to bricklaying. There was a cottage and a long wall to be built on the estate, so he worked with a professional bricklayer five or six hours a day until he could lay a brick a minute. Then in 1928 he joined the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers, at the invitation of Mr Hicks, the General Secretary. He paid a fee of five shillings and was rated as an ‘adult apprentice.’ This drew forth a furious outcry. Winston was the bugbear of the T.U.C. and the Builders’ Union immediately passed a public resolution denouncing Churchill’s act as a piece of humiliating and degrading buffoonery,’ a ‘nauseating situation,’ a ‘good joke for Winston Churchill but a painful insult to members of the Union.’

Nevertheless, Winston stuck to his ticket, although his five shillings was never paid into the Union funds; and during the next twelve years, constructed with his own hands a large part of two cottages and a swimming pool. Often he urged his guests to come out and talk to him while he worked. Dressed in workman’s overalls with a strange and comical hat on his head he liked to discuss the affairs of state. In 1935 when the international situation was darkening and he was growing increasingly alarmed by Baldwin’s placid indifference he muttered gloomily to William Deakin, a young Oxford don who was helping him with his life of Marlborough book, and had been put to work on the cottage building project: “I suppose these bricks will be excavated in 500 years as a relic of Stanley Baldwin’s England.”

Another of Winston Churchill’s major interests at Chartwell House, were his many animals. He loved his pet dogs, cats, goldfish, goats, pigs, and sheep, and was even sentimental about his chickens, his swans and his geese. Once a young man who had been engaged to tutor Winston Churchill’s son was staying in the house, and he said that, he remembers a Sunday lunch when a well cooked goose was brought in and placed in front of Winston Churchill to carve. He plunged the knife in, then paused and said to his wife with deep emotion: “You carve him, Clemmy. He was a friend of mine.”

The public had no opportunity to see this side of Winston. To them he was a pugnacious and formidable figure with an almost machine-like capacity for work, a brilliant mind, an unstable character and a driving ambition. It is understandable that organized labour regarded him as their arch-enemy throughout the five years of his Chancellorship, but although his ideas and sentiments at last fitted the pattern of ultra-Toryism, the Conservatives still found it difficult to accept him. He seemed far more eager to give a dazzling performance than to get at the core of a problem.
The four budgets that followed his first were presented with a masterly touch but amounted to little more than ingenious arithmetical exercises designed to prevent the imposition of 6d on the income tax, which he should never have taken off. The only constructive contribution he made was the introduction of the de-rating scheme for agriculture and industry in 1928 with the resounding slogan: “You should not tax the plant and the tools of production, but only the profits arising from their use.”

As the months passed Winston’s following steadily decreased. This was partly due to the fact that a large section of the Tory Party, led by Mr Amery, bitterly resented the way he clung to his Free Trade principles, refusing to give Protection to British industry which, they felt, was essential if unemployment, then at the million mark, was to be reduced. But probably it was due even more to the fact that his aggressive, overpowering personality and his concern with his own ideas annoyed them just as they had annoyed his Liberal colleagues in the days before the first World War. Lord Beaverbrook points out in his memoirs that Churchill up is quite a different proposition from Churchill down. He comments thus: “Churchill on top of the wave, has in him the stuff of which tyrants are made.”

This explains why the press comments about him at this time are harsh and disagreeable, like this: “If he changes his Party with the facility of partners at a dance, he has always been true to the only Party he really believes in that
which is assembled under the hat of Mr Winston Churchill. His life is one long speech. He does not talk. He orates. He will address you at breakfast as though you were an audience at the Free Trade Hall, and at dinner you find the performance still running. If you meet him in the intervals he will give you more fragments of the discourse, walking up and down the room with the absorbed self-engaged Napoleonic portentousness that makes his high seriousness tremble on the verge of the comic. He does not want to hear your views. He does not
want to disturb the beautiful clarity of his thought by the tiresome reminders of the other side. What has he to do with the other side when his
side is the right side? He is not arguing with you – he is telling you.”

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Even Baldwin found Winston a difficult colleague. He began to tire of
his overpowering energy and his dominating manner. He complained
that: “A Cabinet meeting when Winston was present did not have the
opportunity of considering its proper agenda for the reason that invariably
it had to deal with some extremely clever memorandum submitted by him
on the work of some department other than his own.”

Baldwin’s Government went to the country in 1929. Once again Labour emerged as the largest Party of the three and once again it assumed power with Liberal support. Baldwin confided to a friend that if he ever formed another Government he would not include Winston in it. His inability to fit himself into a team was a disadvantage that outweighed the contribution he had to offer.

Baldwin kept his word, and successive Prime Ministers followed Baldwin’s example. Winston was out of office for ten years.

The Age of the Common Man had very little appeal for Winston Churchill.
He was proud of Britain’s great and educated ruling class which had
governed the nation for so many centuries and brought it safely through
so many perils. This ruling class was no mean, tight, narrow-minded ring.
It was the top layer of an intricate class system that automatically embraced men and women with inherited wealth and aristocratic connections, but also accepted newcomers whose energy and talents had lifted them to positions of eminence. In welcoming distinguished strangers the ruling class constantly refurbished itself with vigorous new blood, yet its impact was strong enough to unite its members in a common outlook towards the traditions and splendours of the nation.

This paternal, benevolent and oligarchic Britain was the sort of Britain
Winston had been brought up to love and revere. He resented the fact
that ever since the Labour Party had become the largest Opposition in the
House of Commons a note of ‘class warfare’ had resounded through the
country which, he felt, was aimed at the very foundations of the British
system. It was true that Winston himself had once attacked the privileged
classes, but that was long ago when he was very young and the privileged
class was very safe; his actions could be classified as political wild oats and

The class warfare of the post-war period was very different; it appeared
to be undermining the common sense of the British working man and
making him wonder whether he wished to continue being ruled by his
betters. The working man had noticed that millions of pounds had been
spent in war; why could not millions of pounds be spent in the peace to
give him a better standard of living? He wanted security, higher wages,
a better education, and a larger share in the nation’s wealth. He also
appeared to want a larger influence in the nation’s industrial and political
life. This last made no sense at all to Winston. Let the working map climb
the ladder first; why should he demand the prizes while he still stood at the

Winston considered the Labour leaders wholly responsible for the
agitation that had sprung up and more than once referred to them contemptuously as ‘not fit to govern’. He did not blame the working man
for being misled by false hopes and promises, nor did he blame him for
rebelling against the grave state of unemployment. For the previous four
years the unemployment figure had hovered between one and two million
men, which, counting the wives and children of the unemployed, directly
affected some five million people. Politicians of all parties were bent on
finding a cure for unemployment, some on humanitarian grounds, others
on political ones. But the truth was that very few politicians were sure of
the answer. Professor Keynes put forward a scheme of large borrowings
for public works to relieve unemployment which Winston denounced as
‘camouflaged inflation.’ Lloyd George supported Keynes and drew up
proposals of his own along similar lines. But neither the Labour Government nor the Conservative Opposition were impressed by these heretical
views. They believed that the cycle of booms and slumps was inevitable,
and that the only method of dealing with it was to follow the prescription
laid down by orthodox finance: to reduce wages and prices, to balance the
budget, and to sit tight.

In March 1930, Winston wrote a series of articles for the Daily Telegraph
“On the Abuse of the Dole” in which he pointed out that many people
who were switching from one job to another were claiming the com-
pensation merely for a few weeks’ unemployment. “The minor vicissitudes
of labouring men such as an occasional month out of work between satis-
factory jobs, are borne in almost every other country in the world in
silence,” he wrote reproachfully. “They may cause some embarrassment or
even distress to the individual but they do not emerge as a problem of the

But none of this was to Winston’s liking. He found economics a boring
subject which he did not and could not understand. He had nothing new
to offer. Yet economics dominated the whole atmosphere of Parliament.
He inclined to the view of his Conservative colleagues that the only
remedy lay in drastic deflation which would be deeply resented by the
working class electorate. He complained to a friend that Parliament had
sunk into a morass of figures and statistics and that politics had never
before been so dull. There were no great personalities and no great issues
that a politician could get his teeth into. Economics cast its particular
blight on every subject that was discussed.

But if Winston had no solution to the economic problem itself at least
he had a solution for preventing economics from destroying the liveliness
of the House of Commons. In June 1930 he delivered the Roman lecture
at Oxford University and made the surprising suggestion that economics
should be isolated from politics. “I see no reason why the political Parliament should not choose in proportion to its Party groupings a subordinate Economic Parliament of say one-fifth of its numbers, and composed of persons of high technical and business qualifications. This idea has received much countenance in Germany. I see no reason why such an assembly should not debate in the open light of day and without caring a halfpenny who won the General Election, or who had the best slogans for curing unemployment, all the grave economic issues by which we are now confronted and afflicted. I see no reason why the Economic Parliament should not for the time being command a greater interest than the political Parliament; nor why the political Parliament should not assist it with its training and experience in methods of debate and procedure. What is
required is a new personnel adapted to the task which has to be done, and
pursuing that task day after day without the distractions of other affairs
and without fear, favour or affection.”

No one took much interest in Winston’s Economic Parliament, so to relieve himself from the boredom of statistics, he took up his pen. First he
wrote ‘My Early Life’ an amusing and charming autobiography which took him as far as the House of Commons and ended with the words: “I married and lived happily ever afterwards.” As far as the public was concerned the work was strangely out of character with the Winston they knew. It was wise and tolerant with a gentle humour which he was not afraid of directing towards himself. It seemed much more the reflections of a calm and elderly philosopher than of a pugnacious politician. Next, Winston wrote the fifth volume of ‘The World Crisis’ & ‘The War on the Eastern Front’ and a series of newspaper articles and essays ranging in subject from one on ‘Moses’ to ‘Shall We All Commit Suicide?’ These essays were later reprinted in a book called Thoughts and Adventures.

But while he was occupied in his literary work a political issue emerged
which aroused his emotions and galvanized his fighting spirit to action.
Ever since the war India had been agitating for self-government. The urge
for independence had been stimulated by Gandhi, the great Hindu religious
leader who preached a policy of passive resistance. Millions of Indians
regarded this strange man as a saint and were now quietly following his
lead and slowly obstructing the wheel of the British administration.

The Viceroy, Lord Halifax (then Lord twin), was in favour of granting
India the freedom she wanted; first, in drawing up a Federal Constitution;
second, in extending self-government in the direction of Dominion status.
He communicated his views to the Labour Government which received
them favourably. The Liberals backed the Labour Government and the

Tories, surprisingly enough, backed them both. For once there was an
all-Party agreement on the policy Britain should follow. Undoubtedly
the reason for this accord was the fact that public opinion had been
sharply affected by the lesson of Ireland. India was merely asking for the
same Dominion status that had been granted to Canada and Australia.
There was no reason to believe that she would leave the Empire. If Eng-
land could retain her good-will by granting concessions in time there was
much to gain; if she tried to rule by repression as she had in Ireland there
was even more to lose.

Winston, however, did not see the matter in this light. He was horrified
at the idea of relaxing control of any kind over India. He was willing to
extend Indian self-government within the provinces, but not to grant a
Federal Constitution and certainly not to promise them Dominion status.
Had not Lord Randolph Churchill once described India as: “That most truly
bright and precious gem in the crown of the Queen, the possession of
which, more than that of all your Colonial dominions, has raised in power,
in resource, wealth and authority, this small island home of ours far above
the level of the majority of nations and states? ”

Winston was devoid of sympathy for an act of abdication which he not
only regarded as foolish but as wholly unnecessary. All this talk of self-
government had sprung up because the statesmen in London were pusillanimous and weak. He did not believe force was necessary to hold India;
merely a firm resolve and some plain speaking.

Since no one else was going to do the plain speaking Winston took it upon himself. He described the proposed concessions as a: “Hideous act of
self-mutilation astounding to every nation in the world. In words similar
to those his father had used he tried to rouse public opinion against casting
away ‘that most truly bright and precious jewel in the crown of the King,
which more than all our other Dominions and Dependencies constituted
the glory and strength of the British Empire. That great organism would
pass at a stroke out of life into history. From such a catastrophe there could
be no recovery.”

He became the leading spirit of the Indian Empire Society, a group composed mainly of Conservatives organized to resist self-government. For the first time he found himself working with the Die-hards of the Tory Party, the same band which had poured contempt upon him for many years.

Throughout his opposition Winston’s main attack was against Gandhi,
and as the weeks went by his shafts were hurled with increasing violence.
On 12 December, 1930, he told a London audience: ‘The truth is that
Gandhiism and all it stands for will, sooner or later, have to be grappled
with and finally crushed. It is no use trying to satisfy a tiger by feeding it
on cat’s meat.’ Two months later, on 23 February, 1931, he told the
Council of the West Essex Conservative Association that it was ‘alarming
and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer,
now posing as a fakir of a type well-known in the East, striding half-naked
up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, while he is still organizing and con-
ducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms
with the representative of the King-Emperor.’ One month later, on
18 March, he told a huge meeting at the Albert Hall: ‘I am against this
surrender to Gandhi. I am against these conversations and agreements
between Lord Irwin and Mr Gandhi. Gandhi stands for the expulsion of
the British from India. Gandhi stands for the permanent expulsion of
British trade from India. Gandhi stands for the substitution of Brahmin
domination for British rule in India. You will never be able to come to
terms with Gandhi.’

In the course of his campaign Winston accused politicians of all parties
who supported Lord Irwin’s proposals, of defeatism and a lack of patriot-
ism. This stung Sir Herbert Samuel, the Liberal, to deliver a scathing pro-
nouncement. ‘If indeed the truest patriot is a man who breathes hatred,
who lays the seeds of war, and stirs up the greatest number of enemies
against his country, he said, ‘then Winston Churchill is a great patriot.

The Conservative Opposition was furious with Churchill. They told
Baldwin that this was the result of putting his trust in a man like Winston,
an ambitious schemer, who would never work for any team unless he
called the tune. They went on to say that his chief aim was to split the
Conservative Party and wrest the leadership from Baldwin. This was not
altogether fair for although no one doubts that he would have liked to
grasp the prize, and although he may have believed the Indian issue a
likely way to do it, his sincerity about India has long since been proved by
the consistency of his views. In January 1930 he resigned from the Tory
‘Shadow Cabinet’ and three months later Baldwin relieved him of his
position as Chairman of the Conservative Finance Group and appointed
Neville Chamberlain in his stead The breach was now complete.

Although Winston’s main concern was to rally Conservatives against the
official Opposition, he still had time to launch an intermittent and powerful
torpedo at the Labour Government. One of the most merciless attacks he
ever made in the House of Commons was directed at Ramsay MacDonald
in connection with the Trade Disputes Act. The Labour Party was determined to repeal the measure which had been introduced by the Tories
after the General Strike to dip the wings of the Trade Unionists. Mr Mac-
Donald himself was believed to be only luke-warm on the subject, giving
way half-heartedly to the Left-wing pressure in his own Party. ‘What is
the Prime Minister going to do about it?’ Winston asked in the House of
Commons. “I spoke the other day, after he had been defeated in an im-
portant division, about his wonderful skill in falling without hurting him-
self. He falls, but up he comes again, smiling, a little dishevelled but still
smiling. But this is a juncture, a situation which will try to the very fullest
the particular arts in which he excels. I remember when I was a child being taken to the celebrated Barnum’s Circus which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the program which I most desired to see was the one described as ‘The Boneless Wonder.’ My parents judged that the spec-
tacle would be too revolting and demoralizing for my youthful eyes, and
I have waited fifty years to see the Boneless Wonder, sitting on the Treasury Bench.”

Then Winston proceeded to give an imaginary conversation which had taken place between Ramsay MacDonald and Lloyd George. ‘After the usual compliments, the Prime Minister said, “We have never been colleagues, we have never been friends not what you would call holiday friends, but we have both been Prime Ministers and dog don’t eat dog. Just look at the monstrous bill the Trade Unions and our wild fellows have foisted on me. Do me a favour and I will never forget it. Take it upstairs and cut its dirty throat.”

Winston’s speech was greeted with howls of appreciative laughter. Even the Labour benches could not suppress their smiles. But Ramsay MacDonald never forgave him.

The India Bill did not pass through its first stage until 1935. It granted India Federal Constitution and gave a solemn pledge that she would be given Dominion status in the near future.

Winston Churchill fought on and on. And he fought the India Bill all the way to the bitter end. He spoke solemn and in a rebellious contrarian fashion with flair: “I am told that I am alone among men who have held high office in this country in the view I take about Indian policy. If I am alone I am going to receive shortly an ally; a very powerful ally; an ally whom I dread; an ally with a sombre tide; his tide is The March of Time.”

But Winston was proven wrong. Indian independence, which finally became a reality in 1947, was not a catastrophe. It did not result in the severing of India’s ties with the Commonwealth. It did not mark the end of the British Empire. The brightest jewel in the Imperial Crown has become one of the strongest partners in the British family of nations.

This one time the ‘March of Time’ did not turn out to be Churchill’s ally.

When he made his final attack in the House of Commons and took his seat after a tremendous peroration, Leo Amery, his Harrow school-mate, spoiled the effect by rising and saying in mock serious tone: “Here endeth the last chapter of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.” The House roared with laughter. Members had ceased to take Winston seriously on the subject of India.

In 1931 Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden deserted their Labour colleagues and joined forces with the Conservatives in forming a National Government in order to deal with the financial crisis produced by the American crash. The National Government consisted of only a handful of Socialists and Liberals. It was predominantly Conservative, and although Ramsay MacDonald assumed the Premiership — Stanley Baldwin was the real master.

Neither man would invite Winston into the Government. They wouldn’t have him, at any price.

To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 16, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 39)

Winston Churchill fought hard in these elections, all in order to retain his seat in the House of Commons, and realizing that he had to convince the electors that he still maintained his reforming liberal zeal, and was not leaning towards the Right.

Indeed this time, he had prepared his speech with great care, and he told the audience how important it was to steer a middle course between the extremes of die-hard Toryism on the one hand, and Socialism on the other.

He said that: “I do not think, that the country is in a fit condition to be torn and harried by savage domestic warfare. What we require now is not a period of turmoil but a period of stability and recuperation. Let us stand together and tread a middle way.”

But in his election address, issued the week before, he had been careful to establish himself as a true progressive.

He talked about housing, about larger unemployment benefits, and about an improvement in the public services.

He attacked the Tories as the retrograde party saying: “Mr Bonar Law has described his policy as one of negation. Such a message of negation will strike despair in the heart of every earnest social worker and of every striver after social justice. He cannot be accepted by any generous-hearted man or woman.
Over the portals of 10 Downing Street the new Prime Minister had inscribed
these words: “All hope abandon ye who enter here.””

But the Dundee electorate was not impressed. They felt that Winston’s interest in domestic affairs and his concern with the condition of the working classes were only political opportunism. Besides this, they disapproved of his attitude in foreign affairs. Winston, on the other hand, felt that he had never done so well politically as he had in the post-war years.

Winston later wrote this: “I had in two years, successfully conducted the settlement of our affairs in Palestine and Iraq, and had carried through the extremely delicate and hazardous arrangements necessitated by the Irish Treaty. I think I may say that the session of 1922 was the most prosperous I have ever had as a Minister in the House of Commons.”

But Dundee had forgotten Palestine and Iraq; and Winston’s patient negotiations over the Irish question were overshadowed by the fact that he had been Minister of War in a Government which had instituted the ‘Black and Tans.’ Most of all they resented his interference in Russia and Poland. The Radicals had a firm belief that nations must be allowed to handle their own affairs and that all interference came under the hated head of Tory Imperialism.

On the evening of 14th of November, Winston attempted to address a mass meeting of nine thousand people in the Drill Hall. The hall was packed with opponents, seething with emotion, discontent and ill-will. He was carried onto the platform in an invalid chair. “I was struck by looks of passionate hatred on the faces of some of the younger men and women. Indeed but for my helpless condition I am sure they would have hit me.”

He was unable to deliver his speech. Every time he started the audience burst into song, swelling the hall with the strains of: “Tell me the old, old story.” And above the din were bitter, hysterical cries of: “This time we’ll do the same as Manchester.”

When the poll was announced Winston and his National Liberal partner, Mr D. J. MacDonald, were defeated by the two Left-wing candidates, both of whom emerged with the huge majorities of ten thousand each. For the first time since 1900 Winston was out of Parliament.

He said: “In the twinkling of an eye I found myself without an office, without a seat, without a party, and even without an appendix.”

As the Dundee result of 1922 was known, Mr and Mrs Churchill left for the South of France. Winston was still weak from his appendicitis operation and the doctor agreeably recommended the sunshine and the sea air of Cannes for his health’s convalescence. Accompanied by a maid, a valet and a secretary, and equipped with plenty of foolscap and his painting kit, he cheerfully set off. Winston loved bright colours and since the dull English sky often prevented him from transmitting them to his canvas he made the most of the brilliant days that stretched out before him. Every afternoon he put up his easel on the beach or along the quiet country lanes and painted to his heart’s content. He wrote: “I agree with Ruskin, in his denunciation of that school of painting who “eat slate-pencil and chalk, and assure everybody that they are nicer and purer than strawberries and plums. I cannot pretend to feel impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns. When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject. But then I shall require a still gayer palette than I get here below. I expect orange and vermilion will be the darkest, dullest colours upon it, and beyond them will be a whole range of wonderful- new colours which will delight the celestial

To Winston painting was a solace, a relaxation and an infinite pleasure.
Although Augustus John, found that he had ‘extraordinary talent’ and Orpen proclaimed that he was ‘most promising’ he did not attempt to enter the ranks of the professionals. In 1921, however, he exhibited five landscapes in Paris under the name of Charles Morin, and sold four of them for 30 pounds each. Yet his head was not turned. He understood enough to appreciate the genius of the great artist and consequently was aware of his own limitations; but this in no way diminished his enjoyment. He found that painting opened out a fascinating new world. He was noticing shadows and lights and colours he had never been aware of before, and even his travels took on an added excitement. He began to feel sorry for the people who rushed around Europe searching for pleasure in mammoth hotels, unaware of the priceless gifts they were missing. Once one was interested in painting, “the vain racket of the tourist gives way to the
calm enjoyment of the philosopher, intensified by an enthralling sense of
action and endeavor.”

But whereas painting was a pastime, writing was a business. In this field
Winston was the true professional for in it he earned his living when
politics failed, and took pride in the large sums his work commanded.
Although he had not produced a book since the biography of his father
appeared sixteen years earlier, when he was out of office in the war he had
found no difficulty in providing for his family by newspaper and magazine
articles. Now he no longer had to write for a living because in 1919 he inherited a fortune under the will of his great-grandmother, the Marchioness of Londonderry, and thus now had an income in the region of 5,000 a year. Yet
he still regarded the creation of books as his chief occupation after politics,
and as soon as he reached the South of France, he settled down to work writing.

For some years he had been carefully filing letters, documents and memoranda for a book on the war. It was to be a major effort, published in four or five volumes and entitled The World Crisis. He had already outlined and prepared much of the first two volumes, one of which dealt with the years from 1911 to the outbreak of the war, and the second with the first year of the conflict and his part in the Dardanelles tragedy. The chapters on the Dardanelles had been written during the war and submitted to the Royal Commission appointed to investigate the matter, as a justification of his actions. These went into the book almost as they stood.

He worked every morning dictating to his secretary, often pacing up and down the room chewing a cigar. He could talk a book better than write one and he often got through three or four thousand words a day. The first volume of ‘The World Crisis’ appeared in April 1923 and the second, came out in October of the same year.

The book attracted wide attention. It was a brilliant effort, the argument
was lucid and persuasive, the characters stood out boldly, the prose
sparkled and flowed, the narrative was compelling, and the theme was
presented in the grand manner worthy of a great drama. Yet it was not
history. It lacked the purpose of the scholar eager to present his story with
scrupulous objectivity, and revealed the purpose of the politician anxious
to explain and justify his actions. It was carefully done, for it breathed an
air of neutrality, yet by its skilful emphasis was strongly partisan. This was
no reflection on Winston. The book was an artistic triumph and he had
recorded events as he saw them. He was capable of great generosity, but
not of impartiality. He believed in his own ideas and his own powers with
such an intensity that he could rarely see the merits of an approach to a
problem other than his own.

The reviewers hailed the two volumes as an absorbing contribution,
but they all fastened on its personal character. Professor Pollard, professor
of English history at London University, reviewed the book in The Times
under the heading: ‘Apologia for the Admiralty First Class Material for
History’. He described it as ‘more brilliant and fascinating than the
biography of his father’, then went on to say: ‘Wide vision and a vivid
imagination lift alike his matter and his style far above the pedestrian scope
of the mere chronicler of naval and military events or the retailer of official
information. His book will therefore appeal to a vastly wider public than
the more precise and impersonal histories of the naval and military opera-
tions of the war. Serious students will not need, and others will not heed,
the warning that an apologia may be first-class material for history but
cannot be history itself.’

Winston’s friends could not refrain from being malicious gossip at his expense.
Lord Balfour told someone that he was immersed in Winston’s brilliant
autobiography disguised as a history of the universe, and another colleague
commented: “Winston has written an enormous book about himself and
called it ‘The World Crisis.'”

However, nasty the gossip, from friends and foes alike – the books netted him well over 20,000 pounds, and he spent all that book-money on buying his fine home, the Chartwell House, on a beautiful hill overlooking the Kentish countryside.

This was to be his vantage point, his monastery, his studio, and his family home, away from the rest of the world.

Despite his literary triumph, his new country house, his painting and his
other countless activities, Winston was not happy. He was a creature of
moods, and when he was out of office his pleasures were disturbed by a
hankering for power which increased as the days passed. His thoughts
were always on politics. It was some comfort to be able to reconstruct
events as he saw them in a political book, but how much more exciting
it was to create the events themselves. He followed every debate in the
House of Commons, and every move the Government made; and when
people came to dine with him he sat at the table until midnight discussing
the personalities and questions of the day. The men in power were a
mediocre lot; how much better he would handle things, he thought, if
only he were given the chance.

But at this point the future looked bleak, for the General Election of
1922, at which he had been defeated, had returned the Conservatives with
344 seats. It had left the Liberals weak, divided and impotent. The Lloyd
George Liberals had won only 57 seats and the Asquith. Liberals 60. The
Labour Party had emerged as the official Opposition with its 142 Members,
by far the most they had ever sent to the House of Commons. Did this
mean that Liberalism was dead? If so, where did Winston fit in? The
Conservatives would have nothing to do with him and he would have
nothing to do with the Labour Party. Besides, Labour cordially detested
him. There was only one answer: somehow he must make his peace with
the Tories.

Winston’s friends regarded his future dubiously. Even Lloyd George
and Lord Birkenhead, who appreciated his brilliant gifts, predicted that he
would make a greater contribution to history as a writer than as a states-
man. He was out on a political limb, and it seemed doubtful if he could
ever climb back.

It was apparent to anyone who took an interest in national affairs that an
important change was taking place in English political life. For over a
century the two great parties of the State, Liberal and Conservative, had
fulfilled opposing but complementary functions- The duty of Con-
servatives was to ‘conserve’. Their hands were seldom off the brake. They
defended the status quo and resisted most changes until they saw that
change was absolutely inevitable, then accepted it with as good a grace as
possible. The Liberals, on the other hand, constituted a reforming Party.
William Ewart Gladstone summed up their outlook when he said: ‘I will
back the masses against the classes the world over.’ The Liberal function
was to spread democratic rights, many of which were enjoyed only by
the privileged class.

But whereas, to the bulk of the people, the struggle of the working man
in the nineteenth century was mainly concerned with political freedoms
such as the right to vote, and the right of Trade Unions to organize and
expand, in the twentieth century the struggle took on a different aspect.
Political freedom was clearly defined and dearly established. The working
man was now concerned with economic freedom. Britain was the richest
manufacturing country in the world and London the greatest capital city.
Yet at the turn of the century in London itsdf thirty per cent of the popu-
lation was suffering from malnutrition. Nowhere in the Western world
were there greater extremes of riches and poverty. The wealth of the
nation lay in the hands of a tiny minority. Even as late as 1936 it was
estimated that only one per cent of the population owned fifty-five per
cent of the nation’s private property.

Lloyd George understood and sympathized with the discontent of the
working dasses. He made British history by using the budget as an instru-
ment for re-distributing the national income. Taxation of the rich was
made to pay for a whole system of social benefits and security. But
Lloyd George’s legislation was only a first step in satisfying the aspirations
of the wage-earning population. During the war progress came to a halt,
but when the conflict was over the demands were more pressing than ever.
The working classes had been promised ‘homes fit for heroes’ and they
were determined to get them. However, there was little reforming zeal
about Lloyd George’s Coalition Government, which was mainly domi-
nated by Conservatives. And Lloyd George himself, preoccupied with the
Paris Peace Treaty, seemed to have lost his Radical outlook. Up till this
time the bulk of the working class had voted Liberal. Now they began to
turn towards the Labour Party as their only hope.

But the Labour Party itself had undergone a drastic change. When it
was formed in 1900 the idea of- its leader, Keir Hardie, was to mould a
political organization, backed by the Trade Unions, strong enough to
send working men to Parliament to represent the interests of their own
class. Hardie resented the fact that the Liberals, despite their progressive
ideas, generally refused to accept miners or factory hands as their candi-
dates. He was convinced that the case of the working man would never be
placed forcibly before the country until the working man himself had
the opportunity to state it.

Until 1918 this remained the simple object of Keir Hardie’s party. But
when the war ended Labour broadened its aims. A new constitution was
drafted by Sidney Webb, designed to end Labour’s narrow class appeal by
addressing itself to all those who ‘produced by hand or brain. It also
adopted Socialism as its faith, but it was not the Socialism of Karl Marx. It
was Christian Socialism which rejected revolutionary methods, basing
itself firmly on democratic institutions and the theory of ‘gradualism’.
Its aim, it declared, was by these orthodox methods ‘to secure for the
producers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most
equitable distribution thereof that may be possible, upon a. basis of com-
mon ownership of the means of production and the best obtainable system
of popular administration and control of each industry and service.’

The widened appeal of the Labour Party attracted new recruits from all
walks of life. Professional men from the middle classes and even aristocrats began to flock to its banner. Several leading Liberals such as Mr Noel Buxton and Sir Charles Trevelyan joined its ranks. The historic division between the English Conservative and the English Radical was now becoming a division between wage earners backed by a large number of professional men and women, and property owners supported by a cross- section of all classes who believed that the well-to-do made the best rulers.
The argument between the two parties was the age-old quarrel over


If the Liberal Party was dead, and the struggle of the future lay between
Labour and Conservatism, Winston had no difficulty in making his
choice. Before the war Lloyd George’s immense driving power had
carried him along the path of Radicalism but now that that impetus had
subsided, he reverted instinctively to his natural aristocratic background.

He had a genuine desire to see a minimum standard of living established
below which no one would be allowed to fall, and he vigorously held the
opinion that compulsory insurance was the answer. But he never had any
patience with the idea that the manual labourer, simply because he was in a
majority in the country, should rule or dominate it. He felt that the
nation’s prosperity depended on brains and enterprise, and his Liberalism
took the form of denouncing privilege in favour of ‘the golden ideal of
“careers open to talent’. But that is as far as it went. If the working man
wanted power and responsibility let him climb up the ladder; but he
should not sit at the bottom and demand the prizes by virtue of number
rather than ability.

The problem for Winston, therefore, was not in making a choice be-
tween the two parties, but in finding a way of installing himself in the
good graces of the Conservatives. Only one bridge was possible: an issue
that transcended the differences between Liberals and Conservatives and
ranged them on the same side. Ever since the war Winston had been a
relentless enemy of Bolshevism. If he could convince the electorate that
the British Labour Party had an affinity with the tyrants of Russia, no
one could blame him for deserting a weakened Liberal Party to lend his
strength to the only force capable of real opposition.

It is difficult to judge a man’s motives fairly. They are often made up of
an elaborate mixture of idealism and calculation. Winston may have had a
genuine fear that the Labour Party would prove unconstitutional if it got
into power. In those days the Movement contained a good many ex-
tremists, and it was even rumoured that the Daily Herald was supported by
Russian funds. Some of the extremists advocated a General Strike as a basic tenet of policy, and the Government took the threat so seriously that as early as the summer of 1920 preparations were begun to set up a volunteer organization to operate in case of an emergency. On the other hand many people considered these provisions hysterical, for the Labour Party leaders, who represented the majority of their followers, were deeply pledged to democratic methods and repeatedly and publicly had repudiated the ‘catastrophic’ theories of the Marxists.

Whenever Winston embraced a cause, however, it impressed itself upon
him with resolve, and he thus treated the public to a horrific picture of strife and upheaval in the event of Labour reaching full power.

But most Liberals and even a large number of Conservatives did not share
his belief that the Socialist leaders were such a sinister lot. Many of them
were openly embarrassed by his extreme point of view, but this only
strengthened his fervour. On 4 May, 1923, he addressed the Aldwych
Club in London: ‘We see developing a great, vehement, deliberate attack
upon the foundations of society We see not only Liberals of the Left
but Conservatives of the Right, assuring the country that there is no
danger of Socialism or of a Socialist Government, that it is a mere bogey
or bugbear not worthy of serious attention; that the Labour leaders are
very sensible and honest men, who would never think of carrying out
their pledges. Finally we are told that in any case we must not resist them
or organize effectively against them, because it would not be democratic
or modern-minded to oppose Labour. Thus all resistance to violent change
is paralysed or reduced to feebleness and futility.

Winston was only happy when he was fighting a dangerous foe and as
a result most of those attacks lost their effect through over-statement, and
more than once he received a biting indictment from H. G. Wells. ‘He
believes quite naively,’ Wells wrote, that he belongs to a peculiarly gifted
and privileged class of beings to whom the lives and affairs of common
men are given over, the raw material of brilliant careers. His imagination
is obsessed by dreams of exploits and a career. It is an imagination closely
akin to the d’Annunzio type. In England, d’Annunzio would have been a
Churchill; in Italy, Churchill would have been a d’Annunzio. He is a great
student and collector of the literature of Napoleon I, that master adven-
turer. Before all things he desires a dramatic world with villains and one

When one reads these scathing vignettes one can only ponder on the
narrow line between political failure and success. In those days it was the
fashion to ridicule Churchill and if he had died before the age of sixty his
obituary notice would not have praised him as a statesman. The political
genius was there but the occasion was lacking. When it finally presented
itself, H.G.Wells, and millions of his countrymen, were thankful that
Churchill was there to play the part.

In 1923 an event occurred which proved advantageous for Winston Churchill .
Bonar Law, the Conservative Prime Minister and Winston’s firm political
enemy, resigned and soon afterwards died, and Stanley Baldwin, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, succeeded to the Premiership. Baldwin, a
shrewd, kind, stolid Englishman, who liked the countryside, smoked
pipes and was a cousin of Rudyard Kipling, was worried by the fact that
unemployment still hovered at the million mark. He came to the con-
clusion that the only way to cure this national disease was by introducing
tariffs against foreign goods and thereby stimulating British trade. But in
view of pledges given by Bonar Law in the 1922 election he did not feel
that he could undertake such a drastic step without having a mandate
from the country. Consequently a general election took place.

Baldwin thus picked the only issue capable of uniting all Liberals in one
battleline. Asquith and Lloyd George at once joined forces on the subject
of Free Trade. This put Winston in an awkward position. He had no wish
to fight against a Conservative candidate when he was trying to re-enter
the ranks of the Conservative Party. However, he found a way out of the
dilemma. He stood as a Liberal Free Trader at West Leicester where his
chief opponent in a three-cornered fight was not a Conservative but a
Socialist, Mr F. W. Pethick-Lawrence.

Winston’s campaign was noisy and excited. His violent attacks on the
Labour Party raised the temperature to boiling point and drew packed
meetings filled with irate hecklers. The Socialists flung up every accusation
they could find. Winston’s The World Crisis had revived the old con-
troversy of Antwerp and the Dardanelles and these subjects were raised so
consistently that General Sir Ian Hamilton finally sent a telegram pointing
out to the public that the expedition had been ‘triumphantly vindicated’
at a meeting of the Senior Naval and Army Officers. Winston himself
answered his opponents vigorously. ‘The Dardanelles might have saved
millions of lives. Don’t imagine that I run away from the Dardanelles:
I glory in it…

He was so bitterly hated by a large section of the working class, how-
ever, that when he spoke in London, at Walthamstow, on 3 December,
1923, the authorities were obliged to send both mounted and foot police
to protect him. A brick was hurled at the window of his car, and a man
who had shaken his fist in Winston Churchill’s face was hustled off to the police station. Winston gave an interview to the Evening News describing the hecklers as ‘the worst crowd I have ever seen in England in twenty-five
years of public life. They were more like Russian wolves than British
workmen if they are British workmen howling, foaming and spitting,
and generally behaving in a way absolutely foreign to the British working
classes. He was defeated by 13,000 votes to 9,000.

The result of the general election was that Conservatives, Liberals and
Labour were each returned in numbers that gave no single party a clear
majority over the other two. The only way a Government could be
carried on was by two parties forming a coalition. It was unthinkable at
this period that Conservative and Labour could work together, and the
fact that Conservatives and Liberals had opposed each other on the main
issue of the election, Protection, made this second combination impossible.
The only alternative was a Liberal-Labour Government. And since Labour
had more seats than the Liberals it fell to them to form an Administration
with Liberal backing. Thus Ramsay MacDonald became Prime Minister
of England.

It must have been apparent to Winston Churchill , as it was to everyone else
connected with politics, that a Labour Government held in power by
Liberal support could not introduce any drastic changes. It must also have
been apparent to him that the Labour leaders, Ramsay MacDonald, J. R.
Clynes, Philip Snowden and Arthur Henderson, were not the sort of men
for whom revolutionary tactics had any appeal whatsoever. Most of them
were nonconformists and all of them were democrats; they were high-
minded men whose main purpose was to alleviate the conditions of the
poor. There was nothing in Ramsay MacDonald’s philosophy that could
have prevented him becoming a Liberal; indeed, only a short while pre-
viously MacDonald had advocated the dropping of Socialism as a party
label ‘because there is a sort of bookish association about socialism’.

However, Winston’s only hope of a reconciliation with the Con-
servatives was to keep the Socialist bogey alive and inflate it as much as
possible. On 17 January, 1924, he wrote a letter to the press stating the
following view: ‘The currents of Party warfare are carrying us into
dangerous waters. The enthronement in office of a Socialist Government
will be a serious national misfortune such as has usually befallen great
States only on the morrow of their defeat in war. It will delay the return
of prosperity, it will open a period of increasing political confusion and
disturbance, it will place both the Liberal and the Labour Parties in a
thoroughly false position . . . The great central mass of the nation desires
to see foreign affairs and social reform dealt with by the new Parliament
on their merits without rancour- or prejudice, and in a sincere spirit of
good-will. All such prospects will be destroyed by the accession to office
of a minority party innately pledged to the fundamental subversion of the
existing social and economic civilization and organized for that purpose
and that purpose alone. Strife and tumults, deepening and darkening, will
be the only consequence of minority Socialist rule.

A month later, in February, a Conservative seat fell vacant in the Abbey
Division of Westminster. Winston at once set about trying to get himself
adopted as the Conservative candidate. His Tory friends, Lord Birken-
head, Austen Chamberlain and Lord Balfour, all used their influence on
his behalf. On 24 March an article about Winston written by Lord Birken-
head was spectacularly displayed in the Sunday Times. It dealt with Winston’s early career and told how, in the writer’s opinion, Winston would
never have severed his connections with the Tory Party if the Tory Prime
Minister, Arthur Balfour, had encouraged him by offering him a job.
Winston had always been a Tory at heart. He was a ‘restive young
thoroughbred and his defection had been one of the ‘tragedies of modern
polities’ for no one believed in the ‘stately continuity of English life more
thoroughly than he. Birkenhead then went on to say: ‘To those who
know him well it is very remarkable how complete is the public miscon-
ception of the man. He is looked upon as reserved, insolent and even
bullying. For these illusions his own demeanour is (unintentionally) much
to blame. He has no small talk, and says everything which comes into his
mind. Sometimes caustic and disagreeable things come into it though in
private life this never happens … He has indeed, in the intimacy of
personal friendship, a quality which is almost feminine in its caressing
charm. And he has never in all his life failed a friend, however embarrassing the obligation which he felt it necessary to honour proved at the moment.’

Despite the powerful intervention on his behalf the Conservative
Association of Westminster turned down Winston’s application in favour
of Captain Otho Nicholson, a nephew of the retiring Member. Winston,
however, was undaunted and on 10 March the press carried his announce-
ment that he was standing as an ‘independent and Anti-Socialist’ candidate.
‘My candidature,’ he explained, ‘is in no way hostile to the Conservative
Party or its leaders, on the contrary I recognize that the Party must now
become the main rallying ground for the opponents of the Socialist
Party. In the King’s Speech of the late Government the Conservative
leaders have announced a broad progressive policy in social matters and
have made declarations which in their main outline might well have
served as the King’s Speech of a Liberal Government.’

Winston’s intervention almost comes under the heading of a schoolboy
prank. He often had an irresistible urge to make the ‘stuffier element’ of
the Tory Party sit up and take notice and the Westminster election pro-
vided him with a golden opportunity. Conservatives in the House of
Commons were divided into two groups; those who regarded his candida-
ture as a glorious knock-about turn and those who decried it as a mon-
strous act for a man who called himself an ‘anti-Socialist’. Westminster
was a Conservative seat. The only possible hope of Labour winning the
contest lay in dividing the Tory vote, which easily might have been the
result of Winston’s entry. Several angry letters appeared in The Times.
One by William Morris, a City Councillor, declared: ‘Westminster Con-
servatives have selected Mr Nicholson as their anti-Socialist candidate.
Winston Churchill’s intrusion is an attempt to spoil his chances where, therefore, is Winston Churchill’s anti-Socialism?’

Winston answered his critics with an extraordinary piece of political
humbug. ‘If I thought that the present Conservative candidate,’ he said,
‘really represented the force of character of the constituency I should not
have come forward as a candidate. An important public principle is
involved. The days of family preserves and pocket boroughs ought not to
be revived. It is not right that the Westminster Abbey Division should be
passed on from hand to hand as if it were a piece of furniture handed on
from father to son, or from uncle to nephew.’ {Contrast with: On February 1944, when Winston Churchill was Prime Minister, Lord Harrington, the Duke of Devonshire eldest son, stood as a Government candidate in the byelection at West Derbyshire, which had previously been represented by his uncle. Winston wrote him the following letter of support: My dear Harrington, I see that they are attacking you because your family has been identified for about three hundred years with the Parliamentary representation of West Derbyshire. It ought, on the contrary, to be a matter of pride to the constituency to have such a long tradition of such constancy and fidelity through so many changing scenes and
circumstances . . .’ [The Times: 12 March, 1924] }

The byelection was an exciting affair and front page news. The Abbey
Division was the most colourful seat in England; it included Buckingham
Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Soho, Pimlico, the Strand, Covent
Garden, a fashionable residential district, a slum area, and a slice of theatreland. A Conservative M.P. lent Winston a luxurious house in Lord North Street, equipped with priceless Gainsborough pictures, as his headquarters.
A bevy of beautiful Society ladies canvassed for him, and the chorus girls
at Daly’s sat up all night dispatching his election address.

Winston fought the campaign almost entirely against the Socialists.
His speeches were woven against a background of blood and thunder,
against the ruin and shame that a Labour Government would bring to
Britain. The fact that a Labour Government had been in office for three
months and was conducting affairs in an orderly and dignified way did
not dismay him. ‘How well the Socialist Government is doing?’ he jeered.
‘How moderate, how gentle they are. How patriotic Mr Thomas’s
speeches. How lofty Mr MacDonald’s views of his functions. How pious
is Mr Henderson. How prudent is Mr Snowden, how careful of the
State. I say there is no correspondence between this glossy surface, and
the turbulent currents that are flowing beneath. These leaders can never
restrain their followers.’ Winston soon had a spectacular machine working for him. He had one in March, 1924 when he gathered over thirty Conservative M.P.S and a glittering array of peers and peeresses to canvass for him.

He also had the support of Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail.

Nevertheless he did not feel he had a chance unless he could persuade an important Tory political leader to back his cause. Lord Balfour agreed to support him but Baldwin would not consent unless some other Conservative leader came out in support of Nicholson. This not only seems an extraordinary attitude for a Party leader to adopt towards an official candidate, but the very fact that Baldwin himself delayed
issuing an endorsement of Nicholson prompted Mr Leo Amery to write
a letter to The Times in his support. At once Balfour’s letter was released
and broadcast through the constituency. He informed Winston of his
strong desire to see him once more in the House of Commons, ‘once more
able to use your brilliant gifts in the public discussion of the vital problems
with which the country is evidently confronted.’

However, the rank and file of the Tory Party had not yet accepted
Winston. Many of them resented his intervention against the candidate
their Association had adopted. Captain Nicholson plastered the con-
stituency with posters. ‘Dundee didn’t. West Leicester laughed. West-
minster won’t.’ And Captain Nicholson proved to be right. Despite all
the great names, the glamour and glitter, Winston’s forceful and spell-
binding oratory, the unknown Nicholson defeated him by forty-three
votes. {The result was as follows: Captain Nicholson (Conservative) 8,187; Rt. Hon. Winston S. Churchill (Independent and Anti-Socialist) 8,144; Fenner Brockway (Socialist) 6,165; Scott Duckers (Liberal) 291.
21 March, 1924.}
The following day The Times wrote acidly: ‘The features of his late campaign that attracted legitimate criticism were his ill-timed insistence on sheer anti-Socialism as the paramount claim on the electors at this
moment, and the impulse that drove him, holding these views, to
jeopardize a seat which without him was at least anti-Socialist. It is no
new thing, after all, to discover that judgment is not the most con-
spicuous of Winston Churchill’s remarkable gifts.’

But Winston was far from downcast His path was now clear. He had
severed his connection with the Liberals, he had a number of powerful
Conservative friends, he had the good will of the Conservative leader,
Mr Baldwin, and every day he was establishing himself more securely as a
Conservative champion against the forces of ‘revolution’. Although none
of his prophecies about the Labour Government were fulfilled and they
remained a Party of restraint and moderation, Winston was determined
not to let the public forget that they were there, and merely altered the
line of his attack. On 8 May he said at Liverpool: ‘The present Government
is one vast movement of sham and humbug … It has deserted with the
utmost cynicism the whole of its Socialist principles so far as its present
finance, legislation and administration is concerned. . . .’

In the autumn of 1924, only nine months after the Labour Government
had taken over, the Liberals withdrew their support and Ramsay Mac-
Donald was forced to go to the country. The election is known in history
as ‘The Red Letter Election’. A few days before the poll the Foreign Office
published a letter, purported to be from Zinovieff, head of the Bolshevik
Third International, calling on the British Communist Party to organize
an armed revolt in England. This was bitterly denounced by the Labour
Government as a forgery, and to this day the truth of the matter is not
known. But forgery or not, it secured the Conservatives a huge majority
over all parties.

The two years that Winston had been out of Parliament were to prove a
turning point in English politics. They were to mark the end of the Liberal
Party as a parliamentary power, and the rise of the Labour Party as the
official opposition to Toryism; they were also to mark the advent of
fifteen years of the most mediocre and incompetent Conservative rule the
nation had experienced for a century.

During this period Winston had fought and lost three contests, had
severed his connections with the Liberals, and made his way once more
back to the Conservative ranks. At the Red Letter Election, his fourth in
two years, he stood for Epping as a ‘constitutionalist’ with Conservative
support. This time he was successful. A few days after the result was
known the country learned that Stanley Baldwin had appointed him
Chancellor of the Exchequer.

THE CONSERVATIVES were astonished by the news of Winston’s
appointment. The Chancellorship was a glittering prize to be awarded to
a black sheep after nearly twenty years of wandering in heretical fields.
Besides, it was only the year before that Winston had stood as an ardent
Free Trader against the Tory policy of Protection. And lastly, what did he
know of finance? He had no knowledge of economics and no business
experience; indeed in the previous thirteen years he had taken less interest
in domestic affairs than almost any other leading politician.

Why had Stanley Baldwin made the appointment? Winston’s bio-
graphers explain unconvincingly that Baldwin was tired of mediocrity
and had a particular liking for Winston’s buoyant personality. Neither of
these reasons was the real one. The truth was that Baldwin feared
Churchill, and above all he feared the combination of Churchill and
Lloyd George. If he did not include Winston in the Government he was
afraid he might join forces again with Lloyd George in a Center Party,
and perhaps take his friend, Lord Birkenhead, along with him. Baldwin
had no wish to find himself attacked by the three greatest orators of the
day. His first move, therefore, was to detach Churchill from Lloyd
George. And while he was doing the detaching he decided to put Winston
in a position where Conservative pressure would force him to water down
his views on Free Trade. It was a cleverly thought-out manoeuvre by an
astute politician.

If the Conservatives were astonished by Winston’s appointment, he
was apparently even more astonished himself. A story was soon circulat-
ing that when Baldwin offered him the Chancellorship he nodded and
asked pleasantly: ‘Of the Duchy of Lancaster?’ His fortunes had changed
with a dazzling rapidity. The year before he had been a political outcast
with a bleak future; now he was reinstated in the Tory Party and held
the second most important position in the State. Once again he was in
line for the Premiership.

Winston was delighted by his new position for sentimental reasons as
well as political When his father had resigned from the Chancellorship
Lady Randolph Churchill had refused to hand on his robes to his
successor, as was the custom in those days, but had packed them away in
moth balls, declaring that one day Winston would need them. Although
she was no longer alive to see her son’s triumph Winston was immensely
proud to think that her prophecy had come true. Yet the victory was soon
to have a hollow ring for he was destined to preside over the Treasury for
five years of depression, bitterness and strife, accentuated by the gravest
industrial crisis the nation had ever known the General Strike. And
many of the difficulties were to be the direct result of his own financial
policy: the return to the Gold Standard at the pre-war parity of exchange.
Winston Churchill’s first Budget, presented to the Commons on 28 April, 1925, was a masterly parliamentary performance. There were the usual crowds outside No.10 Downing Street waiting to see the Chancellor come out, red dispatch box in hand, on his way to the House; there was the usual air of smiling secrecy; the crowded Chamber; the galleries filled with distinguished visitors. But there was an atmosphere of added excitement for people expected a lively ‘show’ and Winston did not disappoint them. His long address was not the customary dry exposition but an artistic per-
formance that sparkled and flowed and even managed to amuse. In the
middle he broke off, filled a glass in front of him with excisable liquor, and
lifting it commented cheerfully: ‘It is imperative that I should fortify the
revenue, and this I shall now, with the permission of the Commons, pro-
ceed to do.

However, when the first effects of the Chancellor’s speech had worn off
and Members had had time to reflect upon it they found that it contained
nothing very original. It was strait-laced, orthodox Tory finance. Indeed,
when Stanley Baldwin congratulated the Chancellor he said that ‘one of
the reasons why my right honourable Friend’s Budget commends itself
particularly to me, and will commend itself to our Party as also, I
believe, to the House, and, I am certain, to the country is because it
follows the soundest lines of prudence and Conservative finance.

The Opposition based its attack on these same grounds. Philip Snow-
den, the Labour ex-Chancellor, jeered at Churchill, the Free Trader, for
the Protectionist duties he had placed on silk. Winston declared that they
were not Protectionist but merely revenue duties. Snowden then twitted
him for having changed his views on taxing silk imports. ‘There is nothing
wrong with change, if it is in the right direction,’ retorted Churchill.
‘You are an authority on that, said Snowden. ‘To improve is to change,’
recited Churchill blandly. ‘To be perfect is to change often.

Snowden also attacked the Budget for its partiality. ‘There is not one
penny of relief for the wage-earning classes, he declared. ‘Shorn of all the
glamour of the right honourable Gentleman’s eloquence this is his Budget.

No more of a rich man’s Budget has ever been presented. … I congratu-
late the right honourable Gentleman. It will not take long for the glamour
to disappear, and then the great toiling masses of this country will realize
the true character of this Budget, and will realize, too, that the Tory
Party is still more than ever what Lord George Hamilton declared many
years ago: “A party that looks after its own friends, whether it be in office
or out of office”.’

Winston Churchill’s Budget will be remembered in history, but not for its duties on silk nor its reduction in taxation for the rich. It is remembered as the Budget that announced Britain’s return to the pre-war parity of gold.
Today most economic experts agree that this was a disastrous step. It
accentuated the trade depression already in existence and indirectly
brought about an industrial upheaval destined to have far-reaching con-
sequences. As a result Winston Churchill’s critics like to claim that he was ‘the worst
Chancellor Britain has ever had’ and even today remind him angrily of
the responsibility he bore. In 1946 Ernest Bevin told the House of Com-
mons: ‘Directly the right honourable Gentleman (Baldwin) got into office
they (the Government) started to contemplate our return to the Gold
Standard. No sooner had the right honourable Gentleman, the Member
for Woodford (Churchill) agreed to that course, than Sir Otto Niemeyer
left the Treasury to go back to the Bank of England. That was very signi-
ficant. We were brought back to pre-war parity of gold. No single trade
union or industrialist in this country, outside the bank directors, was ever
told. There was no notice in the Press that it had ever been discussed and
like a bolt from the blue we were suddenly met with the complete upset
of the wage structure in this country. . . .’

Bevin’s statement implies that sensible people understood the full impli-
cations of a return to gold at the pre-war rate, and that Winston’s move
was deliberately rash and precipitate. This was not the case. Businessmen
and financiers were almost unanimous in their opinion that Britain should
take the step in order to re-establish herself as the financial center of the
world, which they believed was essential to her future prosperity. A
standing committee of experts appointed by the Lloyd George Govern-
ment in 1918 to investigate the position, urged that the decision should be
taken, and the majority of politicians of all parties accepted it in principle.
Only one clear, emphatic voice was raised against it, and that was the
voice of the brilliant young Cambridge don, J.M.Keynes, whose books
on economic theory were later to revolutionize the economic thought of
the Western world. [Hansard: 29 April, 1925] [Hansard: 13 February, 1946]

The truth of the matter was that in 1925 Britain was midway between
two economic concepts of society. The prevailing belief was in the school
of ‘hard facts’ which insisted that wages and prices must be adjusted
strictly by the laws of supply and demand. The other school, led by
Keynes, preached the idea of a ‘managed economy’. But in 1925 Keynes’
theories were considered heretical. He had not yet fully developed his
ideas and although he could point out the risks and consequences of a
return to the Gold Standard, he had no convincing alternative to offer.
He had a few disciples among the young Labour Party economists, but the
leaders favoured the established view. As a result the Labour Party put
down an amendment against the ‘timing’ of the motion, but not against
the principle of it. The motion stated: ‘That this House cannot at present
assent to the Second Reading of a Bill, which, by providing a return to
the Gold Standard with undue precipitancy, may aggravate the existing
grave condition of unemployment and trade depression.’

Philip Snowden, however, found even this motion hard to defend for
only a few weeks previously he had an article in the Observer arguing
in favour of a return to the Gold Standard. However, a young Socialist
by the name of Hugh Dalton, who was one of Keynes’ greatest admirers,
and who was himself destined to become Chancellor of the Exchequer in
1945, had no such cramping limitations. ‘We on these benches will hold
the Chancellor of the Exchequer strictly to account, and strictly respon-
sible.’ he told the House of Commons, ‘if, as we fear, there should be a
further aggravation of unemployment and of the present trade depression
as a result of his action, and should it work out, that men who are em-
ployed lose their jobs as a result of this deflation. Should that be so we will
explain who is to blame.’

After debating the amendment the Labour Opposition let the matter
drop. It did not even press a division and the Gold Standard Bill passed
through the House in two days. Only Keynes continued the attack. He
wrote a series of articles for the Evening Standard which were published
in a pamphlet entitled: The Economic Consequences of Winston Churchill Why,
he asked, had Winston Churchill made such a silly mistake? ‘Partly, perhaps,
because he has no instinctive judgment to prevent him from making mis-
takes; partly, because, lacking this instinctive judgment, he was deafened
by the clamorous voice of conventional finance; and most of all, because
he was gravely misled by his experts.’

Keynes then went on to refer scathingly to the arguments of the experts

1 Hansard: 4 May, 1925.


as ‘vague and jejune meditations’. In five brilliant paragraphs which
proved a startlingly accurate prophecy, he stated what the experts, if they
had any sense, should have told Winston Churchill , ‘Money-wages, the cost of
living, and the prices which we are asking for our exports have not adjusted
themselves to the improvement in the exchange, which the expectation
of your restoring the Gold Standard, in accordance with your repeated
declarations, has already brought about. They are about ten per cent too
high. If, therefore, you fix the exchange at this gold parity, you must
either gamble on a rise in gold prices abroad, which will induce foreigners
to pay a higher gold price for our exports, or you are committing yourself
to a policy of forcing down money wages and the cost of living to the
necessary extent.

‘We must warn you that this latter policy is not easy. It is certain to in-
volve unemployment and industrial disputes. If, as some people think, real
wages were already too high a year ago, that is all the worse, because the
amount of the necessary wage reduction in terms of money will be all the

‘The gamble on a rise in gold prices abroad may quite likely succeed.
But it is by no means certain, and you must be prepared for the other
contingency. If you think that the advantages of the Gold Standard are so
significant and so urgent that you are prepared to risk great unpopularity
and to take stern administrative action in order to secure them, the course
of events will probably be as follows.

‘To begin with, there will be great depression in the export industries.
This, in itself, will be helpful, since it will produce an atmosphere favour-
able to the reduction of wages. The cost of living will fall somewhat. This
will be helpful too, because it will give you a good argument in favour of
reducing wages. Nevertheless, the cost of living will not fall sufficiently
and, consequently, the export industries will not be able to reduce their
prices sufficiently until wages have fallen in the sheltered industries. Now,
wages will not fall in the sheltered industries, merely because there is un-
employment in the unsheltered industries. Therefore, you will have to see
to it that there is unemployment in the sheltered industries also. The way
to do this will be by credit restriction. By means of the restriction of
credit by the Bank of England, you can deliberately intensify unemploy-
ment to any required degree, until wages do fall. When the process is
complete the cost of living will have fallen too: and we shall then be,
with luck, just where we were before we started.

‘We ought to warn you, though perhaps this is going a little outside our
proper sphere, that it will not be safe politically to admit that you are inten-
sifying unemployment deliberately in order to reduce wages. Thus you
will have to ascribe what is happening to every conceivable cause except
the true one. We estimate that about two years may elapse before it will
be safe for you to utter in public one single word of truth. By that time
you will either be out of office, or the adjustment, somehow or other,
will have been carried through.’

The just complaint against Winston Churchill’s tenure at the Treasury is that he was not a financial genius at a time when a financial genius was desperately needed; that for once in his life he was orthodox when orthodoxy should have been flung to the winds. Keynes’ predictions came true and the coal mines were the first to feel the consequences of Winston Churchill’s policy.
For some time the industry had been in an unhealthy state. By 1919 it
was apparent that such a large amount of capital equipment was necessary
to make the mines profitable that the Sankey Commission recommended
their nationalization. This was not done and by 1925 British coal, faced
with a German revival and burdened by an uneconomic organization,
was scarcely a paying proposition. Then came the return to the Gold
Standard which meant that British goods worth i8s. automatically cost
the foreign buyer i. The coal owners were forced to lower their prices
and consequently decided to lower the miners wages.

The reduction would have made mining one of the worst sweated in-
dustries in the country. There was already a deep legacy of bitterness at the
coal face for the tragic way the workers had been exploited during the past
century. As a result the miners were the most politically conscious group
in the country and possessed one of the strongest unions. A miner, Keir
Hardie, was the founder of the Labour Party.

The men protested vigorously at the threatened cuts and the Trade
Union Congress and the Labour Party protested with them. The Union
chiefs declared that if the reductions were put into operation and the
miners struck, other unions would strike in sympathy with them. The
Government realized that serious trouble lay ahead and Baldwin opened
negotiations with the T.U.C. Two days before the cuts were to become
effective he declared that the Treasury would subsidize the miners so that
they could maintain the wage standard, until a Commission, under the
chairmanship of Lord Samuel, could investigate the matter.

The Commission took seven months to issue its report. During the
interim period Keynes championed the cause of the miners and tried to
make people see that they were the helpless victims of Winston’s Gold
Standard policy. “Why should coal miners suffer a lower standard of life
than other classes of labour?’ he asked. ‘They may be lazy, good-for-nothing fellows who do not work so hard or so long as they should. But is there any evidence that they are more lazy or more good-for-nothing than other people?

‘On grounds of social justice no case can be made out for reducing the
wages of the miners. They are the victims of the economic Juggernaut.
They represent in the flesh the “fundamental adjustments” engineered by
the Treasury and the Bank of England to satisfy the impatience of the
City fathers to bridge the “moderate gap” between 4.40 and 4.86. They
(and others to follow) are the “moderate sacrifice” still necessary to ensure
the stability of the Gold Standard. The plight of the coal miners is the
first, but not unless we are very lucky the last, of the Economic Con-
sequences of Winston Churchill .’

The Samuel Report was issued on n March, which gave the two sides
about six weeks to come to an agreement. It was generally felt that the
Report was a sensible and liberal-minded document. It made a mass of
practical suggestions for the improvement of the mines, which involved a
very large expenditure on the part of the coal owners for re-equipment.
But since the mines were not running as an economic proposition, and
since the Government was not prepared to continue a subsidy, it was
forced to the conclusion that during the period of reorganization the
miners should accept a temporary reduction in wages.

Short of nationalizing the mines, or of continuing a subsidy, the Samuel
Report was the best compromise that could be hoped for. But instead of
grasping it eagerly and urging it wholeheartedly upon the coal owners,
Baldwin took no trouble to conceal his distaste for it, then announced
unenthusiastically that if the parties to the dispute accepted it, the Govern-
ment would do likewise. This attitude merely encouraged both sides to
tear the recommendations to pieces and finally turn down the Report.
The wage cuts were introduced and a coal stoppage began on 30 April.

The next forty-eight hours are now a matter of history. A series of
events took place which ended in misunderstanding and recrimination
between the Government and the Trade Union leaders, and resulted in a
General Strike. Since that time Ernest Bevin, who became the virtual
leader of the strike, twice declared on public platforms that Winston
Churchill was responsible for the breaking off of negotiations which made
the strike inevitable, by a fateful last-minute intervention. What is the
truth of the story?

On 1st May, a day after the coal stoppage had begun, the Trade Union
General Council held a conference of the executives of its affiliated unions.
By an almost unanimous vote the meeting decided to call a National Strike
in support of the miners, which would begin at midnight on 3 May. At
the same time they sent a letter to the Prime Minister informing him that
all affiliated unions, including the miners, had handed over the conduct of
the dispute to the General Council of the Congress, which would under-
take negotiations and was willing to meet the Government at any time.
That same evening, i May, Baldwin sent for the General Council.
After a discussion lasting several hours the Prime Minister suggested that
the Government might be willing to continue the coal subsidy for another
two weeks so that talks could be reopened, if on their part the General
Council was ‘confident that a settlement could be reached on the basis of
the Samuel Report. Since this implied a reduction in the miners’ wages,
and since the miners had now developed a burning slogan ‘Not a penny
off the pay, not a minute on the day.’ the General Council replied that it
could not give an answer until the miners’ leaders were consulted. So
Baldwin left to put the proposition before the Cabinet, while the Council
sought the miners.

On Sunday morning, however, when the General Council summoned
the miners they found that they were not in London, but had returned to
their various districts. Telegrams were sent recalling them, but it was not
until late Sunday night that they finally assembled in Downing Street.

The General Council arrived at Downing Street first and immediately
started discussions with Baldwin and Lord Birkenhead about the exact
meaning and wording of the proposition that had been given to them.
Lord Birkenhead then presented them with a precise formula drawn up in
his own hand. ‘We, the Trade Union Council, would urge the miners to
authorize us to enter upon discussion with the understanding that they
and we accept the Report as a basis of settlement, and we approach it with
the knowledge that it may involve some reduction in wages.’

While the Government and Trade Union leaders were discussing this
formula, it was announced that the miners’ representatives had finally
arrived. It was now 11.15 p.m. The General Council immediately with-
drew with the miners to a room in Downing Street to explain to them
what had transpired and to try and secure their acceptance of the formula.
Baldwin and Birkenhead meanwhile went to 11 Downing Street where the
Cabinet was gathered to inform their colleagues of what was happening.
About an hour later the Union leaders suddenly had a message that the
Prime Minister would like to see them. The members of the General
Council Negotiating Committee, Mr J. H. Thomas and Mr Arthur
Pugh, went down to his room. Mr Thomas later gave the House of
Commons an account of what happened. ‘Lord Birkenhead and himself
[Baldwin] were present. The right honourable Gentleman said, “Gentle-
men, I am sorry to say that our efforts for peace are unavailing. I have a
letter to give you, but I feel in honour bound, having regard to all our
efforts, at least to say a word to you personally.” He said, “Something has
happened at the Daily Mail and the Cabinet has empowered me to hand
you this letter,” and he said and this is very important, because none of
us knew what was in the letter he handed to us. We shook hands and he
said, “Good-bye; this is the end”.’

The Union leaders then learned that the printers of the Daily Mail had
refused to set up a leader entitled ‘For King and Country. Baldwin told
the Commons that when the Cabinet heard of this action members felt
that ‘the first active overt move in the General Strike was being actually
made, by trying to suppress the press. We felt that in those circumstances
the whole situation was completely changed.’

But since the Government knew that the General Council had nothing
to do with the printers’ move, which was a spontaneous and impulsive
action, why had they taken such a serious view of it? Ernest Bevin placed
the blame on Churchill. In 1929 he told his tin-plate workers in Swansea:
‘If Winston Churchill had not come into the Cabinet room on that Sunday
night [2 May] with the Daily Mail business, the peace terms would have
been in the hands of the Prime Minister and there would have been no
National Strike. The two sides were in another room in Downing Street,
getting almost to the last clause for handing to the Prime Minister, when
Winston Churchill saw red, walked in and upset the Cabinet, and we had an ultimatum. That is a fact which can be corroborated.’ Bevin repeated this
same accusation in 1946 in the House of Commons. ‘On Sunday, 2 May,
we were within five minutes of a settlement. . . . What happened? I am sorry that the right honourable Member for Woodford [Winston Churchill] is not in his place. He dashed up to Downing Street, ordered a meeting of the Cabinet, rushed Baldwin off his feet if he was awake and in a few minutes the ultimatum was given to us and the country was thrown into this terrible turmoil, when within the same few minutes it might have been saved…

Baldwin admitted in the House of Commons on 5 May, 1926: “I think it is quite likely that he [Mr Thomas] had no knowledge of the [Daily Mail] incident. But that does not affect the end. He may have repudiated it, but it showed that he had entirely lost control.’
Winston Churchill was in America when Bevin made this charge, and therefore did not reply to it. But upon examining the facts there appears to be no foundation to the story whatsoever. First of all, because the Trade
Unionists were meeting at 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet was held at n
Downing Street, Winston Churchill’s residence. So there was no question of Winston Mashing up to Downing Street. Second, according to Mr
Baldwin’s statement in the House of Commons the Cabinet was already
in session when news of the Daily Mail strike was received; third, the
news was not delivered by Winston Churchill but came through by

Apart from this inaccuracy, what truth was there in Mr Bevin’s asser-
tion that the two sides, miners and Union leaders, were within five
minutes of agreement? Sir Arthur Pugh, Chairman of the Trade Union
Congress in 1925-26, does not believe that this claim can be substantiated
in the light of the events that followed. Arthur Pugh was present at Down-
ing Street on the night of 2 May as a member of the Trade Union
Negotiating Committee, and in his book Men of Steel makes the following
comment: In view, however, of the subsequent attitude of the miners’
leaders, it is fairly certain they would have accepted no formula that would
have given the necessary assurance that a return to the status quo would
result in a settlement on the basis of the Samuel Commission Report, . . .
The miners’ leaders had committed their people to a slogan “Not a penny
off the pay, not a minute on the day,” and this ruled out from their stand-
point any negotiations on the basis of compromise on the major questions
at issue. The conception of the miners’ leaders about the sympathetic
strike appeared to be that it was the “big stick” which was to force the
implementation of the terms of the slogan, and their mental reasoning
that if the threat of the strike and an embargo on the movement of coal
could produce a subsidy in 1925, its actual execution in 1926 could hardly
fail to give a like reduction.’

The trouble lay in the fact that although the miners had authorized the
General Council to negotiate for them, they had not authorized the
General Council to compromise for them. Since successful negotiations
depended on concessions all round, including an acceptance by the miners
of a temporary reduction in wages, it was a blunder for the General
Council to accept a negotiating role without full powers to take a final
[Hansard: p. 34.5, 5 May, 1926]
[Men of Steel is a chronicle of eighty-five years of Trade Unionism in the British Iron and Steel Industry. It was published in 1951 by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation.]

A second blunder on the part of the T.U.C. was its failure to instruct its
affiliated unions to withhold all strike notices while discussions were tak-
ing place. All day on Sunday, 2 May, individual unions were sending out
precise instructions for the beginning of the strike. Sir Arthur Pugh states
in his book that ‘it would perhaps have been better tactics,’ and placed the
T.U.C. General Council in ‘a stronger bargaining position’ if the unions
‘had delayed the notices for a sympathetic strike for twenty-four hours or
so, in order to see the outcome of the negotiations between the T.U.C.
and the Government Committee.’

However, the strike notices were not the cause of the breakdown.
Although the letter which Baldwin handed to Thomas and Pugh at mid-
night stated that negotiations could not be continued until the Union
leaders repudiated the action of the Daily Mail printers and ordered their
unions to withdraw their instructions for a General Strike, the Prime
Minister knew early on Sunday afternoon that instructions were flowing
out and yet was still ready to negotiate. The notices, therefore, were
merely used by the Government as a final argument to strengthen their

It was impossible for the General Council to comply with the Govern-
ment’s request, for by Sunday evening, with coal pits closing down all
over the country, feeling was running so high in the Unions there was
little hope that such an order would have been obeyed. The Government
obviously was aware of this, for as soon as the letter had been delivered
the Cabinet adjourned and Baldwin went to bed. Proof that the General
Council was desperately anxious to avoid a breakdown lies in the fact that
they drew up a reply repudiating the Daily Mail incident and sent a depu-
tation to the Prime Minister requesting him to discuss the matter of the
strike notices. ‘But when the deputation arrived at that room.’ Ramsay
MacDonald told the House of Commons, ‘they found the door locked and
the whole pkce in darkness. 3

As a result of these happenings the Conservatives have always insisted
that the Trade Union General Council was not the true master of the
situation; that the extremists had control and that there was no use in con-
tinuing the discussions until the General Council wielded full authority.
On the other hand, the Trade Union leaders have always believed that
a majority of the Cabinet were not averse to ‘teaching the Unions a

Undoubtedly there is truth in both these assertions. Many Conservatives were so preoccupied with the fear of Bolshevism they had come to
regard the Trade Union leaders as revolutionaries who wished to destroy
the parliamentary system. This was far from the truth but the fact that the
secretary of the Miners’ Federation, Mr Cook, was a Communist,
strengthened their arguments, and was used to discredit the national
leaders. There had been the threat of a National Strike in support of the miners in 1921 and again in 1925. Tory opinion was hardening towards
the view that it might be a good thing if the matter came to a Show-

Although the Trade Union leaders made serious blunders, it is difficult
to excuse the Conservative Government for their refusal to grapple with
the problem of the mines much earlier. It was no secret that for the last
century the coal and royalty owners had bled the industry by taking out
huge profits instead of re-introducing the necessary capital equipment.
Coal was Britain’s basic industry. Quite apart from the fact that the
Cabinet was pursuing a financial policy bound to depress the coal indus-
try, it is difficult to understand how any Government, either in the
interests of humanity or the nation itself, could drift along in such an
irresponsible manner, refusing to interfere while the coal owners neglected
the mines year after year, until the only solution involved forcing an
inadequate standard of living upon the miners.

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 5.45.36 PM

The General Strike began on 4 May, 1926, and lasted for rine days. Every-
where work came to a halt The press shut down, transport ceased, the gas
and electricity works closed, the iron and steel industry and many others
came to a standstill But the Government was prepared. The organization,
designed in 1920, was called into action. The country was divided into
nine sections, each run by a central controller with semi-military appara-
tus. The police were fully mobilized and in London Hyde Park became a
military camp. The Home Secretary sent out appeals for volunteers and
thousands of men and women, mostly from the middle and upper classes,
came forward to drive trains, lorries and cabs.

Ernest Bevin emerged as the leader of the General Strike, and once the
strike had begun “Winston Churchill stood forth as his counterpart on the
Government side. These two men who opposed each otter so strongly
when the country was in a state of upheaval were destined to work
together as colleagues and faithful friends when the nation was faced
with a far greater danger in 1940. But in 1926 they were formidable
antagonists. Winston Sung himself into the fight with all his energy.
Since there were no newspapers he persuaded the proprietor of the
Morning Post to lend him his plant, and with the help of several of Lord
Beaverbrook’s typesetters he published a daily paper called the British
Gazette. The paper presented the struggle as a constitutional issue: the
nation versus a group of revolutionary union leaders who, by trying to
force a democratically elected Government to subsidize the miners’ wages,
were striking at the very roots of the democratic system. For King and
Country’ became Winston’s own battlecry.

Lloyd George looked askance at his old friend and former Liberal colleague. He did not approve of the General Strike but, with his deep, humane outlook, he sympathized with the reasons for it. The day before the strike started, he defended the Union leaders in the House of Commons. I know a great many of the people responsible. They are as little revolutionaries as any men in this House. They have fought the rebellious ones in their own Party. Therefore, I want to put this to the House of Commons in all earnestness, that this is not a threat by people using it merely for revolutionary propaganda.’

Today, most people in Britain, including a large section of the Labour Party, agree that the General Strike was unconstitutional and, as such, a reckless act. But that is a far cry from being a sinister and revolutionary plot. If Lloyd George had been in Winston Churchill’s shoes, it is probable that the whole disaster would have been averted. Winston, on the other hand, flung himself into the fray with unconcealed relish. The British Gazette was a sensation. Labour Members attacked Winston in the House of Commons for falsifying the news, and Lloyd George accused him of deliberately suppressing an attempt by the Council to negotiate a settlement. But Winston gloried in the fight. Why shouldn’t a Government put out Government propaganda?

At the end of the week the Gazette had a circulation of over two millions.

The General Strike collapsed on the 13th of May. Public opinion was strongly
against the Unions, and the General Council realized that the Government’s policy of attrition was bound to be successful The Trade Union Movement was treading the path to bankruptcy and in order to prevent its strength and morale from being permanently damaged in a hopeless struggle, the T.U.C capitulated. The miners’ stoppage went on for another six months, but in the end they were starved back to work on the owners terms.

To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 15, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 38)

When the First World War ended there was only one statesman in England who counted. That was Lloyd George.

The prophecy made by John Morley that “if there is a war, Winston Churchill will beat L.G. hollow” had proved utterly false. Winston was forced to stand in the wings of the political stage while Lloyd George took all the bows. Winston Churchill had no following from any party or any group. The Liberals were suspicious of him, the Labour leaders opposed him, and the Conservatives disliked him.

His only strength lay in his friendship with Lloyd George.

The two men sat together on Armistice night and discussed the great problems that peace would bring. Winston was not a vindictive man, and now that the terrible conflict was over his instinct was to hold out the hand of friendship to Germany. It was essential to the future of Europe, he argued, that Germany should be brought into the democratic family as soon as possible, and he urged Lloyd George to send a dozen food ships to Hamburg. But public opinion was strongly hostile to the idea with the result that nothing was done until Plumer, in command in Germany, threatened to resign if food were not sent, and thereafter got his way.

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A month after the Armistice Lloyd George’s Coalition Government went to the country in what was known as the ‘Coupon Election.’ All candidates supporting the Coalition, mainly Conservatives, received coupons guaranteeing their loyalty. They were opposed by Labour candidates and Asquith’s Liberals, over whom they scored a resounding victory, winning five hundred and twenty-six seats which gave them a clear majority of three hundred and fifty-seven over all other parties. But the election was fought on a swelling tide of public opinion symbolized by the national slogans: “Hang the Kaiser” & “Make the Germans Pay.”

No candidate who tried to withstand the pressure, was elected. Even Winston
was forced to knuckle under, and when the Government returned to Whitehall it found itself committed to a policy of severe war reparations, which many ministers regarded with deep misgivings, and trepidation for the future imbalances it would bring forth.

A few weeks after the election Lloyd George appointed Winston Churchill as his Minister of War, with the Air Ministry amalgamated under him. He wanted a strong man to iron out the demobilization tangle, which Churchill promptly did. Lloyd George recognized his colleague’s brilliant qualities and he was also conscious of his headstrong and impetuous nature.

The Prime Minister LG, undoubtedly believed that while the War Office would absorb Winston’s energies and interests, it also had the advantage of being a safe post, because in peacetime a Service Department was not likely to offer much scope for sensational action. Sir Henry Wilson, the Chief of the Imperial
General Staff, evidently did not share this view, for when he heard of the
appointment he wrote in his diary: ‘Whew!’; and at his first meeting with
his new boss he asked caustically why the Admiralty had not been thrown
in as well. As things turned out the ‘whew was not unreasonable. The world was still in a troubled state, and most troubled of all was Russia, which was torn by civil war, and which still contained British troops.

Russia became Winston’s chief preoccupation; and since Lloyd George
was fully absorbed by the Paris Peace Conference he had something of a
free hand. The gigantic country was in an appalling state of disintegration.
The Czar had been overthrown in 1917, and a few months later the
Bolsheviks had captured the Central Government. In the spring of 1918
they had signed a separate peace with the Kaiser which had allowed
Germany to release a million more men to fight the Allies on the Western
Front. Britain had sent troops to Archangel, the Caucasus and Siberia to
prevent oil supplies and Allied materials from falling into the enemy’s
hands. In the meantime White Russian counter-revolutionary forces many
hundred of miles apart those in the South under the leadership of General
Denikin, and those in the East under Admiral Kolchak had remained
faithful to their commitments and continued the war as best they could.
Now these forces were fighting the Bolsheviks and desperately begging
England for help. Lord Milner, Winston’s predecessor at the War Office,
had more or less promised aid. Was Britain to abandon them? All
Winston’s chivalrous instincts bade him send assistance.

Besides this, looking at the picture objectively, it would not be in Britain’s interests to allow Bolshevik leaders who believed in organized terror and who were preaching worldwide revolution to gain the final power.

At this time, Germany lay prostrate. So, what, or better who, would prevent Russia from overrunning the whole of Europe was anybody’s guess. Indeed was there even someone out there to stop the Red menace from destroying Europe?

This was the practical argument.

But as far as Winston was concerned, the emotional argument was even stronger. He was disgusted by the Bolshevik atrocities. He understood wars between soldiers and nations, but he could not forgive civil wars. He vehemently hated and was revolted physically by civil wars, and especially by those bloody conflicts that were pitting brother against brother, war between families, between neighbors, and between social classes — where thousands of civilians were murdered in the name of humanity.

To Winston Churchill, the Russian spectacle was sordid and evil, and this is how he described it in his writings: “For all its horrors, a glittering light plays over the scenes and actors of the French Revolution. The careers and personalities of Robespierre, of Danton, even of Marat, gleam luridly across a century. But the dull squalid figures of the Russian Bolsheviks are not redeemed in interest even by the magnitude of their crimes. All form and emphasis is lost in the vast process of Asiatic liquefaction. Even the slaughter of millions and the misery of scores of millions will not attract future generations to their uncouth lineaments and outlandish names.”

It was characteristic of Winston Churchill that when he took up a cause he fought for it wholeheartedly. All his vigour was concentrated on a campaign
against the Bolsheviks. In the House of Commons and on the public plat-
form he attacked the Reds in a flow of rich and merciless invective. On the 11th of April 1919, speaking at a luncheon at the Aldwych Club in London, he declared: “Of all the tyrannies in history, the Bolshevist tyranny is the worst, the most destructive, the most degrading. It is sheer humbug to pretend that it is not far worse than German militarism. The miseries of the Russian people under the Bolshevists far surpass anything they suffered even under the Czar. The atrocities of Lenin and Trotsky are incomparably
more hideous, on a larger scale and more numerous than any for which the
Kaiser is responsible. The Germans at any rate have stuck to their allies.
They misled them, they exploited them, but they did not desert or betray them. It may have been honour among thieves, but it is better than dishonor among murderers.”

The next month Winston alluded to ‘the foul baboonery of Bolshevism and came out openly in favour of sending arms and supplies to their adversaries. But there was no action he could take without the approval of the Supreme Council, a body which sat in Paris and represented the five leading Allied powers.
He went to France in February and talked to President Wilson who told him affably that he did not pretend to know the solution to the Russian problem. There were the gravest objections to every course, and yet some course must be taken sooner or later.

For three months the Allies vacillated. Winston pleaded his cause without ceasing. He argued with members of the British Cabinet, with foreign representatives, with anyone who would listen.

He sent a flow of memoranda to every influential quarter. Finally, in May, the Supreme Council came to a decision. It sent a note to Admiral Kolchak informing him that the object of Allied policy was: “To restore peace within Russia by enabling the Russian people to resume control of their own affairs through the agent of a freely elected Constituent Assembly. If Kolchak would agree to this, and certain other conditions, the Allies would assist him with munitions, supplies and food, to establish a Government of all Russia; at the same time the Allies made it clear that the time was approaching when they must withdraw their own troops to avoid interference in the internal affairs of Russia.”

This note was obviously designed to have the best of two worlds. It was
ambiguous and vague, yet Winston Churchill seized on it eagerly. At last he had the authority to act. For the next eight months he poured ammunition and material worth many millions of pounds into Russia. He also made plans for the evacuation of the British forces. In order to cover the withdrawal it was necessary to stage a diversion; and for this he called for a volunteer army of eight thousand men.

The British public stirred with alarm. They had not forgotten Winston’s
excursion to Antwerp and his impetuosity over the Dardanelles. Was he
trying to plunge them into another war? Apart from this fear, there was a
growing dislike of his attitude towards the Soviets. Most people in England believed that Britain should mind her own business and let the
Russians settle their own affairs. As to the pros and cons of Bolshevism
itself, the country was divided into two distinct camps, Left and Right.
The Right shared Winston’s dislike of the Reds, but the Left, which was
composed of Radical liberals and Labour Party followers, cast sympathetic
glances at the new ‘social experiment’ which was taking place. The Labour
Party, backed by the Trade Unions, was particularly sympathetic for they
had recently acquired a new constitution, drafted by Sidney Webb, which
committed them to Socialism. True, ‘British socialism’ was not Marxist,
but ‘Fabian, democratic and Christian.’ Nevertheless, the Labour leaders
believed many of the Bolshevik slogans: that war was engineered by
capitalist societies; that the ownership of the means of production and dis-
tribution would automatically create a new Utopia.

Lloyd George was far from being a Socialist, but his Radical instincts
bade him look upon Russia with a tolerant eye. Alter all, the oppression
and tyranny of the Czarist regime had brought about the revolution. One
could not blame the people for trying to throw off the yoke. He believed
that trade with Russia was economically important, and both he and
President Wilson would have liked to recognize the Soviets and establish
friendly relations with them but they knew they could not carry Parliament and Congress with them.

And although Lloyd George disliked Winston’s passionate denunciations — some years later in his Memories of the Peace Conference wrote acidly: “The most formidable and irresponsible protagonist of an anti-Bolshevik war was Mr Winston Churchill. He had no doubt a genuine dislike for Communism. His ducal blood revolted against the wholesale elimination of Grand Dukes in Russia.”

A storm was gathering around Winston’s head but in the end it never really broke. Although he was hotly attacked by almost every Labour leader in England, as soon as the Allied forces had been withdrawn in the autumn of 1919, it became apparent that the White Russians were doomed to failure. They fought without conviction and hung on for only a few months. In the spring of 1920 they finally collapsed and Soviet authority was complete. Up to the very end Winston Churchill sustained his attack on the Bolsheviks.

In a speech at Sunderland on 3 January, 1921, he said: “Was there ever a more awful spectacle in the whole history of the world than is unfolded by the agony of Russia? This vast country, this mighty branch of the human family, not only produced enough food for itself, but before the war it was one of the great granaries of the world, from which food was exported to every country. It is now reduced to famine of the most terrible kind, not because there is no food there is plenty of food but because the theories of Lenin and Trotsky have fatally, and it may be finally, ruptured the means of intercourse between man and man, between workman and peasant, between town and country; because they have
shattered the systems of scientific communication by rail and river on
which the life of great cities depends; because they have raised class against
class and race against race in fratricidal war; because they have given vast
regions which a little while ago were smiling villages and prosperous
townships back to the wolves and the bears; because they have driven man from the civilization of the twentieth century into ar condition of barbarism worse than the Stone Age, and have left him the most awful and pitiable spectacle in human experience, devoured by vermin, racked by pestilence and deprived of hope.”

“And this is progress, this is liberty, this is Utopia! This is what my
friend in the gallery would call an interesting experiment in Social
Regeneration. What a monstrous absurdity and perversion of the truth it is, to represent the Communist theory as a form of progress, when, at every step and at every stage, it is simply marching back into the Dark Ages.”

Winston not only supported the White Armies to the bitter end, but in the early months of 1920 when Poland attacked Russia, in a ridiculous act of aggression, he was instrumental in seeing that British arms were sent to their aid as well. The Russians drove the invaders out, then invaded Poland themselves, and for a few weeks Winston Churchill had visions of his worst fears being realized with all of Europe being overrun by the Red Communists and their Bolshevik Masters. He sent a memorandum to Lloyd George pleading for the rehabilitation of Germany as the only hope of erecting a barrier against the Russian giant — a line of argument which is again being used today, in the American foreign policy circles, since the reunification of Germany and her re-establishment as a military power.

“Since the Armistice, my policy would have been Peace with the German people, war on the Bolshevik tyranny.” Willingly or unavoidably, you have followed something very near the reverse. Knowing the difficulties, and also your great skill and personal force so much greater than mine I do not judge your policy and action as if I could have done better, or as if anyone could have done better. But we are face to face with the results. They are terrible. We may well be within measurable distance of universal collapse and anarchy throughout Europe and Asia. Russia has gone into ruin. What is left of her is in the power of these deadly snakes.

‘But Germany may perhaps still be saved You ought to tell France

that we will make a defensive alliance with her against Germany if, and
only if, she entirely alters her treatment of Germany and loyally accepts a
British policy of help and friendship toward Germany.’

The British Left vehemently opposed any aid being given to Poland, and the British Right seemed strangely uninterested. Indeed, many people were more concerned with Winston’s activities than with Russia’s. In May 1920 a sensation was caused by the publication of a memorandum which was alleged to have fallen into Soviet hands after the Allied withdrawal from Archangel, and was brought back to London by a Labour Party deputation. The note claimed to be an account of an interview which Colonel Golvin, a White Russian emissary, had with Winston Churchill, during the conversation of which the latter, had promised the White Russians an indefinite postponement of the evacuation of the British forces, and twelve thousand volunteers to form a new garrison. Winston indignantly declared that the document was a complete travesty of the truth but it caused a Parliamentary storm. Labour Members even went so far as to draft a resolution for Mr Winston Churchill’s arrest, on the grounds that he was using British military resources against the Soviet without the consent or knowledge of Parliament.

The Civil War had come to an end; and Poland, in the inspired Battle of the Vistula, had managed to repel the Russian hordes. For the time being the urgency of the Bolshevik menace subsided. In January 1921 Lloyd George transferred Winston Churchill from the War Office to the Colonial Office and Winston Churchill transferred his attention from Europe to the East.

Throughout his life Winston had never received any credit for his lifelong effort at being a peacemaker, yet this might be remedied if we look at his record and especially at his Pacifist work, in the brief eighteen months that he was at the Colonies, where he was largely responsible for bringing about two vitally important and lasting peace settlements: The first was in the Middle East. This part of the world was in a constant state of ferment. Despite the bitter opposition of the Arabs, the Peace Conference had given the mandate of Syria to the French, who then threw out Emir Feisal from Damascus. As a result Palestine and Egypt were smouldering with discontent, and a bloody uprising had just had to be suppressed in Iraq. The British were obliged to keep forty thousand troops stationed in Iraq to preserve order, which was costing the Government 30,000,000 British pounds a year. This was thought to be far too expensive and the Prime Minister asked Winston to see what he could do to restore harmony and save the British taxpayer some money.

Winston set about the matter in his usual independent fashion. First he enlisted on his side that strange and romantic genius, “Lawrence of Arabia.” This fascinating Englishman was the uncrowned king of the Arab world. He had lived and fought with them throughout the war and now lived and worked to secure them a just peace. He identified his interests with them so completely that he appeared in London and Paris in flowing Arab robes. He even refused a high decoration from the King, in order to impress the public with the seriousness of his cause.

Winston called a conference in Cairo, and with Lawrence as his chief adviser and all the experts and authorities of the Middle East at his service, he worked out a plan. A month later he sent the following proposals to the Cabinet. First, that the British must repair the injury done to the Arabs by placing the Emir Feisal on the throne of Iraq as King, and transferring to the hands of his brother, the Emir Abdullah, the Government of Transjordan, or what is today’s Jordan. Second, that the troops must be withdrawn from Iraq, and order must be maintained by the Royal British Air Force rather than by the Army, which would cut down the cost from 30,000,000 pounds, to 5,000,000 pounds, a year. And third, that an adjustment must be made in Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews, which would serve as a foundation for the future state of Israel to be created asap.

It was a brilliant settlement.

Yet as soon as the Cabinet accepted it — tension in the Arab world subsided. When Lawrence wrote his great classic ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ he sent Winston a copy with the following inscription: “Winston Churchill who made a happy ending to this show. And eleven years after we set our hands to making an honest settlement, all our work still stands: the countries have gone forward, our interests having been saved, and nobody killed, either on one side or the other. To have planned for eleven years is the mark of true statesmanship. I ought to have given you two copies of this work.”

During the time that Winston was negotiating a settlement in the Middle East he was also a member of the Cabinet Committee dealing with the problem of Ireland. Since the war, relations between the Irish and the Mother Country had deteriorated badly. In the 1918 ‘Coupon Election’ the Irish Nationalists had been swept away and in their place had arisen a far more extremist group, the Sinn Fein Party (Ourselves Alone). The Sinn Feiners wanted to sever all connection with England and establish a republic, and they were prepared to use any methods to realize their aims.
In 1919 they began to burn down houses and murder English officials. The
British Government retaliated by sending a special police force manned by ex-officers from the wartime army, who wore dark caps and khaki uniforms and became known as the ‘Black and Tans.’ They were instructed to take severe reprisals, and as a result, they punished outrage by still further outrage. By the end of the year Ireland was gripped in a reign of terror.

The situation was intensely complicated. The Northern and Protestant part of Ireland was loyal to the British Empire and determined to stay within it, while Southern and Catholic Ireland, which represented a majority of the population, was bent on gaining complete independence. Should the British crush the rebellion by overwhelming force, or should they partition the country and let the South have its freedom? Winston Churchill was in favour of doing both. He told his colleagues on the Cabinet Committee Lloyd George, F. E. Smith (later Lord Birkenhead), Austen Chamberlain, Sir Hamar Greenwood and Sir Laming Worthington-Evans that he believed it was essential to prove to the Irish that Britain was not giving way through weakness and fear; then when they had been
soundly beaten he was in favour of granting them Dominion status, which would make them independent and self-governing, yet at the same time would preserve a link with the Empire through loyalty to the Crown.

About this time King George V went to Northern Ireland and delivered a speech which had been carefully prepared by his Ministers. In it was a reference to the South and a plea for reconciliation which met with a startlingly large response from the Irish public itself. This started the ball rolling. The Government invited the Irish leaders to London to negotiate, and the leaders accepted. Thus negotiations started before Britain had proved herself the Master, as Winston Churchill and his colleagues would have liked.

The tense, charged atmosphere and the protracted discussions which finally led to the signing of the Irish Treaty have provided the theme for many books. It would have been possible in 1886 wrote Winston: “to have reached a solution on a basis infinitely less perilous both to Ireland and to Great Britain than that to which we were ultimately drawn.” At that time Mr Gladstone was begging the House of Commons to pass his Home Rule Bill. “Think, I beseech you think well, think wisely, think not for a moment but for the years that are to come, before you reject this Bill.” But the Bill was defeated and Winston’s father was one of Gladstone’s most powerful opponents. Now the son was trying to find a solution to a problem grown fierce and strong on the mistakes of the older generation.

Although Winston did not play a major part in the Treaty negotiations
he did much to smooth the relations between the two sides by friendliness
alone. ‘Our settlement with the Boers,’ he wrote, ‘with my own vivid
experiences in it, was my greatest source of comfort and inspiration in
this Irish business. Indeed it was a help to all. I remember one night Mr
Griffith and Mr Collins [the leading Irish statesmen] came to my house to
meet the Prime Minister. It was at a crisis, and the negotiations seemed to
hang only by a thread. Griffith went upstairs to parley with Mr Lloyd
George alone. Lord Birkenhead and I were left with Michael Collins
meanwhile. He was in his most difficult mood, full of reproaches and
defiances, and it was very easy for everyone to lose his temper.

“You hunted me day and night!” he exclaimed. “You put a price on my head.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “You are not the only one.” And I took from
my wall the framed copy of the reward offered for my recapture by the
Boers. “At any rate it was a good price 5,000. Look at me 25, dead
or alive. How would you like that?”

In the end Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith signed the Treaty which
gave Ireland Dominion status. But when they returned to Dublin they
found the Sinn Fein Party split in two. One half backed the Treaty, but
the other half, led by de Valera, declared that Dominion status was not
enough; nothing short of recognizing Ireland as a republic would suffice.
Members of this faction became known as the Anti-Treatyites and worked
fanatically to prevent Griffith and Collins carrying out the agreement made
in London. They provoked acts of violence against Northern Ireland and
soon began murdering the members of their own party who believed in
the Treaty. Only nine months after Collins had put his signature to the
document he was killed in an ambush. Before long Ireland was again in
the grip of civil war.

It was at this point that Winston Churchill became Colonial Secretary
and, as such, Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Irish affairs. His task
was to help Griffith and Collins establish a Provisional Government, and
at the same time to protect the integrity of Northern Ireland which had
voted for a partition. The world seldom thinks of Winston Churchill in the role of a conciliator and yet in this case he worked tirelessly, patiently and
sagaciously to achieve his purpose. He handled innumerable situations
with delicacy and tact, writing repeatedly to the various leaders, both
North and South, smoothing away misunderstandings, emphasizing good
will, minimizing foolish and petty actions, cajoling, praising, encouraging
and suggesting. In the end the Treatyites won; the Provisional Government was established, and tragic Ireland settled down to peace, and finally
to isolation. From that time on she gradually ceased to be an issue or to
play a part in the internal affairs of Great Britain.

Winston Churchill’s role as peace-maker was not long remembered. In the
middle of 1922 trouble arose with Turkey, and events threw Winston Churchill into the more familiar role of a belligerent ‘man of action. The seeds of the Turkish discord had been sown by Lloyd George. At the Peace Treaty the Prime Minister had come under the spell of the Greek statesman, Eleutherios Venizelos, and as a result had sanctioned a Greek occupation of a large part of Anatolia, Turkey’s homeland, which was completely Turkish in population save for a few Greek coastal towns. France and Italy objected to this settlement; so did Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon; so did Winston Churchill; nevertheless Lloyd George pushed it through, signing the Treaty of Sevres, which not only confirmed a Greek occupation of Smyrna, but gave Greece most of Turkey’s possessions in Europe as well.

Fighting soon broke out. In 1921 the Greeks in an effort to enforce the Treaty advanced on Ankara, the Turkish capital, but were stopped by the Turks fifty miles away. They remained there for a year; then in the summer of 1922 Mustafa Kemal, the head of the Turkish Government, attacked them, routed their armies, and massacred most of the Greek population of Turkey and especially the Greek populations of Smyrna and that of the ancient coastal Greek cities of Asia minor.

The Western powers were alarmed. Was Kemal planning to recapture Turkey’s European possessions? If so, he would have to cross the Straits which were under international protection, guarded by small contingents of British, French and Italian troop. The French and Italians saw trouble coming and immediately withdrew, leaving only the British at Chanak on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles.

The situation was electric. Would Turkey move? And if she did, would this mean war with Britain?

Half a dozen men in the British Cabinet decided that firm action must be taken to stop Turkey. They were the same men who had sat together on the Committee for Irish affairs Lloyd George, Churchill, Birkenhead, Chamberlain, Balfour and Worthington Evans. “We made common cause” declares Winston Churchill in ‘The Aftermath’: ‘The Government might break up, and we might be relieved of our burden. The nation might not support us; they could find others to advise them. The Press might howl; the Allies might bolt. We intended to force the Turk to a negotiated peace before he set foot in Europe.”

Winston then sat down and drafted a bold and determined communique
calling on the British Dominions and the Balkan States to co-operate with
Great Britain in resisting Turkish aggression, and announcing flatly: “It
is the intention of His Majesty’s Government to reinforce immediately . . .
the troops at the disposal of Sir Charles Harington, the Allied Commander-
in-Chief at Constantinople, and orders have been given to the British
Fleet in the Mediterranean to oppose by every means any infraction of the
neutral zones by the Turks or any attempt by them to cross the European

The uncompromising tone of this statement startled the British public.
It also startled the Turk who changed his mind and ordered his troops
away from Chanak. Two weeks later Mustapha Kemal signed an armistice.
And a year later the grievance was removed by the Treaty of Lausanne
which gave Turkey the Straits and Constantinople.

But even though the incident ended peacefully, the public was still unnerved. Anger quickly took the place of fear, and Conservatives and
Socialists alike denounced diplomacy “based on wild and reckless gambles.
Bonar Law declared that Britain could not police the world alone, and the
Labour Party attacked Winston with the familiar charge that he was trying
to ‘dragoon the Empire into war.”

Since that time his action has been appraised more favorably. “To Mr Lloyd George and above all to Winston Churchill” wrote Harold Nicolson in a biography of Curzon: ‘is due our gratitude for having at this juncture defied not the whole world merely, but the full hysterical force of British public opinion.”

Nevertheless, the two men paid a high price. The Chanak incident brought down the Government.

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Lloyd George’s Coalition Government was three-quarters Tory and one-quarter Liberal. The Tories decided that the wave of public enthusiasm which had given the Government its renewed lease of life at the end of the war had vanished. The inevitable disillusion which awaited any post-war government had at last set in, and the time had come for the Conservatives to march ahead under their own banner.

Besides, the Tories had plenty of quarrels with the Government. When
the war ended Lloyd George had become so deeply involved in the Paris
Peace Conference that he had practically withdrawn from the House of
Commons, leaving Bonar Law to run it for him. Thus he fell into the
habit of ignoring Parliament, surrounding himself with personal advisers,
dealing with any matter that caught his fancy and deliberately by-passing
Secretaries of State whenever it suited him. The Tories were highly
critical of this state of affairs and declared that ‘Cabinet responsibility’ had
become a joke.

They were also critical of his handling of the Irish question. They felt it
was nothing short of lunacy first to initiate a policy of severe reprisals then
to turn around and give the Irish everything they wanted short of a
republic. Finally, they were indignant over the Chanak communique.
They not only disliked its bluntness but were shocked by the fact that the
Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, was not even consulted, and that it had
been issued to the press before the Dominions had received it. Bonar Law
wrote a letter to The Times on this subject which was almost a vote of

A few of the leading Conservative Ministers who held office under
Lloyd George remained steadfastly loyal. Among these Lord Birkenhead
and Austen Chamberlain were the most conspicuous. They did their best
to dissuade their Tory colleagues from breaking up the Government but
their arguments were unavailing. Largely through the organization of Mr
Leo Amery, who was then Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the
Admiralty, a meeting was held at the Carlton Club on 17 October, 1922,
which later became known as the “Revolt of the Under-secretaries. Bonar
Law, who had resigned the Conservative Party leadership a year earlier on
grounds of ill-health, made a strong and telling speech, believed to have
been inspired by Lord Beaverbrook, which completely carried the
assembly widi him. Then Stanley Baldwin, a figure almost unknown to
the public but recently appointed President of the Board of Trade by
Lloyd George, introduced a resolution to end the Coalition. Baldwin told
the meeting that L.G. was a dynamic force but that a dynamic force is a
very terrible thing.” His resolution was passed by 187 votes to 87.

When Lloyd George heard of the vote he at once resigned and Bonar
Law consented to form a Government. The new Prime Minister asked for
the dissolution of Parliament and went to the country. The Conservatives
scored a sweeping victory. Lloyd George never held office again.

Winston Churchill fought the election at Dundee, the great Radical
working-class stronghold which had welcomed him joyously in 1908
when he had been the formidable antagonist of Tory privilege. “I stand as
a Liberal and a Free Trader, but I make it quite clear that I am not going
to desert Lloyd George” he announced in his election address.

But Dundee was not at all convinced that Winston really was a Liberal.
Ever since he had become First Lord of the Admiralty he had shown
practically no interest in domestic matters but concentrated exclusively on
military and foreign affairs. During the previous eleven years he had been
repeatedly the strongest advocate of Coalition government. On three
occasions before the war-time Coalition came into being he had urged that
Conservatives and Liberals merge their differences; and in the four years
since the close of the war he had- floated publicly the idea of a Center Party composed of moderates from both sides.

Why was Winston so eager to end the traditional warfare between the two great parties? The Times ran a series of articles entitled “Front Bench Figures” and on the 15th of November, 1920, summed up Winston Churchill’s position as follows: “Some men hang themselves on their politics, others hang their politics on themselves, and these need to be stout pegs, well screwed into the scheme of things, as indeed Winston Churchill is. He manages it very well. His first party will still have no good said of him, his second believes him to be hankering after his first love, and lately he has been advertising for a new Center Party which is to combine the charms of the other two. But even if this third match came off and then turned out ill, Winston Churchill would not be greatly embarrassed, for wherever he is there is his party.”

The truth was that Winston disliked wearing a party tag of any description. He could not see that there was any longer a deep, dividing line between Liberals and Conservatives. How much more gratifying from his own personal point of view it would be to heal the old wounds between himself and the Party which was his by birth and inheritance. How much more sensible to receive a mandate from the people to govern, and then to govern to the best of one’s ability, untrammelled by stupid Party slogans. However, British politics do not operate in such a free and easy way. The Center Party came to nothing and Winston was forced to proclaim his colours. The Conservatives would not accept him and besides, he was not prepared to desert his leader. So he stood as a Lloyd George Liberal.

Was there any trace of the Radical left in Winston? In the years since the war had ended there had been much hardship in Britain. In 1922 there were a million and a half unemployed. Housing conditions were appalling and “Homes fit for heroes” remained only an election slogan. During these four years of economic booms, slumps, and busts — Winston had taken practically no interest in the conditions of the great mass of the wage earners. He had no new ideas to offer. His thinking was on conservative lines. The Times commented on this orthodox streak, in the article: “One could imagine a radical” of Winston Churchill’s great intellectual power carrying out reforms at the Admiralty that would have made the early Naval history of the war a very different thing, for the Navy was ready for war in everything but that which mattered most, the habit of independent and unconventional thought, and this he might have supplied. At the War Office at the end of the war the same opportunity seemed to offer and again there was the same disappointment.”

“There is tremendous efficiency and business ability, and feats of organization are accomplished, but of the man himself with his sheer intellectual power, and his fertility of ideas, there is no sign. It may be after all that the fabric of his thinking is conventional, and only its colours and expressions are original; or it may be that his mind does not gear readily to other minds, and that he must either think and act independently for himself, or when that is impossible to defy the conventions.”

Winston fought the election tinder the most adverse conditions that could
be imagined. Three days before the contest opened he was stricken with
appendicitis and rushed off to the hospital for an operation. He was unable
to appear in Dundee until two days before the poll, and even then was in
pain and mounted the platform only with the aid of a walking stick.

All over Britain it was apparent that there was a rising tide of opinion in
favour of Conservatism. But it was not so in Dundee. Dundee’s Radical
heart was beating more strongly than ever.

If Winston wished to retain his seat he had to convince the electors that he still retained his reforming zeal and was not leaning towards the Right. He had prepared his speech with great care. He told the audience how important it was to steer a middle course between the extremes of die-hard Toryism on the one hand and Socialism on the other.

He said that: “I do not think, that the country is in a fit condition to be torn and harried by savage domestic warfare. What we require now is not a period of turmoil but a period of stability and recuperation. Let us stand together and tread a middle way.”

But in his election address, issued the week before, he had been careful
to establish himself as a progressive.

He talked about housing, about larger unemployment benefits, and about an improvement in the public services.

He attacked the Tories as the retrograde party saying: “Mr Bonar Law has described his policy as one of negation. Such a message of negation will strike despair in the heart of every earnest social worker and of every striver after social justice.”

To be continued:

After the dismal end of the Great War, to End All Wars, came the restless years between 1919 and 1929 that did little to advance Winston Churchill’s reputation and career as a statesman.

Indeed, it was a turbulent decade of clashing colors, militant flags,and dark shadows. This was a world of booms, slumps, and crashes. It was the height of hubris, and the lowest ebb of humility. It was the day for Socialism, for Bolshevism, for Communism, and for the “isms” that divide people amongst themselves and spread hate and malicious violence. Yet it was also the years that saw the birth of the League of Nations, the birth of flappers, and flutters, the fashionable cocktail parties, the Art Deco, the Arts & Crafts resurgence, and the movement of all the Bright Young People, wanting to save the World through their own ideology…

Of course, this would happen only if everybody listened and followed the party line, of the Socialists, or the Communists, or the line of the “Come hither fascists.”

Inevitably, this was a decade of strikes, unemployment, of the rise of the Labour Party, of civil wars, of pacifism, of demoralization, of a half-hearted belief in collective security.

Indeed this was a decade that was to usher in a new factor in world politics: “The Common Man” and his destiny to lead the Politics and the Society of his day and age…

Does this seem familiar and a parallel with what is going on today in our World?

And does the threat of a new Nuclear war spawned by China’s evil communist child North Korea, and started by their planned attack against Pearl Harbor this year — unsettles your Hawaiian holiday plans?

Don’t fret because if we act fast and with resolve — we can solve this problem before it becomes a nuclear confrontation that will lead the world towards nuclear winter.

But let’s not discount the possibility of failure in our mission either, because that will result in massive exchanges of nuclear bombs, that will render the whole of the Northern American hemisphere, same as the Chinese part of the World — completely uninhabitable for the foreseeable future…

Since the nuclear arsenal of North Korea is a gift from China, and since their military is simply an expansion of the People’s Red Army of China, we have to be seriously considering the possibility of war against China as we advance our military options against North Korea.

It is never easy to uncover and destroy the puppet nation of a superpower, but the error of China was to give North Korea the nuclear bombs and the ICBM missile capabilities, because although, the geriatric Chinese Communists of the Politburo, and of the Central Committee, wanted to have their puppet attack the United States with nuclear weapons — they still wanted to have that done quietly, while China could still claim plausible deniability… for the disaster they wrought.

The recent history of Korea is spotty but here are some facts that explain the division of the country into North and South, during the past century: Japan conquered and imposed colonial rule over Korea from 1910 to 1945, but with Japan on the verge of defeat after the nuclear phase of World War II, two young American army officers drew an arbitrary line across a Korean map, and split the country in two, with a border at the 38th parallel, thus creating an American zone of influence in the South and a Soviet Russian Communist zone of influence in the North. Naturally in the beginning both South and North Korea became repressive regimes, and then diverged towards oppossing political systems.
Initially, in South Korea, the United States built up a police force and constabulary, and backed the authoritarian leader Syngman Rhee, who created a fairly tolerant police state. By 1948 partisan warfare had enveloped the whole of South Korea, which in turn became enmeshed in civil war between South and North Korea.
In North Korea, the government of Kim II-Sung arrested and imprisoned student and church leaders, and gunned down protesters on November 23, 1945. Christians as well as business and land owners faced with the confiscation of their property, and the shuttering of all churches, and the closure of all alternative political institutions — began fleeing to the South Korean border.
To address that issue, the U.S. Army counter-intelligence corps organized paramilitary commandos to carry out sabotage missions in the North, a factor accounting for the origins of the war. The Korean War officially began on June 25, 1950, when North Korea conducted a massive invasion of the South.
The United States obtained the approval of the United Nations for the defense of South Korea. At the time, the Soviet Union had boycotted the UN over the issue of seating China. Sixteen nations supplied troops although the vast majority came from the United States and South Korea. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur headed the United Nations Command.
The three-year Korean War resulted in the deaths of three to four million Koreans, produced 6-7 million refugees, and destroyed over 8,500 factories, 5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals and 600,000 homes. Over 36,000 American soldiers died in the war. And many more allied personnel from the sixteen other nations also lost their lives, in the conflict.
From air bases in Okinawa and naval aircraft carriers, the U.S. Air Force launched over 698,000 tons of bombs (compared to 500,000 tons in the entire Pacific theater in World War II), obliterating 18 of 22 major cities and destroying much of the infrastructure in North Korea.
The US bombed irrigation dams, destroying 75 percent of the North’s rice supply, violating civilian protections set forth in the Geneva Conventions of 1949.The Korean War has been called a “limited war” because the U.S. refrained from using nuclear weapons, although this eventuality was considered at one point. Yet the massive destruction of North Korea and the enormous death toll in both North and South, mark it as one of the most barbarous wars in modern history.
Reports of North Korean atrocities and war crimes were well publicized in the United States at the time. The 2005 South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, however, judged that most of the mass killings of civilians were conducted by South Korean military and police forces, with the United States adding more from the air.

For all the human suffering caused by the Korean War, very little was achieved. The division for one, was never solved. Neither was the ideological divide solved. Indeed, the war ended in stalemate with the division of the country at the 38th parallel becoming a permanent fixture and a reality of a new World.

Yet today, we have a new reality at hand.

South Korea is a democracy and the North is a totalitarian fascist state, and a dangerous entity for the whole world, rattling the nuclear saber to all the nations that their ICBMs could reach… such as the United States and Japan.

The Korean War memorial on the National Mall in Washington features nineteen light-colored steel American combat soldiers, representing different nationalities, heading in formation towards the American flag. The statues stand in patches of juniper bushes and are separated by polished granite strips symbolizing the rice paddies of Korea. The four architects selected for designing this memorial sued the government because their design was to include quotes on war and peace intended to raise “huge doubt about war as an institution.” The approved final version, however, omitted the telling quotes and related images, thus memorializing those who served in Korea without attempting to assess the political context for the war or the human suffering it engendered.

Korea is considered a just war that contributed to the defeat of communist totalitarianism and enabled development of South Korea into a stable and prosperous democracy.

Compared to the “bleak and brutal despotism of North Korea,” South Korea was a “political success story.” This was epitomized by the advent of free elections in 1987, thirty-four years after the Korean War ended. The lesson was that Americans needed to be patient about the evolution of democracy in countries recently liberated across the Earth.

A good barometer for judging whether a war is just or unjust is to decipher whether it was undertaken as an act of self-defense, in accordance with domestic and international legal principles, as established in the United Nations Charter.
Rather than an act of self-defense, President Harry S. Truman presented military intervention as a police action and limited war, waging it without Congressional authorization. The North Koreans, it was said, had crossed a United Nations-recognized border – the 38th parallel – and thus had committed military aggression against a “democratic” Western ally, the Republic of Korea (ROK), the defense of which had been assumed by the United States. The UN Security Council approved a U.S.-led military intervention in a 9-0 vote. (The Soviet Union had walked out of the Security Council in a dispute over the seating of Communist China, and thus was unable to veto the measure.) Canada, Great Britain, Turkey, Australia, and Thailand subsequently sent military forces, paid for mostly by the Americans. Compared to the war in Vietnam, where the U.S. did not sign the Geneva Accords nor receive UN sanction, the Korean War was legal and considered by many justifiable in its first phase.
Michael Walzer, in his book Just and Unjust Wars, accepts the legitimacy of the U.S.-UN intervention but considers the subsequent U.S.-UN invasion of North Korea to be an act of military hubris. He also condemns the U.S. military strategy of deploying indiscriminate firepower to conserve American soldiers’ lives. While Walzer may be correct in these judgments, the legal justification for defending South Korea from northern attack does not necessarily make the war right, as the Korean perspective was not taken into account when the country was divided. The 38th parallel line, in fact, had no historical justification and was selected arbitrarily by two U.S. colonels, Charles Bonesteel and the future Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, near the end of World War II. Granted that the United States came to the defense of South Korea, it also contributed to the outbreak of war by projecting its Cold War mission onto Korea and establishing a repressive state in the south that opposed unification. The United States also trained South Korean saboteurs and commandos who infiltrated the North and even tried to assassinate Kim Il-Sung in the months prior to the June 25 invasion. The northern invasion of the South can thus be considered to have been provoked.
Truman dispatches U.S. forces to Korea under United Nations authority (New York Times, June 28, 1950)

On June 27, 1950, President Truman sent U.S. forces to Korea under United Nations authority, without a declaration of war from Congress President Harry S. Truman claimed the U.S. goal in Korea was to prevent the “rule of force in international affairs” and to “uphold the rule of law,” but this was utterly contradicted by American support for right-wing counter-insurgent forces in Greece, which committed large-scale atrocities in suppressing an indigenous left-wing rebellion led by anti-fascist elements, and in subsequent years, by Washington’s overthrow by force of the legally elected governments of Iran and Guatemala in 1953 and 1954, respectively. As Howard Zinn pointed out in Postwar America, 1945-1971 (1973), other cases of aggression or alleged aggression in the world, such as the Arab states invasion of Israel in 1948, did not prompt the U.S. to mobilize the UN or its own armed forces for intervention. Zinn concluded that the decision to intervene in Korea was, at its core, political, designed to uphold the dictatorial U.S. client regime of Syngman Ree and acquire U.S. military bases in South Korea, which the U.S. did as a result of the war.

Apart from the question of whether the Korean War was necessary, the horrible human cost of the war marks it as one of the worst ever fought. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) considered war a crime if it was fought with “malicious intent to destroy, a desire to dominate with fierce hatred and furious vengeance,” which was clearly the case for Korea. While 36,574 Americans died, three to four million Koreans lost their lives as a result of the war, including one out of every nine North Koreans, according to a UN estimate. In addition, six to seven million Koreans were rendered refugees and over 8,500 factories, 5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals, and 600,000 homes were destroyed.

Donald Kingsley, head of the UN Korean Relief and Reconstruction Agency, called Korea “the most devastated land and its people the most destitute in the history of modern warfare.” This devastation was inflicted primarily by the United States and its proxies with backing from the United Nations. Taking this into account, the Korean War can be considered to have been a gross injustice and crime for which the U.S. bears important responsibility. To add insult to injury, the war did not resolve the conflict between North and South, which lingers on today, over 60 years later.

In summary, while the United Nations approved the U.S.-led international intervention in Korea, other factors should be taken into account: (1) the 38th parallel was not a legitimate international boundary in the eyes of the Korean people; (2) both South and North Korea had engaged in aggressive actions prior to the North Korean invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950; and (3) the United States had set up a government in South Korea that ruthlessly repressed leftist opposition and resisted compromise toward a unified Korean government. As to the conduct of the war, the United States employed massive firepower that rendered Korea a devastated land, causing untold suffering. The U.S. air war flagrantly disregarded the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which ban indiscriminate attacks against civilians and their means of survival. But could this war have been avoided? In hindsight, the war could have been avoided and the Koreans left to determine their own future if the United States would have allowed it. U.S. leaders viewed the conflict through the narrow lens of the East-West conflict and the Cold War when in reality it was primarily an internal Korean civil war with anti-colonial underpinnings. Historian Bruce Cumings has suggested that the outbreak of war became inevitable once the U.S. decided to back Syngman Rhee. Wanting to unify the two Koreas under his rule, Rhee was a hard-line anticommunist who saw no room for compromise or middle ground, considering all left-wing groups and opponents of his regime to be communists. This viewpoint was shared by American Military Government leader John R. Hodge. With American military backing, Rhee launched repressive counter-insurgency campaigns in the 1940s that led South Korea into a state of virtual civil war prior to the official outbreak of war between the North and the South.

Among Rhee’s victims were moderate nationalist politicians such as Kim Ku, who warned that Koreans should not fight each other, and Yo Un-Hyong, who had wanted the peaceful unification of North and South. Yo had headed a provisional government preceding the U.S. military occupation and advocated a mix of liberal-nationalist and social democratic ideals which were anathema to the Rhee government. Revered in both North and South Korea today, Yo had been a newspaper editor who opposed Japanese colonialism, and though not a communist himself, had always been willing to work with communists. Had the U.S. supported Yo and his efforts to create a unity government with the North, the war and its attendant misery could likely have been avoided and Korea’s history would be much different.
The war itself hardened animosities on both sides and helped to consolidate Kim Il-Sung’s rule and the harsh authoritarian characteristics of his regime amidst legitimate security threats. While the nature of the Kim regime in North today is used to rationalize the Korean War, it should, in my view, be considered another horrific consequence of the war. A North-South unity government was indeed the best option for the U.S. to pursue in the 1940s in order to avoid catastrophe, although the political climate of the time and the U.S. drive for hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region precluded this possibility.
Once started, the Korean War could clearly have been ended much earlier had U.S. leaders been committed to diplomacy. On December 12, 1950, journalist Walter Lippmann received a memo from New York Times reporter James Reston that the Chinese had passed to Secretary of State Dean Acheson a peace proposal from Peking offering a cease-fire in exchange for negotiations on Formosa. Acheson, however, did not take the request seriously, saying it was “merely a maneuver instigated by the Russians to prevent completion of the NATO military command and prevent the rearming of Germany.”

By the 20th century, Korea had been a singular political entity for one thousand years. It was a highly cultured state, infused with Buddhist and Confucian traditions, in which the world’s first printing press was invented. Following invasions by the Mongols and Japanese in the 16th century, Korea became known as the “hermit kingdom” for its strong isolationist policy. In 1897, King Gojong, proclaimed the founding of the Greater Korean Empire, effectively severing Korea’s historic ties as a tributary of Qing China. The country was thus sovereign and unified on the eve of the Japanese conquest in the early 20th century. With the departure of the Japanese in 1945, expectations for a unified, independent Korean nation were undermined by rival nationalist leaders and their powerful foreign patrons.

The Korean War’s origin is rooted in the era of Japanese colonialism. Japan had colonized Korea in 1910 under the Pan-Asian doctrine, claiming that its destiny was to help uplift Asia and prevent Western colonial exploitation. Emulating the practices of the West, the Japanese built up Korea’s transportation infrastructure and nascent industrial capacities, while promoting divide and rule tactics by ruling through native collaborators among the old bureaucracy and landed elites. The system was marked by pronounced social inequality, labor exploitation, rural poverty, and draconian police tactics.
Japanese oppression prompted the growth of nationalist opposition which by the 1930s was predominantly led by communists, as in Vietnam. Historian Dae Suk Suh notes that “for Koreans, the sacrifices of the communists, if not the idea of communism, had strong appeal. . . . The haggard appearance of the communists suffering from torture, their stern and disciplined attitude towards the common enemy of all Koreans [Imperial Japan], had a far reaching effect on the people.”

Following the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in 1931, the communists spearheaded anti-Japanese guerrilla operations under the banner of the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army, which bogged down Japan’s Kwantung Army. The Japanese engaged in “bandit suppression” activities that included the denial of food to rebel base areas. Kim Il-Sung emerged in this milieu as a prominent guerrilla commander adept at unifying disparate factions and mixing nationalism with revolution. His most famous exploit was a raid on Poch’onbo, a Korean town across the border in Manchuria where he led almost two hundred guerrillas on June 4, 1937, in destroying local government offices and setting fire to the Japanese police station. Kim was hunted by a special “Kim II-Sung Activities Unit” of the Japanese, which was made up of fifty pro-Japanese Korean soldiers commanded by Kim Sok-Won, a colonel decorated by the Emperor Hirohito who later became prominent in the American-backed Republic of Korea Army. Kim Sok-Won resumed his role in targeting Kim Il-Sung after the Korean War broke out in 1950.
The redrawing of old battle lines exemplified the colonial origins of the Korean War, with the revolutionary supporters fearing the restoration of Japanese domination in Korea. Reinforcing these sentiments, Japan actually provided military assistance to South Korea during the war, hedging on violation of international agreements stipulating its demilitarization. It contributed minesweepers to clear Inchon harbor ahead of General Douglas MacArthur’s invasion and naval vessels along with other logistical support. At least twenty-one Japanese perished during the Korean War and one was taken prisoner.

Japanese rule formally came to an end in Korea in September of 1945. At the Potsdam conference in late July, Allied leaders failed to agree on a plan for administering Korea after the surrender of the Japanese. President Truman hoped that the Japanese would surrender before the Soviet Union entered the war in Asia, thus giving the U.S. and Great Britain a free hand in reconstructing governments in Korea, Japan, and China in the postwar period. However, the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan on August 9th of 1945, the same day that the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The following day, Secretary of State James Byrnes directed the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee to draw up a proposal for dividing Korea into separate zones controlled by the Soviet Union and the United States. The committee delegated the task to Colonels C. H. Bonesteel and Dean Rusk, who drew the line at the 38th parallel. The proposal was designed to limit the Soviet advance into Korea, as Soviet troops were poised on the Korean border and U.S. troops were 600 miles away. Surprisingly, Stalin accepted the proposal, no doubt expecting his compromise to be reciprocated in other matters. Soviet troops entered Korea on August 12th and occupied Pyongyang on August 24th. Two weeks later, on September 8th, U.S. forces arrived in southern Korea. The former World War II allies each put into place a government that maintained close ties with its foreign patron. As the Cold War intensified, the idea of forming a unified Korean government faded; or put another way, both the South and North Korean governments sought to unify the country under their own authority. The Chinese revolution, which pitted the U.S.-backed forces of Jiang Jieshi against the Soviet-backed forces of Mao Zedong, exacerbated tension. Mao’s victory in October 1949 raised fears in the U.S. that communism would sweep across Asia. By this time, both U.S. and Soviet troops had been officially withdrawn from Korea. Yet a sizable group of U.S. military advisors remained to train and participate in South Korean counterinsurgency operations; while in North Korea, Soviet advisers remained at least to the battalion level and possibly as far down as company level.
Japan and the U.S. both entered the imperial competition in Asia at the turn of the 20th century, Japan in Korea and the U.S. in the Philippines. Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands had already established control over large areas of Asia.
Japan and the U.S. both entered the imperial competition in Asia at the turn of the 20th century, Japan in Korea and the U.S. in the Philippines. Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Russia had already established control over large areas of Asia.
Beyond occupying South Korea at the end of World War II, U.S. involvement in Korea was a consequence of the long American drive for power in the Asia-Pacific region dating to the seizure of Hawaii and conquest of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century. This mission was motivated by a trinity of military, missionary, and business interests. After the defeat of Japan in World War II, the prospect opened up that the region could come under U.S. influence, its rich resources tapped for the benefit of American industry. In a March 1955 Foreign Affairs article, William Henderson of the Council on American Foreign Relations (which Laurence Shoup and William Minter aptly termed the “imperial brain trust”) wrote: “As one of the earth’s great storehouses of natural resources, Southeast Asia is a prize worth fighting for. Five sixths of the world’s rubber, and one half of its tin are produced here. It accounts for two thirds of the world output in coconut, one third of the palm oil, and significant proportions of tungsten and chromium. No less important than the natural wealth was Southeast Asia’s key strategic position astride the main lines of communication between Europe and the Far East.” To secure access to these resources, the U.S. established a chain of military bases from the Philippines through the Ryukyu Archipelago in southern Japan.
The victory of the communists in the Chinese revolution cut off American access to the vast China market and shattered longstanding American dreams of bringing China into the American sphere of influence. The revolution also represented an ideological challenge in advancing the Russian model of state-driven socialist industrial development as an alternative to Western capitalism. Since the 1930s, the United States had been committed to Chinese nationalist leader Jieng Jieshi as a bulwark of an American dominated Asia. The U.S. continued to support Jieng after he violently consolidated his power as leader of Taiwan and co-founded the People’s Anti-Communist League with Syngman Rhee.
For the American right, the “loss of China” was a devastating blow, prompting the embrace of an Asian-centric rollback policy. Supporters of this policy, including mid-western Republican Senators Robert Taft of Ohio and Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, considered Asia as a place where the U.S. could extract minerals and gain profit while spreading American and Christian ideals. Their vision dovetailed with that of free-enterprise liberals who believed in the American mission to promote free-trade and development in the backwards regions of the globe. They feared China’s obtaining a great-power status capable of allowing it to challenge an Asian system shaped by America.
Japan was the super-domino in the postwar containment strategy. American leaders were committed to rebuilding Japan along capitalist lines in part by opening up regional markets. This policy gained greater urgency as a result of the Chinese revolution of 1949, whose primary goal was to escape the yoke of Japanese and Western neocolonialism by spearheading industrialization and implementing land reform and collectivized agriculture along with programs of uplift for poor peasants. State Department internationalists pushed for connecting South Korea’s economy to Japan’s, in part to enable Japan to extract raw materials capable of sustaining its economic recovery, and in part to keep Japan in the Western orbit as a counterweight to communist China. In January 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall scribbled a note to Dean Acheson: “Please have plan drafted of policy to organize a definite government of So. Korea and connect up its economy with that of Japan.” The war ultimately served as a great boon to Japan’s economy and the U.S. acquired military bases in South Korea that are still in its possession today.
The communist victory in China also led the Truman administration to supply military aid to the French in Vietnam beginning in February 1950. Although couched in the language of anti-communism and protection of the “free world,” it became clear to many in the “Third World” that the U.S. had chosen to align with (French) imperialism against the rising tide of nationalist revolutions in Asia and Africa.

Many Koreans yearned for a major social transformation following the era of Japanese colonial rule and, like other people in decolonizing nations, looked to socialist bloc countries as a model. Americans, unfortunately, were conditioned to view the world in Manichean Cold War terms and thus never developed a proper understanding for the appeal of revolutionaries such as Kim Il Sung. North Korea experienced a genuine social revolution in the years 1945-1950, which was driven from the top down as well as the bottom up. The liberating aspects of this social revolution, however, were compromised by the establishment of a repressive police state as well as a personality cult around Kim II-Sung, much like those surrounding Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. Still, North Korea was not the puppet of the Soviet Union or China that Americans imagined.

As the Soviet Union occupied North Korea Kim Il-Sung consolidated his position as the “great leader” of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Kim Il Sung joined the Communist Party of Korea in 1931 and, as previously noted, earned a measure of fame for spearheading nationalist resistance to Japanese rule in Manchuria during the 1930s. After being pursued by the Japanese in Manchuria, Kim Il Sung escaped to the Soviet Union and became an officer in the Red Army during World War II. He returned to Korea in September 1945 and, with Soviet backing, established himself as the North Korean leader. He gained Mao Zedong’s support by recruiting a cadre of guerrillas to aid communist forces in the Chinese civil war.

The Soviet Union’s main interest in Korea was in seeking access to warm water ports and a friendly regime as a buffer against Japan. Soviet soldiers, like most occupying armies, abused the local population, in some instances committing rapes. Their presence, however, was confined predominantly to the capital, Pyongyang. Soviet advisers helped draft a new constitution, sponsored cultural exchanges and programs, and guided certain reforms and foreign policy. North Koreans nonetheless asserted considerable autonomy and many looked to Russia and China as countries which were rapidly industrializing and had empowered the peasantry and masses by moving to abolish class distinctions.
Embracing state socialism as a means of “skipping over centuries of slavery and backwardness,” the Kim regime adopted an economic ideology centered on the concept of “juche,” or self-reliance, which helped to jumpstart economic development. At the time of Korea’s liberation, over 90 percent of the industry in the former colony was owned by Japanese interests. The material resources for an egalitarian revolution were thus available. With the Japanese deposed, workers committees led predominantly by communists took control of most of the factories in the North. For a brief period, the Soviets seized control of the economy, including of the Wonsan Oil Company, and sent equipment, parts and the raw materials (including the oil) back to Russia as a “war prize.” After the North Korean People’s Committee was established in February 1946 , North Koreans retook charge and promulgated a law on nationalization of major industries which resulted in more than one thousand industries (90 percent of all of them in the North including electricity, transportation, railways and communications) becoming state property. By 1949, more than 50 percent of state revenue came from these nationalized industries, which helped finance the building of road infrastructure, schools and politicized universities as well as hospitals. The funds were also used to create a literacy program that reached over two million farmers.
The DPRK’s crowning achievement was an expansive land reform campaign that was far less bloody than its counterparts in China and North Vietnam. According to U.S. Army intelligence, the land reform program “made 70 percent of the peasants’ ardent supporters of the regime,” although this total would later drop because of onerous taxation. Under the terms of the March 5, 1946 land reform law, all land owned by the Japanese government and Japanese nationals was confiscated along with land belonging to Korean landlords in excess of five chongbo (roughly twelve acres) and land rented out by landlords. Debts were also canceled. Nearly all of the confiscated land, which amounted to 980,000 chongbo, was redistributed to 710,000 peasant households for free, with less than 2 percent kept under state ownership. North Korea thus created a socialist economy in which major industries were under state control while most land was held by private households.
Based on the Maoist ideal of a society organized on the basis of collective social needs, Kim’s regime gained further support by promoting labor laws limiting working hours and providing collective bargaining rights as well as advancing women’s rights, passing laws to secure free rights in marriage and outlawing dowry exchange and child marriage. An editorial in a local newspaper asserted in 1947 that the “life of a North Korean woman today has been completely freed from subordination, domination, subservience and exploitation.”
Suzy Kim, in Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950, points to the importance of the people’s committees set up after liberation in spearheading revolutionary transformation. Though Kim Il Sung refused a UN supervised general election in the North in 1948, local elections were held for positions in which participation was high. Lt. Col. Walter F. Choinski, who was stationed in P’yongyang, likened them to the early 1900s in the U.S. in the level of excitement. He and other observers reported that the results were contested and that village meetings vetted candidates, ensuring that those who stood for office were popular and respected. DPRK legitimacy was also bolstered after its formation through a purge of Japanese police officers linked to human rights atrocities.

The DPRK invested considerable resources into education, propaganda and culture as an important vehicle in mobilizing support for the regime. Over one hundred writers had migrated from the South. Outside observers spoke of a “cultural renaissance” of native folk dancing, music, literature and drama. A nascent film industry was developed that celebrated the nationalist struggle against Japan. In late 1949, Kim Il Sung called on writers and artists to be “warriors who educate the people and defend the republic” and most importantly “portray the heroic struggle of the working people.” Pyongyang journalist Han Chaedok and novelist Han Sorya helped create a cult of personality surrounding Kim, modeled after Stalin and Mao. It proved to be long-lasting because it drew on Neo-Confucian tradition entailing respect for familial loyalty.

The North Korean government also relied on authoritarian measures and repression of dissent, confirming the West’s negative view of it in this regard. The Kim II-Sung regime developed a siege mentality that demanded unity in the face of the threat of outside subversion. The DPRK created a draconian surveillance apparatus, purging political rivals to Kim and his clique. On November 23, 1945, in Sinuiji, security forces gunned down Christian student protesters in front of the North P’yongan provincial office; and later some three hundred students and twenty Christian pastors were arrested after further anticommunist demonstrations. American intelligence concluded that the “nucleus of resistance of the Communist regime are the church groups, long prominent in North Korea, and secret student societies. Resistance was centered in the cities, notably Pyongyang, and took the form of school strikes, circulation of leaflets, demonstrations and assassinations. The government replied with arrests and imprisonments, investigations of student and church groups, and destruction of churches.” Christians as well as business and land owners faced with the confiscation of their property began fleeing to the South. With deep grievances against communism, these refugees provided a backbone of support for the Syngman Rhee government. Many served in right-wing youth groups, modeled after fascist style organizations, which violently broke up workers demonstrations and assaulted left-wing political activists.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (north) was established Sept. 9, 1948
In June 1949, North Korea accelerated its “peace offensive” toward the South, calling for all “democratic” – that is anti-Syngman Rhee forces – to join with the North in unifying the Korean peninsula and removing the Americans. It pushed for free elections in which left wing political parties in the South were legalized and political prisoners released. According to the historian Charles K. Armstrong, in The North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950, a free political environment would have given the left an estimated 80 percent of the vote in the North and 65-70 percent of the votes in the South. Kim and his allies could thus come to power through democratic means had the popular uprising in the South not been repressed.
The North Korean People’s Army (KPA) grew directly out of the public security organizations developed after liberation. According to Armstrong, the Kim regime required little coercion in recruiting youth between the ages of eighteen to twenty five for enlistment, with most enlistees drawn from families of workers and poor peasants who supported the regime. The Fatherland Defense Association organized in July 1949 encouraged citizens to support the military as part of a process of mass mobilization for war that American leaders grossly underestimated.
Kim’s Manchurian cronies were placed at the head of the KPA and all Korean officers who had served the Japanese military were purged officially by June 1948. Soviet advisers remained after 1948, and the Soviets provided vintage World War II weaponry including tanks and aircraft. The connection to the Chinese Red Army was more intimate than to the Soviets though, as U.S. military intelligence estimated that at least 80 percent of the officers of the security forces were former members of the Korean Volunteer Army from the Chinese front, and at least half of North Korean soldiers in the KPA were veterans of China’s civil war. The victory of the Chinese communist forces in October 1949 resulted in the return of thousands of troops to North Korea. U.S. military intelligence said that “these experienced troops made the KPA a much more effective fighting force than it would otherwise have been.”

Syngman Rhee was a conservative nationalist who lived in the United States for over four decades after being imprisoned by the Japanese as a young man. The Truman administration brought him back to Korea in October 1945 to lead the new South Korean government. Considering him a “Jeffersonian democrat,” the U.S. Office of Strategic Services believed that Rhee harbored “more of an American point of view than other Korean leader.”

Syngman Rhee headed South Korea from its beginning in 1948 to his overthrow in 1960.
In practice, Rhee exhibited strong autocratic tendencies and relied heavily on Japanese collaborators – in part because he had been out of the country so long. He was elected president in July 1948 by members of the National Assembly, who themselves had been elected on May 10 in a national election marred by boycotts, violence and a climate of terrorism. The elections were originally intended to be held in both the North and South, but Kim II-Sung refused to allow UN supervisors entry into North Korea. Some South Koreans boycotted the elections on the grounds that they would solidify the division between the Koreas, which is indeed what happened. Syngman Rhee proceeded to consolidate his rule thereafter. When asked by the journalist Mark Gayn whether Rhee was a fascist, Lieutenant Leonard Bertsch, an adviser to General John R. Hodge, head of the American occupation, responded, “He is two centuries before fascism—a true Bourbon.”
After formal establishment of the Republic of Korea (ROK) on August 15, 1948, Rhee refused to accept power sharing proposals to unify the north and south. Rhee also reinforced the economic status quo. According to Bruce Cumings, “The primary cause of the South Korean insurgency was the ancient curse of average Koreans – the social inequity of land relations and the huge gap between a tiny elite of the rich and the vast majority of the poor.” At the same time Rhee followed American dictates in passing a secret clause agreeing to export rice to Japan and signed contracts allowing American businesses to exploit the So Lim gold mine and take over the Sandong tungsten mine, which was guarded by U.S. troops.

The Republic of Korea (south) was established on August 15, 1948.
Political opposition to Rhee’s government emerged almost immediately when Rhee, with U.S. backing, retained Japanese-trained military leaders and police officers instead of removing them. Those who had resisted Japanese rule, administered with the aid of these collaborators, called for Rhee’s ouster. The communists in South Korea protested the loudest, as they had led the anti-Japanese insurrection, but opposition to Rhee was widespread. Resistance to the U.S. occupation and Rhee’s government was led by labor and farmers’ associations and People’s Committees, which organized democratic governance and social reform at the local level. The mass-based South Korean Labor Party (SKLP), headed by Pak Hon-Yong, a veteran of anti-Japanese protest with communist ties, led strikes and carried out acts of industrial sabotage. Rhee responded by building up police and security forces and, with assistance from the American Military Government (AMG), attempting to eliminate all political opposition, which he labeled communist-backed. Thus, the earlier antagonism between rebels and collaborators during Japanese rule took on the dimensions of both a partisan struggle within South Korea and a struggle between North and South.
In October 1946, revolts broke out in South Cholla province, triggered by police abuse and the imposition of strict wage controls by occupation authorities. Riots in Taegu were precipitated by police suppression of a railroad strike that left thirty-nine civilians dead, hundreds wounded, and thirty-eight missing. Martial law was subsequently declared and 1,500 were arrested. Forty were sentenced to death, including SKLP leader Pak, who fled North. Over 100,000 students walked out in solidarity with the workers, while mobs ransacked police posts, buried officers alive, and slashed the face of the police chief, in a pattern replicated in neighboring cities and towns. Blaming the violence on “outside agitators” (North Korean support was in fact more moral than material) and the “idiocy” of the peasants, the American military called in reinforcements to restore order. The director of the U.S. Army’s Department of Transportation stated: “We had a battle mentality. We didn’t have to worry too much if innocent people got hurt. We set up concentration camps outside of town and held strikers there when the jails got too full…. It was war. We recognized it as war and fought it as such.”

By mid-1947, there were almost 22,000 people in jail, nearly twice as many as under the Japanese, with the Red Cross pointing to inadequate medical care and sanitation. Professors and assemblymen were among those tortured in custody. Those branded as communists were dehumanized to the extent that they were seen as unworthy of legal protection. Pak Wan-so, a South Korean writer who faced imprisonment and torture by police commented that “they called me a red bitch. Any red was not considered human…. They looked at me as if I was a beast or a bug…. Because we weren’t human, we had no rights.” The scale of repression in South Korea at this time far surpassed that of North Korea. In Mokpo seaport, the bodies of prisoners who had been shot were left on people’s doorsteps as a warning in what became known as the “human flesh distribution case.” A new government official defended the practice saying they were the most “vile of communists.”

Gordon Young who later worked for the CIA in Thailand spoke of a massacre by American troops at a checkpoint “comparable to the Calley incident in Vietnam.” (U.S. Lieutenant William Calley was held responsible for the My Lai massacre in which 500 civilians were killed.) The main culprit was fined one dollar and transferred out of his unit as penalty. “Nobody worried about adverse publicity in those days…. There is a distinct habit among elements of American GIs for becoming absolute slobs when away from home and society. Some of course came from backgrounds of bad upbringing and even criminal elements.” Young’s comments underscore the climate of impunity in which U.S. soldiers operated and the lack of public concern for the fate of Korean civilians within the post-World War II victory culture of the United States.
To assist in pacification, the AMG developed a police constabulary which provided the foundation for the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA). Building on colonial precedents in Nicaragua and the Philippines, the constabulary wore American supplied uniforms, carried American arms, and moved with American transport, with its eight divisions plus a cavalry regiment recapitulating the American military model. Soldiers were valued for their knowledge of the local terrain and ability to tell “the cowboys from the Indians,” as legendary Marine commander Lewis “Chesty” Puller put it. The chief adviser, Captain James Hausman, provided instruction in riot control and psychological warfare techniques such as dousing corpses of executed people with gasoline so as to hide the manner of execution or blame it on the communists.
The ROKA gained valuable experience suppressing guerrilla rebellions in the Chiri-San mountains and on the southern island of Cheju-do in 1948, where units operated under U.S. military command. They were aided by aerial reinforcements and spy planes that swept over the mountains, waging “an all-out guerrilla extermination campaign,” as Everett Drumwright of the American embassy characterized it. A third of the population in the region was forcibly relocated and tens of thousands were killed, including guerilla leaders Yi Tôk-ku, whose mutilated corpse was hung on a cross, and Kim Chi-hoe, whose head was shipped to Capt. Hausman’s office in Seoul.
Similar brutality was displayed in the suppression of a popular insurrection in Yeosu which broke out in October 1948 after the 14th ROKA regiment refused orders to “murder the people of Cheju-do fighting against imperialist policy.” Order was restored only after purges were enacted in the constabulary regiments that had mutinied under Hausman’s direction and the perpetrators were executed by firing squad. Much of the town was set on fire.
On April 14, 1950, thirty-nine Koreans suspected of being “communists” were tied to poles, blindfolded, and shot by South Korean Military Police ten miles northeast of Seoul.
On April 14, 1950, ten miles northeast of Seoul, South Korean Military Police executed 39 Koreans suspected of being “communist.”
In light of these events, the claim of John Foster Dulles, writing in the New York Times Magazine, that the ROKA and police had the “highest discipline” and that South Korea was essentially a “healthy society” does not stand up to historical scrutiny.[47] Another popular myth held that the U.S. abandoned South Korea in the late 1940s. American military advisers in reality were all over the country through this period, training Korean soldiers and police, leading counter-insurgency missions. The latter included the forced displacement of villagers that became a basis for the Strategic Hamlet program in South Vietnam. The U.S. provided spotter planes and naval vessels to secure the coasts, even enlisting missionaries to provide information on anti-Rhee guerrillas. ROKA soldiers were “armed to the toenails” with American weapons. They adopted “scorched earth” tactics modeled after Japanese counter-insurgency operations in Manchuria.
While entirely contrary to human rights principles and stated American ideals, the repression in South Korea did have a military benefit, as it deprived Kim Il-Sung’s armies of the support they expected after crossing into South Korea on June 25, 1950. This, combined with modest land reform undertaken by Rhee on the eve of the war, differentiated the war in Korea from that of Vietnam, where resistance in the South was more unified and better able to withstand state repression.

There is still a cloud of controversy surrounding the origins of the Korean War. Both Kim Il-Sung and Syngman Rhee had ambitions of unifying the Korean peninsula under their own rule. Prior to July 25, Kim II-Sung undertook a military build-up on the 38th parallel and received clearance for the invasion from Chinese leader Mao Zedong and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin. Yet pitched battles were already being fought across the 38th parallel. There is also speculation that, at 3 a.m. on June 25, South Korean forces under Paek in-Yop may have initiated fighting at Ongjin Southern provocations, in any case, were considerable.
General Charles Willoughby, MacArthur’s intelligence chief, had opened an extralegal Korean Liaison Office whose mission was to “penetrate North Korean governmental, military and industrial agencies.” Southern youth groups under the pay of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) conducted surveillance and forays into the North in violation of UN provisions. Soviet ambassador Terentii F. Shtykov reported that South Korea had “set up subversive and guerrilla bands in every province in North Korea.” U.S. police adviser Millard Shaw considered the cross-border operations acts “bordering on terrorism” which “precipitate retaliatory raids … from the North.” The North claimed that in light of these raids that its own actions were carried out in self-defense, and there is some justification behind that reasoning.
On war’s eve, seasoned intelligence analyst Lt. Walter Choinski and the South Korean G-2 chief of staff were curiously transferred and a report by distinguished cross recipient Donald Nichol predicting a North Korean attack 72 hours before was suppressed by Willoughby. This contributed to the “intelligence failure” that rendered the North Korean attack of June 25th a “surprise” a perception that made the war more politically palatable.
On June 8th, the United States had refused a proposal by Kim Il-Sung to exchange political prisoners and hold elections and form a parliament that would meet in Seoul and unify the country, considering the proposal a propaganda ploy. On the 19th, John Foster Dulles took a trip to the 38th parallel with the blessing of Assistant Defense Secretary Dean Rusk, which stoked North Korean suspicions and hastened the decision to go forward with the invasion.
Soviet leaders only reluctantly sanctioned the North Korean invasion after prodding by Kim, making the North pay for military hardware (unlike the U.S.). Stalin cautioned Kim “if you get kicked in the teeth, I shall not lift a finger. You have to ask Mao [Zedong] for all the help.” Evidence from the Soviet archives suggests that Stalin feared that an American defeat in Korea might trigger a global war. He was prepared to accept U.S. dominance of the peninsula, telling one of his subordinates: “let the United States be our neighbors in the Far East. They will come there but we shall not fight them now. We are not ready to fight.”
Although the CIA had found little evidence that “the USSR was prepared to support North Korea,” the Truman administration deemed the North Korean invasion an act of Russian aggression. Secretary of State Dean Acheson actually greeted the invasion with relief, as it justified massive military appropriations that were essential to carrying out the vision of American pre-eminence outlined in the top-secret National Security Council Report 68 of April 1950. In a press club speech on January 12, 1950, Acheson, a former Wall Street lawyer, had excluded Korea from the American defense perimeter, perhaps to keep the North Koreans off-balance, earning him the opprobrium of Republicans still enraged by the triumph of China’s Maoist revolution. Korea subsequently became a test case to show that the Democrats were willing to stand up to “communist aggression.”

Acheson, one of the war’s main architects, was himself an Anglophile with a lifelong admiration of the British Empire. Radical journalist I. F. Stone commented that he represented not the “free American spirit” but something “old, wrinkled, crafty and cruel, which stinks from centuries of corruption.” Showing little empathy or consideration for the Korean people, Acheson said Korea was “not a local situation” but the “spear-point of a drive made by the whole communist control group on the entire power position of the West.” Inaction in the face of invasion, he believed, would damage U.S. credibility, and the international system involving international treaties, the Marshall Plan and NATO, and would cause communists to seize Formosa, Indochina, and finally Japan as well as give strength to domestic isolationists whom he loathed.
While the initial goals of the Truman administration were defensive from its point of view in thwarting the North Korean invasion, they quickly shifted to destroying the North Korean army and humbling the Soviets, and by September 1950, pushing for a unified Korea under Syngman Rhee.

President Harry S. Truman wrote in his memoirs that the decision to wage war in Korea was one of the toughest of his presidency and that he felt he could not replicate the mistakes of the generation that had appeased Hitler, referencing the so-called Munich paradigm (the failure of America’s allies to stand up to Hitler after he invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938). This historical analogy dominated policy thinking in the early Cold War. Based on this reading of history, Truman believed he had to act quickly and forcefully to block communist aggression in Korea. On the other hand, he wanted to avoid a third world war, which seemed quite possible at the time. As the Soviets had successfully developed a nuclear bomb in 1949, this could mean a nuclear war.
U.S. military leaders were concerned as well. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson and Army Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Omar Bradley worried about committing ground troops to a far-away conflict of limited strategic significance. Even Gen. Douglas MacArthur had told aides in Tokyo that “anyone who engages the U.S. army on the mainland of Asia should have his reason examined.” Once in the war, however, MacArthur was intent on using all means to achieve victory.

President Truman had already established the principle of U.S. intervention against “communist aggression” in March 1947, as the Truman Doctrine, when the U.S. sent aid but not troops, to anti-communist factions in Greece, Italy, and China…
To sell the war to the public, Truman evoked fears of global communist domination and relied on UN Security Council support to legitimate the U.S.-led “police action” in Korea. The “scare” campaign proved highly effective as 81 percent of Americans initially backed the intervention, according to a Gallup poll taken during the first week of the war. Time Magazine acknowledged that “it was a rare U.S. citizen that could pass a detailed quiz on the little piece of Asiatic peninsula he had just guaranteed with troops, planes and ships.” For most Americans, the threat came from the Soviet Union rather than from North Korea. The magazine quoted Evar Malin, 37, of Sycamore, Illinois: “I’ll tell ya, I think we done the right thing. We had to take some kind of action against the Russians.” The magazine’s editors similarly identified the Russians as the real enemy. “Russia’s latest aggression had united the U.S. — and the U.N. — as nothing else could,” they wrote. “By decision of the U.S. and the U.N., the free world would now try to strike back, deal with the limited crises through which Communism was advancing.”

Anti-communist propaganda was directed at both external and internal “threats”
The Red Scare was at its height in the early 1950s. According to a Gallup poll taken July 30-August 4, 1950, forty percent of Americans advocated placing domestic communists in concentration camps.

Progressive-minded critics of the Cold War had grown quieter in the wake of Henry A. Wallace’s overwhelming defeat in his bid for the presidency in 1948. Wallace served as the nation’s vice president under Franklin Roosevelt from 1941 to 1945, then as Commerce Secretary in the Truman administration. He was forced to resign the latter position after making a speech at Madison Square Garden in September 1946 in which he warned that Truman’s foreign policies could lead to a third world war. Two years later, as presidential candidate on the Progressive Party ticket, Wallace advocated for universal health care, racial integration, and a new “people’s century” devoid of war and imperialism. He supported peaceful cooperation with the Russians who he did not consider a military threat. Wallace was smeared during the campaign as pro-communist. Presidential adviser Clark Clifford advised Truman that “every effort must be made to….identify and isolate [Wallace] in the public mind with the communists.”
When the Korean War broke out, the remnants of the Progressive Party objected to the UN Security Council’s call to aid South Korea. Wallace himself, however, supported the UN Security Council’s action and U.S. involvement, stating that when his country goes to war and that war is sanctioned by the UN, he had to support his country and the UN. This position prompted Wallace’s resignation from the Progressive Party which declined thereafter.

This position was strikingly similar to that of the Republican Party. In the November 1950 midterm elections, the GOP picked up 28 seats in the House of Representatives and won 18 contested seats in the Senate. Republican leaders thus felt they had a mandate to aggressively push the rollback doctrine over Truman’s policy of limited war and containment of communism. The Republican platform of 1952 decried the “negative, futile and immoral policy of ‘containment’ which abandons countless human beings to a despotism and godless terrorism.” A real fear of nuclear war nonetheless deterred Republicans and Democrats alike from calling for an invasion of China and Eastern Europe, where communist governments reigned.
Liberals were not entirely or permanently snowed by Truman’s justifications for the war. Many initially supported the war because it signified the successful application of the principle of “collective security” upon which the United Nations is founded. As it became clearer during the war that the U.S. was manipulating the UN to serve its Cold War interests, and that the horrific U.S. bombing of Korea lay outside the boundaries of civilized warfare, criticism of the war became more common, albeit without any recommendation to withdraw.

Vito Marcantonio of the American Labor Party was the sole member of Congress to disavow U.S. intervention in Korea on the grounds of Korea’s right to self-determination. Calling the Rhee government corrupt and fascistic, he told war supporters that “you can keep on making impassioned pleas for the destruction of communism but I tell you, the issue in China, in Asia, in Korea, and in Vietnam, is the right of these people for self-determination, to a government of their own, to independence and national unity.” Earning the ire of the China lobby, Marcantonio lost his seat in the fall election of 1950.

Potential allies of progressives – labor, minority, and religious groups – generally followed mainstream opinion on the war. With workers benefiting from war-related contracts, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) supported U.S. intervention in Korea. The CIO executive board called for “complete and unhesitating cooperation of every individual in America.” In the conformist climate of the time, mainstream civil rights groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) supported the war. A Philip Randolph issued a statement on behalf of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters that “Negroes and other minorities and labor have a stake in the victory of the policy of President Truman…. The ruthless and vicious attack of the Russian satellite, North Korea, upon her sister nation is a violent breech of good faith by the Kremlin [and] shows that Russia is bent on world conquest.” These comments attest to the pervasive Cold War mentality underlying broad-scale public support for the Korean War.

The Catholic Church and ascendant Protestant Christian right, were major supporters of the Korean War, and the Cold War crusade in general, which helped shape Middle American backing of the war. Evangelical preacher Billy Graham called the Truman administration “cowardly” for pursuing a “half-hearted war” rather than following the advice of General Douglas MacArthur and employing the full powers of the American military. Cardinal Francis Spellman, another influential religious leader, visited the troops in Korea, advocated universal military training, and linked U.S. actions in Korea to the will of God.

After General Matthew Ridgeway was quoted in the New York Herald Tribune saying that “our aim is to kill Chinese rather than to capture ground in the current action,” Cardinal Spellman preached that he “dared hope that all at home, inspired by our boys’ heroic giving of themselves for us, may better understand the true meaning of Christmas and more strongly unite to keep God’s peace and the freedom’s he bequeathed to us.” He went on to refer to the “sublime sacrifice of mothers’ sons in emulation of that first Mother’s son who suffered and died,” rendering comparison between the suffering on the cross of Jesus with those sent to Korea to kill the evil, godless communists.

General Fred C. Weyand, who later became a top assistant to Vietnam Commander William C. Westmoreland, noted that the “American way of war is particularly violent, deadly and dreadful. We believe in using ‘things’ – artillery, bombs, massive firepower – in order to conserve our soldiers’ lives.” This strategy of enemy annihilation through superior firepower is rooted in the racial dehumanization of American enemies and a society that sees all progress through the lens of technological advance, in which a cult of technical rationality has corroded human solidarity and empathy. Together with the Vietnam War, the Korean War exemplifies the horrors bred by U.S. style techno-war and its limitations in confronting enemies in distant locales whose motivations the Americans barely understood.

American confidence of victory in the war was heightened by the huge government investment in cutting edge weapons systems. Building on the legacy of World War II, which had seen “the greatest mobilization of scientific power in the history of the world,” in the opinion of Dr. Karl T. Compton, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. employed a variety of lethal technological innovations in Korea: three-and-a half inch rocket launchers, super-bazookas, Sikorsky and Bell helicopters, the M-26 Pershing and M-46 Patton tank equipped with a 90 mm gun, portable flamethrowers, amphibious tractors, white phosphorus grenades (“willie peter”), shells with radio controlled detonators, M20 75mm recoilless rifles, and radar-equipped jet fighter planes that were less vulnerable to ground attack. In addition, the U.S. employed aerial refueling that allowed for long range bombing missions, used naval carriers as launch pads for aircraft, missiles guided by electronic computers, and television controlled planes serving as pilotless flying bombs.

Truong Giap, a Vietnamese revolutionary stated with much accuracy that “the Korean War was the most barbarous war in history.” At the beginning, it looked as if the North would easily occupy the South and win. Kim Il-Sung believed the southerners would rise up against their government and align with the North. Yet he underestimated the effectiveness of Syngman Rhee’s repression of resistance movements prior to the war, and he overestimated popular support in the South for the northern government. Furthermore, in the first days of the northern blitzkrieg, South Korean officers ordered the execution of thousands of political opponents, including those imprisoned, in order to deprive the North of fighters who could assist their cause.
The North Korean People’s Army (KPA) crossed the 38th parallel on June 25, routed the South Korean Army (ROKA), and then advanced down the peninsula with tanks, taking control of Seoul on June 28. Rhee and his inner-circle fled. The following morning, South Korean forces attempted to halt the KPA’s advance by destroying a bridge across the Han River, leaving hundreds of refugees to drown. Many of the South Korea’s finest junior officers died in the fighting in the first days, with Gen. Paik Sun-Yup organizing anti-tank suicide teams equipped with hand grenades.[83] Until the deployment of super-bazookas developed by scientists at Carnegie Tech, which shot off jet-driven shells traveling the speed of a slow meteor, American anti-tank weapons were often too light to effectively pierce tank armor. North Koreans were also able to disguise their tanks in mounds of dirt.
The KPA was a motivated and disciplined force consisting of many veterans of the Chinese civil war. On July 21, the KPA captured Taejon, 90 miles south of Seoul, routing American forces in what one historian described as “one of the most thoroughgoing defeats in American military history.” The U.S. Eighth Army withdrew to Pusan in the south and formed a defensive perimeter defended by 85,000 U.S. troops. The defensive perimeter held.

During their occupation of South Korea, North Korean forces linked up with local leftists in reactivating people’s committees driven underground by Rhee. Schooled in Maoist principles, the KPA promoted agrarian reform and other principles of the revolution, attempting to win “hearts and minds,” especially among the working class, students, and women. Many in Seoul reportedly shouted and waved red flags when the northern soldiers arrived. An Air Force survey found that a majority of factory workers, students and women supported the KPA and that strict control over the media and political education helped keep the rest of the public in-line. The KPA also engaged in violent retribution against Rhee supporters in Seoul, killing an estimated 25,000 civilians. Special “base red” units killed the entire families of police and military officers, and liberal intellectuals were publicly humiliated. A police detective asserted that in the first few days, the citizens of Seoul welcomed the People’s Army and cooperated with it, but they became disappointed when promised rice supplies did not materialize, inflation spread, and they were forced to give their jewelry to the People’s Army.

American morale went through a drastic shift in the first weeks of war. Prior to the fighting, Brigadier General George Barth of the 24th Infantry thought his troops displayed an “unfounded overconfidence bordering on arrogance,” an attitude replicated by headquarters, which had ordered officers to pack their summer uniforms in anticipation of a victory parade through Seoul. With their tanks ill-suited for Korea’s mountainous terrain and radios malfunctioning, hundreds of young soldiers were cut to pieces on hillsides and riverbanks and in rice paddies during the retreat south. Over four hundred were killed or taken prisoner in Chinju on July 26th. Despite America’s enormous firepower, military historians have suggested that cuts to the basic training regimen combined with a high turnover in personnel and stagnant army doctrine based on World War II practices resulted in a lack of preparedness and poor combat results.
Cooperation between U.S. and South Korean soldiers also proved difficult. American soldiers often distrusted their South Korean counterparts, considering them to be infiltrated by communist “gooks.” A South Korean military officer interviewed for an army study pointed to a lack of patience and empathy by American military advisers, and “ignorance of each-others’ minds and liability to misunderstanding on account of differences in custom.” E. J. Kahn reported in The New Yorker that American soldiers felt that “North Korean soldiers, all things considered, fought more skillfully and aggressively than South Korean soldiers…. because they had been more thoroughly instilled with the will to fight.”

The incompetence, corruption, and venality of the ROK government were displayed when South Korean troops were left to freeze to death in the winter of 1951. Their lack of proper equipment can be traced to the embezzlement of funds in the Defense Department. Yi Yong-hui, an interpretation officer with the 9th regiment testified that he had witnessed a scene right out of Dante’s hell in which soldiers “clothed in rags” walked “barefoot in snow and ice” and were forced to “spend the night in a freezing school playground. Those that never got up after lying down were dragged without even straw-matting to cover their stiff corpses…. How could they abuse and treat so harshly these men who were not prisoners of war but their own brothers? It was the cruelest of all crimes committed during the Korean War.”

“So terrible a liberation:” Pusan, Inchon, Seoul, and Operation Rat Killer
U.S.-UN forces managed to reverse the KPA blitzkrieg at the Battle of Pusan Perimeter, which lasted from August 4 to September 16, 1950. It was a great victory for U.S.-UN forces – and utterly brutal for both soldiers and civilians. Lt. Charles Payne of the U.S. 1st battalion, 34th infantry told an interviewer that “time and again, the gooks [slur for communist Koreans] rushed us. Each time, we’d lose a man, the gooks would lose many.” The town of Pusan was described by one soldier as a “filthy hole, diseased, [and] crammed with refugees.”

Inchon landing: In mid-September Gen. MacArthur engineered an amphibious landing behind enemy lines at Inchon. The 230-ship invasion force was backed by helicopter spotters and ten Corsair and three Sky-raider air squadrons that carried out nearly 3,000 bombing sorties in a great display of combined air-sea power. Over 13,000 Marines took advantage of a 31-foot tide and climbed over high seawalls before fighting off North Korean defenders, sustaining 3,500 casualties compared to over 20,000 North Koreans. “Operation Chromite,” as it was called, was enabled by the seizure of Wolmi-do Island, after it was showered with rockets, bombs and napalm, and by a joint CIA-military operation on Yonghung-do, a small island ten miles from Inchon, where Navy Lt. Eugene Clark obtained vital information for the assault. When the KPA returned to Yonghung-do a few days later for a brief period, KPA soldiers allegedly shot more than 50 villagers, including “men and women, boys and girls, to demonstrate what happens to those who aid the Americans,” according to Col. Robert Heinl, Jr.

Puller’s men then retook Seoul on September 27 in brutal house-to-house fighting, breaking through enemy barricades of felled trees.
In a testament to the destruction bred by American weapons technology, a private described the newly “liberated” Seoul as being filled with “great gaping skeletons of blackened buildings with their windows blown out…telephone wires hanging down loosely from their poles; glass and bricks everywhere, literally a town shot to hell.” Reginald Thompson noted that few people in history “could have suffered so terrible a liberation.”

By September 30, all of South Korea was under the control of ROKA, U.S., and UN forces. American and South Korean counterinsurgency teams then began operations to snuff out partisan guerrillas across South Korea. Under “Operation Houseburner” U.S. units sprayed flame-throwers and threw incendiary grenades from helicopters on the roofs of village huts in order to deprive communists of support. When the structure of some homes remained allowing guerrillas to hide in the cellars, napalm mixture was added to ensure the mud walls came crumbling down.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was intent on resisting MacArthur’s invasion of North Korea, in part to pay back North Korea for supporting its revolution and in part because it wanted to ensure a strategic buffer to its south. Jiang Jieshi’s Guomindang on the island of Formosa, with CIA assistance, was launching raids into China from northern Burma. Mao also wanted to stand up to the West and reassert China’s stature on the global stage, according to the historian Shu Guang Zhang.[109] Hence, as U.S.-UN forces approached the Yalu River, some 300,000 Chinese soldiers slipped across the river and attacked them on October 25, 1950. When the Chinese momentarily retreated after ten days, MacArthur continued on to the Yalu River. The Chinese struck again on November 25, attacking in the dark in order to negate the U.S. advantage in air power.
The Chinese infantrymen were effective in camouflaging themselves by crawling along stream beds, ravines, and thick trees. Adopting a tactic known as niupitang, in which infantry used stealth and tunneling to approach a platoon, they ambushed U.S.-UN forces after feigning withdrawal. Commanding Chinese General Peng Dehuai believed that the Americans were over-dependent on firepower, afraid of heavy casualties, and lacked the depth of reserves the Chinese could amass.[110] The Americans were also unable to march like the North Koreans and Chinese, who had better knowledge of the terrain and could cover 30 miles of mountain in a winter night, subsisting on a diet of cold boiled rice.[111] Playing on these weaknesses, the Chinese forced MacArthur’s retreat at the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir plateau in what one Marine called “the most violent small unit fighting in American history.” Some 40,000 Chinese soldiers died as compared to 561 Marines.

Many of the American soldiers suffered from frostbite owing to the lack of proper equipment. One veteran said he could never figure out why a soldier of the richest country on earth had “to steal boots from soldiers’ of the poorest country on earth.” In the unusually cold winter, vehicles once stopped would hardly run again, guns froze solid, and many automatic weapons would fire but one shot at a time. Terrified of fighting the Chinese, many ROK units broke ranks and disappeared. In a desperate attempt to break enemy morale and create hardship for the population, the U.S. army chemical corps initiated a program that used incendiary bombs filled with napalm to destroy North Korean cereal crops ready for harvesting.

Beginning on December 2, the American Eighth Army began a full-scale retreat, marching down frozen roads where they endured sniper fire. Pyongyang and other North Korean towns were plundered and put to the torch along the way, as orders were given to “shoot anything that moves.” A Navy underwater demolition team turned Hungnam Port into a wasteland, while the roads became littered with dead animals and corpses. The retreating U.S.-UN forces continued past the 38th parallel and abandoned Seoul to the advancing North Korean and Chinese armies in early January 1951. Seeking scapegoats, some in the military claimed the North Koreans and Chinese had military advantage because of their “cheap evaluation of human life.”

U.S. military intelligence director Charles Willoughby, notorious for supplying MacArthur with information he wanted to hear, had underestimated Chinese manpower and fighting capability. American soldiers learned that the “best they had in the way of equipment” was “not good enough to halt a foe willing and determined to drive forward, taking any amount of losses to reach his objective.” Colonel Paul Freeman, who fought with Jiang Jieshi’s armies in World War II, said that “these are not the same Chinese.”

The American retreat did not play well at home…

According to Look Magazine, it amounted to the military’s most “shameful disgrace” since northern troops had “cut and run at the first Battle of Bull Run in 1861.” Two former army intelligence officers writing in the same magazine criticized the military for its “obsession with” high-tech weaponry and for building its entire strategy around “these dazzling and lethal new weapons” while failing to properly “scout the rival team thoroughly as any football coach could have told them.” We intended to “rely on superior weapons and quantities of them, not surprise, skillful strategies or wily traps to offset the numerical superiority of red manpower; bigger bombs and wonder weapons, rather than new ways of fighting or superior spirit…. The only flaw in these plans was that… our leaders failed to ask the enemy if he would play the role assigned to him.” These comments encapsulate the technological hubris driving military commanders and limits of U.S. technology in confronting a motivated enemy capable of adopting guerrilla methods. The unlearned lesson would be repeated in Vietnam.
In April 1951, the Americans regained the initiative and retook Seoul; and by June they had fought their way back to the 38th parallel. For the remainder of the war, neither side gained significant territory. The conflict settled into a pattern of trench warfare reminiscent of World War I. T. R. Fehrenbach wrote that “on the frontier, there is rarely gallantry or glamor to wars, whether they are against red Indians or Red Chinese. There is only killing.” Indeed, Chinese soldiers endured nearly one million casualties, including Mao Zedong’s son, Anying.

Negotiations to end the war began on July 10, 1951, and dragged on for two years before the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953. The two sides divided over the demarcation line between north and south, the presence of U.S. airfields and troop levels, and terms of the repatriation of POWs. Truman accused the communists of delaying the end of the war and proposed a demilitarized zone (DMZ) almost entirely in the DPRK. The communist delegation accused the UN of repeatedly bombing near their headquarters for intimidation purposes and violating provisions of a temporary cease-fire agreement, which Gen. Matthew Ridgway acknowledged. Ridgway, the chief negotiator, worried that an armistice would allow the Chinese, “freed from this embarrassing entanglement,” to expand their aggression in Indochina and elsewhere in East Asia. As historian James I. Matray points out, the U.S. delegation also felt pressured by Syngman Rhee’s firm opposition to anything less than reunification under his rule as a major war aim (in contrast to Kim Il-Sung’s acceptance of the 38th parallel line) and by his orchestration of huge demonstrations demanding a new offensive north.

After a delay, negotiations resumed on October 25, 1951, in Panmunjon. The Truman administration hedged further over the issue of POW repatriation, seeking to maximize the number of defectors in order to score a public relations victory in the Cold War, as historian Charles S. Young has detailed. The POW issue was thus exploited to prolong the war in a slightly different but not totally dissimilar way to Vietnam two decades later.

In the wake of the Chinese and North Korean counteroffensive, there was talk in Washington of extending the war to China. General MacArthur was intent on this option, but President Truman feared a quagmire. In January 1951 Gen. Omar Bradley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that a war with China would be the “wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He also suggested that America’s Cold War enemy, the Russians, were only peripherally involved in Korea, and that American forces needed to be concentrated in Western Europe.

On April 11, 1951, President Truman relieved General MacArthur of his command in Korea. In early April 1951, President Truman recalled and fired General Douglas MacArthur for insubordination, fearing that MacArthur’s aggressive policies would ignite a world war involving China and Russia. MacArthur, with support from leading Republicans, wanted to take the war into China, despite U.S. setbacks in North Korea, and to use every means at America’s disposal, including nuclear weapons, to win the war. He proposed a naval blockade off the Chinese coast; the bombing of China’s industrial centers, supply bases and communications networks; taking up exiled Chinese Guomindang leader Jieng Jieshi’s offer of using Chinese nationalist troops in Korea; and using Jieng’s forces for an invasion of the Chinese mainland. Gen. Matthew Ridgeway, MacArthur’s replacement, compared MacArthur to “Custer at the Little Bighorn [who] had neither eyes nor ears for information that might deter him from the swift attainment of his objective.”

On April 25, 1951, Gen. MacArthur addressed an audience of 50,000 in Chicago, while Truman reasserted his control over the war, MacArthur became an icon to right-wing movements. MacArthur gave a famous speech before Congress on April 19, 1951, in which he stated that “appeasement begets new and bloodier war” and that “old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” He also told an interviewer that if he had not been fired, he had planned to drop between thirty to fifty atom bombs across the neck of Manchuria and “spread radio-active cobalt capable of wiping out animal life for at least 60 years.”
The mainstream media sided with Truman in the dispute, but a Gallup found that 69 percent of the citizenry backed MacArthur. The White House mail room was swamped with letters of protest, which outnumbered letters of support for Truman’s decision by 20-1. In Ponca City, Oklahoma, a dummy of Secretary of State Dean Acheson was soaked in kerosene and set ablaze. After MacArthur’s farewell speech, irate Americans phoned their newspapers denouncing the “traitorous State Department” which planned to “sell us down the river to… the Communists.” The Republican Party policy committee accused the “Truman-Acheson-Marshall triumvirate” of planning a “super-Munich” in Asia and abandoning “China to the communists.”
California’s freshman Republican Senator Richard M. Nixon shrewdly capitalized on MacArthur’s downfall, giving stump speeches asserting that the “happiest group in the country will be the communists and their stooges…. The president has given them what they always wanted, MacArthur’s scalp.” MacArthur, said Nixon, had been fired simply because “he had the good sense and patriotism to ask that the hands of our fighting men in Korea be untied.” This right-wing theme was later applied to scapegoat peace activists and liberal politicians for America’s defeat in Vietnam. After sponsoring a Senate resolution condemning Truman’s action, Nixon received 600 hundred telegrams in less than 24 hours, all commending him, the largest spontaneous reaction he’d ever seen, which in turn helped catapult him towards the White House.

The whole episode provides a revealing window into the intensely conservative political culture in the United States and hawkish impulses which later drove the U.S. to war in Vietnam.

For all the human suffering, the 20th century’s “nastiest little war,” as correspondent S.L.A. Marshall termed it, solved very little, ending in stalemate, with the division of the country at the 38th parallel. Formal peace accords were never signed, only a ceasefire. The U.S. in 2015 maintained 83 permanent military bases in South Korea. The DMZ remains today among the scariest places in the world, with the constant threat of renewed conflagration, exacerbated by North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.

In the 1952 election cycle, public dissatisfaction with the war fell on the Democratic Truman administration, enabling Republicans to win 38 more seats in the House and 36 Senatorial contests as well as the presidency. After two years of war Americans had grown tired and frustrated, though their feelings did not translate into support for peace or anti-imperialist movements, and they failed to reckon with the wide-scale atrocities committed. Right-wing generals promoted an early variant of the “stab in the back” myth. General James Van Fleet wrote in Reader’s Digest in July 1953 that the military could have achieved total victory against the North Koreans and Chinese but was prevented from doing so by civilian policy-makers. Remembered in this way, the generals used even greater levels of firepower in the next conflict fought under similar circumstances in Vietnam.

Bolstered by over $1 billion in American military and police aid, South Korea remained a dictatorship for decades after the war, until grass-roots movements paved the way for democratization. Syngman Rhee ruled until he was deposed in a coup d’états and fled to Hawaii in 1960, following massive student protests. His regime and that of his successor, Gen. Park Chung-Hee, a CIA favorite who served as an informant during the Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion of 1948, were marred by martial law rule, rigged elections, and wide-scale arrests of political opponents. Pacification of the communist underground was only completed in 1956, with police and army units backed by the United States carrying out continuous mass surveillance and raids. The Korean Central Intelligence Agency was created in the early 1960s, and by mid-decade, employed 350,000 agents out of a population of 30 million.

Fitting with a broader continental pattern, modernization theorists in Washington swept under the rug the tyrannical dimensions of the South Korean government and viewed the country as a spectacular success because of the scale of economic growth, which was ironically contingent in part on manufacturing vital equipment to facilitate the American invasion of South Vietnam. Conceiving it as a “free world frontier” protecting Japan, the U.S. was further grateful to the ROK under General Park for sending 312,000 soldiers to fight in Vietnam. Under U.S. direction, they terrorized the population and committed dozens of My-Lai style massacres. Some veterans returned home to repress the Kwangju pro-democracy uprising in 1980, in South Korea’s version of China’s Tiananmen Square slaughter.

In February 1972, President Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong established a new detente, although China remained communist.

In February 1972, President Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong established a new detente, breaking down Cold War stereotypes.

Across the Third World, China’s prestige was heightened by the Korean War because of its role in saving the Northern regime and standing up the United States. North Korea recovered its prewar levels of agricultural and industrial output by 1957 through the “superhuman efforts” of its population along with $1.6 billion in aid and technical assistance from the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern bloc countries. Though warped by rigid authoritarianism, including a purging of rivals to the Kim dynasty, the northern economy was more advanced than that of the South until the late 1960s. Presenting itself as the vanguard of world revolution striving for a fair international economic order, the DPRK provided free schooling and medical services, welfare for war invalids and families of the fallen, and sanctioned women’s rights. Over the long term, however, North Korea developed into a militarized garrison state, in part because the Korean War never officially ended. North Korea was in turn used by the United States to broadcast the failings of state socialism, with most media depictions failing to provide any commentary on how its political evolution was impacted by the war.

Even as famine gripped North Korea in the 1990s, elaborate monuments dedicated to the Manchurian partisans and martyrs of the “Fatherland Liberation War” were continuously constructed in order to legitimize the Kim dynasty and its vast military spending. Author Chris Springer notes that “the DPRK does not like to commemorate its war losses, military or civilian. Doing so would remind the population of how costly the Korean War was and make them more reluctant to fight another war. The regime encourages anger at the enemy but not tears for the departed.”

For the United States, the war fostered the quadrupling of defense budgets, from $13 billion in 1949 to $54 billion (more than $500 billion in 2016 dollars) in 1953, and hastened government investment in military scientific research and development. The need to stockpile strategic raw minerals resulted in intensified exploitation of the mineral resources of Latin America and Africa, and closer alliances with colonial and dictatorial regimes. The war further consolidated the U.S. position in Southeast Asia, an enormous foreign military base structure, and a powerful military industrial complex to service it. Bechtel Corporation gained lucrative contracts to build and service U.S. military bases and U.S. oil companies profited from a 1955 agreement giving them the contract to supply the U.S. and Korean armies and civilian economy. Domestically, the steel and copper industries began operating at record levels. With military aircraft purchases tripling, employment in the aerospace industry increased from 192,000 in 1947 to 600,000 in 1952, prompting the reopening of many idle plants extending to Canada. Japanese manufacturers were also major winners in the Korean War, as they provided vital equipment to U.S.-UN forces, prompting Premier Yoshida Shigeru to call it a “gift from the gods.”

By the mid-1950s, U.S. defense and aerospace industries accounted directly or indirectly for 55 percent of employment in Los Angeles County and almost as much in San Diego (where nearly 80 percent of all manufacturing was related to national defense). All the major aircraft manufacturers reported being “out of the red” for the first time since the end of World War II. Hughes aircraft, an innovator in electronics aviation equipment, helicopters and missiles, was transformed into a $200 million per year corporation. No longer considered the “merchants of death” of yesteryear – the name of a best-selling exposé in 1935 – McDonnell, Douglas, General Electric, Boeing, Chrysler, and United Aircraft Corporations earned record profits. Lockheed-Georgia became the largest employer in the Southeast whose economy was modernized around the defense sector.

The economic boom engendered by the war coupled with the domestic climate of McCarthyism served to limit dissent. Izzy Stone wrote that “people come out to demonstrate against a war when it causes them suffering and when they feel this suffering is not justified. But except for families of young men, in Korea the war has caused no suffering. On the contrary, everyone has benefitted by the boom which followed the opening of the Korean War and the secondary boom which began with the Chinese intervention. Everybody is afraid if the war ends, jobs, orders and money will be scarce again.”
The Korean War was poorly understood in its own time owing in large part to poor media coverage. It its aftermath, as noted at the beginning, it was quickly forgotten by the American public. When the Obama administration ordered the construction of a naval base on Cheju-do as part of its “pivot” to Asia, few Americans recognized the significance. Cheju-do had been designated a peace island after President Roo Moon-Hyun apologized for war-time atrocities. The U.S., however, strong-armed local politicians into purchasing the land for the base, which was built on a world heritage site. In August 2011, riot police broke up a nonviolent rally and arrested more than three dozen activists, including the mayor of Gangjeong. Noam Chomsky wrote that the Obama administration was provoking a renewed arms race and possibly a proxy war against the Chinese, with all the terrible repercussions that this might entail, as the Koreans know too well.

Korea overall is a case study for showing the futility of war, as the war perpetuated rather than solved the countries’ problems and divisions.

Yet because it did not present us with a decisive war outcome – the horrendous violence and the suffering of the Korean people was unconscionable, and furthermore, one can only hope that it will never be repeated, again…

If we are to go to Korea this time — we ought to have a finite and definitive decisive outcome that we can truly achieve.

Otherwise, we best let the sleeping dogs lie or even bark at will…

To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 15, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 36)

Now that Winston Churchill, was back inside the cabinet — even at a diminished role, his expertise was again seen as invaluable, especially as far as the new war technologies were concerned — since he was widely acclaimed for his invention of the military tank, that in some great measure shortened the war and brought victory to the British and the Allied forces.

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As the Minister for Munitions, Winston was disrupting the old staid organization rapidly, because the Ministry of Munitions was a huge organization staffed by twelve thousand civil servants and divided into fifty departments, and although it was apparently operating smoothly when Winston took over — he tightened the screws and made it go up in productivity and const cuttings. He further organized Research and Development departments that were responsible for new Innovations for the next War that Winston clearly saw as coming after an interlude of Peace….

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He managed the changes by combining the fifty groups of departments and departmental heads, into less than a dozen new ones, and he referred
to each new group by a letter. For example, he used F for finance, D for design, P for projectiles, X for explosives, etc, and he set up a Council of businessmen rather like the Board of Admiralty, and in order to oversee over the businessmen, he established a small, powerful “damping committee.” The organization was a triumph and Wnston describes it thus: “Instead of struggling through the jungle on foot, I rode comfortably on an elephant, whose trunk could pick up a pin or uproot a tree with equal ease, and from whose back a wide scene lay open.”

The Ministry of Munitions covered an enormous field. It was not only
responsible for guns and shells, but for all sorts of moving and rolling
stock, and for the design and production of aircraft as well. ‘Owing to the
energy which Mr Winston Churchill threw into the production of munitions, wrote Lloyd George in his Memoirs, ‘between 1st March and 1st August, the strength of the Tank Corps increased by twenty-seven per cent, and that of the Machine Gun Corps by forty-one per cent, while the number of aeroplanes in France rose by forty per cent.

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On top of this effort came American demands. The United States had declared war in April 1917, three months before Winston Churchill was brought back into the Government. The Americans planned to put forty-eight divisions in the line, which amounted to six armies each requiring twelve thousand guns. But owing to the difficulty of switching peacetime factories to war production they could only produce a small proportion of their needs.

Winston accepted a contract for 100,000,000 to supply the American Army with all its medium artillery. This was done under a “gentleman’s agreement” by which the United Kingdom promised not to make a profit and the United States promised to make good a loss. The bargain worked to the complete satisfaction of both countries. Indeed, the “cordial relations” which Winston established with his opposite number in Washington, Mr Bernard Baruch, whom he had never met, grew into a warm friendship after the war and continued to their end days. Mr Baruch was influential in seeing that Winston Churchill received the United States Distinguished Service Medal which was awarded him at the end of the war by General Pershing.

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The Ministry of Munitions had large establishments in France which gave
Winston the opportunity of crossing the Channel whenever he wished.
He seized the excuse, because he wanted to visit the front regularly, in order to have first hand information about the conduct of the war, and about the disposition of the British and Allied troops, and thus he often appeared at Sir
Douglas Haig’s headquarters, completely unannounced.

Once he had landed in France, he walked up to the Allied forces headquarters, and here he consulted with the Generals, studied the flagged maps, offered his ideas in a spirit of equanimity, had a few drinks and cigars, and talked strategy and tactics to his heart’s content, until dusk, when he had to get back on the aeroplane’s secod pilot seat, for the long crossing back towards London and home for more work, and some well deserved rest at his office cot.

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Finally Sir Douglas Haig seeing how dangerous the daily cross channel crossing was for Winston flying each and everyday in these ‘cloth moths’ — so he assigned him, hiss own military quarters in a French chateau near Verchocq, and instead he accomplished the oppossite result. Now Winston became a daily visitor, because he found that he could work at the Ministry of Munitions in London, during the morning, then rush to the airport and fly to Verchocq at lunchtime, and then have a whole afternoon touring at the battlefront.

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He crossed the channel so frequently, with the open cockpit, fast, and furious, and highly experimental military aeroplanes, that people dubbed him the “Flying Englishman” and designated the particular channel crossing, as “The Churchill Slipstream.”

Much, later he wrote with pride: “I managed to be present at nearly every important battle during the rest of the war.”

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These trips probably were not strictly essential to his work as a Minister,
but he was blissfully happy. The fact that aeroplanes were uncertain
quantities in those days seemed to add to his pleasure. Once when he was
over the Channel on his return to London a valve burst, the engine
spluttered and the plane descended towards the grey water. The pilot
made a gesture indicating that there was nothing he could do, and it
seemed as though the end had come. Then the engine coughed, the plane
rose unsteadily, and the pilot headed back to France where he managed to
land the machine without damage. On another occasion the same pilot
had to make a forced landing on English soil. “He side-slipped artistically
between two tall elms, just missing the branches” wrote Winston in
‘Thoughts and Adventures’ and later, when someone asked him whether he
was not afraid at such moments he replied: “No, I love life, but I don’t fear

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Winston was at the front when the great and final offensive against the
British opened in March 1918. He heard the enemy barrage begin and
listened to the Allied guns thunder back in reply. This was Ludendorff’s
last hope of winning the war. Both Russia and Italy had collapsed and the
Germans were free to concentrate most of their force in the West. Although the United States had been in the war for a year it had only two hundred thousand men in the line. Ludendorff knew the Americans would be arriving in strength throughout the summer, and decided to stake everything on a final, knock-out blow before that time.

This offensive was the climax of the war. It lasted forty days and cost
Britain three hundred thousand casualties. Everyone knows how the
British lines recoiled with the terrific impact; how the French nearly
broke contact with their Allies; how for the first time an electric whisper
went through England: ‘What if the Germans should win, after all?’
Winston returned to London three days after the battle had begun and
went to 10 Downing Street at once. Lloyd George asked him anxiously:
“If we cannot hold the line we have fortified so carefully, why should we
be able to hold positions farther back with troops already defeated?”
Winston explained that an offensive was like throwing a bucket of Water
over the floor; it lost its force as it proceeded.

But during the next days an alarming rumour spread that the French regarded the defeat of the British armies as inevitable and, instead of sending reinforcements, were planning to break contact with them. Lloyd George summoned Winston and asked him to hurry to France and find out what was happening. “Go and see everybody” he said. Use my authority. See Foch. See Clemenceau. Find out for yourself whether they are making a really big move or not.”

The story of the trip has been recounted dramatically by Winston Churchill himself. Clemenceau greeted him with the message: “Not only shall Mr Winston Churchill see everything, but I will myself take him tomorrow to the battle and we will visit all the Commanders of Corps and Armies engaged.”

The next day the two statesmen set forth, accompanied by high officials
and staff officers, in a fleet of military cars decorated with satin tricolours.
First, they visited General Foch headquarters, who gave them a brilliant exposition of the battle ending emotionally with the assurance that the enemy effort was nearly exhausted. “Alors, Général, il faut que je vous embrasse?” said Clemenceau, and the two Frenchmen clasped each other tightly. Next, they went to the headquarters of the British Fourth Army where they had lunch with Sir Douglas Haig. Clemenceau and Haig withdrew to an adjoining room.
When they came out Winston noticed that Haig seemed content, and the “Tiger” was smiling. “It is all right, he said. I have done what you wish. Never mind what was arranged before. If your men are tired and we have fresh men near at hand, our men shall come at once and help you. And now, I shall claim my reward.”

The Tiger’s “reward” was to see the battle. Clemenceau moved forward but the Army commanders protested. Still Clemenceau insisted on being driven as far forward as possible. His nickname, the Tiger, was not given n vain… As they reached the front, cannon shells whistled overhead, and exploded around them, and even Winston finally protested that he ought not to go under fire too often, becuase he shouldn’t tempt the Fates. “Voir la guerre est mon grand plaisir,” replied the old French master politician, otherwise known as the fighting tiger of the French Republic. Indeed Clemencau was cut from the same cloth that Churchill was, and we could definitely say that as far as politician are concerned — they don’t make them like that anymore…

Now as everyone knows the British lines held firm through the German offensive, and the British and French armies did not break contact. By the early summer the American doughboys started pouring into France, and at the end of Summer, the Germans no longer saw that they could have a clear shot at victory, or a strong negotiating position for an honorable settlement that would allow them to keep their gains.

Thus they entered into negotiations, and agreed to terms, imposed by the Allies, and thus the Great War ended on the 11th of November, 1918, on the 11th hour of the day. Winston Churchill, was in his office at the Hotel Metropole, when the Big Ben struck the hour of eleven — the signal that the worst conflict in human history till that day, had finally come to a close.

With the announcement of the War’s end, Mrs Churchill joined Winston at his office, and together they drove down to Whitehall, to see the Prime Minister and congratulate the Cabinet and the Generals, and the rest of the Military and naval command…

To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 15, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 35)

The following twenty months stand out as the most disappointing, frustrat-
ing, unproductive and unhappy period of Winston Churchill’s life. The Great War was raging; the future of the Empire was at stake; history was being made; and British statesmen were making it. Yet the creative, dynamic Winston, confident of his ability to lead his country to victory, was banished from the political scene.

For him it was a tragedy.

It required all the strength of character he possessed to turn his attention
from high policy to the battlefields of France, which he believed was the
only honourable course left to him. He plunged into his new life with
determination and at first things went well. When he reached Boulogne
he was told that Sir John French’s car was waiting for Him, and he was
whirled off to the Commander-in-Chief’s headquarters near St. Omer.
French was a loyal friend. He provided Winston Churchill with an excellent dinner
and accorded him the same ceremony and courtesy as though he were
still First Lord of the Admiralty. The next morning he asked him what he
would like to do. ‘Whatever I am told,’ replied Winston. Sir John then
confided that his own position was far from secure and that he might soon
be replaced by a new Commander-in-Chief. ‘I am, as it were, riding at
single anchor. But it still counts for something. Will you take a brigade?’
A Brigade Commander had the rank of Brigadier-General and the control of four thousand men. Winston assented gladly, stipulated that he must first
Have a month’s training in trench warfare, and suggested that the Guards Division would give him the best experience. A few days later he was attached to one of the Grenadier Battalions due to move into the line at once.

The Guards received Major Winston Churchill with reserve. Why was this
politician being foisted upon them? True, he had been a soldier once, but
what did he know about modern conditions? The Grenadiers had a proud
and exacting tradition; if Major Winston Churchill thought he was to be accorded
any special privileges because he had been a Cabinet Minister he was very
much mistaken. The Colonel greeted him coldly, and after half an hour’s
silence, as the two men jogged along on their horses towards the front,
he remarked: ‘I think I ought to tell you we were not at all consulted in
the matter of your coming to join us.’ Winston was not offended. He
understood the Colonel’s feelings. ‘Knowing the professional Army as
I did and having led a variegated life, I was infinitely amused at the
elaborate pains they took to put me in my place and to make me realize
that nothing counted at the front except military rank and behaviour,’
he wrote. ‘It took about forty-eight hours to wear through their natural
prejudice against “politicians” of all kinds, but particularly of the non-
Conservative brands.’ Winston won the officers over by his good
humour, his politeness, and above all, by his determination to lead a
soldier’s life and his ability to lead it well.

Although the Guards did not undertake any major actions during the
few weeks he was with them, the trenches were always disagreeable and
dangerous. It was November and the weather alternated between driving
rain and hard frost. There was an almost unceasing cannonade; bullets and
shells whined and whistled across the faulty parapets, and at night men
and officers went out together to mend the wire and strengthen the fortifi-
cations. As a result the casualty list mounted steadily. Despite the mud and
the noise Winston preferred the trenches to Battalion Headquarters,
established in a ruined farm a short distance away. Headquarters was
almost as uncomfortable as the line and with a further serious disadvan-
tage: only tea was allowed. Winston asked to move forward.

Major Winston Churchill was subjected to a constant glare of mass scrutiny. He
was a famous figure and the troops wrote home about him as their chief
topic of news. Every action he took and almost every word he spoke was
noted. The officers were nearly as vigilant as the men in their observations
but their interest was more politely masked. However, on one occasion
the curiosity of a general saved Winston’s life. A week after he joined the
Guards he received a message that the Corps Commander would like to
see him and would send a car to fetch him at a certain crossroads that after-
noon. This order obliged Winston Churchill to walk three miles across muddy and dangerous fields. When he arrived at the rendezvous he found no one; after an hour’s wait a staff officer appeared on foot and explained that the car had been sent to the wrong place and it was now too late for the
General to see him. It was not important, the officer added airily. The
General had merely wished to have a chat with him. Winston made his
way back, angrily cursing the Corps Commander, but when he arrived
his attitude changed. He was congratulated on his ‘luck and discovered
that his dug-out had received a direct hit from a shell a few minutes after
he had left, and had been completely demolished.

Meanwhile rumours began to reach the House of Commons that
Winston was to be given a brigade. It should be remembered that in
those days England was very much a land of privilege, and ‘gentlemen’
automatically became officers. Winston had spent a few years as a profes-
sional soldier and Sir John French regarded it as perfectly reasonable to
entrust him with a relatively important command. But in Parliament his
Tory opponents were indignant, for they looked upon him as a dangerous
fraud. They knew his adroitness at string-pulling and thrusting himself
into central positions, so with a smugly patriotic air they decided it was
their duty to thwart him. They attacked him on the ground of ‘privilege’
which they, as Conservatives, so gladly defended when it concerned them-
selves. On 16th of December a Tory M.P. asked a question in Parliament
which was reported in The Times the following day: ‘Major Sir C. Hunter
(Bath, U.) asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether Major
Winston Churchill had been promised the command of an infantry
brigade; whether this officer had ever commanded a battalion of infantry; and for how many weeks he had served at the front as an infantry officer.

‘Mr Tennant: I have no knowledge myself and have not been able to
obtain any, of a promise of command of an infantry brigade having been
made to my right honourable and gallant Friend referred to in the ques-
tion. On the second point I have consulted books of reference and other
authentic sources of information, and the result of my investigations is that
my right honourable and gallant Friend has never commanded a battalion
of infantry. No report has been made to the War Office of the movements
of Major the Right Honourable Winston L. S. Churchill since he proceeded to France on 19 November. If he has been serving as an infantry
officer between that date and today the answer to the last part of the
question would be about four weeks.’ (Laughter.)

‘Sir C. Hunter: Will the right honourable Gentleman let me know
whether the right honourable and gallant Gentleman has been promised
the command of an infantry battalion? (Cries of “Why not?”) Sir C.
Scott Robertson: Is not the question absurd on the face of it, Major
Churchill being under sixty years of age? (Laughter.) Mr E. Cecil: Is the
right honourable Gentleman aware that if this appointment were made it
would be thought by many persons inside the House and outside to be a
grave scandal? (Cries of “Oh”.)’

At the same time that questions were being asked in Parliament,- Sir
John French paid a visit to London. When he told the Prime Minister that
he was giving Winston a brigade, Asquith protested strongly, saying that
the House of Commons would not like it. He urged French not to offer
him more than a battalion. French was not in a position to insist on having
his own way for he knew his days were numbered; less than a month later
he was succeeded as Commander-in-Chief by Sir Douglas Haig. As a
result, Winston Churchill was made a Lieutenant-Colonel, not a Brigadier-General,
and given a battalion of the Sixth Royal Scots Fusiliers, not a brigade.

He was bitterly disappointed and for many months nursed a deep
grievance against Asquith. He felt that the Prime Minister had not de-
fended him over the Dardanelles as he should have done, and now he was
treacherously interfering with his military life. Although both Bonar Law
and Lloyd George believed that Winston should not receive special
favours, Lord Beaverbrook shared the latter’s indignation. ‘A Premier
may have to throw a colleague overboard to save the ship,’ he wrote, ‘but
surely he should not jerk from under him the hen-coop on which the
victim is trying to sustain himself on the stormy ocean.’

Winston swallowed his chagrin as best he could and turned his attention
to his new job. The Scots Fusiliers were in a billeting area, preparing to
move into the line near Armentieres, at Ploegsteert Village, known to the
British as ‘Plugstreet’. Battalion Headquarters was in a squalid, filthy farm-
house, half of which was still occupied by French peasants. Colonel
Churchill summoned his officers to the orderly room and the peasants,
who had got wind that a man of great importance had arrived, clustered
around, peering through the door and exclaiming in loud whispers:
‘Monsieur It ministre? Ah, cest lui? C’est votre ministre?’

The Scots Fusiliers were no more pleased than the Grenadiers to have a
politician thrust upon them, but Winston won them over the following
day when he gathered the officers together and announced solemnly:
‘War is declared, gentlemen, on the lice.’ This was followed by an erudite
and dramatic lecture on the origin, growth and nature of the louse, with
particular emphasis on the decisive role it had played throughout history
as a vital factor in war. The officers were not only amused but impressed;
‘Thus wrote one of them, ‘did the great scion of the House of Marlborough first address his Scottish captains assembled in council.’ After
that the ice was broken and the battalion set to work to ‘delouse’ itself
with scrubbing brushes and hot irons. The result was completely

Winston was hardworking, cheerful and bursting with new ideas. The
spectacle of a great creative mind being focused full strength on the
humble needs of a small battalion provided the officers with plenty of
excitement. In an amusing little booklet With Winston Churchill at the Front — Captain Gibb describes the period under Winston as his ‘most treasured war-memory. This was a high compliment, for Colonel Winston Churchill believed in keeping his men busy. When the battalion reached ‘Plugstreet’ he set his men to filling sandbags and strengthening and repairing their trenches for hours on end. Yet he was so energetic himself no one could object. Early and late he was in the line. ‘On an average he went around three times a day, which was no mean task in itself,’ wrote Captain Gibb, ‘as he had plenty of other work to do.

At least one of these visits was after dark, usually about 1 a.m. In wet weather he would appear in a complete outfit of waterproof stuff, including trousers or overalls, and with his French light-blue helmet he presented a remarkable and unusual figure. He was always in the closest touch with every piece of work that was going on, and, while at times his demands were a little extravagant, his kindness and the humour that never failed to flash out, made everybody only too keen to get on with the work, whether the ideal he pointed out to them was an unattainable one or not.

Winston not only took an interest in everything that was going on but
gave his men long and learned dissertations on all sorts of subjects includ-
ing bricklaying, the handling of sandbags and master masonry. But some
of his ideas, wrote Gibb, were ‘too recherches, too subtle to stand the
practical test of everyday fighting. For instance, he gave an order that
when a parapet was hit it was not to be repaired before nightfall so that
the enemy would not know what damage he had done. However, bullets
came through the gaps, casualties resulted, and the order was ignored.
Another time Churchill suddenly declared that all batmen must serve as
bodyguards to their officers while they were in the line in order to protect
the latter’s precious lives; this too was utterly impractical and laughed out
of court. On the other hand Churchill devised wonderful schemes for
‘shelters and scarps and counter scarps and dugouts and half-moons and
ravelins’ which made sleep far safer than ever before.

Officer Winston Churchill believed that an officer should not live in discomfort because he happened to find himself in a trench, and took pains to acquire what amenities he could. He got hold of a tin bath which became
the envy of the battalion, and stocked the mess with the best cigars and
the best brandy he could find. But at the same time he was making himself
comfortable he was also establishing a reputation for complete indifference
to danger. Apparently he was a man entirely devoid of fear. “War is a
game to be played with a smiling face,’ he often announced, and to Win-
ston the smiles seemed to come naturally. Captain Gibb describes an
occasion when Winston Churchill suggested that they look over the parapet to get a better view. They felt the sickening rush of air as shells whined
overhead, and then he remembers Winston Churchill saying dreamily: ‘Do you like
war?’ ‘At the moment wrote Gibb, ‘I profoundly hated war. But at that
and every moment I believe Winston Churchill revelled in it. There was no such thing as fear in him.

Stories of Winston’s bravery had already been written, published, printed and spread widely — and on the 28th of December, 1915, the national newspaper ‘The Times’ printed a rather lengthy interview with an Army
Corporal “Walter Gilliland, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, who said: ‘Near
here Mr Winston Churchill is stationed, and a cooler, or braver officer,
never wore the uniform He moves about among the men in
the most exposed positions, just as though he was wandering in the lobbies
of the House of Commons. During the Ulster business before the war
there was no man more detested in Belfast, but after what we have seen of
him here, we are willing to let bygones be bygones, and that is a big con-
cession for Ulstermen to make. The other night his regiment came in for
a rough time. . . . Bullets spluttered around him knocking over his men
left and right but he seemed to bear a charmed life and never betrayed the
least sign of nervousness. His coolness is the subject of much discussion
among us, and everybody admires him.”

And yet, despite his success at the front, Winston could not keep his
mind on soldiering. At first he enjoyed himself. The danger, the fresh air
and the physical exercise, all acted as a tonic after years of strenuous mental effort. But soon the novelty began to pall, and he found that he could not keep his thoughts from questions of high policy. Early in December, at the request of French, he wrote a paper entitled Variants of the Offensive in which, among other things, he urged the use of caterpillar tanks to lead and protect infantry assaults. Tanks were at last being produced but they had not yet been employed. Winston stressed that they must not be flung in piecemeal, but kept back until they could be used in large numbers to secure both maximum strength and surprise. He sent a copy of his paper to the Committee of Imperial Defence but, as the reader will see, his advice was not heeded.

Meanwhile many distinguished visitors came to Winston’s Battalion
Headquarters including the regal Lord Curzon, the lion-hearted General
Seely, and the indignant F. E. Smith, who was arrested en route by the
military authorities for not having a pass. With these political friends
Winston unburdened himself and talked far into the night; soon he found
himself hankering after Westminster with increasing nostalgia. His
buoyancy began to fade and he had long spells of deep dejection. As early
as March, when he had only been in France four months, he wrote a letter
to Lord Beaverbrook indicating that he was thinking of abandoning his
soldiering and returning to England in the hope of exerting some influence
on events which he believed were being mishandled. It would be awkward: he had left the House of Commons with a flourish for ‘an alter-
native form of service to which no exception can be taken, and with which
I am perfectly content. It would not be easy to meet the natural criticism
that would arise. ‘The problem which now faces me is difficult.’ he said in
his letter. ‘My work out here with all its risk and all its honour which I
greatly value: on the other hand the increasingly grave situation of the
war and the feeling of knowledge and power to help in mending matters
which is strong within me: add to this dilemma the awkwardness of
changing and the cause of my, I hope, unusual hesitations is obvious. In
principle I have no doubts: but as to time and occasion I find very much
greater difficulties.

Winston Churchill could keep away from the political arena no longer, and in March he travelled to London to speak on the Naval Estimates. He made
a long and critical speech on the conduct of the Naval war and urged
Arthur Balfour, his successor at the Admiralty, to take more vigorous steps
against the German U-boat naval terror campaign which was taking a heavy toll on all British and Allied merchant shipping reducing the flow of victuals, vitals, & munitions that were most crucial for the War effort.

Winston ended his speech with the startling advice that Mr Balfour, the First Lord, should ‘vitalize and animate’ his Board by recalling and re-installing Lord Fisher as First Sea Lord.

This suggestion was characteristic of Winston Churchill’s refusal to allow personal rancour to deflect him from a course he believed was right; but the House of Commons did not receive it in the same spirit. They refused to give him credit for magnanimity, always suspecting him of some deep scheming political intrigue, stemming from his desire for gamenaship, or showmanship as his detractors were at pains to prove.

The following day the Daily Express political correspondent wrote:
‘So far as one can gather in the lobby to-night, most members, irrespective of Party, are of the opinion that Winston Churchill has done himself and the State no good. “What I think about the Winston Churchill speech is this’ said a leading M.P. tonight. “I think he was merely out to strafe Balfour. It will have no effect.” The general interpretation of the speech is “Lord Fisher and I can run the Admiralty fine; have us back.” Here are a few representative statements made in the lobby to-night by various Parliament Members. “It was a bid for the leadership”; “It was a good sign
that the big blow at the enemy is coming off soon”; “It was an attempt to
get back into the Cabinet”

Despite this criticism Winston Churchill began to receive overtures from various
public men including Sir Edward Carson and Sir Arthur Markham, both
Members of Parliament, and C. P. Scott, the Editor of the Manchester
Guardian, pressing him to come back to England and take part in a
patriotic Opposition. He made up his mind to follow their advice. In the
summer his battalion was amalgamated with another and he was without
a command. By this time he could probably have had a brigade but he
was now firm in the conviction that his duty lay at home. He wrote to
the Secretary of State for War asking to be released from the Army. This
placed the latter in a difficult position. If he allowed Winston to return, he
would be accused of favouritism; if he refused him, he would be told he
was trying to avoid opposition. He finally accepted his resignation on the
understanding that he would not apply again for military service.

Back in London in June 1916, Winston was not much happier than he
had been in France. One of his friends described him as ‘a character de-
pressed beyond the limits of description. . . .When the Government was
deprived of his guidance, he could see no hope anywhere. He hung about
Westminster trying to win back his fickle mistress, Power, like a love-
lorn suitor. He grew pale and dispirited and complained to all his friends
how badly and unjustly he was being treated. ‘I am finished, he told Lord
Riddell once again. I am banished from the scene of action…

Meanwhile the Conservatives had not softened towards him. The fact
that he had thrown up his commission had not raised their estimate but
merely confirmed their view of him as an opportunist. His friends, how-
ever, believed that his avidity for office was due to his self-assurance and
self-confidence. He cared for the Empire profoundly, wrote Lord Beaverbrook, ‘and he was honestly convinced that only by his advice and
methods it could be saved. His ambition was in essence disinterested. He
suffered tortures when he thought that lesser men were mismanaging the

There was plenty to worry about in 1916. That was the year of the
terrible Battle of the Somme in which the British Army was hurled, wave
after wave, against the enemy’s strongest defences. The conflict raged,
off and on, for nearly five months, k cost Britain half a million of her
finest soldiers, yet it did not alter the Allied position to any advantage.
Winston was horrified by Sir Douglas Haig’s strategy. Haig believed that
France was the decisive theatre of war; that the only way to defeat the
enemy was by frontal attack, or in plain language ‘by killing Germans in
a war of attrition. Winston had always opposed this conception. From
the first he was convinced that the Allies should open a new theatre and
strike where the enemy’s defences were weakest, not strongest; an offen-
sive through Turkey, or the Balkans or even the Baltic, would give a
better and quicker chance of victory than the bloodbath on the Western
Front. As early as June 1915 he had written to the Prime Minister: It is a
fair general conclusion that the deadlock in the West will continue for
some time and the side which risks most to pierce the knees of the other will put itself at a disadvantage.’

Very few military men defend Sir Douglas Haig’s strategy today; most
experts acknowledge that Winston was right. Yet throughout 1916 he was
forced to sit back, powerless, and watch the appalling slaughter. At the
beginning of August, a month after the Battle of the Somme had opened,
he wrote a memorandum which F. E. Smith circulated to the Cabinet, on
the terrible futility of these offensives against the enemy’s deeply en-
trenched positions. Already in this one battle alone the British losses
were a hundred and fifty thousand men and the German only sixty-five
thousand. ‘Leaving personnel and coming to ground gained, we have not
conquered in a month’s fighting as much ground as we were expected to
gain in the first two hours. We have not advanced three miles in the direct
line at any point. . . .’ he wrote. ‘In personnel the results have been disas-
trous; in terrain they have been absolutely barren. And, although our brave
troops on a portion of the front, mocking their losses and ready to make
every sacrifice, are at the moment elated by the small advances made and
the capture of prisoners and souvenirs, the ultimate moral effect will be
very disappointing. From every point of view, therefore, the British
offensive per se has been a great failure.’ A copy of this memorandum
found its way to G.H.Q. in France where it was hotly repudiated, and its
author severely criticized; today no one would deny that the facts were

A few months later another event occurred which caused Winston
much distress. With the casualty list mounting by leaps and bounds, Haig
decided to experiment with caterpillar tanks, now beginning to roll off
the stocks. However, instead of using them in strength, in an attempt to
achieve a complete break-through, only fifty were thrown in. Winston Churchill pleaded with Asquith to prevent the generals from using the weapon prematurely, but the Prime Minister refused to overrule the military decision.
The effect was startling and the enemy flabbergasted. The Times corres-
pondent described the tanks as ‘huge, shapeless bulks resembling nothing
else that was ever seen on earth which wandered hither and thither like
some vast antediluvian brutes which Nature had made and forgotten.’
Unfortunately, just as Winston had warned, the tanks were too few in
number to achieve a decisive result.

It is strange to think that Winston Churchill was out of office for twenty months, nearly half of the Great War. As his frustration grew, his thoughts began to center more and more on himself. He wrote a long report vindicating all that he had done in connection with the Dardanelles operation, and was indignant when the Cabinet refused to allow him to publish it on the grounds of secrecy.

He remarked dejectedly to Lord Riddell that it was hard to ‘remain under a stigma’. ‘Although we are at war,’ he added, ‘there is no reason why injustice should be done to individuals.’

He wrote Asquith to this effect and the Prime Minister finally agreed to appoint a Royal Commission to gather evidence and make a report; but even this judgment was withheld from the public because it ‘might give information to the enemy’ and Winston became more morose than ever about this humiliating episode.

These were his darkest days. The public was still hostile, and the feeling
against him in Conservative families still intense. When one reads over the
press cuttings of the day, one is struck by the anger that runs through
them. Here is an extract from ‘The World’ of 14 November, 19161 ‘Mr
Churchill, in his frantic effort to reinstate himself in public esteem, is en-
listing the support of some powerful newspaper interests. . . . But if a
serious attempt is being made to foist Winston once more on the British
public the matter would assume a different aspect Winston Churchill
was responsible for the ‘opera bouffe,’ as the comedic Antwerp expedition which made the British nation ridiculous in the eyes of the world; was often described during that time. People again were reminded and remembered that Winston Churchill was also ‘responsible’
for the disastrous Dardanelles expedition which ranks with Walcheren as
one of the greatest military disasters of our time.’ [‘The World’ was a weekly Society journal which carried a widely read political column.]

His chief consolation throughout this difficult period was his happy
family life. By 1916 he had three children: Diana, age 7, Randolph, age 5,
and Sarah, age 2. He had a house in Cromwell Road, London, and did a
good deal of entertaining, mostly of a political nature. The mainspring of
his existence was his wife. As a matter of fact during this time, Mrs Clementine Churchill used all her tact and resourcefulness to take his mind away from his personal worries. She reassured him, she went for long walks with him in the valley, she stood by him against all attacks, she gathered interesting people around him and entertained, she organized outings, and she always backed up his political views and above all — Clemmie remained confident and cheerful around Winston cheering him on by calling him Mr Pug, Winnie, and Puggie. She was also deeply enthusiastic and encouraged him in his newfound hobby, painting. That was crucial for his even keel personality, because he had first begun to paint in the summer of 1915, soon after he left the Admiralty. It was Love at first sight. Or rather Love at the first stroke of the brush on the canvas. One Sunday he had picked up a box of children’s water-colours and experimented with them. The next day he went out and bought an expensive set of oils, and never looked back….

He tells how he made a mark the size of a bean on a canvas, then stood
back, brush poised in air, surveying the white expanse with trepidation.
He heard a voice behind him. ‘Painting? But what are you hesitating
about?’ It was Lady Lavery, the wife of the well-known artist Sir John
Lavery, who had recently completed Winston’s portrait ‘Let me have the
brush a big one she said. Then she slashed the canvas with fierce, bold
strokes. That was the end of Winston’s inhibitions. He was living in a
farmhouse in Surrey which he had rented for the summer and after that he
was seen every day in a long cream-coloured smock which came to his
knees; he set up his easel in the garden or along the country lanes, and when it was hot he stuck a huge umbrella in the ground beside him. He became fascinated by his pursuit and told Lord Riddell that painting was his greatest solace. On the rare occasions when he visited friends, he arrived with his painting equipment. Lord Beaverbrook describes such an occasion and tells how, as Winston arranged his easel, he announced that he could not paint and talk too. “But I have not left you unprovided for” he
remarked, and unloaded from his dispatch case a huge manuscript his
defence of the Dardanelles.

In December 1916, the Asquith Government fell, and Lloyd George
became Prime Minister. This was brought about by a manoeuvre, that
could almost be described as a plot, in which Lord Beaverbrook played a
leading part. There was growing dissatisfaction with Asquith’s direction
of the war. Despite his fine brain he seemed to lack the drive and decision
necessary to harness a great effort, and was continually at the mercy of
advisers who were often pulling in opposite directions. Lord Northcliffe,
the great newspaper magnate who owned the most popular and the most
influential papers in England, the Daily Mail and The Times, detested
Asquith. He depicted him to the public as the man of ‘Wait and See’ and
built up Lloyd George as the man of ‘Push and Go.’

However, it is not easy to get rid of a Prime Minister. A man in this
position is always protected by the loyalty of those who enjoy his favour
and fear that they will fall with him. In this situation Bonar Law, the Con-
servative leader, was the key. No Coalition Government could be controlled by a Liberal Prime Minister who did not have the approval of the Conservatives. Here Lord Beaverbrook stepped into the picture. Beaverbrook was then Sir Max Aitken. He was a fascinating, speculative, even romantic figure, who had arrived from Canada when he was barely
thirty, a self-made multi-millionaire. He was the son of a poor Methodist
parson and, according to gossip, had made his vast fortune as a company
promoter. In 1913 he bought the Daily Express which, in the post-war
period, eventually rivalled in circulation and finally surpassed the Daily

He was quick, amusing and provocative, and he possessed a rare talent;
he could charm whoever he set out to capture. People have found it
strange that the dour, humourless, unimaginative Bonar Law should have
come under his spell, but the very difference between the two men ob-
viously proved the attraction. Beaverbrook became Law’s confidant; the
latter asked his advice on every sort of matter, ranging from policy to
people, and accepted it often enough for Beaverbrook to be treated with
great respect. But besides winning Law’s friendship Beaverbrook also
became an intimate of Lloyd George, F. E. Smith and Winston Churchill.
These men, each a genius in his own way, had much in common. They
were all brilliant conversationalists; they were all individualists and adven-
turers, with a zest for conflict and a marked indifference to convention.
They were the most gifted group of friends in public life and all of them,
separately and together, were distrusted and disliked by the average Con-
servative ‘gentleman’.

Beaverbrook convinced Bonar Law that Asquith must be removed;
and persuaded him to back Lloyd George as Prime Minister. But the up-
heaval would require careful handling and was well rehearsed. Lloyd
George delivered an ultimatum to Asquith designed to remove the direc-
tion of the war from the latter’s hands and place it with an Inner Cabinet.
Asquith refused, as he was intended to do, and Lloyd George resigned.
Asquith then was forced to resign himself as he could not continue to
govern with his Party split in two. The King followed customary pro-
cedure by sending for Bonar Law who declined the offer to form a
Government, suggesting that His Majesty entrust the task to Lloyd George instead.

Thus a new Prime Minister took over the reins. Winston Churchill’s spirits
soared as he thought his chance had come, but once again he was doomed
to disappointment. Although Beaverbrook had succeeded in reconciling
Bonar Law to Lloyd George’s leadership he could not persuade him to
accept Churchill. Law flatly refused to support any Government that
included Winston. He recognized the latter’s brilliance; indeed, he had
declared in the House of Commons, on the eve of Winston Churchill’s departure for France, that ‘in mental power and vital force he is one of the foremost men in the country;’ yet he did not believe that brilliance was enough.
Lloyd George used every argument he could summon to change his mind.
‘The question is, even though you distrust him, would you rather have
him FOR you or AGAINST you?’ he queried. ‘I would rather have him
against me every time Law replied obdurately.’

Winston had no idea of the difficulties Lloyd George was encountering
on his behalf, and firmly expected to be a member of the new Govern-
ment. He regarded office as a certainty when, at Lloyd George’s request,
F. E. Smith invited him to a small dinner party of close colleagues. But
Lloyd George had extended the invitation impulsively and realizing
almost at once that Winston’s hopes might be raised falsely, asked Beaver-
brook, who was also one of the guests, to drop a hint to him that it would
not be possible to include him in the Administration at the present time.
Lord Beaverbrook did as he was bid, and in the course of the dinner said
to Churchill: ‘The new Government will be very well disposed towards
you. All your friends will be there. You will have a great field of common
action with them.’

‘Something in the very restraint of my language,’ wrote Beaverbrook,
‘carried conviction to Winston Churchill’s mind. He suddenly felt that he had been duped by his invitation to dinner, and he blazed into righteous anger. I have never known him address his great friend Birkenhead in any other way except as “Fred”, or “F.E.” On this occasion he said suddenly:
“Smith, this man knows that I am not to be included in the new Govern-
ment.” With that Winston Churchill walked out into the street carrying his coat
and hat on his arm. Birkenhead pursued him, and endeavoured to per-
suade him to return, but in vain.’

Lloyd George finally smoothed things over by assuring Winston
privately that he would do two things for him. First, he would release the
Report of the Dardanelles Royal Commission; second, after publication,
he would find him a job. He kept his word. The Report came out in
March 1917, and although many people did not consider that its con-
clusions exonerated Winston, they at least were forced to admit that both
Asquith and Kitchener were equally to blame. Then, in May, Winston Churchill
made a passionate and moving speech in the House, delivered at a secret
session, in which he once again attacked the principle of the war of attri-
tion. ‘I was listened to for an hour and a quarter with strained attention,
at first silently but gradually with a growing measure of acceptance and at
length approval,’ he wrote. ‘At the end there was quite a demonstration.’
His argument was that Britain and France must not squander the remain-
ing strength of their armies in costly and futile offensives, but wait until
American power had made itself felt; in the meantime Britain must
concentrate on the anti-submarine war and keep its sea communications
intact. His speech made a deep impression but when Lloyd George replied
he refused to commit himself against a renewed offensive; Winston learned
later that he did not feel able to overrule Haig and Robertson. ‘He pro-
ceeded to lead a captivated assembly over the whole scene of the war,
gaining the sympathy and conviction of his hearers at every stage wrote
Winston, ‘When he sat down the position of the Government was
stronger than it had been at any previous moment during his Adminis-

Indeed Lloyd George’s stock was so high he now felt strong enough to
include Winston in his Government. In July 1917 he offered him the
Ministry of Munitions. This did not include a seat in the War Cabinet,
but at least it was the end of exile. The Prime Minister knew that he would
have to take a barrage of criticism but he had no idea of its intensity. The
publication of the Dardanelles Report and Winston’s moving speeches
had apparently done little to allay the hostility against him. For days the
storm raged. Admiral Beresford told a large audience at Queen’s Hall:
‘The P.M. has no right to make such appointments in opposition to public
opinion. Furious letters appeared in the Conservative newspapers: ‘We
cannot forget that his name is associated with disaster. A formal protest
was made by the Committee of Conservative Associations; and in the
House of Commons an M.P., Mr Evelyn Cecil, put down a question to
Lloyd George: ‘Whether, in view of the feeling which exists in many
quarters in this House and in the country that the inclusion of Mr
Churchill in the Government and particularly at this time, as Minister of
Munitions, is a national danger, he will give time for the discussion of the

This was not all. Lloyd George was inundated with angry letters from
his Cabinet colleagues, and for a time the Government tottered. Why were
they so bitter and implacable? Lloyd George attempted to answer this
question in his Memoirs in a fascinating summary of the feelings and pre-
judices of Winston’s adversaries. ‘They admitted he was a man of dazzling
talents, that he possessed a forceful and a fascinating personality. They
recognized his courage and that he was an indefatigable worker. But they
asked why, in spite of that, although he had more admirers, he had fewer
followers than any prominent public man in Britain? They pointed to the
fact that at the lowest ebb of their fortunes, Joseph Chamberlain in
Birmingham and Campbell-Bannerman in Scotland could count on a
territorial loyalty which was unshakable in its devotion. On the other
hand, Winston Churchill had never attracted, he had certainly never retained, the
affection of any section, province or town. His changes of Party were not
entirely responsible for this. Some of the greatest figures in British political
life had ended in a different Party from that in which they had commenced their political career. That was therefore not an adequate explana-
tion of his position in public confidence. They asked: What then was the

‘Here was their explanation. His mind was a powerful machine, but
there lay hidden in its material or its make-up some obscure defect which
prevented it from always running true. They could not tell what it was.
When the mechanism went wrong, its very power made the action disas-
trous, not only to himself but to the causes in which he was engaged and
the men with whom he was co-operating. That was why the latter were
nervous in his partnership. He had in their opinion revealed some tragic
flaw in the metal. This was urged by Winston Churchill’s critics as a reason for not utilizing his great abilities at this juncture. They thought of him not as a contribution to the common stock of activities and ideas in the hours of
danger, but as a further danger to be guarded against.

‘I took a different view of his possibilities. I felt that his resourceful mind
and tireless energy would be invaluable under supervision. … I knew
something of the feeling against him among his old Conservative friends,
and that I would run great risks in promoting Winston Churchill to any position
in the Ministry; but the insensate fury they displayed when later on the
rumour of my intention reached their ears surpassed all my apprehensions,
and for some days it swelled to the dimensions of a grave Ministerial crisis
which threatened the life of the “Government”.

Lloyd George went so far as to declare that ‘some of them were rather more excited about his appointment than about the war. It was interesting
to observe in a concentrated form every phase of the distrust and trepida-
tion with which mediocrity views genius at close quarters. Unfortunately,
genius always provides its critics with material for censure it always has
and always will. Winston Churchill is certainly no exception to this rule’.

‘Not allowed to make the plans,’ wrote Winston, ‘I was set to make the
weapons.’ Strictly speaking this was true, but Winston was not one to keep
his fingers out of the policy-making pie for long. The Ministry of Muni-
tions gave him the opportunity to increase his exertions in favour of the
one idea that gripped and dominated his mind: tanks. For many months
he had watched the battle of attrition in France with increasing dislike.

War was a great art, but how low it had fallen. Where was the skill, the
ingenuity, the surprise?

The only method the Allied commanders understood was the repeated hurling of human sinew, flesh, and blood, falling dead against the strongest machine gun
fortified positions, arguing that if they could slaughter more Germans than
the Germans could slaughter in return; they were bound to win in the end.
Winston had wanted to leave France in its deadlock, and strike through the back door of Turkey. If that was impossible, new methods must be developed to beat the trench, and the methods were obvious: “A mechanical blow.” But so far the tank had been badly misused. Not only had a mere handful been employed at the Battle of the Somme, but at Passchendaele they had been kept back until all element of surprise had vanished, then the tanks, were condemned to wallow in the crater fields under the first blast of German artillery.”

The War Cabinet could not understand the importance of the new weapon. Although Lloyd George, as Minister of Munitions, had ordered the manufacture of several hundred tanks, the military mind still regarded them with a marked lack of enthusiasm. Now Winston redoubled his efforts. On 21st of October, 1917, he wrote a memorandum: “Someone must stop the tiger. It is becoming apparent that the “blasting power” of the artillery is only one of the factors required for a satisfactory method of the offensive. “Moving power” must be developed equally with “blasting power.” When we see these great armies in the West spread out in thin lines hundreds of miles long and organized in depth only at a very few
points, it is impossible to doubt that if one side discovered, developed, and
perfected a definite method of advancing continuously, albeit upon a fairly limited front, a decisive defeat would be inflicted upon the other.
If, therefore, we could, by organized mechanical processes and equipment
impart this faculty to our armies in 1918 or in 1919, it would be an
effective substitute for a great numerical preponderance in numbers.
What other substitute can we look for? Where else is our superiority coming from?”

Sir Douglas Haig, the Ultimate Brirish field commander, was still unimpressed by the possibilities offered through the moving powers of Winston’s innovation — the “Tank.”
And indeed Winston constantly had Passchendaele thrown in his face by people spouting inanities such as these: “They cannot cope with mud. The Army doesn’t want them any more. General Headquarters does not rank them very high in its priorities.” However, on the 20th of November, only a few weeks after Winston Churchill’s memorandum, General Sir Julian Byng gave the Tank Corps its first great opportunity by employing the new weapon as it was designed to be used. No artillery barrage was laid down until the tanks were actually launched; and nearly five hundred were put into the field. ‘The attack,’ say the historians of the Tank Corps, ‘was a stupendous success. As the tanks moved forward with the infantry following close behind, the enemy completely lost his balance, and those who survived, flew panic stricken from the field and surrendered with little or no resistance. By 4 p.m. on 20th November one of the most astonishing battles in all history had been won and, as far as the Tank Corps was concerned, tactically finished for without existing reserves, it was not possible to do anything more.”

The German trench system had been penetrated to a depth of six miles; ten thousand prisoners and two hundred guns had been captured; and the British had lost only fifteen hundred men.

“Moving power” now began to have its ardent supporters. Lloyd George stated that tank production must be rapidly increased; recruiting for the Tank Corps was redoubled; training establishments were expanded. Despite the urgency Winston met more obstacles. The Admiralty had first priority on steel plates. These were needed for ship-building but they were also needed for tanks. The only method by which Winston could secure any at all was to gorge the Admiralty until they held stocks far beyond their most excessive demands; then he took the remainder for his tanks.

At last a programme was in operation that would transform the conflict, should it continue in 1919, into a mobile, mechanical war. Winston’s victory was won. Had he been able to convince the Cabinet of the importance of tanks in 1915, he always believed that the war would have ended in 1917, thus saving millions of lives amongst the combatants…

Today most people would agree with him.

As it turned out, for the historical record, we should recap Winston Churchill’s innovation as it was first used on the 15th of September of 1916, the new invention of Winston Churchill — the British tank, was introduced into the battle at the bloody stalemate that was euphemistically called the trench warfare of the Somme river valley.

During the Battle of the Somme, the British launched a major offensive against the German lines, utilizing the new “Moving Power” weapon named “tank” for the first time in history. At ‘Flers Courcelette’ the first batch of Winston Churchill’s idea, materialized. His innovation of a land trampling and trench destroying battlecruiser — the war department’s manufactured & caterpilared armored vehicles, named “tanks” were thrown into the battlefront. However, these primitive tanks were far from tested, and as “Alpha versions” of the finished product, they barely advanced over a mile into the enemy lines, before they got stuck. They were also too slow to hold their positions during the German counterattack, as were subject to frequent mechanical breakdowns, and couldn’t negotiate the muddy battlefields adequately.

Still, General Douglas Haig, commander of Allied forces at the Somme, saw the promise of this new instrument of war, and ordered the war department to produce hundreds more of these strange and elipticaly moving contraptions.

Earlier, on July 1st, the British had launched a massive offensive against German forces in the Somme River region of France. During the preceding week, 250,000 Allied shells had pounded German positions near the Somme, and 100,000 British soldiers poured out of their trenches and into no-man’s-land on July 1, expecting to find the way cleared for them. However, scores of heavy German machine guns had survived the artillery onslaught, and the infantry were massacred. By the end of the day, 20,000 British soldiers were dead and 40,000 wounded. It was the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history.

After the initial disaster, Haig resigned himself to smaller but equally ineffectual advances, and more than 1,000 Allied lives were extinguished for every 100 yards gained on the Germans. Even Britain’s September 15 introduction of tanks into warfare for the first time in history failed to break the deadlock in the Battle of the Somme. In October, heavy rains turned the battlefield into a sea of mud, and on November 18 Haig called off the Somme offensive, after more than four months of mass slaughter.

Except for its effect of diverting German troops from the Battle of Verdun, the offensive was a miserable disaster. It amounted to a total advance of just five miles for the Allies, with more than 600,000 British and French soldiers killed, wounded, or missing in action. German casualties were more than 650,000. Although Haig was severely criticized for the costly battle, his willingness to commit massive amounts of men and resources to the stalemate along the western front did eventually contribute to the collapse of an exhausted Germany in 1918.

To be continued:

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