Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko 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
forgotten.

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
bottom?

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
State.”

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 Pano Kroko 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
eye.”

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
money.

ON BEING A CONSERVATIVE

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
Hero.

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.

CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER 26l

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
greater.

‘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
telephone.’

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
decision.
[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
case.

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
lesson’.

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-
down.

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.

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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 Pano Kroko 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
shores.”

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
censure.

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:

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | September 15, 2017

Nuclear North Korea Today — What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 37)

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 Pano Kroko 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
death.”

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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 Pano Kroko 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
successful.

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
business.

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
true.

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
Mail.

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-
Tration.’

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
appointment?’

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
reason?

‘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:

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | September 15, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 34)

Now we must return to the events that led to Lord Fisher’s sensational
resignation on the 15th of May, which brought down the Government.

Ten days prior to these events, the Army had stormed the rocky beaches on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the Dardanelles straits of Turkey, in a replay of the ancient Greeks storming Troy and precipitating the long Ten Year conflict of the Trojan war, as described by Homer, in the grand poems of Ilyad and Odyssey — the two great classical books that every schoolboy from Harrow and Eaton, and all those studying at Oxford had to read in the original Hellenic language that Homer, the poet historian, had used to compose this historically correct epic, a few Millennia ago.

Lost to us though, through the ages, the heroic saga makes grave mention of the human cost and the suffering of this epic conflagration — and similar to its predecessor campaign of the Greeks against the Trojans, the British forces managed a landing at a grave cost of twenty thousand men, and for that, they had only secured a precarious and flimsy foothold bellow the rocky promontories of the straits, that rained artillery shells and bullets on top of them rained down from the German gunners assisted by their Turkish allies.

Indeed the landings of Gallipoli, were a veritable mess…

Lord Fisher regarded the situation with increasing alarm, because in his mind, the combined operation was taking place too late, the vital element of surprise was gone, and the Turks had had ample time to fortify their defenses with vast scores of German assistance, and commanding officers, men, and materiel. Therefore it was logical and obvious, that the military operations in Gallipoli, would be long and costly for the British regardless of the outcome.

Still in the upper British Naval administration circles, two conflicting opinions were gathering strength, and both of them had their supporters and detractors fighting a political influence proxy battle, at the same time that the Dardanelles campaign was unfolding overseas…

The first militarily incorrect yet honorable position, was that the Navy should once again attempt to force the Straits because of the severe losses the Army was sustaining.

The second militarily correct position, was that the Navy should on no account attempt an operation until the Army had effectively occupied the shores of the straits.

Churchill like a good politician stood between the two views. But what he failed to see is that this “middle ground” or sitting on the fence as it might be described — made him a bad military strategist…

Because at that time, Winston was indeed in favour of a limited operation. He wanted the Fleet to engage the forts of the “Dardanelles Narrows” and test their supposed shortage of ammunition, as it had been communicated through intelligence. Except that the intelligence the First Lord of the Admiralty had gathered, was dated. Since, the Turks had gone from shortages of shells to a plethora of armaments and a sea of artillery shells, because during the lull of the battle — the Germans had used the German controlled railroads, directly from the munitions factories of Ruhr to Constantinople, via German allied Bulgaria, in order to bring in ample stores of munitions and war materiel, and thus they would be able to defend the straits for a whole year if need be… without further supplies.

Yet at the same time, he believed that the Turkish-German minefields in the Dardanelles straits, could somehow be swept clean of mines, so that the Navy vessels could advance towards Constantinople.

However, Lord Fisher was adamantly opposed to these two options, since e was strongly against Naval action until the Army had secured the shores, and he was determined, this time, that his view would prevail. He also distrusted Winston’s plan, for he felt that if the operation were successful, the latter would insist on penetrating the Sea of Marmara. The old Admiral was under an added strain because of the increasing German submarine menace inside the home waters, and because he had also received good intelligence that these submarines would soon make their appearance in the Mediterranean and bedevil his forces in the Aegean, and those participating in the Gallipoli campaign.

Then the German submarines, sunk the great ship Lusitania — an event that greatly heightened his anxieties about the whole affair.

Consequently, on the 12th of May Lord Fisher declared that he was no longer
prepared to risk the Queen Elizabeth at the Dardanelles, and demanded her
return to the Grand Fleet. Lord Kitchener was furious. In a stormy meeting he accused the Navy of deserting the Army. Lord Fisher announced flatly that: “Either the Queen Elizabeth left the Dardanelles that afternoon, or he left the Admiralty that night.” Lord Fisher won his point and was proved right; a dummy ship equipped to represent the Queen Elizabeth was left at the Dardanelles while the real vessel came home. Two weeks later the dummy was torpedoed and sunk. On the same day that Lord Fisher had his altercation with Kitchener, he sent a memorandum to Winston, and the Prime Minister stating his reasons for refusing to allow a Naval attack to take place until the Army was in occupation of the shores.

He enclosed the following covering letter to the Prime Minister:

“My dear Prime Minister,”

“It will be within your recollection that you saw me and the First Lord
of the Admiralty in your private room, prior to a meeting of the War
Council (28 January, 1915), to consider my protest against the Dardanelles
undertaking when it was first mooted. With extreme reluctance, and
largely due to the earnest words spoken to me by Kitchener, I by not
resigning (as I now see I should have done) remained a most unwilling
beholder (and, indeed, a participator) of the gradual draining of our Naval
resources from the decisive theatre of the war. The absence, especially at
this moment, of destroyers, submarines, and minesweepers (which are
now) at the Dardanelles most materially lessens our power of dealing with
the submarine menace in home waters a menace daily becoming greater
as foreshadowed in the print I submitted to you six months before the war.”

“I have sent the enclosed memorandum to the First Lord, and I ask for it
to be circulated to the War Council.”

Churchill and Lord Fisher talked things over that evening and as a
result the latter seemed more content. But on the next day, the quarrel
flared up again.

Lord Fisher wrote the Prime Minister once more:

“My dear Prime Minister,”

“Thank you for your letter of yesterday, in which you state that you
had been given to understand that an arrangement had been come to
between the First Lord and myself, and you kindly added that you were
very glad. But I regret to say that within four hours of the pact being con-
cluded, the First Lord said to Kitchener “that in the event of the Army’s
failure, the Fleet would endeavour to force its way through”, or words to
that effect. However, for the moment, with your kind assurance of no
such action being permitted, I remain to do my best to help the Prime
Minister in the very biggest task any Prime Minister ever had not
excepting Pitt and his Austerlitz! Still, I desire to convey to you that I
honestly feel that I cannot remain where I am much longer, as there is an
inevitable drain daily (almost hourly) on the resources in the decisive
theatre of the war. But that is not the worst. Instead of the whole time of
the whole of the Admiralty being concentrated on the daily increasing
submarine menace in home waters, we are all diverted to the Dardanelles,
and the unceasing activities of the First Lord, both by day and night, are
engaged in ceaseless prodding of everyone in every department afloat and
ashore in the interest of the Dardanelles Fleet, with the result of the huge
Armada now there, whose size is sufficiently indicated by their having as
many battleships out there as in the German High Seas Fleet! Therefore
this purely private and personal letter, intended for your eye alone and not
to be quoted, as there is no use threatening without acting, is to mention
to one person who I feel ought to know that I feel that my time is short.
13 May, 1915″

The quarrel between the two men had now reached its climax. Each
had has toes dug in. Churchill was determined that the Navy should
continue to take part in the Dardanelles operation, and Fisher was deter-
mined that it should not. Both were ready to get rid of the other if it
proved necessary. On 14 May the War Council met and Fisher reiterated
his views, declaring that he had been against the Dardanelles from the
start. That afternoon Winston wrote to the Prime Minister: “I must ask you to take note of Fisher’s statement today that he “was against the Dardanelles and had been all along” or words to that effect.
The First Sea Lord has agreed in writing to every executive telegram on
which the operations have been conducted; and had they been imme-
diately successful, the credit would have been his. But I make no complaint
of that. I am attached to the old boy and it is a great pleasure to me to
work with him. I think he reciprocates these feelings. My point is that a
moment will probably arise in these operations when the Admiral and
General on the spot will wish and require to run a risk with the Fleet for a
great and decisive effort.”

“If I agree with them, I shall sanction it, and I cannot undertake to be paralysed by the veto of a friend who whatever the result will certainly say: “I was always against the Dardanelles.””

“You will see that in a matter of this kind someone has to take the responsibility.”

“I will do so provided that my decision is the one that rules
and not otherwise.”

“But I wish now to make it clear to you that a man who says, “I dis-
claim responsibility for failure,” cannot be the final arbiter of the measures
which may be found to be vital to success.”

“This requires no answer and I am quite contented with the course of Affairs.” That evening Churchill and Fisher had another long interview, and
once again appeared to have settled their differences. Fisher was adamant
that no more reinforcements should go to the Dardanelles, and Churchill
apparently agreed. When the old Admiral returned to his room he called
his Naval Assistant saying: “You need not pack up just yet” he told him. He went
on to say that “the matter of reinforcements was not settled with the First
Lord” and added “but I suppose he will soon be at me again.”

That night, however, Winston sent the Admiral a long minute. Paragraph 6 contained a fatal sentence. “In view of the request of the Vice-Admiral, I consider that two more “E” boats should be sent to the Dardanelles. When Winston Churchill’s secretary brought the minute to Fisher’s Naval Assistant he asked, ‘How do you think the old man will take it? The Naval Assistant said that he had no doubt whatever that Lord Fisher would resign instantly, if he received it. Winston Churchill’s secretary took it away, then came back and said that the First Lord was certain that Lord Fisher would not object to his proposals, but that, in any case, it was necessary that they should be made. Lord Fisher resigned his office of First Sea Lord the following morning.

Lord Fisher’s resignation caused a sensation. First he went to Lloyd George
who was just leaving Downing Street for the week-end and said: “I want to speak
to you. I have resigned. I can stand it no longer. Our ships are
being sunk, while we have a Fleet in the Dardanelles which is bigger than
the German Navy. Both our Army and Navy are being bled for the
benefit of the Dardanelles.” Then the old Admiral, smouldering and indignant, retired to his official residence which adjoined the Admiralty. He
pulled down the blinds and refused to admit anyone. Mr McKenna, who
had preceded Churchill as First Lord, forced his way in, and tried to argue
with him, but Fisher was adamant.

Winston now began to realize the political storm he would have to
face if the First Sea Lord remained obdurate and he wrote him a long and
persuasive letter, which gives some idea of the pressure Churchill was willing to apply. ‘In order to bring you back to the Admiralty I took my
political life in my hands as you well know, the letter began. This
assertion was something of an exaggeration, for Winston had brought
Fisher back largely to fortify his own position. ‘You then promised to
stand by me and see me through,’ he continued. ‘If you now go at this
bad moment and therefore let loose on me the spite and malice of those
who are your enemies even more than-they are mine, it will be a melancholy ending to our six months of successful war and administration. The
discussions that will arise will strike a cruel blow at the fortunes of the Army now struggling on the Gallipoli Peninsula and cannot fail to invest
with an air of disaster a mighty enterprise which with patience can, and
will, certainly be carried to success. ‘Many of the anxieties of the winter are past The harbours are protected, the great flow of new construction is arriving. We are far stronger at home than we have ever been, and the great reinforcement is now at hand.

“I hope you will come and see me to-morrow afternoon. I have a pro-
position to make to you, with the assent of the Prime Minister, which
may remove some of the anxieties and difficulties which you feel about the
measures necessary to support the Army at the Dardanelles.”

“Though I stand at my post until relieved, it will be a very great grief
to me to part from you; and our rupture will be profoundly injurious to
every public interest.”

Lord Fisher wrote Winston the following reply:

“YOU ARE BENT ON FORCING THE DARDANELLES AND NOTHING WILL TURN YOU FROM IT. NOTHING. I know you so well. I could give you no better proof of my desire to stand by you than my having remained by you in this Dardanelles business up to the last moment, against the strongest conviction of my life.”

“YOU WILL REMAIN AND I SHALL GO, for it is better so. Your splendid stand on my behalf I can never forget when you took your political life in your hands, and I have really worked very hard for you in return my utmost; but there is a question beyond all personal obligations. I assure you, it is only painful to have further conversations. I have told the Prime Minister I will not remain. I have absolutely decided to stick to that decision. Nothing will turn me from it. You say with much feeling that it will be a very great grief to you to part from me. I am certain that you know in your heart no one has ever been more faithful to you than I have since I joined you last October. I have worked my very hardest.”

It is well known that people seldom see themselves as others see them.
Winston knew that he had many political enemies but he did not seem to
understand the intensity of the feeling against him. This was curious in
view of the savage attack which the Tory Press had launched during the
previous few weeks, largely inspired by high ranking Army officers in
France who were violently opposed to what they called “side-shows.” The
Conservatives had been hostile ever since Antwerp, but now the Morning
Post outdid itself. Almost daily they struck out at Winston under a series
of headlines: “The Amazing Amateur.” “The Amateur Admiral.” “Politician
versus Expert.” “Too Much Churchill.” Some idea of the virulence of their
campaign may be seen from an extract printed on 30 April: “Winston Churchill is still his own Party, and the chief of the partisans. He still sees himself as the only digit in the sum of things, all other men as mere ciphers, whose function it is to follow after, and multiply his personal value a million-fold. He has not ceased to be the showman of a one-man show. He is nonetheless true to himself because, indulged by the larger opportunities of world-wide war, his instinct for the melodramatic has blossomed into megalomania.”

Winston discounted these attacks as ordinary Tory propaganda. But he
lived so much in a world of his own, the world of great and stirring events,
that he made the mistake of forgetting he was a politician and, as such,
dependent on the confidence of his Parliamentary colleagues.

He attended the House of Commons infrequently and only as a matter
of form. “He failed in 1915” wrote Lord Beaverbrook, “because he showed
himself too confident to be prudent. He neither tied the Liberals to him
nor conciliated the Tories.”

The day after Fisher’s resignation Winston dined with the Prime
Minister. He told the latter that Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson had agreed
to serve under him as First Sea Lord, and showed him the list he had
drawn up of the new Board of Admiralty. Asquith approved the names
and assured Winston of his support.

But in the meanwhile, other events were taking place. Bonar Law, the
Leader of the Conservative Opposition, had learned of Lord Fisher’s
departure and at once went to see Lloyd George at 8 Downing Street.
He told him bluntly that the Conservatives were not willing to continue
to support the Government unless Winston Churchill left the Admiralty. Lord
Fisher was the darling of the Tory Party; Winston was its bete noire. Why
should they allow a man they admired to be sacrificed for a man they
utterly distrusted? He said flatly he would be unable to control the storm
in the House of Commons. “Of course” replied Lloyd George, “we must
have a Coalition, for the alternative is impossible. He took him by the
arm and led him through the private passage to 10 Downing Street where
they had an interview with Mr Asquith.”

Winston was ignorant of these proceedings and on Monday appeared
at the House ready to announce his new Board. The next forty eight hours
were filled with bitter disappointments for him. First of all, Asquith and
Lloyd George informed him that a Coalition Government was being
formed and that, as part of the bargain the Tories had demanded his
removal from the Admiralty. Just as they were breaking this news to him
a message came asking him to return to his office at once on urgent
business. He hurried back to learn that the German High Seas Fleet was
emerging. Was the great battle in the North Sea at last to be fought?
Churchill gave orders for every available ship to be dispatched to the
scene of action. Perhaps he would return to the House to announce a
great victory. If so, could they let Him go? One can imagine the anxious
and tense hours he passed; but by morning it was clear that the Germans
were not looking for a fight; they had returned to their bases.

On Tuesday it was certain that nothing could save Winston Churchill’s position, yet he still clung to hope. Lord Beaverbrook called on him at the Admiralty with F. E. Smith, and later wrote: “One felt rather as if one had been invited to come and look at fallen Antony. What a creature of strange moods; he is always at the top of confidence or at the bottom of an intense depression. That Tuesday night he was clinging to the desire of retaining the Admiralty as though the salvation of England depended on it. I believe he would even have made up with Lord Fisher, if that had been the price of remaining there. Nonetheless, so little did he realize the inwardness of the whole situation, that he still hoped…”

As well as hoping, he wrote a long and pleading letter to Bonar Law.
This was a strange act, for Bonar Law was more implacable in his dislike
and distrust of Winston than almost any other Tory. A melancholy, humdrum, unimaginative man, Law was utterly devoid of gaiety or exuberance. Winston’s flamboyant personality was anathema to him. He regarded him as a boastful buccaneer, upon whom no reliance could ever be placed.
Besides, he found it hard to forgive Winston’s patronizing airs. Lord
Beaverbrook, who, as Max Aitken, was Bonar Law’s closest friend and
confidant, gives an example of the interchanges that took place between the
two men when Winston Churchill was at the height of his power as First Lord, and Law was merely the Leader of the Opposition.

“The words which you now tell me you employed,” wrote Winston Churchill in a letter to Law, “and which purport to be a paraphrase, if not an actual quotation, are separated by a small degree of inaccuracy and misrepresentation from the inaccuracy and misrepresentation of the condensed report.”
And on another occasion: “I resist all temptation to say, I told you so!”
Lord Beaverbrook goes on to say that he never heard Bonar Law use but one kind of language about Churchill: “I consider Winston Churchill a formidable antagonist. Nonetheless, I would rather have him in opposition to me than on my side.”

It was obvious to everybody but Winston that Bonar Law was immovable. Nevertheless, Winston sent him a letter containing the following
extracts: “Admiralty, Whitehall. 17 May, 1915. My dear Bonar Law; The rule to follow is what is best calculated to beat the enemy and not what is most likely to please the newspapers. The question of the Dardanelles operations and my differences with Fisher ought to be settled by people who know the facts and not by those who cannot know them. Now you and your friends, except Mr Balfour, do not know the facts. On our side only the Prime Minister knows them. The policy and conduct of the Dardanelles operations should be reviewed by the new Cabinet.
Every fact should be laid before them. They should decide and on their
decision the composition of the Board of the Admiralty should depend.”

“My lips are sealed in public, but in a few days all the facts can be placed
before you and your friends under official secrecy. I am sure those with
whom I hope to work as colleagues and comrades in this great struggle,
will not allow a newspaper campaign necessarily conducted in ignorance
and not untinged with prejudice to be the deciding factor in matters of
such terrible import.”

“Personal interests and sympathies ought to be strictly subordinated. It
does not matter whether a Minister receives exact and meticulous justice.
But what is vital is that from the outset of this new effort we are to make
together we should be fearless of outside influences and straight with each
other. We are coming together not to work on public opinion but to wage
war: and by waging successful war we shall dominate public opinion.”

“I would like you to bring this letter to the notice of those with whom
I expect soon to act: and I wish to add the following: I was sent to the
Admiralty four years ago. I have always been supported by high pro-
fessional advice; but partly through circumstances and partly no doubt
through my own methods and inclinations, an exceptional burden has
been borne by me. I had to procure the money, the men, the ships and
ammunition; to recase with expert advice the war plans; to complete in
every detail that could be foreseen the organization of the Navy.”

“Many Sea Lords have come and gone, but during all these four years
(nearly) I have been according to my patent “solely responsible to Crown
and Parliament” and have borne the blame for every failure; and now I
present to you an absolutely secure Naval position; a Fleet constantly and
rapidly growing in strength, and abundantly supplied with munitions of
every kind, an organization working with perfect smoothness and
efficiency, and the seas upon which no enemy’s flag is flown.”

“Therefore I ask to be judged justly, deliberately and with knowledge.
I do not ask for anything else.”

Lord Beaverbrook tried to use his influence with Bonar Law on Winston Churchill’s behalf but to no avail. The following reply came from the Conservative leader: “My dear Churchill, I thank you for your letter which I shall show to my friends beginning with Austen Chamberlain; but, believe me, what I said to you last night is inevitable.”
Once again Lloyd George proved a staunch friend. He begged Asquith
to offer Winston an important office such as the Colonies or the India
Office, but Asquith insisted that the Conservatives would not hear of anything but a minor post, and that the Duchy of Lancaster was the best he
could do. “It was a cruel and unjust degradation,” wrote Lloyd George. “It
was quite unnecessary in order to propitiate them to fling him from the
masthead whence he had been directing the fire, down to the lower deck
to polish the brass.”

Just before Winston moved out of the Admiralty — Lord Riddell called
on him and found him harassed and worn. “I am the victim of a political
intrigue. I am finished,” he said. Riddell replied: “Not finished at forty,
with your remarkable powers!” “Yes,” he said. “Finished in respect of all I
care for the waging of war: the defeat of the Germans. I have had a
high place offered to me a position which has been occupied by many
distinguished men, and which carries with it a high salary. But all that
goes for nothing. This is what I live for. I have prepared a statement of
my case, but cannot use it.” Riddell then asked him if he thought Asquith
had been weak in the conduct of the war. “Terribly weak,” said Winston.
“Supinely weak. His weakness will be the death of him.”

Lord Fisher was not recalled as First Sea Lord. He might have been, had he not made an astonishing mistake. While the Prime Minister was looking for a successor to Winston Churchill — Fisher suddenly took up his pen and wrote him an extraordinary memorandum: “If the following six conditions are agreed to, I can guarantee the successful termination of the war, and the total abolition of the submarine.” Fisher then laid down a series of preposterously dictatorial terms, such as these: “That Winston Churchill is not in the Cabinet to be always circumventing me. Nor will I serve under Mr Balfour. That Sir Arthur Wilson left the Admiralty as his policy is totally opposed to mine, and he accepted the position of First Sea Lord in succession to me, that there should be a new Board of Admiralty and so forth.” The memorandum ended with a P.S.: “The 60 per cent of my time and energy which I have exhausted on nine First Lords in the pas,t I wish in the future to devote to the successful prosecution of the war. This is the sole reason for these six conditions. These six conditions must be published verbatim so the Fleet will know my position.”

Needless to say Lord Fisher’s resignation was accepted. And thus the
quarrel between two brilliant, impulsive and autocratic men of genius
came to its sorry end.

Churchill accepted the sinecure office of the Duchy of Lancaster, which
carried no departmental work, in order that he could remain a member
of the War Council and press for the continuance of the Gallipoli cam-
paign. He believed, and believed rightly, that Turkey was the key to the
war, and he wanted the Government to persevere with courage. In
November, however, the military losses were so heavy and hope of success
so limited, the Council decided on a final evacuation. The tragic story had
ended, and Winston Churchill was not to be included in the new War Committee
which was being formed to replace the War Council. He decided that he
could no longer remain in ‘well-paid inactivity and that the time had
come for him to join his regiment in France. He resigned his office and on
15 November made a farewell speech to the House of Commons which
filled twenty-two columns of Hansard. He began by telling his listeners
that he was entering upon ‘an alternative form of service to which no
exception can be taken, and with which I am perfectly content. Then he
went on to offer a vindication of his record over the previous fourteen
months, mainly centred on the Dardanelles. I have gone through this
story in detail in order to show and to convince the House that the Naval
attack on the Dardanelles was a Naval plan, made by Naval authorities on
the spot, approved by Naval experts in the Admiralty, assented to by the
First Sea Lord, and executed on the spot by Admirals who at every stage
believed in the operation … I will not have it said that this was a civilian
plan, foisted by a political amateur upon reluctant officers and experts.

The speech was warmly received and Winston Churchill sat down amid a hubbub of congratulations and ‘Hear hears’ that might almost be described as cheers. But as so often happens after dramatic occasions, a cool and critical
reaction set in. As Members reflected on what he said their doubts came
creeping back. They felt he had spoken the truth but not the whole truth,
and a week later The Times ran a four-column letter by the foremost
correspondent of the day, Ashmead Bardett, with the headline: “Mr Winston Churchill’s Defence A Criticism.” The letter pointed out a number of discrepancies in Winston’s explanation, and restored to many readers the
same opinions they had held before his vindication.

Three days after the speech, on 18 November, 1915, Major Winston Churchill
of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry was home preparing his unifirm, on the eve of his departure for the trenches of the War in France.

Lord Beaverbrook who had dropped in to the Churchill household, in order to pay his farewell respects, had this to say about the scene of abject commotion and chaos: “The whole household was upside down while the soldier-statesman was buckling on his sword. Downstairs Mr Eddie Marsh, his faithful and long time secretary was in tears. Upstairs, Lady Randolph Churchill, was in a state of despair at the thought of her brilliant son being relegated to the bloody trenches. Mrs Clementine Churchill seemed to be the only person who remained calm, collected, and efficient.”

The next day Winston landed at the French port of Boulogne…

To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | September 14, 2017

What Would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 33)

The shots fired against the Archduke of Austria into his open car, killing him along with his young wife Sophie, while touring Sarajevo Bosnia, were heard loud and clear all around the World. It is proven now that this preordained terrorist action, is what gave the Germans their much wanted pretext for starting the Great war that ended five empires…

Indeed many today believe that it was the Germans who paid and armed the terrorists with the weapons that allowed them to effect this royal assassination.

Yet regardless of whose hidden arm actually pulled the trigger, results matter, since Peace was torn asunder, because upon hearing the news of the royal couple’s assassination by the terrorist, the Austro-Hungarian empire issued an annexation ultimatum to Serbia, who in turn as expected — refused to accept the harsh terms flung at her, and the next day Austria declared war.

The following day, the Russians began to mobilize on the Austrian frontier, and three days later, Germany sent an ultimatum to Russia to disperse her troops, and then immediately declared war. On the 3rd of August — this time without any declarations — Germany invaded Belgium and France.

Ten tense and fearful days had passed between the Austrian ultimatum and the German invasion. During this time the British Cabinet was overwhelmingly pacifist. Every attempt was made to stop the conflagration from spreading, every hope was sustained, and every argument was advanced, about “Why Britain could remain aloof.” However, England had guaranteed Belgian neutrality; and when the news was received that German troops were pouring through Flanders all thought of peace vanished. An ultimatum was sent to Germany demanding her withdrawal from Belgium within twenty-four hours. When the chimes of Big Ben struck eleven on the warm summer evening of the 4th of August — Britain was at war.

“Winston had played his part well.” Lord Fisher said that he had prophesied repeatedly that 1914 was the crucial year. As a result the Fleet was not sent on its usual manoeuvres to the North Sea. Instead, Churchill had ordered a full mobilization exercise, which meant putting not only the main Fleet, but the ships all the and men of the Second and the Third Reserve Fleets, on active service footing.
This exercise took place in the middle of July. It ended on the 17th and 18th of July in a grand review of the Fleet by the King, at the Spithead naval base.

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After this exercise, the normal course of events, would have been the dispersal of all the men. Instead, on the 20th of July, the newspapers carried an Admiralty notice: “Orders have been given to the First Fleet, which is concentrated at Portland, not to disperse for naval leave for the present. All vessels of the Second fleet are remaining at their home ports, in proximity to their balance crews.”

The following week when Austria attacked Serbia, Winston acted rather quickly. With the assent of Sir Edward Grey he gave instructions for the Fleet to take up its station in Scottish waters, at Scapa Flow, opposite the German Fleet, in order to prevent it being bottled up in the face of a surprise attack. The operation was carried out in the greatest secrecy, as the ships moved through the Straits of Dover at night, with their fires “banked,” sailing in total silence, under full darkness…

During the ten days that the Government debated the terrible issue of war and peace, Churchill was the strongest force for intervention in the Continent, within the Cabinet. While his colleagues hesitated, worried and prevaricated in uncertainty — Winston Churchill was longing to act. Prime Minister Asquith describes Winston in his memoirs as “being very bellicose, demanding instant mobilization.” On Friday, the 31st of July — Winston Churchill asked his friend, F. E. Smith, to sound his Conservative leaders on the question of coalition in case the Liberal Government remained hopelessly divided. Bonar Law refused to consider coalition unless he was approached by the Prime Minister himself, but made it clear that the Administration could count on loyal Conservative support.

Early the first Saturday in August, Germany declared war on Russia. Churchill,
on his own authority and without the sanction of the Cabinet, which at any rate, he received the following morning, had ordered the full mobilization of the
Fleet. Lord Beaverbrook describes Winston Churchill’s reactions when he heard the news of the fateful act. Beaverbrook had been invited with Mr F. E. Smith to Admiralty House for dinner and bridge. “Suddenly an immense dispatch box was brought into the room. Churchill produced his skeleton key from his pocket, opened the box and took out of it a single sheet of paper . . . On that sheet was written the words “Germany has declared war against Russia.”

“He rang for a servant and asking for a lounge coat, stripped his dress
coat from his back, saying no further word. He left the room quickly. He was not depressed; he was not elated; he was not surprised. Certainly he exhibited no fear or uneasiness. Neither did he show any signs of joy. He went straight out like a man going to a well-accustomed job. In fact, he had foreseen everything that was going to happen so far that his temperament was in no way upset by the realization of his forecast. We have suffered at times from Winston Churchill’s bellicosity. But what profit the nation derived at that crucial moment from the capacity of the First Lord of the Admiralty for grasping and dealing with the war situation.”

Not many months later, in one of the bleakest periods of his career, Lord Kitchener was to say to him: “There is one thing that nobody can take away from you: The fact that the Fleet was ready.”

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By this time, Winston’s star had been rising steadily for eight years, and when war broke out he stood as one of the three most powerful men in Britain. He was only thirty nine years old, yet he was head of the greatest fighting service, of the greatest Empire, in the world. Fortune was smiling as far as his own opportunities were concerned and the path ahead seemed straight and sure. He was a forceful orator, an accomplished writer and an able administrator. He was blessed with boundless energy. He enjoyed the close friendship of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the admiration of the Prime Minister. With his dazzling gifts and his pugnacious spirit it seemed certain that he would play a leading role in the great struggle against Germany, and even his enemies began to reckon on him as a probable successor to Prime Minister Asquith.

But Fortune is a fickle mistress…

Only ten months later he was dismissed from the Admiralty and five months after that he was excluded from the War Cabinet. His power was broken, and he had no further voice in the conduct of the war. Even though Lloyd George brought him back into the Government in 1917, he never regained the great position he held at the outset. He was given a purely administrative job, while questions of high
policy were carefully shielded from his influence. His contribution to World War I, therefore, was sensational but brief.

But the Question remains: “What brought about Churchill’s downfall?”

The answer undoubtedly lays with Winston Churchill’s personality.

The Tories still hated and mistrusted him and lost no opportunity to discredit him; but leaving politics aside, Churchill was not popular as a man. His parliamentary colleagues recognized his genius but they did not warm to him for the simple reason that he offended their “amour propre.” Ideas, not people, interested him, and his absorption with his own affairs, and his own opinions, at times could be almost childlike, in its vanity and intensity. He treated his colleagues to brilliant monologues, but the fact that he seldom wanted to hear their views in exchange, often left them ruffled, and offended, while he, in turn, was completely oblivious to their reactions. This was the insensibility of the headstrong child, warm-hearted, and generous when taken to task, but too utterly engrossed in his own pursuits to have much heed for other people or their opinions. This insensibility was a serious defect in a democratic statesman, whose task it was not only to expand ideas but to persuade others to follow them. As a result Churchill was unable to command the personal sympathy and loyalty necessary from his colleagues, in order to sustain him through the inevitably precarious times, that in Politics come with the regularity of the ebb & flow of tides.

But let us allow the events of that day unfold, and inform the story…

At the outbreak of hostilities Winston Churchill’s Navy was more than ready. Yet its’ main task was to ensure the safe transport of the British Expeditionary Force to France, which it did without the loss of a single life. Winston was eager and bellicose. He was brimming over with ideas and longed for a show-down. The Grand Fleet patrolled the North Sea majestically, challenging the German Navy to come out and fight. But why wait for them, asked Churchill? What about a raid on the German ships in the Heligoland Bight? As a result a plan was drawn up and put into operation with brilliant success. Two flotillas of British destroyers and cruisers made a sudden drive near the island of Sylt, sank one cruiser, smashed two others and crippled three more. They also sank a
destroyer…

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Churchill declared triumphantly that: “The nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards, so that he can breathe without letting go.”

The Army was not having such a successful time. The Germans had thrown their whole strength into the attack against France, and were staking everything on one conclusive gamble: the complete destruction of French military power. At the end of three weeks, a million men of the French Army were falling back on Paris, leaving the Channel ports dangerously exposed. Surprise and alarm swept through England, but Churchill was not dismayed. In order to reassure his colleagues he reprinted the memorandum he had written in 1911 which predicted these very happenings, but went on to declare confidently that by the fortieth day the Germans would be fully extended, which would allow the Allies to stage a counterstroke. He sent a copy of the memorandum to Sir John French, the Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, who replied in a letter on the 10th of September: “What a wonderful forecast you made in 1911. I don’t remember the paper, but things have turned out, almost exactly as you said. I have shown it to a few of my staff.”

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Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, was worried. As the Allied line fell back in France he began to fear that the Germans might strike at London by zeppelin raid. Three-quarters of the planes the English possessed were under the control of the War Office and were being used in support of the retreating armies. The other quarter, were planes that Churchill himself had scraped together in 1912 and 1913 to form a “Naval Air Service” and were now under the jurisdiction of the Navy, and therefore lying idle…
Consequently Lord Kitchener asked Winston if he would undertake the aerial defence of Great Britain, and the latter eagerly assented. This led to a series of unusual events, some comic, and some tragic, which contributed to Winston Churchill’s final downfall.

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It also led to an invention destined to revolutionize modern warfare the birth of the Tank.

This is how the tank idea came into being: Churchill knew that if the
German zeppelins were to be destroyed they must be attacked in their
hangars. In those days aeroplane engines were not strong enough to reach
the height at which zeppelins flew in the necessary time.

Aviation was in its infancy, night flying was only beginning, and location of aircraft by sound-waves, today known as radar — was not then yet discovered and the technology was far from developed. Churchill, therefore, set up air bases at Dunkirk and Calais, as near to the enemy lines as possible. From then on intrepid pilots in uncertain machines conducted innumerable sweeps over Cologne, Dusseldorf, Friedrichshafen and Cuxhaven; and before twelve months had passed the Royal Naval Air Service could claim to have destroyed no less than six of the great gas-filled monsters.

The era of the Zeppelins was over…

However, it soon became apparent that Winston Churchill’s new air bases were in danger of direct attack from German patrols. Winston immediately ordered a hastily improvised armoured car equipped with a machine gun.
Next he ordered the formation of armoured car squadrons under the Admiralty. But once again difficulties arose. German cavalry units succeeded in warding off these mobile attacks by digging themselves in behind trenches. And as the days passed the trenches stretched out further and further, until they finally reached the sea. There was no way for the cars to get round them.

Winston refused to bow to such an obstacle. Something must be done at once to “beat the trench.” On 23 September, he wrote a letter to Admiral Bacon, the General Manager of a large ordnance works, asking for a design of an armoured car that could cross trenches by means of a folding, portable bridge. He explains in his book, ‘The World Crisis:’ “The air was the first cause that took us to Dunkirk, the armoured car was the child of the air, and the tank its grandchild.”

Admiral Bacon produced the design, but the armoured car with the portable bridge was never manufactured; for, a month later, the Admiral showed Churchill a caterpillar tractor which he decided was more suitable. This, too, had a folding bridge. He ordered several of these machines to be made but when the first one was tested in May 1915 the Admiralty perversely rejected it, because it could not descend a four-foot bank or go through three feet of water.

However, Winston had other irons in the fire. Some idea of his persistence may be gathered from a letter which he wrote in January 1915 to the Director of the Air Division: “I wish the following experiment made at once: Two ordinary steam-rollers are to be fastened together side by side by very strong steel connections, so that they are to all intents and purposes one roller covering a breadth of at least twelve to fourteen feet.
If convenient, one of the back inside wheels might be removed and the other axle joined up to it. Some trenches are to be dug on the latest principles somewhere near London in lengths of at least 100 yards, the earth taken out of the trenches being thrown on each side, as is done in France.
The roller is to be driven along these trenches one outer rolling wheel on each side, and the inner rolling wheel just clear of the trench itself. The object is to ascertain what amount of weight is necessary in the roller to smash the trench in. For this purpose as much weight as they can possibly draw should be piled on to the steamrollers and on the framework buckling them together. The ultimate object is to run along a line of trenches, crushing them all flat and burying the people in them.”

This experiment also failed. The steamrollers merely bogged down in the center and refused to budge.

 

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But Winston persevered. The following month he talked to an Army major who suggested the creation of huge “land battleships.” This idea led to the formation of the Landships Committee of the Admiralty under whose auspices two designs were finally produced, one on large wheels, the other on a caterpillar tractor. He ordered eighteen of these machines to be built at a cost of 70,000 pounds. The money was not authorized by the Treasury, but Winston assumed the responsibility himself.

 

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Imagine that. Winston was willing to bankrupt himself, in order to get the Naval engineers, to built the first tanks, because his great vision was to save lives in the horrible trench warfare.

 

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When he was dismissed from the Admiralty a few months later, his successor cut down the order to one. This one was the exact prototype of the tank used for the first time in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

 

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Churchill began the war as Asquith’s, blue eyed boy, but his triumphs were short lived. Before eight weeks had passed his position with the Prime Minister had begun to deteriorate. According to Lord Beaverbrook, who was a close friend of the most powerful political figures of the day, the thing which first attracted Asquith’s attention and made him doubt in the long run whether Churchill was a ‘wise war counsellor’ was the Dunkirk Circus. This project was born from the fear, which persisted for many months, that the Germans might capture the Channel ports. On the 16th of September, Marshal Joffre asked Lord Kitchener if a brigade of Marines could be sent to Dunkirk to reinforce the garrison and give the enemy the idea that British, as well as French troops, were operating in the area. Once again Kitchener turned to Churchill, and once again Churchill agreed.

 

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The Marines were sent across the Channel and Winston requisitioned fifty motor omnibuses from the streets of London to give them the necessary mobility. Soon British detachments were showing themselves in Ypres, Lille, Tournai and Douai. The Marines suffered no casualties and had a good deal of fun; so did the First Lord of the Admiralty.
Winston began to spend a good deal of time in France inspecting his air bases and thinking up new escapades for his Circus.

 

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It is not difficult to understand the criticism that began to arise. Why wasn’t the fellow at his desk in the Admiralty where he belonged, the Tories began to growl, instead of racing off to France poking his nose into other people’s business, and making himself ridiculous?

“Armored cars, and London buses? What on earth did they have to do with the Navy?”

Even his colleagues in the Government began to be annoyed. “There were, on more than one occasion” wrote Lord Beaverbrook, “unexplained absences on the part of the First Lord of the Admiralty, which were often inconvenient and caused a growing sense of annoyance among other members of the Government.”

The Prime Minister, who at the outset had approved of the “Circus”, found himself tolerating these absences and trying to conceal the whereabouts of his colleague from other Ministers.

Subsequently he discovered that he must take charge at the Admiralty during an absence of Churchill. On a later occasion still he could not find the First Lord when the date of the sailing of a New Zealand contingent was at stake so that, Asquith complained: “A very serious delay in dispatching this force occurred.”

Asquith soon saw that, and the ‘Dunkirk Circus’ was wound up.

Then an unfortunate incident occurred. On the 21st of September Churchill delivered a flamboyant speech, in which he made a boastful and unwise observation that was destined to be flung back at him for years to come: “So far as the Navy is concerned we cannot fight while the enemy remains in port. … If they do not come out and fight they will be dug out like rats from a hole” he cried. The English public did not like this sort of talk. They recognized the Germans as a formidable foe, and had an uneasy feeling that Winston was tempting fate. Their reaction was swiftly justified, for the very next day three British ships, the Aboukir, the Hogue, and the Cressy, which were steaming along on patrol duty off the Dutch coast, were torpedoed and sunk.

As it turns out, in reality, Churchill had ordered the withdrawal of this “livebait” squadron three days earlier, and if his order had been carried out promptly — the submarine attacks and the resultant loss of men, ships, and munitions, would have been avoided. Of course this would not be known widely at the time but the military and all those on command knew of this quite well…

However, his hubristic speech had indeed been a political gaffe, and with the naval disaster following promptly on it’s heels — placed Winston in a ridiculous light. Hybris was never tolerated in England, and his opponents had every right to seize on the incident and discredit him, but one Tory M.P., Captain Bowles, circulated an outrageous pamphlet which contained this preposterous statement: “The loss on 22 September of the Aboukir, the Cressy, and the Hogue, with 1,459 officers and men killed, occurred because, despite the warnings of the admirals, commodores and captains, Winston Churchill refused, until it was too late, to recall them from a patrol so carried on, as to make them certain to fall victims to the torpedoes of an active enemy.”

Shortly after this sensation, the Antwerp episode damaged Winston Churchill’s stained reputation and diminished standing amongst his colleagues, even further…

Once again he undertook a mission at Lord Kitchener’s request. This is what he wrote many years later in The World Crisis: “I seem to have been too ready to undertake tasks which were hazardous or even forlorn. I believed, however, that the special knowledge which I possessed and the great authority which I wielded at this time of improvisation, would enable me to offer less unsatisfactory solutions of these problems than could be furnished in the emergency by others in less commanding positions.”

Thus Churchill was driven on by his supreme self-assurance, into positions which wiser statesmen might have avoided. The circumstances were these: The Battle of the Marne, fought between 6th and 16th of September over an 180 mile front — had flung the Germans back from the Marne to the Aisne, and severely damaged their hope for a speedy victory.
There was however, one more chance for the Germans to regain the upper hand, and that would entail the immediate capture of Antwerp, because this would enable them to sweep to the Channel ports, and perhaps roll up the Allied line causing them total defeat, and surrender. Consequently the Kaiser gave an imperative order for the capture of Antwerp, regardless of cost, and on the 28th of September the German howitzers began their bombardment of the city. The heavy fortifications were destroyed with astonishing ease, and four days later the King of the Belgians sent out an urgent call for aid writing that, “If reinforcements did not arrive at once — the Belgian Army might be captured intact. Plans to evacuate the city were already in hand.”

 

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Churchill was on his way to Dunkirk when this desperate news was received. He raced back to London and attended a conference at Lord Kitchener’s house. Kitchener explained that reinforcements would not be ready for three or four days; could Churchill hurry to Antwerp, explain the position to the King and Prime Minister, and urge them to hold on with the help of a brigade of Marines until further aid arrived?

Once again Winston Churchill said yes, and departed. Foolhardy yet courageous, was this course; but Winston took it none the less.

The English Prime Minister Asquith was not in London when this decision was taken but made the following entry in his diary: “I was away but Grey, Kitchener and Winston held a late meeting and, I fancy, with Grey’s rather reluctant consent, the intrepid Winston set off at midnight and ought to have reached Antwerp about nine o’clock. He will straight away see the Belgian Ministers. Sir J. French is making preparations to send assistance by way of Lille. I had a talk with Kitchener this morning and we are both anxiously awaiting Winston’s report. I do not know how fluent his French is, but if he is able to do justice to himself in a foreign tongue, the Belges will have to listen to a discourse the likes of which they have never heard before. I cannot but think that he will stiffen them up.”

The Prime Minister was correct in his opinion. Winston’s arrival at Belgian Headquarters in the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House had a slightly comic flavour about it, but his force and his eloquence put new “heart” into the Belgians, and strengthened their resolve to fight on.

This is what an American war correspondent, wrote of Winston’s arrival in the besieged city: “At one o’clock in the afternoon, a big drab-coloured touring-car filled with
British Naval officers drove down the Place de Mer, its horn sounding a hoarse warning, took the turn into the March-aux-Souliers on two wheels, and drew up in front of the hotel. Before the car had fairly come to a stop the door was thrown violently open and out jumped a smooth-faced, sandy-haired, stoop-shouldered, youthful-looking man in a sharp naval Trinity House uniform, full of gleaming brass buttons and golden thread.”

“As he darted into the crowded lobby which, as usual in the luncheon hour, was filled with Belgian, French and British staff officers, diplomatists, Cabinet Ministers, and correspondents, he flung his arms out in a nervous characteristic gesture, as though pushing his way through a crowd. It was a most spectacular entrance, and reminded me for all the world of a scene in a melodrama where the hero dashes up bare-headed on a foam flecked horse, and saves the heroine, or the old homestead, or the family fortune as the case may be.”

“The Burgomaster stopped him, introduced himself, and expressed his anxiety regarding the fate of the city. Before he had finished Churchill was part way up the stairs. “I think everything will be all right now, Mr Burgomaster,” he called in a voice which could be distinctly heard throughout the lobby. “You needn’t worry. We’re going to save the
city.””

“Although the outer defences of Antwerp had been smashed, the water supply cut, and guns, ammunition and entrenching materials were running low, Winston succeeded in convincing the Belgian staff that with the help that was arriving it was possible to hang on for some time yet.”

 

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When Jack Seely, the ex-Secretary of State for War, arrived from Sir John French’s Headquarters to report on the situation, he wrote: “From the moment I arrived it was apparent that the whole business was in Winston’s hands. He dominated the whole place, the King, Ministers, soldiers, sailors. So great was his influence that I am convinced, that with twenty thousand British troops he could have held Antwerp against almost any onslaught.”

Winston had the same belief himself. If only he were in command he was certain the city could be saved. He was thrilled by the situation and, as with all things that captured his imagination, absorbed in it, to the exclusion of all else. Consequently he sent a message to the Prime Minister which seemed sensible to him but struck his colleagues as extraordinary. He asked Asquith to relieve him of his post at the Admiralty and give him the proper rank, so that he could take over the military command himself.
“I am sure this arrangement will afford the best prospects of a victorious result to an enterprise in which I am deeply involved” he added confidently.

Asquith gasped at the impertinence of an ex subaltern of cavalry asking to command major generals, and so did most of the Cabinet. However, it is interesting to note that Kitchener had a more open mind on the subject: “I will make him a major-general if you will give him the command” he told Asquith.

The Prime Minister remained obdurate. That night he wrote in his diary: “I at once telegraphed to him warm appreciation of his mission and his offer, with a most decided negative, saying that we could not spare him at the Admiralty. I had not meant to read it at the Cabinet but, as everybody, including Kitchener, began to ask how soon he was going to return, I was at last obliged to do so. Winston is an ex-Lieutenant of Hussars and would, if his proposal had been accepted, have been in command of two distinguished major-generals not to mention brigadiers, colonels, etc., while the Navy are only contributing their light brigade.”

In the meantime Winston had wired Kitchener to send two Naval brigades, which he knew could be dispatched at once. This detachment amounted to about six thousand men, inexperienced, ill-equipped and only partially trained. once they arrived, they fought stubbornly and well, and played a vital role in prolonging the resistance, but before the battle ended, nine hundred of the men were taken prisoner, and another two and a half battalions crossed into Holland by mistake, and were captured and interned…

Antwerp fell, in only five days after Winston’s arrival.

But according to the British official history of the war these five days were of incalculable value. “Until Antwerp had fallen, the troops of the investing force were not available to move forward to Ypres and the coast; and though, when they secured Zeebrugge and Ostend without struggle, they were too late to secure Nieuport and Dunkirk and turn the Northern flank of the Allies, as was intended. What seems incredible is that Kitchener failed to grasp the strategic significance of Antwerp, whereas young Winston Churchill fully understood, that serious strategic point, both in the map, as well as in the drama of the warring tactics.”

 

But gong back to Winston’s misadventure in Antwerp; today’s military historians declare that Antwerp would have held, if Lord Kitchener had sent even one measly division of seasoned Territorial soldiers, who were available nearby. Yet General Kitchener had completely underestimated the importance of holding onto Antwerp, and this shows that apart from his lack of overall geographical understanding of the strategic situation away from the immediate battlefield; like many other professional soldiers of his day — he had a disdain for the Territorial Soldiers, so, incongruously enough, he allowed Winston to try his luck with his half-trained Naval brigades and without any seasoned military reinforcements.

And of course, at the time it was impossible for the public to gauge the full significance of the five days of added resistance. People only saw the obvious facts: “Churchill had dashed over to Belgium in an effort to save a city, and a few days later the city had capitulated.”

Furthermore, to the layman it seemed an act of incredible folly to fling raw and badly equipped recruits into the battle. Even the Prime Minister’s son, Brigadier-General Asquith, who took part in the Antwerp fighting, condemned Winston on this account, and this is what his father the Prime Minister, wrote in his diary: “I had a long talk with my son after midnight, in the course of which he gave a full and vivid account of the expedition to Antwerp and the retirement. Marines, of course, are splendid troops and can go anywhere and do anything, but Winston ought never to have sent the two Naval brigades. I was assured that all the recruits were being left behind, and that the main body at any rate consisted of seasoned Naval Reserve men. As a matter of fact, only about a quarter were Reservists and the rest were a callow crowd of the most raw recruits, most of whom had never fired off a rifle while none of them had ever even handled an entrenching tool.”

The Antwerp expedition damaged Winston’s reputation badly. The Conservative Press was beginning to attack him savagely: “Winston Churchill’s characteristics make him in his present position a danger and an anxiety to the nation” stated the Morning Post on the issue of the 15th of October.

It was apparent that even the Prime Minister was losing confidence in him. Although Mr Asquith was still amused by the latter’s highly original approach to military matters, a derisory note was now creeping into his diary. Even so, it is difficult to suppress a smile when one reads the Prime Minister’s account of an interview with Churchill shortly after his return from Belgium: “I have had a long call from Winston who, after dilating in great detail on the actual situation, became suddenly very confidential and implored me not to take a conventional view of his future.”

“Having, as he says, tasted blood these last few days he is beginning, to feel like a tiger, and to crave for more, and begs that sooner or later, and the sooner the better, he may be relieved of his present office and put in some kind of military command. I told him that he could not be spared from the Admiralty.” He scoffed at that, alleging that: “The naval part of the business is practically over, as our superiority will grow greater and greater every month.”

“His mouth waters at the thought of Kitchener’s Armies. Are these glittering commands to be entrusted to dugout trash, bred on the obsolete tactics of twenty-five years ago, mediocrities who have led a sheltered life, mouldering in military routine?”

“For about an hour he poured forth a ceaseless invective and appeal, and I much regretted that there was no shorthand writer within hearing, as some of his un-premeditated phrases were quite priceless. He was, however, three parts serious, and declared that a political career was nothing to him, in comparison with military glory.”

Indeed by now, Winston Churchill’s prestige had declined sharply during the first three months of the war, in which these events took place. Much of the blame heaped on him was unfair, but those are the travails of history, to those that dare to stick up above other men, and to take risks that others fear to even contemplate…

The truth was that Winston Churchill had rendered valuable services to his country consistently, and in many innovative and inventive ways: “Churchill’s small but gallant Naval Air Force was busy scouting for enemy zeppelins and destroying them wherever they found them. Winston’s Dunkirk Circus had fooled the Germans into believing that their flank was threatened by forty thousand men and finally stimulated a German retreat. Winston Churchill’s prolongation of the resistance of Antwerp delayed the enemy’s movement towards Ypres and prevented the capture of Dunkirk.”

Thus it appears that the mounting criticism against Churchill was almost entirely due to his self-assured manner.

All his life he had irritated people by his privately held belief in his own importance. But now that he was in a position of great power, his humour, his exuberance of spirit, and his supreme self-confidence had become an almost overwhelming liability, and he seemed to be indulging in a form of exhibitionism and daring, that appeared as tempting fate, much to the dismay of his colleagues; who watched his exploits, not only with annoyance, and jealousy, but also with ever growing alarm.

Many of these alarmed individuals, including the Prime Minister, genuinely began to doubt Winston’s suitability as a Cabinet Minister, because to the outsiders, he seemed risky, rash, and unstable. And here is the evidence listed: “First there was the speech about “digging the German rats out of their holes” the day before three British ships were sunk. Then the spectacle of the First Lord rushing back and forth from Dunkirk like an excited schoolboy instead of leaving the direction of his private ‘Circus’ to someone else.
Even at the Admiralty the strongest English card — things were not going too well. It was felt that Churchill was wielding far too much authority over the Navy for a civilian, largely due to the indulgent attitude of the First Sea Lord, Prince Louis of Battenberg, father of the present Lord Mountbatten. Prince Louis, it was believed, lacked the necessary vigour and decision to control the dynamic politicians, and Churchill was now dubbed “the amateur Commander-in-Chief.””

As the problems confronting the Navy increased, so did criticism. His problems were mounting as it was recorded in the dailies: “The German ships Emden and Konigsberg were sinking Allied ships in the Indian Ocean. Their sister ships, Goeben and Breslau, had successfully slipped into the Sea of Marmara. And the third pair of destroyers, the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, were menacing the Allied shipping off the west coast of Africa.”

Winston was boldly attacked and for the first time realized that his position at the Admiralty was far from secure. Besides this, criticism of Prince Louis was mounting; not, however, because of the latter’s work as First Sea Lord, but for the cruel reason that he was of German origin.

Winston Churchill knew that he could not defend Prince Louis much longer, against the rising tide of anti-German feeling; he knew, also, that it was imperative to bolster his own position.

He therefore sent for Lord Fisher.

 

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This was written by Lord Beaverbrook: “Churchill co-opted Fisher to relieve pressure against himself, but he had no intention of letting anyone else rule the roost. Here, then, were two strong men of incompatible temper, both bent on autocracy. It only required a difference of opinion on policy to produce a dash, and this cause of dissension was not long wanting.”

However, at first the Churchill-Fisher union, proved a distinct success.

Within a few weeks of swinging into action it scored a notable victory.

Lord Fisher took over as First Sea Lord just as the British Navy was sustaining a sharp defeat.

A cruiser squadron was attacked in overwhelming force off the coast of Chile, by five German warships under the brilliant command of Admiral von Spee.

The British Admiralty was blamed for having sent as a reinforcement, an old battleship capable of steaming at thirteen knots only.

 

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Lord Fisher acted with characteristic force, dispatching the great battlecruisers, HMS Invincible, and the HMS Inflexible, directly to the scene of the action, although this meant seriously weakening the Grand Fleet.

Some idea of Fisher’s extraordinary drive and strength of command, may be gathered from the fact that these two ships were undergoing repairs when their sailing orders arrived. Word came back to the First Sea Lord that the date of their departure would have to be delayed.

To this setback, the old Admiral replied with force to the Admirals and the ship captains that: “They could sail with the workmen onboard if necessary — but sail they would — immediately.”

 

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And indeed these two magnificent battlecruisers sailed off, and went straight towards the Falkland islands, where they ran straight into the German admiral von Spee’s naval attack force. This was achieved by a brilliant stroke of Fisher’s strategic planning, based on advanced intelligence, fortunate ingenuity, and pure British luck.

Immediately admiral Spee’s famously invincible naval squadron, that included the German battleships Gneisenau, and the Scharnhorst, were engaged in battle, and were swiftly annihilated. Admiral von Spee and his two sons were amongst thousands of other sailors, who were killed.

Lord Fisher’s and consequently also Winston’s triumph was complete.

The country was ringing with his praise and Winston wrote to him: “My dear Fisher, this was your show, and your luck. I should have sent only HMS Greyhound and HMS Defence. These would have done the trick. But it was a great coup. Your flair was quite true. Let us have some more victories together and confound all our enemies abroad and (don’t forget) at home.”

 

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At about this same time Fisher wrote to a friend: ‘I am working hard. … It is long and arduous to get back to a good position with a consummate good player for an enemy. But I’m trying. Let him not that putteth his armour on, boast himself, like him that taketh it off.’

Churchill and Fisher agreed not to take any action without each other’s knowledge. They manned the Admiralty for the whole of the twenty four hours around the clock — forming what they called a “perpetual clock.” Fisher rose at four in the morning and finished his work in the early afternoon. Winston began in the late morning and worked through the night. Winston wrote his minutes in red ink, and Fisher in green, and both referred to them as the Port and Starboard Lights.

Both men had great stores of intelligence and respected each other. This made for a great working relationship — and a string of successes, as long as they both agreed on the aims and the means of achieving those aims…

 

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Lord Fisher had strong ideas on strategy. He believed that the fighting in France would prove a fatal deadlock. The proper way to end the war, he argued, was to carry out a huge combined naval and military operation in the Baltic, and place an army behind the enemy’s lines. An enormous naval programme had been authorized by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Fisher now extended it, and began to concentrate on the design of special ships for his Baltic plan. Churchill supported him and the two men agreed that the operation should take place some time in 1915.

Thus, for the first two months, the old Admiral and the young politician worked in close harmony. Then suddenly a fly appeared in the ointment. Turkey had entered the war on Germany’s side two months previously. On the 2nd of January, 1915, an urgent appeal was received from the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia for the Allies to take some action in the Middle East that would draw off Turkish pressure from the Caucasus.
Lord Kitchener pondered over the request but said that he could not spare troops from France. He wrote to Winston: “I do not see that we can do anything that will seriously help the Russians in the Caucasus. The only place where a demonstration might have some effect on stopping reinforcements going East would be the Dardanelles. We shall not be ready for anything big for some months.”

 

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Churchill at once seized upon the idea of forcing the fortresses that flanked the narrow Straits of the Dardanelles by a naval operation alone. This idea had been contemplated more than once in the past but had always been abandoned because it was considered too risky. Although Lord Fisher consented to the plan his instincts were against it and the
quarrel that gradually developed between himself and Winston was the greatest political sensation of World War I. It brought Asquith’s Liberal Government tumbling down; it ended Lord Fisher’s naval career; and it resulted in the curt dismissal of Churchill from the Admiralty.

The failure of the attack on the Dardanelles was the most tragic episode of the First World War. And blame for the failure, fastened on Winston, and pursued him all the way to World War II. Shortly after he became Prime Minister in 1940, a Conservative politician who had fought at Gallipoli, remarked grimly: ‘Whatever Winston does, he does on a colossal scale; he’ll either pull us through in a colossal way, or we’ll have a colossal muck up like the Dardanelles.

What makes the failure seem even more tragic today is the fact that when the first war ended and evidence from both sides was available, most experts came to the conclusion that if a combined military and naval attack had been launched against the Dardanelles it would have succeeded. As a result Turkey would have capitulated, Bulgaria would have been prevented from joining Germany, Russia would not have collapsed, and in all
probability World War I, would have ended in 1915, saving millions of lives.

What is the truth of this bitter, half-forgotten story?

Was Churchill really responsible or merely the scapegoat for the mistakes of others?

The root of the trouble lay in the haphazard, almost amateurish way in which high political decisions were reached in the opening period of the war.

“During the first two months . . . there was no established War Council” wrote Lloyd George in his Memoirs. ‘There were sporadic and irregular consultations from time to time between the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord, between each of them individually and the Prime Minister and, now and again, between the two War Lords and the Prime Minister sitting together. The Foreign Secretary was occasionally brought
in. The War Council was not set up until 25 November, and it replaced the Committee of Imperial Defence, an Advisory body composed of the Prime Minister and five or six other Ministers.

This irregular method of consultation was remarkable enough; but even more remarkable was the fact that, although Churchill had encouraged a spirit of cooperation with the War Office, there was no machinery for consultation between chiefs of staff of the two great services. There was no committee of military and naval experts to study joint planning, or review joint strategy for the war campaigns. As it was, the two services operated, from a technical point of view, in watertight compartments, while questions of strategy became an open tussle between all those who held strong views. In the autumn of 1914, Winston was in favour of a combined attack on Turkey. Lord Fisher was pressing his plan for an amphibious attack in the Baltic. Lloyd George was loudly in favour of an offensive in the Balkans. And Lord Kitchener believed the decisive theatre for the war, was in France.

Indeed this seemed like a madhouse.

Yet, Lord Kitchener dominated the scene, because he was admired, feared, and respected. As a professional soldier raised to the office of Secretary of State for War, he was virtually a General, a Commander-in-Chief, and a Cabinet Minister, all rolled into one.

Besides this, Kitchener, had an immense following in the country.

He was the hero of the British public and no government would have dared to oppose him and face his resignation. As a result, even when a War Council was set up by the Prime Minister, his voice predominated.

Although the Council included such eminent men as Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Arthur Balfour, the Leader of the Conservative Opposition, and the Marquis of Crewe, Secretary of State for India, the only two members who could talk to Kitchener with authority were the Prime Minister,
Mr Asquith, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. Thus the main responsibility for the war rested in effect with these three men.

But despite the fact that Winston was on an equal political footing with Kitchener, he was well aware that he lacked the War Minister’s prestige and authority, because, not only did the great old soldier have the backing of the British public, but the fact that he was a famous general in Egypt when Churchill was an unknown subaltern, gave him an automatic ascendancy.

Also, Kitchener remembered how the young subaltern Winston Churchill had begged him to join his army in 1898, and how, as Commander-in-Chief, he had said “NO” and still Winston had come anyway, and he also bitterly recalled how when the campaign was over, Winston had criticized him for “desecrating the tomb of the horrid Mahdi, who had deserved that since he had murdered all the English people in Sudan, and especially General Gordon.”

But all these incidents were respectably buried in the past, and now both men, regarded each other with genuine good will, collegiate warmth, and mutual esteem. Nevertheless, Kitchener could not help Winston as a subordinate, and as a result did not encourage any real equality or intimacy. Besides, he was cold and reserved by nature, and did not make friends easily. Naturally silent, he disliked communicating his views to anyone save his own military staff.

Winston on the other hand was a born talker, warm and volatile, bubbling over with political and strategic ideas which he liked to develop in conversation. Neither one was attracted to the personality of the other, and the barrier of temperament added one more obstacle in the way of close cooperation between the two fighting services.

 

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This was the background of the story that opened on 2nd of January, 1915, when the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia asked for a diversion in the Middle East to ease Turkish pressure on Russian troops in the Caucasus. Kitchener wrote Churchill a memorandum suggesting a Naval “demonstration” at the Dardanelles. But Lord Fisher at once came forward with a plan for a combined operation which called for seventy five thousand troops. This scheme was promptly rejected, for Kitchener repeated emphatically that no divisions could be spared from the European theatre, because every British soldier must be held in reserve in case of an early spring offensive.

Winston began to study the possibilities of a purely naval assault. He had always believed that an attack on Turkey was the right strategy. But there seemed so little hope of persuading Kitchener to consider it that he had lately given his support to Lord Fisher’s project for a combined offensive in the Baltic. Now it seemed as though events were playing into his hands, and he returned to the idea of an operation in the Middle East with high enthusiasm.

Lord Fisher’s discarded scheme for the Dardanelles had included a naval attack on the outer fortresses of the long, curving straits which led into the Sea of Marmara, on the far shores of which rose Constantinople, the old Byzantine Greco-Roman imperial city that today was called Istanbul, and it was the Turkish capital. The strategic advantages of a successful assault at once became illuminated in Winston’s mind. If the fleet could get past the many fortresses that dotted the steep banks of the Straits and force its way into
the Sea of Marmara, Constantinople might capitulate, and the Allies would be able to join hands with their Russian Allies. Arms could be shipped in and wheat sent out. Besides, the whole Balkan area would be neutralized, leaving Germany and Austria fighting alone.

The more Winston thought of the project the more enthusiastic he became. On the 3rd of January, he wired Admiral Garden, commanding at the Dardanelles: “Do you think that it is a practicable operation to force the Dardanelles opened, by the use of ships alone? It is assumed that older battleships would be employed, that they would be furnished with minesweepers and that they would be preceded by colliers or other merchant vessels as
sweepers and bumpers. The importance of the results would justify severe loss. Let me know what your views are. Two days later Garden replied: “I do not think that the straits of Dardanelles can be rushed, but they might be forced by extended operations with a large number of ships.” This was not a particularly enthusiastic answer, but it was sufficiently encouraging for Churchill. He wired back asking the Admiral to draw up a plan of attack, which he received a week later.

Admiral Garden’s outline was divided into four parts; first the destruction of the outer defences; second, the intermediary defences; third, the defences of the Narrows; and fourth, the sweeping of a clear channel through the minefields and into the Sea of Marmara. From this moment on, Winston was wholeheartedly in favour of an attack by ships alone, and set out determinedly to put the plan into operation. Mr Lloyd George wrote in his Memoirs: “Mr Winston Churchill has been in constant touch with Lord Kitchener and when the former has a scheme agitating his powerful mind, as everyone who is acquainted with his method knows quite well, he is indefatigable in pressing it upon the acceptance of everyone who matters in the decision. … Indeed, he was prepared to act without waiting for an immediate dispatch of troops. His proposal was a purely naval operation in its initial stages.”

On 13th of January the War Council met. Winston put forward his project and all the members, with the exception of Lloyd George, agreed to it. Lord Fisher and Admiral of the Fleet Sir Arthur Wilson were present and made no comment. The conclusions of the Ministers resulted in the following directive: “The Admiralty should prepare for a naval expedition in February to bombard and take the Gallipoli Peninsula with Constantinople as its objective.”

This is what Lord Fisher commented caustically some time later: “This meeting of the 13th is now famous for both the importance and the confusion of its decisions. At that time there was no Cabinet Secretary, and Cabinet Minutes were not taken. As a result neither Lord Fisher nor Admiral Wilson were aware, that any decision had been taken. Very likely the Prime Minister went and wrote it down when the meeting was over.” The Prime Minister, however, claimed that he read it out before the meeting adjourned, but that perhaps Lord Fisher and Admiral Wilson had already left. The next point of confusion was the fact that half the members of the Council were under the impression that the Navy had been ordered merely to prepare for an expedition, while the other half, including Winston Churchill, assumed that definite approval had been given. The third point of confusion concerned the directive itself. The instructions given to the Admiralty to bombard and take the Gallipoli Peninsula with Constantinople as its objective, “were odd to the point of grotesqueness, if a purely Naval expedition was envisaged … it was obviously an impossible task for a fleet acting by itself.”

This is what Cruttwell wrote in a standard History of the Great War: “It was not until Lloyd George became Prime Minister that a Secretariat was established. Winston, however, speculated that if the Fleet could force its way into the Sea of Marmara, the Greek Army might join the Allies. Furthermore, he speculated, that a revolution might take place in Constantinople. He told the War Cabinet that he believed victory could be won without military aid. The Army, he declared, would only come in to “reap the fruits.””

The Sea Lords, on the other hand, regarded the project in an entirely different light. In the Naval Staff conferences that were held at the Admiralty between the 3rd and the 13th of January, not a single Naval expert favoured the attack by ships alone. All of them expressed a strong preference for a combined operation, and on the very day that Churchill first wired Admiral Garden — Admiral Sir Henry Jackson, a high authority at the Admiralty, wrote a memorandum in which he stated: “Assuming the enemy squadrons destroyed and the batteries rushed, they would be open to the fire of field
artillery and infantry and to torpedo attack at night, with no store ships with ammunition, and with no retreat without re-engaging the shore batteries, unless these had been destroyed while forcing the passage. Though they might dominate the city and inflict enormous damage, their position would not be an enviable one, unless there were a large military force to occupy the town.”

How, then, did Winston persuade the Admirals to agree to the Naval operation? He swung them over on the grounds, first, that it was vital to take some action that would help the Russians; second, that the strength of the Grand Fleet would be unimpaired, for only old battleships unfit for service in the North Sea would be used; and third, and most important, that if the operation did not prove successful the Navy could withdraw at
any time. On these conditions the Admirals consented, without enthusiasm. But at the same time that Winston was assuring the Sea Lords that they could break off the bombardment whenever they wished, he sent the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia a telegram on the 19th of January, saying: “It is our intention to press the matter to a conclusion.’ Thus from the very beginning the politician and the Admirals were at cross purposes; and the rift made itself more and more apparent as each week passed.”

First of all, soon after the meeting on the 13th of January, Lord Fisher’s lukewarm consent began to harden into opposition. He strongly urged Churchill not to proceed with the Naval plan unless the Army agreed to immediately send troops, and make it a joint operation. He could not say that the Naval bombardment would fail, but he had little faith in it, and now he began to fear that the expedition might interfere with his own pet project amphibious operations in the Baltic. He wrote to the Prime Minister that
he did not want to attend any more War Councils, and in a private meeting with Asquith and Churchill on 28 January, he told them both that he was becoming increasingly opposed to the Dardanelles.

Since he did not base his objections on the technical difficulties involved but on his preference for his Baltic operation, the two men finally persuaded him. to attend the War Council meeting which was being held the same morning.

 

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However, when the old Sea Lord saw that the Dardanelles expedition was receiving its final blessing, he rose from the table and walked over to the window on the verge of resignation. Lord Kitchener followed him and persuaded him to remain at his post. That same afternoon Churchill and Fisher thrashed the subject out again, and the young politician finally secured the old sailor’s support on the grounds, emphasized again, that the Navy could break off the operation when it liked. Thus the struggle between the two men continued, with one buoyant and confident, and the other doubtful and seriously disapproving.

Two and a half weeks later, Lord Kitchener made an announcement which changed the whole complexion of the operation. Early in February he told the War Council that the situation in France had altered and he felt he might be able to send troops to aid the Naval attack after all Lord Fisher at once took heart and weighed in eagerly with a letter to Winston: “I hope you were successful with Kitchener” he wrote. on the evening of the 16th of February, in getting divisions sent to Lemnos tomorrow. Not a grain of wheat will come from the Black Sea unless there is military occupation of the Dardanelles, and it will be the wonder of the ages that no troops were sent to co-operate with the Fleet with half a million soldiers in England. The war of lost opportunities!!! Why did Antwerp fall? The Haslar boats might go at once to Lemnos, as somebody will land at Gallipoli some time or another.”

Churchill comments on this letter in ‘The World Crisis:’ “I still adhered to the integrity of the Naval plan.”

The rest of the story is well known. For a week Kitchener vacillated, then finally decided to commit troops to the operation, and on the 24th of February informed the War Council that ‘if the Fleet did not get through the Army would see the business through. The effect of a defeat in the Orient would be very serious, he added, and there could be no turning back; and this, of course, altered the whole basis on which the Admiralty had consented to the proposition.

 

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Kitchener sent General Birdwood, and a few weeks later, Sir Ian Hamilton, to the scene of action, in order to report on developments. The Fleet had opened its bombardment of the fortresses on 19 February. For the first ten days all went well, the outer fortresses fell and the attention of the world became riveted on the action. Then suddenly progress stopped. The Turks were putting up a much stiffer resistance and the minesweeping trawlers were unable to stand the fire. General Birdwood telegraphed to Kitchener: “I am very doubtful if the Navy can force the passage unassisted. The following day he sent another telegram: ‘I have already informed you that I consider the Admiral’s forecast is too sanguine, and … I doubt his ability to force the passage unaided.”

However, on 18 March, Admiral de Robeck, who had assumed the Command of the Fleet from Admiral Garden, who was suddenly taken ill, massed all his ships for a decisive attempt. The forts were subjected to an intense bombardment which lasted nearly all day, and by 4 p.m. such damage had been inflicted the enemy had practically ceased firing. As the ships steamed forward victory seemed in sight, but suddenly the vessels struck a row of mines, three were sunk, and four put out of action. This meant that nearly half the Fleet was crippled. Admiral de Robeck wired the Admiralty that “The plan of attack must be reconsidered and means found to deal with floating mines, but that he hoped to renew the operations in a few days time.”

But during the course of the next four days he changed his mind. At a conference on the 22nd he told General Sir Ian Hamilton that “He was now quite clear” he could not get through without a large military force. In order to maintain communications when the Fleet penetrated the Sea of Marmara all gun positions guarding the Straits must be destroyed, and he had come to the conclusion that only a small percentage could be
rendered useless by attack from ships.” Hamilton had already formed a similar impression himself and wired Kitchener three days earlier, “I am being most reluctantly driven to the conclusion that the Straits are not likely to be forced by battleships as at one time seemed probable.”

 

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Churchill received De Robeck’s decision with consternation. He drew
up a telegram ordering De Robeck to continue the attack but Lord Fisher
and the other Admirals refused to send it, declaring that they were not
willing to overrule the Commander on the spot. Naval operations were
never resumed, and from then on the attack became a purely military
affair.

As everyone knows, it ended in heart-breaking failure.

First of all, five long precious weeks were allowed to lapse between the
breaking off of Naval operations and the initial assault of the Army; and
during these weeks, while rumours spread that a military force was gathering, the Turks feverishly strengthened their defences. When troops finally stormed the Gallipoli beaches on 25 April the precious element of surprise was gone, and they were unable to capture vital key points. Then, a week or so later, German submarines began to appear in the Mediterranean, and the Admiralty ordered its most valuable and powerful battleship home. Gradually the Navy pulled out and left the whole task to the Army,
which struggled on the rocky beaches, overlooked by high cliffs in the hands of the enemy, for eight desperate months with an ever-mounting death roll. In December 1915 Gallipoli was evacuated with a cost of a quarter of a million French and British casualties.

 

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But long before the final evacuation, the British public was aware that something was wrong. People saw the Naval attack had failed and assumed that the Army had been called in to pull the Navy’s chestnuts out of the fire. If troops were available why hadn’t they been sent earlier? Who was responsible for the whole blundering idea of an attack by ships alone?

Churchill makes a powerful case for himself in The World Crisis. This brilliant and fascinating book is half history and half autobiography. Sometimes the narrative sweeps forward on a tide of facts, sometimes on a long swell of argument and opinion. The book was written not only to present the events of the time, but to silence the author’s critics and vindicate his statesmanship.

 

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Winston’s account of the Dardanelles reaches an impressive climax, for after the war facts and figures were collected from the enemy, and it became known for certain that the Turkish gunners in the Dardanelles forts had only enough ammunition to fight one, or possibly two, more actions such as that on 18 March. “The Turkish Commander in the Dardanelles was weighed down by a premonition of defeat” writes the official historian. “More than half the ammunition had been expended, and it could not be replaced. The antiquated means of fire control had been seriously interrupted. The Turkish gun crews were demoralized and even the German officers present had, apparently, little hope of successful resistance if the Fleet attacked the next day … A German journalist describes the great astonishment of the defenders of the coastal forts when the attack suddenly ceased. He records that the German Naval gunners who were manning the batteries at Chanak told him later that they had made up their minds that the Fleet would win, and that they themselves could not have held out much longer.”

But even if the Fleet, or what was left of the Fleet, had forced the Straits and sailed into the Sea of Marmara, what would have happened then? Would Constantinople have fallen? Could the Navy have sustained its position?

 

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The greatest authority on the subject, General Liman von Sanders, the German Commander-in-Chief of the Dardanelles defence, who is usually quoted by the historians and whom Winston Churchill himself quotes in other contexts, did not believe that a breakthrough would have been decisive. Obviously feathering his own nest, he claimed this:
“In my opinion even if the Allied Fleet had been successful in breaking
through the Dardanelles and victorious in a sea-fight in the Sea of Marmara, its position would have been scarcely tenable unless the entire shore of the Straits of the Dardanelles were strongly occupied by enemy forces.”
“Should the Turkish troops be successful in holding their positions along
the shores of the Straits, or should they be successful in recapturing these,
then the necessary flow of supplies through ships and colliers would be rendered impossible. Measures of defence taken rendered a landing by troops near Constantinople, who might have lived on the country, almost without prospect of success.”

 

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“A decisive success could only be. gained by the enemy if a landing by
troops upon a great scale occurred either simultaneously with the break-
through by the Fleet or if it preceded this. A landing by troops following
the breakthrough would have been obliged to renounce artillery support
by the Fleet which would have had to occupy itself with other tasks.”

However, the argument as to whether or not the ships could have got
through, and if they had got through whether or not Constantinople
would have fallen, must always remain in the realms of speculation. No
one will ever know the answer. But this is not the main point. Experts
agree that a combined operation against the Dardanelles would have
succeeded. If Winston had not been captivated by the idea of a Naval
attack alone, and had exercised more patience in working out the scheme,
would a co-ordinated plan have emerged?

 

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“I have asked myself in these later years,” Winston writes in The World Crisis, “what would have happened if I had taken Lord Fisher’s advice and refused point blank to take any action at the Dardanelles unless or until the War Office produced on their responsibility an adequate army to storm the Gallipoli Peninsula?”

“Should we, by holding out in this way, have secured a sufficient army and a good plan?”
“Should we have had all the advantages of the Dardanelles policy without the mistakes and misfortunes for which we had to pay so dearly?”

He goes on to say that although no one can probe this “imaginary situation” he does not think that anything less than the “oracular” demonstration and practical proof of the strategic meaning of the Dardanelles, would have made men
sufficiently conscious of the importance of an attack on Turkey, to agree
to send troops.

 

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This, however, is a weak defence, for it must be remembered that on the 16th of February, only two and a half weeks after the Naval operation had received sanction from the War Council, and three days before the bombardment actually began, Kitchener declared that the possibility of sending troops was opening up. If Winston had paused then, as both the brilliant naval innovator Lord Fisher, and Sir Henry Jackson, begged him to do, there is every reason to believe that a combined operation might have been planned and put into operation.

In 1916, Parliament authorized the setting up of a Royal Commission, composed often of the ablest and most distinguished men in public life, “for the purposes of inquiring into the origin, inception, and conduct of operations of war in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli.” Lord Kitchener died before he could give evidence, but the Commissioners made it clear that the three most responsible members of the War Council were the Prime Minister, the War Minister and the First Lord of the Admiralty. They then went on to say: ‘We do not think that the War Council were justified in coming to a decision without much fuller investigation of the proposition which had been suggested to them that “the Admiralty should bombard and take Gallipoli Peninsula with Constantinople as its objective.”

We do not consider that the urgency was such as to preclude a short adjournment to enable the Naval and military advisers of the Government to make a thorough examination of the question. We hold that the possibility of making a surprise amphibious attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula offered such great military and political advantages that it was mistaken and ill-advised to sacrifice this possibility by hastily deciding to undertake a purely Naval attack which from its nature could not attain
completely the object set out in the terms of the decision.

 

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The Royal Commission declared that Churchill had not been guilty of any “incorrect” behaviour, and had always acted with the concurrence, unwilling though it may have been, of his naval advisers.

Their final judgment was that although he bore a heavy responsibility he did not bear it alone. Asquith and Kitchener were just as much to blame. But the other judgment, that of his colleagues within the House of Commons — was far more severe. Mainly because they knew that Winston Churchill, was the most dynamic member of the trio. They also knew that he possessed formidable powers of persuasion. This unique and formidable power, coupled with his impetuosity — they claimed — made him a danger to the country.

Imagine that…

He may not have been solely responsible, but without him, they argued, the whole disastrous operation would never have taken place. As far as strategy was concerned, he was right.

Tactically, he blundered. The methods of the plan’s execution, and his erratic and less than courageous executive officers failed him, and that is what “killed him” in the estimation of both Parliament and Society.

Thirty years later Winston Churchill went on to write: “I was ruined for the time being over the Dardanelles, and a supreme enterprise was cast away, through my trying to carry out a major and cardinal operation of war, from a subordinate position. Men are ill-advised to try such ventures.”

To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | September 10, 2017

What Would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 32)

Those days, Winston Churchill was thinking of war, with the gathering storm fiercely illuminated in his mind, as he set out to learn all he could about military and foreign affairs.

And yet he still thought about how to avert the looming clouds of war from forming above Europe’s and England’s head.

It was at moments like these that the words from the poem of A. E. Housman’s: ‘A Shropshire Lad,’ kept running through his head:

“On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the sound of streams,
Far I hear the distant drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.

Far and near and low and louder,
On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
Soldiers marching, all to die.

East and West on fields forgotten
Bleach the bones of comrades slain,
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;
None that go return again.

For the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I shall rise.”

The British Parliament was not in session, but Wilson Churchill remained in London throughout the hot weeks of August, studying military tactics and naval battles assidiously, devouring documents and picking the brains of General Wilson, the Director of Military Operations, and Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary. Sir Grey, the Foreign Secretary, and Winston Churchill, often met in the late afternoon, and strolled across the park together towards the Royal Automobile Club for a swim in the big pool, so they had ample time to talk in private…

Churchill did not suffer from timidity and before a fortnight had passed he was offering advice to both General Wilson and General Grey of the High Command. He soon began to bombard the whole of the British Cabinet with suggestions and directives signed “W.S.C.” The first of these was entitled Military Aspects of the Continental Problem Memorandum by Winston Churchill.

This outline suggested that the War Office took too sanguine a view of the potential resistance of the French Army. Winston Churchill prophesied that by the twentieth day the French would be “driven from the line of the Meuse and will be falling back on Paris and the South.”

He then went on to say that he believed by the fortieth day — the Germans would be extended at full strength, both internally, and on their war fronts, and that if the French Army had not been squandered — the Allies should be able to execute their main bold counterstroke.

At the time, and as Churchill surely expected — General Wilson, referred to the document as “ridiculous and fantastic” a “silly memorandum” but subsequent historical events, and the fighting on the French front during the war, proved that Winston Churchill was spot-on and absolutely right.

As a matter of fact, the Battle of the Marne, was lost by Germany on the forty-second day,

Winston’s passionate concern with the German menace, induced the Prime Minister to invite him to join the Committee of Imperial Defense. This was virtually an Inner Cabinet. Its members consisted of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the War Minister, Lord Haldane. The Committee met on 23 August to consider what action Britain would take if France were attacked. And at this particular meeting it was disclosed that a vital and astonishing difference of opinion existed between the War Office and the Admiralty. Lord Haldane, as War Minister, had built up an Expeditionary Force to go abroad as soon as war started. Plans had been drawn up in conjunction with French staff officers for British troops to strengthen the French left wing, as rapidly as possible.

 

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Incredible as it may seem, there had been no joint consultation with the Navy, and the Admiralty had made no plans for conveying the Force across the Channel. In fact, the Admiralty did not want an army sent across the Channel. The sailors were certain that the Navy could handle the situation alone. They would sink the German Fleet, and blockade the German ports, and soon the whole conflict would be over. This was the
gist of the remarks made at the meeting by the Admiralty spokesman who urged that Lord Haldane’s Expeditionary Force be abandoned and that the Army concentrate its attention on small raids on the German coast in conjunction with the Navy.

 

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Needless to say Lord Haldane left the meeting greatly perturbed. He could expect no help from his colleague, Reginald McKenna, the First Lord of the Admiralty, for although McKenna had courageously pressed for a full-blooded naval programme, he supported the Admiralty view as far as strategy was concerned. It was clear to Haldane that McKenna must be removed to another office, and a new First Lord appointed. He wrote
to the Prime Minister a strong letter: “I have after mature consideration come to the conclusion that this, in the existing state of Europe, is the gravest problem which confronts the Government today; and that, unless it is tackled resolutely, I cannot remain in office. Five years’ experience of the War Office has taught me how to handle the Generals and how to get the best out of them; and I believe that the experience makes me the best person to go to the Admiralty and carry through, as thorough a reorganization there, as I have carried out at the War Office. In any event, I am determined that things at the Admiralty shall not remain any longer as they are.”

 

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Haldane was a man of great intellect and broad vision. He had done a brilliant job in reorganizing the Army along modern lines. He was admired by his colleagues and respected by his opponents. He was a lifelong Liberal and a close friend of Asquith. He was eager to take on the Admiralty job…

But, history was made when Winston was selected for the job. Who knows what made Asquith choose Churchill instead?

Of course there is no doubt that Asquith was deeply impressed by Winston’s dynamic ability. He always read his memoranda carefully; they were unfailingly concise and well-written, which appealed to his legal mind.
This is what Winston wrote about the appointment: “I believe I owed the repeated advancements to great offices which he accorded me, more to my secret writing on Government business than to any impressions produced by conversations or speeches on the platform or in Parliament.”

 

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Besides, Asquith was amused by Winston Churchill whom he often referred to as “my right honourable and picturesque colleague.” There were several strong arguments in Winston Churchill’s favour. First, the Admiralty might be induced to accept the policy of the War Office, if someone other than the War Minister took on the job. Second, it would be an advantage to keep the First Lord in the Commons. Third, Asquith undoubtedly felt that it was wise to keep the rebellious Churchill fully occupied and using his energies constructively. Finally, Lloyd George had always urged Asquith strongly, to appoint Winston Churchill in the cabin.

The Prime Minister invited the two Ministers to join him on a holiday in Scotland. Winston Churchill arrived two days before Haldane and on the second afternoon, as they were leaving the golf course, Asquith suddenly asked him if he would like to go to the Admiralty. “Indeed I would” replied Winston. The Prime Minister then said that they must discuss the matter with Haldane, when he arrived the following day. It must have been an extraordinary meeting, with Asquith sitting as the imperturbable judge, and Haldane and Churchill, advancing with all their skill and forensic ability the reasons why each considered himself the right man for the job.

 

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Haldane gave an account of it in a letter to Sir Edward Grey: “Asquith asked me to see him first alone, and then with Winston. I did so without mincing matters. Winston was very good, reasoned that if he went there in the Admiralty, he would work closely with me at the War Office, in the spirit of his father, who had always said that there ought to be a common administration. I felt, however, that, full of energy as he is, he does not know his problem or the vast field of thought that has to be covered. Moreover, though I did not say this to him, I feel that it was only a year since he had been doing his best to cut down mechanized armies, and that the Admiralty would receive the news of his advent with dismay; for they would think — wrongly or rightly — that as soon as the financial pinch begins, to come eighteen months from now, he would want to cut down. He is too apt to act first and think afterwards, though of his energy and courage one cannot speak too highly.”

Several days later the Prime Minister wrote to Haldane that he had decided in favour of Churchill: “The main and, in the longer run, the deciding factor with me in a different sense, has been the absolute necessity for keeping the First Lord in the Commons.”

Churchill was overjoyed with the appointment. Now he was sure of his mission. When he was undressing for bed, on the night Asquith had first suggested the Admiralty to him, he picked up the Bible from his table and opened it at random.

His eyes fell on the following passage: “Hear, O Israel, Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven.”

“A people great and tall, and children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak? Understand therefore this day, that the Lord thy God, is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face; so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord has said unto thee.”

To Winston Churchill’s strongly Christian and deeply religious, mind and heart, it seemed “a message full of reassurance, hope, and promise.”

 

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Churchill threw himself into his new job heart and soul. Like the other Government departments which he had controlled, the Admiralty at once felt the impact of his powerful personality. He began by heightening the drama of an already dramatic situation. First of all he ordered that Naval Officers, as well as resident clerks, must remain on duty all night at the Admiralty so that if a surprise attack came, not a moment would be lost in giving the alarm. Second, he gave instructions for a huge chart of the
North Sea to be hung on the wall of his room. Every day a staff officer marked the positions of the German Fleet with appropriate flags as well as latitudinally and longitude correct positions.

This is how Churchill put it: “I made a rule to look at this chart once every day when I first entered my room. I did this less to keep myself informed, for there were many other channels of information, than in order to inculcate in myself and those working with me a sense of ever present danger. In this spirit we all worked.”

Winston Churchill’s overall commission was to put the Fleet into “a state of instant and constant readiness for war” in case we are attacked by Germany. Behind these broad instructions two immediate tasks confronted him: First, to set up a Naval War Staff, such as the Army possessed, which would give all its time to the study of strategy and tactics; second, to maintain close co-operation with the War Office and concert the fighting plans
of the two services.

Churchill at once put himself in touch with Lord Fisher, that brilliant, explosive, astonishing old man of seventy-one, who had recently retired as First Sea Lord and was regarded by many as “the greatest sailor since Nelson.” Lord Fisher was living in retirement in Italy. He had burning black eyes, a rugged face and a fiery temperament. The passion of his life was the Navy, and in this field he was a genius. When he first joined the service in 1854 the Navy’s ships still carried sails, many had no auxiliary-
steam and none had armour. He grew up in a period of change and was fascinated by the amazing new developments. When he became First Sea Lord himself, the changes came fast and furiously and soon the British Fleet was far ahead of all others in modern and efficient design. Lord Fisher scrapped dozens of ships which he declared could “neither fight nor run away.” He reorganized the Navy’s educational system, introduced the
submarine, and replaced the Battle Fleet’s twelve-inch guns with thirteen point fives, the biggest naval artillery cannons ever tried to be placed onboard the Royal Nay up to his days as the First Lord of the Admiralty.

Of course by being an agent of change and by carrying out these seismic changes ‘Jackie’ Fisher made many enemies who called him names and also undermined his work. Does that remind you of anything going on today with President Donald Trump?
Lord Fisher was called: “Ruthless, relentless and remorseless,” and these were the kindest were words that he often repeated proudly, and in jest when asked to describe himself. Yet through his terrific drive, unsurpassed industry, and his pig-headedness, he struck at his opponents savagely. He branded as traitors those who opposed him either secretly or openly, and boasted childishly that ‘their wives should be widows, their children fatherless, and their homes a dunghill. This threat was not altogether meaningless for he ruined the professional career of more than one officer, who opposed his policies. Those in Fisher’s favour were described as being “in the Fish-pond,” and woe betide those who were not. Needless to say, Fisher’s enemies grew in number. His chief adversary was Lord Charles Beresford, the Commander-in-Chief of the Channel, or principal, Fleet. Soon the Navy was divided into two camps Fisher’s men and Beresford’s men and every sort of intrigue and warfare was carried on between the two rival sections. The final result was Fisher’s resignation. Nevertheless when 1914 came it was
the ships that Fisher and the First Lord, McKenna, had built between the years 1906 and 1911, in the face of Winston Churchill’s powerful opposition — that were ready to face the enemy.

Winston Churchill, had first met Sir John Fisher, as he was then, in Biarritz in 1907. They had talked far into the night and although the young man did not agree with the old man’s belief in the necessity for a large Navy, they recognized each other as kindred spirits; they were unconventional, forceful and daring. And what more — they both liked a storm…

Churchill now sent for Lord Fisher who acceded and accepted the appointment, and swiftly came home from Italy, and the two men spent three days discussing naval problems. Fisher’s ideas were as vehement, as brilliant and stimulating as ever. He impressed Churchill so deeply that the latter toyed with the idea of reappointing him First Sea Lord then and there. If Fisher had dropped the slightest hint, Churchill would have spoken, but for the moment the thought passed.

Nevertheless, Lord Fisher became Winston Churchill’s inspiration and ally. From then on the old man bombarded the young First Lord with dozens of forceful, amusing and valuable letters which arrived at the Admiralty fastened together, sometimes with a ribbon, sometimes with a pearl pin. The letters began breezily: ‘My beloved Winston’ and ended ‘Yours to a cinder’, ‘Yours till hell freezes’, or ‘Till charcoal sprouts’. ‘Alas,’ wrote
Winston in The World Crisis, ‘there was a day when hell froze and charcoal sprouted and friendship was reduced to cinders; when “My beloved Winston” had given place to “First Lord: I can no longer be your colleague.”

Meanwhile, with Lord Fisher’s unofficial aid and backing, Winston set about to learn his business and do his job. Out of two years and nine months that remained before war was to begin, he “spent” nearly eight months afloat in the Admiralty yacht Enchantress. He visited every important ship. At the end, “I knew what everything looked like and where everything was, and how one thing fitted into another. I could put my hand on anything that was wanted and knew the current state of our naval affairs.” Indeed, Winston not only worked for the Navy, he lived for it. His sense of drama was deeply stirred, for he saw beyond the ships themselves to the broad horizon.

The following extract from The World Crisis reveals how romantically he visualized the charge that had been entrusted to him:

“Consider these ships, so vast in themselves, yet so small, so easily lost to sight on the surface of the waters. Sufficient at the moment, we trusted, for their task, but yet only a score or so. They were all we had. On them, as we conceived, floated the might, majesty, dominion and power of the British Empire. All our long history built up century after century, all our great affairs in every part of the globe, all the means of livelihood and safety for our faithful, industrious, active population, depended upon them.
Open the sea-cocks and let them sink beneath the surface as another Fleet was one day to do in another British harbour far to the North, and in a few minutes, half an hour at the most, the whole outlook of the world would be changed. The British Empire would dissolve like a dream; each isolated community struggling forward by itself; the central power of union broken; mighty provinces, whole Empires in themselves, drifting hopelessly out of control, and falling prey to strangers; and Europe after one sudden convulsion passing into the iron grip of the Teuton and of all that the Teutonic system of Totalitarianism meant.”

With this conception of the Navy’s great role it is not surprising that Churchill was thrilled by his task. He kept his promise to Haldane and worked in the closest co-operation with the military experts. The War Minister quickly overcame his disappointment at not being appointed to the Admiralty himself, and soon wrote to his mother: “Winston and L.G. dined with me last night, and we had a very useful talk. This is now a very harmonious Cabinet. It is odd to think that three years ago I had to fight
these two for every penny for my Army Reform. Winston is full of enthusiasm about the Admiralty, and just as keen as I am on the war staff. It is delightful to work with him. L.G. has also changed his attitude and now is very friendly to your bear, whom he used to call the Minister of Civil Slaughter.”

Lloyd George, however, did not share Winston’s emotional excitement over the danger of Germany. Winston thrived on the drama. He flung himself into the preparations with grim determination but at the same time with a certain exhilaration. Lloyd George, on the other hand, was not convinced that war was inevitable. He insisted that every effort should be made to placate Germany; to remove her grievances, and to try to arrive at a sensible understanding about armaments. He impressed Sir Edward Grey with his arguments and an unofficial emissary was sent to Berlin to contact the Kaiser and pave the way for serious conversations.
The basis of the British point of view was quite simple: Britain had no objection to German military strength or German colonial expansion; but if Germany insisted on rivalling British sea-power, on which the whole security of the British Island depended, a dash would indeed come. The Kaiser sent word that he would be glad to discuss the problem with the British Government, and consequently Lord Haldane was sent to Berlin.

 

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While Haldane was on his mission Churchill went to Glasgow to inspect some shipbuilding works on the Clyde. He picked up an evening newspaper and read a speech by the Kaiser to the Reichstag announcing large increases both in the Army and the Navy. Once again Churchill felt a sensation of approaching danger. A sentence which particularly struck him was this: ‘It is my constant duty and care to maintain and to strengthen on land and water, the power of defence of German people, which has no
lack of young men to bear arms.

Winston Churchill’s ire was roused. He decided that someone should speak publicly, speak plainly and speak now. Consequently he spoke himself in Glasgow the following day saying: “This island, has never been, and never will be, lacking in trained and hardy marines bred from their boyhood up to the service of the sea.”

The Germans did not object to this warning. After all it was tit for tat. But what enraged them was the opening paragraph of Winston’s address: “The purposes of British naval power are essentially defensive. We have no thoughts, and we have never had any thoughts of aggression, and we attribute no such thoughts to other great Powers. There is, however, this difference between the British naval power and the naval power of the great and friendly Empire of Germany. The British Navy is to us a necessity and, from some points of view, the German Navy is to them more in the nature of a luxury. Our naval power involves British existence. It is existence to us; it is expansion to them. . . .’

The word “luxury,” it appeared, had an unfortunate significance when translated into German. “The luxus Flotte,” wrote Churchill, “became an expression passed angrily from lip to lip all the way to the ears of the Kaiser himself.” But the Germans were not only angry — they were shocked. The Kaiser regarded young Churchill as a personal friend. After all, the latter had twice been the monarch’s guest at maneuvers in 1906 and 1909; besides, the Crown Prince had been a fellow visitor with Winston at a weekend house party, and they had even had a pillow fight together. Winston had been one of the leaders of the pacifist wing in England, and had always spoken kindly of Germany. The Kaiser had been delighted when he read of the appointment, and had interpreted it as a triumph for the pro-German element in England. It was as rude an awakening as Lloyd George’s Mansion House speech.

The English were unpredictable indeed…

Winston Churchill’s speech was not only criticized in Germany but also was hugely criticized back at home.

The Government considered it precipitous and rash, and the Tories went around saying, “What can you expect from a fellow like that?” Haldane, however, returned from Germany and declared that it had helped rather than hindered. It had emphasized the very points he had been making. However, as far as the Germans were concerned, it failed to produce the desired result. Germany continued her naval programme and in March Churchill declared that Britain would build two more ships than she had the previous year. He made one more conciliatory gesture: “Suppose we were both to take a naval holiday in 1913 and introduce a blank page into the book of misunderstanding.” This proposal was received by Germany in icy silence. Churchill returned his attention to preparations for war.

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One of Winston’s first tasks at the Admiralty was to create a Naval War Staff in the face of stiff naval opposition. The professional sailors declared that a War Staff would undermine and divide the all-powerful authority of the First Sea Lord, diminishing rather than increasing efficiency. Fisher wrote to a friend on the 7th of November, 1911: “The argument for a War Staff is that you may have a fool as First Sea Lord, and so you put him in commission, as it were.” Churchill, however, had agreed to set up the new Staff and he pushed ahead with his task despite the fact that the First Sea Lord resigned, and the Second, and Third Sea Lords, had to be replaced.

Haldane helped him to work out the plans for the organization but when Winston announced his startling intention of bringing the Naval War Staff directly under himself, a politician, rather than under the First Sea Lord, a sailor, Haldane objected stoutly and won his point.

Despite this concession, many admirals were still far from satisfied. Even though the new body was under the direction of the First Sea Lord they felt that the Chief of the Naval Staff was bound to clash in authority with his superior. Lotd Fisher advised Winston to overcome the difficulty by declaring that the First Sea Lord would automatically become Chief of the Naval Staff, but Churchill did not accept his suggestion. Time proved Fisher right but it was not until Winston had left the Admiralty and Jellicoe had become First Sea Lord that the two offices were combined. Since Lord Fisher’s position was completely unofficial he had no power to alter decisions of high policy. He therefore concerned himself with influencing appointments. Who, for instance, was to command the principal Fleet when war broke out?

Fisher was an ardent supporter of Jellicoe and argued his case strongly with Winston. The latter acted on his recommendation and some idea of Fisher’s triumphant satisfaction may be gleaned from a letter he wrote to a friend: “My two private visits to
Winston were fruitful. I’ll tell you the whole secret of the changes to get Jellicoe Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet prior to October 1914, which is the date of the battle of Armageddon. He will succeed Callaghan automatically in two years from December 1911, so will have all well in hand by the before-mentioned date. “Nunc Dimittis.” Everything revolved around Jellicoe.”

“Nunc Dimittis” indeed, because Lord Fisher’s forecast of the beginning of the war, coming to be correct within two months, gives some idea of the shrewd judgment of the old man.

About the same time that Churchill appointed Jellicoe, he picked the youngest Flag Officer in the Fleet for his private secretary. This was the same naval officer who had moved his gunboat up the Nile in support of the Cavalry Lancers in their charge against the Mahdi’s Dervishes at Omdurman, of Sudan, and indeed it was the same young man who had thrown overboard from the railings, a bottle of champagne towards Winston who caught it from the shore and promptly drunk it with his fellow soldiers. His name was David Beatty, and before World War I had ended, he had succeeded to Jellicoe’s command.

Lord Fisher approved of Beatty, but he did not approve of several other important appointments that Churchill made on his own initiative. In fact, he was furious. He wrote to Winston in heated indignation and announced that their relations were at an end: “I consider, you have betrayed the Navy by these three appointments, and what the pressure could have been to induce you to betray your trust, is beyond my comprehension.”

With that he packed his bags and left for Naples, Italy to vacation at his Mediterranean villa…

Winston behaved almost like a jilted lover, a lovelorn suitor, or like an abandoned fiancé waiting at the altar… He immediately started sending a stream of seriously strong and emotionally charged letters begging Fisher to return. Then he badgered him with requests for his advice on this matter and that, and got other people to do the same.
Fisher remained obdurate. Finally Churchill went after him. It so happened that the Prime Minister had agreed to accompany Winston through his tours throughout
the Mediterranean sea in the Admiralty yacht with the object of visiting Kitchener in Egypt, where the latter was serving as British Agent and Consul-General, and talking over problems of strategy. When the conversations finished, Churchill headed for Naples, and Asquith reinforced all of the various stratagems, and Winston Churchill’s pleas, for the old man to return. Still Lord Fisher remained adamant. Then Churchill employed feminine subtlety. On Sunday morning they all went to the English service. In the middle of the sermon the chaplain looked at Fisher, and said solemnly: “No man possessing all his powers and full of vitality has any right to say: “I am now going to rest, as I have had a hard life,” for he owes a duty to his country and fellow men.” With this last straw, finally Lord Fisher relented, and returned to England, and the powerful, official combine, went into action once again.

Considering the fact that both men were pugnacious, opinionated and autocratic — some  quarrels were to be expected. What is surprising however, is the unusual feat that their alliance worked as well as it did.

The two most formidable decisions taken by the Churchill-Fisher combine, were first, to advance the navy’s guns, from the thirteen-point-five-inch gun to the fifteen-inch, and second, to change the entire Navy over from coal to oil.

These innovations took place during 1912-13. At this time a fifteen-inch gun had not even been designed. Yet there was no time to test it. A valuable year would have been lost. On the other hand, if the ships would not stand the stress of these guns firing their hell heaving blazes — the British Royal Navy, could have become a ghastly fiasco. However, the experts all assured Churchill that the gun would work well with the ships, and declared that they were ready to stake their professional careers upon it; and Lord Fisher urged Churchill forward with passionate insistence. “What was it that enabled Jack Johnson to knockout his opponents?” he argued. “It was the Big Punch. Winston went ahead with the changes, and as the Germans were soon to learn — the result was more than satisfactory.”

The new guns led to the change-over from coal to oil. Striking power, Fisher declared, was not enough. Speed was absolutely essential, and ships run with diesel oil, gave a large advantage of speed and maneuverability through reaching flank speed way faster, over those that were sailing with coal. Furthermore they had another greater advantage, because they could be refueled, at sea through the oilers. Of course, the obvious disadvantage, and serious drawback to the whole idea of modernizng the fleet, was the fact that Britain produced coal and not oil, and all the Coal industrialists as well as the politicians from the coal producitng regions, along with the moneyed Colliers, and their wealthy Bankers, were agitating against the “Change.”

Still, Churchill as the First Lord of the Admiralty, listened to all the sides politely, and pondered over the difficulties, of the “Change,” while once again Lord Fisher pressed him furiously on. In order to  deflect unwanted attention, and in order to manage the whole “Change” of the fleet’s “energy dynamics” affair diplomatically — Winston set up a Royal Commission on Oil Supply and appointed the old man Fisher, as it’s chairman. The final outcome was foresworn to come in his favor and thus Winston’s foregone conclusion of modernization of the Fleet, came through, and was soon followed by a long term contract with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company which, for an initial investment of 2,000,000, later increased to 5,000,000, secured the necessary oil and gave the Government a controlling share in oil properties which increased their value many hundred-fold over time. Indeed in 1951 this same winsome British interest became the subject of dangerous controversy…

Because the new guns and the change-over to oil, involved enormous expense. Winston Churchill’s Naval Estimates presented to the Cabinet at the end of 1913 were the highest in British history, and the highest in the world. The figure was over 50,000,000 pounds. The Cabinet gasped, and for the first time since Lloyd George and Churchill had been colleagues in the same Government, they found themselves desperately opposed to one another. Each threatened to resign unless the other gave way…

The relationship between Lloyd George and Churchill altered during the years 1911 and 1912. The two men remained staunch friends but the political affinity ended. No longer did they fasten on their armour and walk out to do battle on the same ground. They stood firmly together over the Agadir incident, but when the crisis faded, Churchill was a different man.

He could not turnback to domestic affairs. His interest in reform the local insurance or the homefront banking system, had evaporated. And indeed, he no longer found it amusing to bait the Lords, the rich landlords, or the errant banker-wankers.

Yet Lloyd George had the opposite reaction…

As soon as the Agadir incident’s German scare, and the threat of imminent war, had passed — he returned eagerly to the battle on the home front. How could the destruction of war compare for excitement with the construction of peace?
As Chancellor of the Exchequer he had a finger in every pie, and 1911-12 were full years. They were the years of the stormy Parliament Bill, of the railway strike, the dock strike and the coal strike, and indeed were the years of growing violence in the suffrage movement; of a new Home Rule Bill and of a Welsh Disestablishment Bill; and most importantly of all — the years of Lloyd George’s greatest triumph the National Health Insurance Act. This was the first step towards the NHS, the Health Service that exists in Britain today and its initiation aroused as much furious opposition among the doctors and the Tories as its successor did in 1946. The Insurance Act operated by both
employers and employees contributing to weekly “stamps.” Punch ran a cartoon with an angry Duchess exclaiming: “What! Me lick stamps!” and a correspondent, in a letter to the Daily Mail, declared: “If the Insurance Bill becomes law it will be advisable for us to leave England.” Does that remind you of anything going on today, when upon the huge electoral victory and the convening of the Trump administration — all the shallow & errant celebrities of Hollywood along with the doyens of television, and all that flimsy entertainment culture, threaten to leave the Country, yet stay back to enjoy the economic surge, the increases in national security, and the national pride advancements, made possible only through his steady hand.

Still back in the day, Lloyd George was puzzled and a little irritated that Winston was unable to arouse any enthusiasm over these exciting measures. He told Mrs Masterman that Churchill was taking “less and less part in home politics, and getting more and more absorbed in boilers.”

This was true of Winston…

Indeed, he could never take up a subject without overflowing, and focusing into it to an exclusive degree, thus solving intractable problems that had bedeviled other lesser leaders for decades. He stayed with the problem and it’s potential solutions, far longer than any other man and he also worked more than any living breathing soul. Sadly this was a fact, which most of his colleagues objected strongly, exactly because they were the lesser men, who preferred the banter and the good times at the Public house or at the Parliament’s club rooms, to the lonely pursuits of one’s study hall rigors. As it turns out, even Lloyd George complained, that Winston would bear down on him saying: “Look here, David, I want to talk to you,” and then he would “declaim for the rest of the morning about his blasted ships.”

Lloyd George once told him in a reproving voice: “You have become a water creature Winston. Do You think we all live in the sea? Why are all your thoughts devoted to sea life, fishes and other aquatic creatures? You seem to forget that most of us live on land.”

But Winston helped significantly, and also worked hard, on the Insurance bill. Indeed he worked the subject, and spoke to people about it tirelessly, and he succeeded, and thus the friendship survived, while each man marched along his own particular path. Lloyd George still regarded the landed proprietors of the large estates, as sworn enemies of society. One time, he declared: “The land, is still shackled with the chains of feudalism, and he began to formulate a Land Act that would revive agriculture; fix rents and tenures; tackle housing and promote slum clearance.
He announced, that “The squire is God, the parson, the agent, the gamekeeper — these are his priests. The pheasants, the hares these are the sacred birds and beasts of the tabernacle.” Lloyd George was just getting under way when the “Marconi scandal” broke, which, as it turned out, proved no scandal at all. Much like the Russia, Russia, Russia, cries of the deluded Mass Media of the United States today — back then it was all Marconi this, and Marconi that, and it all ended up, being a rather wet squib. The whole story, was that the Tories claimed that Lloyd George, and two other Liberal Ministers, had used inside knowledge to gamble in Marconi wireless company shares and their insider trading had returned sizable profits.
The House of Commons set up an inquiry which found that (a) the Ministers held very few shares, (b) they had indeed made themselves a nice fat loss, and not a profit. They had done nothing dishonourable, and the worst they could be accused of was stupidity and indiscretion, if they had had prior knowledge of the stock movements and couldn’t see their way straight to put it to their advantage… Imagine that… The liberals rigging the system, and then falling foul of it. It’s a bit like the story of Hillary Clinton rigging the elections with the help of the DNC, and their head, one non entity from Florida, named Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who couldn’t see a scandal she wouldn’t pipe smoke.  These fine specimen’s of corrupt politicians, with the help of the Obama administration, had rigged the Elections of 2016 tight, in favor of the Deplorable Queen Hillary Clinton, and then suffering from a serious case of premature ejaculation, had pulled the trigger early and had wasted their ammunition by stealing the primary from uncle Dufus Bernie Sanders, thus attacking their own loyal sheepdog, and then were left naked for the General Election. So as the general election of 2016 rolled over, the corrupt Dems were found, bent over, with their panties down around their ankles, and here comes the big white hunter… and the rest is History.

Still in the days of the non existent Marconi scandal — Winston stood by Lloyd George
firmly, and honorably throughout the whole ordeal. And when it was over, and the winds had shifted — the National Liberal Club gave a fancy dinner in honor of the three pilloried Ministers. As usual, Winston arrived at the club late, found the door locked, and had to climb through the pantry window, to gain admittance. He made it on time to miss the food, but he still had ample drink, and gave a dramatic and rousing speech, declaring that these men “had been vilely and damnably ill-treated in our cause, and for our sake. The whole agitation, had been concocted by the polecats of politics.”

Same as today’s agitation about the Russia – Russia – Russia fake news scandal about the rigged elections is an attempt by the Democrats to cover their own Election Rigging machinations that cost them dearly, and will continue to cost them as more and more cases of Electoral fraud committed by the Democrats in States like New Hamshire, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and California. These Election rigging scandals of 2016, are uncovered daily now and they are going to determine the elections of 2018 and beyond… These political polecats of today, like the Obama and the Clinton corruption machinists of the Democratic party, are dangerous because they do the bidding of our enemies that seek to tear us apart.

Yet back in the British Politics of England’s pre-war days, the friendship between these two leaders of men, Loyd George and Winston Churchill, continued steadfastly, in spite of vicissitudes and differing opinions. Then came Winston’s huge Naval Estimates, and for the first time LG’s loyalty underwent a severe strain. Lloyd George needed all the revenue he could raise for his social reforms, and he didn’t want to spend it adrift at sea, equipping the greatest fleet in the World — the Royal Navy, especially in what he now regarded as becalmed weather…

Besides, he did not believe in big ships.

He took the view, which had some important naval support, that destroyers and light cruisers were just as effective as dreadnoughts and far less costly. Also, Winston had made a bargain with him over expenditure, and had not kept it. Winston, on the
other hand, refused to budge. “L.G. is accustomed to deal with people who can be bluffed and frightened, but I am not to be bluffed and frightened.” he told a friend. “He says that some of the Cabinet will resign. Let them resign…”

As the weeks passed, the situation became more and more critical for neither man would give way. Each said he would rather resign. Early in January Lloyd George gave an astonishing interview to the Daily Chronicle, calling for a reduction in armaments on the grounds that the international sky had never been “more perfectly blue.” Lord Riddell, a newspaper proprietor who was a close friend of both, recorded the following excerpts
in his Diary: 17 January, 1913: Lloyd George said: “The P.M. must choose between Winston and me … We now ascertain for the first time that Winston has exceeded the estimates by no less than 5,000,000 quid. That is gross extravagance … I am not a “little Navy” man. I don’t want to reduce the Navy. I only want reasonable economy. I am not fighting about that.”

LG went on: “Winston says he can make no more reductions. The truth is he is not a
Liberal. He does not understand Liberal sentiment.”

On 18th of January: Winston Churchill said: “I don’t know how long I shall be here at the Admiralty. The position is acute. I cannot make further economies. I cannot go back on my public declarations. L.G. will find the Cabinet with me. The P.M. is committed to the expenditure up to the hilt. I can make no further concessions. I cannot agree to the concealment of the actual figures. I think, I know the English people. The old Cromwellian spirit still survives. I believe I am watched over. Think of the perils I have
escaped.”

Lord Riddell then inserted in the diary: “L.G., as I have already recorded, believes the same about himself. If there is a row it will be interesting to see which guardian angel is stronger.”

Churchill played every card he possessed. He let it be known that: “My resignation would be accompanied by that of all four Sea Lords.” He also allowed a rumour to spread that he was considering rejoining the Conservative Party, and he hinted at a compromise with the Tories over Home Rule. The Liberals took fright and a few weeks later Winston and Lloyd George reached a compromise which, although it saved L.G.’S face, was, in fact, a triumph for Winston. The latter agreed to knock 1,000,000 off, from his 52,000,000 Bill; and Lloyd George agreed to remain in the Government.

A politician can afford to be hated by the Opposition; but he cannot run the risk of alienating too many members of his own side. Churchill was still vehemently distrusted by the Tories. Although they approved of his naval programme — they continued to regard him as unscrupulous and dangerous. Until the moment he had become First Lord of the Admiralty he had opposed the Naval Estimates; now, they said, when he thought
he could reap personal glory he was in favour of them. The magazine “World” called him a “boneless wonder” for his change of policy. An epithet which Winston was to employ effectively against Ramsay MacDonald some years later.

Churchill ignored the Tory attack, but he regarded the rising feeling against him among the Radical section of his own party with concern. The Radicals objected strongly to his increased naval expenditure. More and more it was being said that he was ‘not a Liberal. Largely to appease Radical sentiment Winston decided to fling himself into the Irish con-
troversy. The Asquith Government was dependent on the votes of the eighty-four Irish Nationalist Members of Parliament for its majority; consequently it had pledged itself to introduce a Home Rule Bill This Bill was popular with the Radicals, so Churchill took up the cause.

For over thirty years the passionate affairs of Ireland, with their almost insuperable difficulties, had occupied the attention of successive British Governments. The Catholic South did not wish to be ruled from Westminster despite the fact that they were represented in the Westminster Parliament by their eighty-four Members; they insisted that Dublin should have its own Parliament, and furthermore, and here the insoluble element came in, that Dublin should rule a united Ireland including the Protestants of the North. Ulster rebelled furiously. “Home Rule” they declared, was “Rome rule.” They loudly emphasized their “Loyalty” to British authority, culture, and nationhood of the United Kingdom.

It is important to recall that many years before Winston came to Parliament, in the latter years of his life Gladstone the most effervescent of Prime Ministers, twice attempted to bring in a Home Rule for Ireland, but on both occasions he was defeated in Parliament. Lord Randolph Churchill had played a strong and leading part in the opposition, declaring that “Ulster will fight; and Ulster will be right.”

Then for some years the “sleeping dog” slept fitfully, but then came the elections of 1910 which gave Asquith’s Liberals a majority only with the votes of the eighty-four Irish Nationalists. The price demanded of him was a third attempt at a Home Rule Bill. At once
the Irish question was brought into the arena of Party politics. The Liberals drew up the Bill, yet the Conservatives opposed it to a man. It did not come to pass…

Now Winston Churchill played a leading part in the controversy, and in one of the most brilliant performances of his career, piloted the second reading of the Bill through the House of Commons. When Lord Randolph Churchill’s dictum was flung back at him — Winston denounced it, as one dictum, from which “every street bully with a brickbat and every crazy fanatic fumbling with a pistol, may draw inspiration,” having finally attained his political maturity, he no longer felt that he needed to defend his stepfather. Especially having by now found out who his real father was, and also having properly seen the cracks in Sir Randolph’s reasoning… due no doubt to his step father’s diseased and syphilitic brain.

Yet this clarity of realizations, didn’t stop Winston from falling prey to the dark forces in February of 1912, when he plunged into the hornet nest itself headlong, by making a daring speech in Belfast, the capital of Ulster. The Irishmen refused to let him speak in the Ulster Hall, saying they would smash up the meeting, so he hired a marquee and addressed a huge open air meeting. Ten thousand troops were sent out to keep order, and the story was circulated that: “If Mrs Churchill had not accompanied her husband, the “Orangemen,” would have thrown Winston Churchill into the river.”

Indeed there were many serious plots against his life as assassination attempts were made, yet they were all thwarted by the overwhelming show of force, from the deployment, of the Ten Thousand troops, all armed with bayonet rifles, itching to shoot to kill, as they eagerly pushed the protesters back through their bayonets… But Winston Churchill was unafraid of taking extraordinary risks. He thrived in these, and since he believed that he was somehow watched and protected through his abundant “Faith” in Christ, the Redeemer — he survived this journey into the valley of death, and into the arms of his haters, quite well.

At the same time, the House of Commons was also the scene of wild confusion. Once a debate grew so stormy that an Ulsterman picked up the Speaker’s manual on parliamentary procedure and flung it at Winston’s head. It reached its target and Churchill had to be restrained by force from returning the blow. The next day the offender apologized handsomely and Winston assured him that: “I have not, nor have I, at any time, any personal feelings in the matter, and if I had any personal feelings, the observations I thought proper to address to the House, would have effectually removed them.”

The strife of party politics in Westminster was steadily fanning the flames of Irish discord. In the middle of 1912 Bonar Law, the Conservative leader, made an astonishing declaration which amounted to an incitement to civil war. “Ireland is two nations. The Ulster people will submit to no ascendancy, and I can imagine no lengths of resistance to
which they might go in which they would not be supported by the overwhelming majority of the British people.”

Meanwhile, Sir Edward Carson, a former Conservative Minister and now the accepted leader of the Northern Irish, was making fiery speeches in Belfast. In the summer of
1913, Carson held a monster rally and opened enlistments for the “Ulster volunteers” and by the end of the year the volunteers had grown to one hundred thousand men. “Gun running” in open and full defiance of the law, began to take place. Before the winter was over, rifles and ammunition were being offered only too willingly, by Germany, trying to split the United Kingdom apart. This is the same tactic that is employed by Germany today when they aim to split Scotland and Northern Ireland from Great Britain and from the United Kingdom on the issue of BREXIT, hoping to force back the hand of the British voters to the fanged hands of the Berlin Brussels totalitarian European Union combine, ruled by the deep state fascists of Germany’s old men who were once part of the Hitler youth, and still harbor the same faulty ideology of “Deutchland-Uber-Alles.”

It is worth recalling that Deutschland Über Alles (Germany Above All Else) was Germany’s National Anthem from 1922-1945, when she was under the German Socialist Party leadership of one Adolf Hitler…

Yet back to our protagonist now, one of the most extraordinary aspects of his turmoil was that while Churchill was playing a leading role on the Home Rule side, his most intimate friend, F. E. Smith, was a prominent figure on the Ulster front of Northern Ireland. As it was back then, that F.E. was Sir Edward Carson’s right hand man, and he was making vehement speeches to the Northerners of Ulster, to hold their ground whatever the price might be. Looking back at these events now — it is perplexing “How the friendship of the two men survived such a crisis.” Because what is most perplexing, is that one is driven to the conclusion that neither was emotionally involved in the affair, but both were playing politics, and thus both remained true friends, but unalloyed politicians. However, in this instance, it was only Winston who secured his main objective, because in the heat of the Irish controversy, his Naval Estimates for the Royal Fleet’s improvements, were all passed by the House of Parliament, with surprisingly little opposition from any quarters since everyone was lost in the Irish debacle…

Yet in March of 1914, the Irish events began to move towards a climax. PM Asquith forced the Irish Nationalists in the House of Commons to agree to a plan which would enable the Northern Counties to vote themselves out of the Home Rule Bill until two British General Elections had taken place. If the Conservatives won either of these, they could amend the Bill to their liking. The Tories, however, turned down the idea flat, and a few days later Churchill, who had worked hard for the Clause excluding Ulster, made a speech at Bradford in which he said: “There are worse things than bloodshed . . . We are not going to have the realm of Britain sunk to the condition of the Republic of Mexico.”

Then he made a move which nearly had fatal and terrible consequences. In collaboration with his friend and colleague, Colonel Seely, who had succeeded Haldane as Secretary of State for War, he worked out a plan by which the British Army would occupy all munition dumps and arsenals, and all strategic positions in Ulster. A flotilla was ordered to Lamlash where it lay ready to transport troops to Belfast, if the railways refused to carry them.

Churchill declares in his book, “The World Crisis” that this scheme was evolved to protect the Army stores in Northern Ireland, in case civil war broke out at the same time that war with Germany was declared. However, many historians do not accept this version, any more than the Tories did at the time.

One historian, Halev describes the move as “nothing less than a plan of campaign against Northern Ireland.” Needless to say, the action aroused a storm of fury. The British Army contained many officers and men of Ulster origin. General Gough, in command of a cavalry brigade at the Curragh in Ireland, resigned rather than carry out the order, and was immediately replaced. The following day Lloyd George spoke warningly: “We are confronted with the gravest issue raised in this country since the days of the Stuarts. Representative government in this land is at stake … I am here this afternoon on behalf of the British Government to say this to you. They mean to confront this defiance of popular liberties, with a most resolute, unwavering determination whatever the hazard may be.”

But during the twenty-four hours following Clough’s resignation nearly all the British officers of the two cavalry brigades at the Curragh had resigned in sympathy with the General. Asquith saw that the Government was facing a large-scale mutiny unless an immediate retraction was made. He announced in Parliament that a military campaign against Ulster had never been intended. General Gough was hurriedly reinstated and given a written assurance by War Minister Seely that Ulster would not be coerced by force.

These actions were described in the Unionist Press as a “complete surrender” and, although they pacified the Conservatives, they threw the Liberal Party into a storm of anger. Northern Ireland, declared the Liberals furiously, must be made to comply. The Prime Minister had now jumped from the frying pan into the fire. In a prevaricating speech he told the House of Commons that the pledge given to Gough had not received
the assent of the Cabinet. Then, in order to produce a scapegoat, he accepted Colonel Seely’s resignation and took over the War Office himself.

PM Asquith’s parliamentary statement about Gough, was in effect a repudiation of the promise that Seeley had given to the General, but the latter was not “officially” informed of what had happened and calmly remained at his post. Thus the almost unbelievably muddled events of March 1914 dragged on. A month later forty thousand rifles and a million cartridges were distributed throughout Northern Ireland. They had come from
Hamburg and the rifles were all German manufacture “Mausers.”

This is similar to today’s “Troubles” in America where the agents of our Enemies, are paying and arming the domestic terrorist groups like “Antifa” and others, and how George Soros, the Wall Street financier of Hillary Clinton and of the Obama regime, and their dastardly company are paying folding money to all the no good idiots, who are masquerading as virulent and violent demonstrators, destroying property and trashing America with money that originates from Beijing, in order to cause mayhem, that will tear us apart, and to force division through race, creed, ideology, and to perhaps effect secession of the Western states from the Union of these sacred United States. And even though we remain United, one has to admit that the salubrious criminal combine of the Dems, with the BLM, the Antifa, and the Militant Jihadist front covering for the Feminists, and for the Women — all combine to do the work of the Enemies of our Country that seek to tear us apart for their own benefit. And they may not be successful right now, but at the very least, they have managed to undermine the work and the strength of the Federal government, and they have fostered troublesome divisions throughout the land, as they are quietly arming North Korea with Nuclear weapons and advanced ICBM Missile systems that target American cities and American naval bases like Pearl Harbor, Okinawa, and Guam, all around the Pacific, that the resurgent Chinese are now seeing as their own exclusive zone of influence — in order to be able to ostensibly claim “deniability” when the nuclear missiles start flying from Pyongyang and the Third World War starts in earnest…

And it is beyond anyone’s comprehension, why the Democrats have aligned themselves with the Islamics as Hillary Clinton and Obama did to their own chagrin. Now they must rue the day they chose to campaign with the representatives of Islam against the wishes of the vast Christian sentiment this Civilized American Christian nation carries i the folds of our Hearts. Indeed all American understand that Christianity and Western Civilization  is what makes our Republic what it is and if we can keep it — it would largely be dependent upon our Christian beliefs…

This has to be true as we are daily reminded of the dastardly designs of our enemies that spread terror like they did on 9/11 and in so many other instances of hatred and naked religious intolerance and abuse of our freedoms.

We have zealous enemies and are all fanatical zealots of hate, rancor, and self abuse.

Add to that the Arabs who have been financing and executing a huge building program of mosques and medresses across America, with the stated aim of having upwards of 100,000 mosques built all across our Christian country, and they also do this by recruiting Islamic terrorists and other hapless females in order to cow us into submission, and thus enforce Sharia law in the United States regardless of the caveats of the Constitution that were placed there for exactly that purpose. And of course they also finance Islamic Terrorism worldwide, that is also seeking to destroy American military might, in their cultural zones of influence, under the hope of recreating the infamous Islamic Caliphate that will launch us all back into the Stone Age of the Flat Earth believers, of women being treated the same as barnyard animals, and of all infidel females being enslaved and treated as sex slaves, traded in bazaars, and in the courtyards of the mosques… As for the LGBT and various effeminate men and the butch lesbian women, the Islamic leaders say that gay people do not exist in Islamic countries. Maybe Islam does not see gay people, because they have been eliminated, decapitated, or been thrown from the roof, and stoned on the public streets, and in the public squares of the villages, the towns, and the cities, of this amazing religion of Peace, that makes whole classes of different people disappear…

But we digress, because we are all well aware of the shortcomings, and the plans of our enemies, and of the designs they have against America, and against the whole of the Christian Western Civilization World. And unlike the Clinton/Obama Democrats that were all appeasing these hateful enemies of our country — we now recognize the threat and at the very least the current administration of President Donald Trump, will no doubt manage to squash like mosquitos, all of these dark forces of the evil religion of Islam, that preaches hate and murder, while at the same time masquerading as the religion of Peace.

 

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If anything President Trump will outwit all of these inimical fascist idiots, and with the help of many sufficiently intelligent military men of note, such as General Mattis, and all the others who work with him in the White House — we could clearly say, as President Donald Trump said today about our enemies, same as back in the day Winston Churchill had written in his book “The World Crisis” that: “It is astonishing, that high German Intelligence agents reported, and German statesmen believed, that England was paralysed by warring factions, and drifting towards civil war, and thus need not be taken into account as a factor, in the European situation.”

Yet it was in the European Continent, and specifically in the Balkans, and not in England, that the situation was spiraling fast downwards amidst fractious infighting and division. And if we come to be intellectually curious and visionaries, and we look at the European continent as a whole, in an imaginary and fantastical sense, as a Union of federated nation states — then we can detect a distinct pattern. Because as the European Union of today seems to represent and want to appear under that image of a quasi benevolent European Union under Germany — then we can see both the First and the Second World War, as in some way being the Civil Wars of the European Continent, and then spilling outside to include old England too…

Regardless the continental issues, at the time, the English King summoned a conference of the leaders of the two factions vying for supremacy o the issue of Ireland, to meet and come together at the Buckingham Palace to resolve the issue, but after three days of negotiations, amidst all day and all night meetings, a mutually acceptable impasse was the only thing that was reached.

Both parties were gutted, and the participants heartbroken, but the news of the failed resolution also caused distant heartbreak, and violent rioting broke out in Dublin, where thousands of men started flocking to join the Irish Nationalist Volunteers…

Then suddenly an event occurred in the Continent, which swung British attention from the anxieties of Ireland, and riveted it permanently on the European scene.

 

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On June 28th 1914, Franz Ferdinand the Archduke of Austria, and Sophie his young wife, were touring the Balkan capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo, in an open car, with surprisingly little security, when Serbian paid terrorist Gavrilo Princip shot them both at close range causing their death and tearing the fabric of Peace in Europe, by adding a horrible tear in the space time continnium of our Peaceful Universe, and unleashing the demonic forces of war and bloodshed.

These are the “predawn” events of what came to be called the First Great War. Known to us today as World War version One…

In this event that is widely acknowledged to have sparked the outbreak of World War I, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was shot to death, along with his wife by a paid Serbian terrorist on the high street of Sarajevo, Bosnia, on the overly hot day of June 28th, of 1914.

 

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It is telling that many years earlier, the great Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck, the man most responsible for the unification of Germany in 1871, was quoted as saying towards the end of his life, that: “One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”

History went on exactly as he had predicted…

The archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand, traveled to Sarajevo in June 1914 to inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Ottoman territories in the turbulent Balkan region, that were annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908 to the indignation of Serbian nationalists, who believed they should become part of the newly independent and ambitious Serbian nation. The date scheduled for his visit, June 28, coincided with the anniversary of the First Battle of Kosovo in 1389, in which medieval Serbia was defeated by the Turks. Despite the fact that Serbia did not truly lose its independence until the Second Battle of Kosovo in 1448, June 28th was a day of great significance to Serbian nationalists, and one on which they could be expected to take exception to a demonstration of Austrian imperial strength in Bosnia.

June 28th was also Franz Ferdinand’s wedding anniversary. His beloved wife, Sophie, was now firmly and openly by his side traveling together in Bosnia — something she could not do in Austria, as a former lady-in-waiting. Indeed back home, she was denied royal status in Austria, due to her birth as a poor Czech aristocrat, and so denied were the couple’s children. In Bosnia, however, due to its status in limbo, since it was an annexed territory — Sophie could appear beside the Archduke, at all official proceedings.

 

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On June 28th 1914, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were touring Sarajevo in an open car, with surprisingly little security, when Serbian terrorist Nedjelko Cabrinovic, threw a bomb at their car. Luckily, the bomb overshot the cabin, and hit the back and rolled off the rear of the vehicle, and fairly harmlessly exploded. There was of course a wounded officer, and some bystanders who were near the blast, but the Royal couple escaped unharmed.

 

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What processed them to continue touring that day is beyond me and apparently beyond anyone else’s comprehension in the Quiet Services of Intelligence, Military, or State Security. Still the lucky couple thought that they had escaped the assassination and erroneously reasoning that nobody gets killed twice n the same day — they went on with their planned appearances, as if they were invincible.

Yet the fates had decreed otherwise, because later that day, on the way to visit the hospital where the bomb blast injured officer was treated — the archduke’s procession took a wrong turn at the junction of Appel quay & Franzjosefstrasse, where one of the bomber’s terrorist cohorts, the 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, happened to be loitering on a street corner, whereupon seeing his opportunity, he seized his gun and fired into the open car, shooting Franz Ferdinand and Sophie at point-blank range on the chest.

 

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The terrorist Princip, that after long diligence of many years, today we have come to know that he was an unwitting cog in the German military machine, and in the pay of their agents working quietly in Serbia. It was these German agents that had recruited and had paid the terrorist leader Nedjelko Cabrinovic who had paid, armed, and trained the hapless Princip. Still on this day of the double imperial assassination, Gavrilo Princip, saw his bullets lodged squarely in the chest of the Archduke and staining crimson the blue tunic of the Archduke and the dress of his wife, and he then turned the gun on his head, but was prevented from shooting himself and thus committing suicide, by a bystander who threw himself upon the young assassin and disarmed him. Immediately an angry mob of bystanders and onlookers attacked Princip, who was subsequently subdued, and wrestled away by the police.

Meanwhile, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie lay fatally wounded in their open limousine, as it rushed towards the hospital in order to seek help and medical treatment, but upon arrival they were both pronounced dead…

 

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The assassination of Franz-Ferdinand and Sophie set off a rapid chain of events, since Austria-Hungary, like many other countries around the world, blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the question of Slav nationalism once and for all.

 

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As Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm, that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention – which would likely involve Russia’s ally, France, and possibly Britain as well. On July 28th the Austro-Hungarian empire declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed.

 

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Within a week, Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia had all lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and World War I had begun in earnest.

Because back then, similarly to what is going on today — Serbia and Bosnia were seething, while the multiethnic City of Sarajevo was readying to receive the Austrian Archduke for a visit to his newly acquired subjects…just four weeks prior to this, an angry young Serbian nationalist man, who was strongly ideologically charged, had assassinated the heir to the Austrian throne.

Of course if on the 24th of July the Austrians had not sent Serbia the ultimatum which amounted to annexation — things might have taken a different turn and Peace could have endured for a few more months, if not years.

As things stood now — the curtain rose for another Great War — what is today known as the carnage of World War I.

 

To be continued:

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | September 8, 2017

What Would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 31)

Here are some excerpts from Winston Churchill’s stronger speeches during the year 1909… that fully demonstrate his Compassionate Conservatism from his Liberal and Libertarian perspective…

What a unique political animal he was — is clearly evident here.

All of these speeches were mostly delivered inside the House of Commons, or on the campaign trail, stumping for votes and political advantage.

Let’s start with the one delivered on the 4th of May 1909:

“The chief burden of taxation is placed upon the main body of the wealthy classes of this country, a class which in number and in wealth is much greater than in any other community, if not, indeed, in any other modem State in the world; and that is a class which, in opportunities of pleasure, in all the amenities of life, and in freedom from penalties, obligations and dangers, is more fortunate than any other equally numerous class of citizens in any age or in any country. That class has more to gain than any other class of His Majesty’s subjects from dwelling amid a healthy and contented people, and in a safely guarded land.”

Another one was delivered in Edinburgh, on the 17th of July:

“We say that the State and the municipality should jointly levy a toll upon the future unearned increment of the land. A toll of what?

Of the whole? No.

Of a half? No.

Of a quarter? No.

Of a fifth…

That is the proposal of the Budget.

And that is robbery, that is plunder, that is communism and spoliation, that is the social revolution at last, that is the overturn of civilized society, that is the end of the world foretold in the Apocalypse. Such is the increment tax about which so much chatter and
outcry are raised at the present time, and upon which I will say that no more fair, considerate, or salutary proposal for taxation has ever been made in the House of Commons.”

In Norwich, on 26th of July:

“Is it not an extraordinary thing that upon the Budget we should even be discussing at all the action of the House of Lords? The House of Lords is an institution absolutely foreign to the spirit of the age and to the whole movement of society. It is not perhaps surprising in a country so fond of tradition, so proud of continuity as ourselves, that a feudal assembly of tied persons, with so long a history and so many famous names, should have survived to exert an influence upon public affairs at the present time. We see how often in England the old forms are reverently preserved after the forces by which they are sustained and the uses to which they are put and the dangers against which they were designed have passed away. A state of gradual decline was what the average Englishman had come to associate with the House of Lords. Litde by litde,
we might have expected, it would have ceased to take a controversial part in practical politics. Year by year it would have faded more completely into the past to which it belongs, until, like Jack-in-the-Green or Punch and Judy, only a picturesque and fitfully lingering memory would have remained.”

“And during the last ten years of Conservative government, this was actually the case. But now we see the House of Lords flushed with the wealth of the modern age, armed with a party caucus, fortified, revived, resuscitated, asserting its claims in the harshest and in the crudest manner, claiming to veto or destroy even without discussion any legislation, however important, sent to them by any majority, however large, from any House of Commons, however newly elected.
We see these unconscionable claims exercised with a frank and undisguised regard to party interest, to class interest, and to personal interest. We see the House of Lords using the power which they should not hold at all, which if they hold at all, they should hold in trust for all, to play a shrewd, fierce, aggressive Party game of electioneering and casting their votes according to the interest of the particular political Party to which, body and soul, they belong.”

In Leicester, on the 5th of September:

“Formerly the only question asked of the tax gatherer was “How much have you got?” We ask that question still, and there is a general feeling, recognized as just by all parties, that the rate of taxation should be greater for large incomes than for small. As to how much greater, parties are no doubt in dispute. But now a new question has arisen. We do not only ask today, “How much have you got?” we also ask, “How did you get it? Did you earn it by yourself, or has it just been left you by others? Was it gained by processes which are in themselves beneficial to the community in general or was it gained by processes which have done no good to anyone, but only harm? Was it gained by the enterprise and capacity necessary to found a business, or merely by squeezing and bleeding the owner and founder of the business? Was it gained by supplying the capital which industry needs, or by denying, except at an extortionate price, the land which industry requires? Was it derived from active reproductive processes, or merely by squatting on some piece of necessary land till enterprise and labour, and national interests and municipal interests, had to buy you out at fifty times the agricultural value? Was it gained from opening new minerals to the services of man, or by drawing a mining royalty from the toil and adventure of others? Was it gained by the curious process of using political influence to convert an annual license into a practical freehold and thereby pocketing a monopoly value which properly belongs to the State. So pray tell, how did you get it? That is the new question which has been postulated and which is vibrating in penetrating repetition throughout the land.”

In this last speech, Churchill made some opening remarks which roused
the Tory press to a storm of anger. The Daily Express printed a few of
them under a heading ‘HIS OWN RECORD FOR ABUSE OUTDONE.’ Churchill had begun by complaining that the Tories had no effective speakers to answer the Liberal charges. He referred to “the small fry of the Tory party splashing actively about in their proper puddles” then to Mr Balfour “who aims to lead who has been meaning to lead for six years if he only could find out where on earth to lead to” then finally to the fact that in lieu of anything else “the Tory Party was forced to fall back on their dukes.” These unfortunate individuals, who ought to lead quiet, delicate, sheltered lives, far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife, have been dragged into the football scrimmage, and they have got rather roughly mauled in the process.” … “Do not let us be too hard on them. It is poor sport almost like teasing goldfish.”

“These ornamental creatures blunder on every hook they see, and there is no sport whatever in trying to catch them. It would be barbarous to leave them gasping upon the bank of public ridicule upon which they have landed themselves. Let us put them back gently, tenderly in their fountains; and if a few bright gold scales have been rubbed off in what the Prime Minister calls the variegated handling they have received they will soon get over it. After all, they have got plenty more.”

Much laughter ensued after these remarks of Winston…

Although this was very mild commentary in comparison with Lloyd George’s attacks, the very fact that Churchill, member of a ducal family himself, had dared to cast aspersions caused widespread indignation. Councillor Howell, Tory candidate for one of the Manchester seats, declared with great pomposity that what was “neither excusable nor permissible was the lack of common decency shown by vulgar abuse of the dukes on the part of a man who was the grandson of one duke, the nephew of another, and the cousin of a third; who belonged to a family which had produced nine dukes; who figured in Debrett as boasting a dozen titled relatives; and who owed every advantage he possessed over those whom he contemptuously called “the small fry of public life” to his ducal and aristocratic connections.”

Councillor Howell was not the only opponent who hit back. During the years 1908 to 1911 Winston Churchill was subjected to a steady stream of personal abuse. Tories described him as “utterly contemptible.”

“Here he was betraying his class and belittling the institutions that had made his country great, merely to gain a sordid political advantage. Of course, they went on, for it was not really surprising, because the Churchills were noted for their bad blood. Indeed they were one of the few powerful families in England that had never produced “a true gentleman” since everyone knew that the first Duke was a blackguard, and that in his day, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a sad cad, a fag, and a bounder.”

“Sadly then, Winston Churchill must have inherited the worst qualities of both of his progenitors, inside his DNA and the Social mavens all assumed that he spend all his life striving to dam this river of ugliness rearing it’s head in his blood, and instead making his mission to rise above this perceived ugly station of life.”

And indeed it is rather difficult for the present generation of readers, leaders, and politicians, to understand the furious resentment that the mere presence of Winston Churchill aroused in the unusually mild mannered English psyche, because of the sins of his forebears. Even today, many English people remember hearing their Conservative, Apolitical, Liberal, Socialist, or even Communist and Fascist Mothers and Fathers, calling Winston Churchill an evil man, and a monster to boot…

He was hated universally, by all and sundry, and even the aristocratic infants had learned to hate Churchill as their mothers would frequently invoke his name, in order to make the children eat all of their food. Still regardless of political spectrum association, or family situation and society strata — all castes of British society had one thing n common: They were all united in their hate for Winston Churchill. And that is why one after another, the doors of Society closed against him, same as the gates of the Royal Court and the edifices of the “Crown” had closed against him far earlier and for far different reasons, because in those days, all the fashionable society world, was controlled by the Tory aristocracy.

Winston Churchill was a black swan and was not invited anywhere, and when he even attended public functions, many people, some of them old family friends, were careful to look the other way. As a matter of fact, one famous Duke — who will go unnamed because his progeny is now friends of mine — had announced publicly, that he would like to put Lloyd George, and especially Winston Churchill, squarely, “in the middle of twenty couples of fox hounds” and bid the dogs to hunt the two men. A polite way of saying to let the dogs hunt the men… or rather sic the dogs upon them. Today, you could put things in some perspective if you consider that although Lloyd George was cordially disliked for his positions — he did not arouse anywhere near as much animus against him, as his younger colleague Winston Churchill managed to inspire, through no fault of his own, but because of his strong and corrosive rhetoric against the positions of the politically immature opponents of his well constructed thesis.

And indeed Winston being an empath, felt the hate fully. Yet he avoided it intentionally and thus “succeeded in failing” to embrace all of this illogical, unwarranted, and malicious “hate & rancor” targeted against him for purely political reasons. Yet throughout all that, he stayed steadfast and held on to his principles and moral foundations. He used the time well, as he studied the subject deeper, and he went ahead and used his ample intelligence, with plenty of sangfroid, and with a healthy dose of black humor, and a serious stiff upper lip, overlaying his crooked and somewhat appearing as sinister smile… to rhapsodize upon his well constructed arguments and thus completely demolish his opponents inside the Parliament, same as he was known to do, in the halls, in the theaters, and on the public Speaking circuit…

Yet in due course, he also accepted his fate, and saw the beautiful upside, in being the black swan of British politics, and he indeed came to see this as an advantage that distinguished him form all the others. And thus Winston gave himself the Liberty, to be a perpetual thorn on the side of those who were his enemies and who were indeed tyrannical in nature, and he railed against those who were behaving in a fully anti-democratic and fascist way against the working classes and against the other citizens. And in due time, he was able to overcome the heaviness of the situation, by seeing the humour of the whole thing, and he stopped minding not being liked by his peers, and colleagues, and he learned to float above the fray — not ending their petty insults.

Indeed he jokingly likened his critics, to barking dogs, and he went on saying that he had not got the time to stop and throw stones at every barking dog along his way, because if he were to do that — he could never make it home for a hot lunch…

 

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And so Winston Churchill, “retaliated” against his lamentable critics by stocking the pond of his Chartwell home in the Kentish countryside, with a smattering of real black swans… These were real black swans, who reminded everyone who saw them of the Churchillian fame as the “Black Swan” of the British Parliament, and as the “Black Adder” of the House of Commons.

And perhaps that he was, and he took some measure of pride on it…

But at least nobody ever called him a Black Guard.

Thank God for small favors.

Still, his adoption of the black swans for his duckpond, was not appreciated as an act of levity and lightness of humor, but was instead criticized as tantamount to treason, and was roundly seen as an a violent anathema of the English Aristocracy. Imagine now that Donald Trump had done something similar, by placing black swans in the White House’s pond, and you can understand the duplicity and the lying nature of the deep state aristocracy, because their own duckponds were always stuffed with the purest, and the whitest, amongst the requisite white swans, as a sign of nobility, purity, and grace — but mostly in order to hide the blackness of their sorry and always dark souls.

So Winston opted for black swans, having a trulls white and pure Soul, as a Great Man — instead of becoming like all those precocious and pretentious “Constipe Conserve” upper class exhibits of white & pure humbug swans. Here is also when Winston Churchill, for the first time, humorously stuck two fingers, jauntily up into the air, his hand facing himself, and formed the now famous “up yours” V, and then he went home to feed his black swans whom he loved till the end of life. This happened when he was asked by a “fake news” journalist if he simply loved the black swans for what themselves represented, or because he was thinking that they truly represented him, or maybe because he didn’t care about collecting any more “likes” on Facebook, and thus he clearly didn’t see what value there is, in people necessarily “liking him” in order for him to fulfill his dreams and achieve his world changing goals…

George Smalley, the American journalist who moved widely in the upper Aristocracy of the London Society, explained this in a quaintly Conservative way: “Mr Lloyd George was from the beginning an unregenerate Radical, in whom all the natural and acquired vices of Radicalism were fully developed at an early age. Nothing, therefore, but Radicalism in its most extreme, socialistic form, was ever expected of him.
But Winston Churchill was born into the world a Conservatives, and a Conservative he remained till Mr Balfour, then Prime Minister, rejected his application for Cabinet office.
Then he crossed the floor of the House and has ever since acted with the Liberals, who knew the value of their recruit and gave him what Mr Balfour had denied. That is what the Conservatives tell you, and that is why their dislike of Mr Churchill is so extreme.
It does not stop short of something like social ostracism.”

So Winston Churchill became the chief target of the Tory Opposition, and within the House of Commons was attacked tirelessly as a cynical careerist.

Bellow are a few samples of the repetitious and sanguine phrases used by Members of Parliament to describe Winston Churchill during the year 1909.

On the 16th of January, Austen Chamberlain declared that “his conversion to Radicalism coincided with his personal interests.”

On the 13th of February, Alfred Lyttelton said: “One might as well try to rebuke a
brass band. He trims his sails to every passing air.”

On the 14th of September, Evelyn Cecil said: “He has an entire lack of principle,” and
“He is ready to follow any short cut to the Prime Ministership.”

On the 10th of December, Keir Hardie declared he “we all knew how to trim his sails to
catch votes.”

On the 14th of June, 1910, A. B. Markham said: “Whenever the Churchills “ratted”
they thought it was going to be of benefit to themselves.”

And much more fierce and virulent invective was hurled against Winston Churchill, the long, yet haughty & liberal Parliamentarian, the black swan, of his time. Unfortunately, all that “muck” is so strong that it is unprintable in this book, or in a newspaper, or even in a public broadsheet, blogpost, or even FB and Twitter post. Yet in passing if we ever meet — I will share some of the choicest charcoals that were thrown at him.

Indeed the House of Commons was not the only place in which he was abused.
Their lordships went for him as well, right in the midst of the House of Lords. The following item — rather comic in its seriousness – was printed in The Times of London, on the 4th of November, of the year 1909. This is the sort of report which frequently appeared in print, and this one is from the well known fascist Lord St. Oswald, and was delivered when he was opening a Conservative Bazaar at Golcar, in the Colne Valley. Oswald said that he belonged to a House which had got into very bad repute lately in some quarters: “We may be called blackguards — but I don’t think that we are. We have got men just as good as Mr Lloyd George, Mr Winston Churchill, and a lot more Ministers like them. As a matter of fact, I have known Mr Winston Churchill since he was so high, and I don’t think he has improved since then, and I think many people think the same as I do. The longer he lives the more he will go back, in my opinion. In a few years the people of this country will realize what an outsider he is.”

 

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The outcome of the quarrel with the Lords long ago became part of history. They fell into Lloyd George’s trap and rejected the Budget. Today, historians are almost unanimous in declaring it one of the most stupid and inept political acts of the century. Ever since 1860 when all the taxes of the year, for the first time, were centred in a single Finance Bill, it had been an understood practice that the Lords did not amend or reject it. King Edward VII foresaw the crisis such an action would provoke and strongly urged Lord Lansdowne to secure the passage of the Budget, but the latter was too weak to stand up against the hot-headed reactionaries in the Party.
Peers from all over Britain, known as “the backwoods men” because they lived on their country estates and rarely attended the House of Lords — arrived on the great day to register their votes. The story soon circulated that most of them had to ask strangers for directions, in order to find their way towards the Houses of Parliament…

The Liberals promptly went to the country with the slogan of “the People versus the Peers.” Without this battle cry there is no doubt that the Liberals would have been soundly beaten. The middle classes were worried by “socialist” talk. Perhaps Lloyd George was trying to establish a one Chamber Government, perhaps even a dictatorship. The Budget was not too severe, but maybe it was only a beginning. First taxes on the land, and then, who knows, maybe gradual confiscation of the land. Besides this, there was still the German menace. Could this party of Radicals and pacifists be trusted to make Britain safe? These were some of the doubts and fears. “The People versus the Peers” was strong enough to return the Liberals to power, but with a majority reduced by a hundred seats and a majority that was now dependent on the Irish nationalists.

The new Liberal Government set about drafting a Bill for the reform of the Upper House. Then King Edward died. Since the issue was a constitutional one, and the new King was bound to be involved, a moratorium was declared and both parties agreed to sit on a committee in an attempt to work out a compromise.
The months dragged on, however, and the committee could not agree; finally the Liberals came out with their own solution.
First, the Lords’ veto was to be abolished on bills certified by the Speaker as money bills; second, any Bill passed by the House of Commons in three successive sessions was to become law despite the Lords’ veto.
The Liberals went to the country again to ask for a mandate for this reform. It was the second election in the same year and the result was almost identical to the first one.

There was no doubt now that the Parliament Bill asking for a reform of the Upper House was “the will of the people.” However, the Lords were still obstinate and resentful. The term diehard, a regimental nickname, came into currency for the first time to describe their attitude. They drastically amended the House of Commons Parliament Bill and returned it triumphantly in its emasculated form. But the Prime Minister, Mr Asquith, had a trump card up his sleeve. He wrote a letter to Mr Balfour making it known that the King had agreed, if the Lords refused to pass the Bill, to swamp the Upper House by creating two hundred and fifty new Peers who would out-vote the present Conservative majority. This knowledge finally forced the Lords to capitulate, but even so, it was a close affair. The Bill was passed by only 131 against 114 parliamentary votes.

During these tempestuous years two important events took place in Winston’s personal life. The first was the beginning of his friendship with F. E. Smith, later Lord Birkenhead, Lord Chancellor of England.

Mr F. E. Smith was a Tory who began his political career as a dark horse. He had neither connections nor wealth to help him. His grandfather was a miner and his grandmother was a gypsy. The miner would not allow his son to go into the pits and consequently F. E’s father became a barrister.
However, his father died when F. E. was only sixteen, leaving the boy to make his own way in life. The latter won a scholarship to Oxford, took his bar examinations, and five years later was earning six thousand pounds a year.

He entered Parliament in 1906 and decided to stake everything on his opening speech. Most maiden speeches are modest and uncontroversial, but F.E.’s was a fierce attack on the Government, full of lightning shafts and humorous but stinging invective. When he rose to speak Members looked at the tall, languid figure with the black patent-leather hair and the sallow unsmiling face, and asked who he was. An hour later the lobbies were ringing with his name. Never before had a newcomer scored such a triumph with a single speech. He was acknowledged at once as one of the new forces within the Tory Party. His merits continued to be recognized and soon he was famous throughout the country for his brilliant repartee and merciless wit.

At first F.E. refused to meet Winston. He did not like what he had heard of him and disapproved strongly of his desertion from the Tory Party.
But one night, in 1906, the two men were introduced in the smoking-room of the House of Commons. “From that hour our friendship was perfect” wrote Winston.
“It was one of my most precious possessions. It was never disturbed by the fiercest Party fighting. It was never marred by the slightest personal difference or misunderstanding. It grew stronger as nearly a quarter of a century slipped by, and it lasted until his untimely death.”

This friendship was perhaps even more remarkable than Winston Churchill’s relationship with Lloyd George, for it had to stand the stress and strain of bitter Party strife, with the two men facing each other from opposite camps and doing battle on almost every important issue of the time. Both men, however, possessed the rare capacity to divorce politics from personal feelings. They argued hotly, but they never allowed their differences to hinder the mutual enjoyment derived from each other’s company.
Often they treated the House of Commons to a fierce verbal duel which
their enemies liked to suggest had been carefully rehearsed beforehand.
Once F.E. Smith remarked that ‘Winston Churchill had devoted the best years of his life to his impromptu speeches.’

On another occasion Churchill showed F.E. a cartoon in which both of them appeared. The artist had drawn his characters comically, but so cleverly that there was no mistaking them. F.E. was dressed in a bearskin hat with a slightly sardonic expression on his face; Winston Churchill was short and round like a happy bulldog. “What a wonderful caricaturist” said Winston Churchill cheerfully. “He gets you to a nicety. It’s astonishing how like you are to your cartoons.” F.E. gazed at the picture a moment then handed it back, saying solemnly: “You seem to be the only one who’s flattered.”

The Conservatives disapproved of F.E.’s friendship with Winston Churchill and warned him that it would do his career no good. But F.E. paid no attention. The two men met regularly; they spent week-ends together; they went on summer cruises; they served together in the Oxfordshire Hussars; they even founded a dining dub, known as ‘The Other Club” to enable politicians of opposite Parties to meet and exchange views. “Never did I separate from him without having learnt something, and enjoyed myself besides.” Thus wrote Winston about his friend…

Many years later these two men sat in the same Cabinet together.

The second personal event of these memorable years was the greatest happening of Winston’s life. In 1908 he was married. He met his bride, appropriately enough, in the smoke of an election battle. When he went to Scotland in 1908 to contest the Dundee election, he was introduced to a beautiful young lady, Miss Clementine Hozier. She was the daughter of the late Colonel EL. M. Hozier and Lady Blanche Hozier, and a granddaughter of the Countess of Airlie, a staunch and powerful Liberal supporter.

Miss Hozier was just twenty-three. The pictures of her published at this time show a charming oval face, hair parted in the middle, finely cut classic features and large wide set eyes. As far as Winston Churchill was concerned, it was love at first sight. Miss Hosier was not only beautiful but she was high spirited, intelligent, liberal minded, and passionately interested and amused by politics herself. Up to this time Winston Churchill had taken little interest in the female sex. Once or twice he had fancied himself enamored, but the spell had been of short duration, because politics were so much more exciting than women.

Besides, Winston Churchill himself being devilishly handsome — was rather choosy. He was only smitten, by the most beautiful specimens of the female sex, and was indeed very hard to please.

This is how Mr George Smalley described the visit that Winston Churchill made to New York when he was twenty-six years old, and when the matchmakers had their eyes on him: “He met everybody, but would sit in the midst of the most brilliant and delightful people, totally absorbed in his own thoughts.”

“He would not admire the women he was expected to admire. They must have not only beauty and intelligence, but the particular kind of beauty and intelligence which appealed to him; if otherwise, he knew how to be silent without meaning to be rude. … It was useless to remonstrate with him. He answered: “She is beautiful to you, but not to me.””

Miss Hozier’s mother approved of Winston Churchill as a future son-in-law. “He is gentle and tender, and affectionate to those he loves, much hated by those who have not come under his personal charm” she wrote to Wilfrid Blunt. The wedding took place at St. Margaret’s, Westminster. Lord Hugh Cecil, the ardent Tory, was best man. Wedding presents were received from Winston’s three most formidable opponents, Balfour, and the two Chamberlains. The church was packed. The newspapers were interested and reported the whole event n detail. And Wilfrid Blunt wrote in his diary: “The bride was pale, as was the bridegroom. He has gained in appearance since I saw him last, and has a powerful if ugly face. Winston’s responses were clearly made in a pleasant voice, Clementine’s inaudible.”

“The marriage, as everyone knows, proved to be one of the great marriages of the century. The bride was not a partier. Indeed, Mrs Sidney Webb wrote approvingly in her diary: ‘On Sunday we lunched with Winston Churchill and his bride a charming lady, well-bred and pretty, and earnest withal but not rich, by no means a good match, which is to Winston’s credit. It was also to Winston’s enduring advantage for Clementine Churchill will go down in history as a wife who loyally shared her husband’s political vicissitudes and enjoyed his complete devotion for over forty years. She is a woman of courage, character and shrewd political judgment. Winston Churchill always carefully considers her opinions, and if he does not always follow her advice he is at least very much aware of what the advice was. Although Mrs Churchill would never allow any disagreement to arise between herself and her husband in public, she does not hesitate to argue with him at home. Often her attitude towards him is protective, like a mother with a precocious, unruly child; his towards her is attentive and devoted.”

The first years of their marriage were not easy for a young, pale and beautiful bride. Mrs Churchill was not only taking on a husband, but the wrath of Society as well. Docility, however, was not part of her character and far from regretting the circumstances she welcomed them as a challenge. By instinct she was more of a Liberal than Winston. She had been brought up to distrust Tory politics, and she had a natural interest in reform. She regarded Conservative ostracism as something of a compliment and soon had created an agreeable existence for herself and her husband among a small circle of intimate friends. Blenheim was the only Tory house open to them, and in order to please Winston Churchill, who was deeply sentimental about his family ties, she occasionally accompanied him to Blenheim palace on family occasions and recreational or sporting visits, and to all the annual balls of his extended Ducal family.

And although Churchill was censored by the Tories for being disrespectful to the dukes — his cousin — the Duke of Marlborough, managed to overlook his jibes and political tirades and loved Winston as a true skin of the family tree. Sadly & consequently, Winston Churchill, the PM, was criticized by his own Liberal political side, for seeing too much of his own relative: “The fact that Winston Churchill thoughtlessly went to Blenheim for Christmas [1910],” writes E. T. Raymond, one of Lloyd George’s biographers. This “somewhat diminished the effects of his comrade’s oratory.” However, on one occasion, when the Duke of Marlborough made disobliging remarks about Mr Asquith, Mrs Churchill packed her bags and left; and she could not be induced to go there for many months afterwards.

The fact that the Churchills began their life together cut off from Society and dependent on their own resources, gave their marriage a surest and far stronger foundation, than if they were the darlings of the dinner party circuit that London had become for some…

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But although Winston Churchill was hated more than Lloyd George — the Welshman
Radical politician, was the undisputed Master of collecting Malice, Hate and Rancor. As Chancellor of the Exchequer he held the Radical leadership firmly in his hands, because he made the decisions, and he conceived the strategy to be followed while he played his trump cards. And while Winston Churchill was almost as great a figure in the public eye, behind the scenes he acknowledged Lloyd George as his leader. Contemporary people who saw them working together always said, that Lloyd George was the only man to whom Churchill ever deferred. The quick witted Welshman, knew how to charm and control his high-spirited subaltern as nobody else had ever succeeded in doing before or since. Indeed the relationship of the master and the pupil, continued throughout the years, long after Churchill ceased to be under Lloyd George’s political influence in any way.

Robert Boothby, a Tory M.P., who was Winston’s Parliamentary Private Secretary when the latter became Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative Government of 1924, says that for a time Churchill and Lloyd George drifted apart. Then one day Winston Churchill asked Boothby to make an appointment for him to see Lloyd George. This is what Mr Boothby wrote: “He came to his room in the evening, and remained there for about half an hour. When he had gone, I waited for the summons. None came, so I went in and found the Chancellor sitting in his armchair before the fire, in a brown study. Churchill observed: “It is a remarkable thing, but L.G. hadn’t been in this room for three minutes before the old relationship was completely re-established.” I was delighted. He then looked up with a twinkle in his eye, and added: “The relationship of master and servant.””

What was unusual about the association of these two titans was an almost total lack of jealousy. Once Lloyd George remarked: “Sometimes when I see Winston Churchill making these speeches I get a flash of jealousy and I have to say to myself, “Don’t be a fool. What’s the use of getting jealous of Winston?”” And occasionally Winston Churchill felt a twinge of envy over the limelight Lloyd George won with the Budget. When he was not asked to speak in the Commons on the third reading of the Bill he was annoyed but made up for it by airing his views on the public platform. “You see” he said to Lloyd George, “in spite of your trying to keep me out of the Budget, I made a show after all.” “I like that” said Lloyd George. “I offered to hand you over the whole of Part II, the income tax.” “Oh, that’s detail,” said Winston Churchill scornfully: “This man is not going to do detail.”

Mrs Masterman goes on to tell how amusing they were together “with their different weaknesses and their different childishnesses.” She describes them one night at dinner. “At one point Winston Churchill said “I am all for the social order.” George, who had had a glass of champagne, which excites him without in the least confusing him, sat up in his chair and said: “No! I’m against it. Listen. There were six hundred men turned off by the G.W. works last week. Those men had to go out into the streets to starve. There is not a man in that works who docs not live in terror of the day when his turn will come to go. Well, I’m against a social order that admits that kind of thing.” And he made a beckoning gesture I have seen him use once or twice. “Yeth, yeth,” said Winston, hurriedly, subdued for a moment, and then rather mournfully: “I suppose that was what lost us Cricklade.” “Yes, and Swindon,” said George. Winston cocked his nose in a way he does when he knows he’s going to be impertinent. “That’s just what I say — you are not against the social order, but against those parts of it that get in your way” and George crumpled up with amusement.

Although Churchill was constantly attacked, in conjunction with Lloyd George, as the wicked inspiration of the “class war” and nobody would deny that his speeches were formidable assaults against the fortress of privilege behind the scenes he was a moderating influence. Indeed, it is obvious from reading the memoirs and diaries of the time that from the middle of 1910 onwards, Winston Churchill’s Radicalism began to diminish. Mrs Masterman quotes Lloyd George as declaring that Winston Churchill was not in favour of the heatedly controversial Land Tax which probably encouraged the Lords to reject the Budget more than any other item. Winston Churchill was eager for reform but did not want to impose any unnecessary penalties on the ruling class. What he called ‘revolutionary talk’ upset him, and Mrs Masterman describes an evening she spent with Winston, Lloyd George and her husband. When the last two began talking in fun “of the revolutionary measures they were proposing next: the guillotine in Trafalgar Square; the nominating for the first tumbril.” Winston became more and more indignant and alarmed, “until they suggested that this would give him a splendid opportunity of figuring as the second Napoleon of the revolutionary forces, when, still perfectly serious, Winston, as George put it, seemed to think there was something in it.” “It is extraordinary,” said George, “I had no idea anyone could have so little humour.” “That night Winston walked home with Masterman. He was still very much perturbed by the conversation. “If this is what it leads to, you must be prepared for me to leave you” Winston said solemnly.”

Winston, it appears from this diary, was not in favour of abolishing the Lords’ Veto. He was willing to reform the Upper House but he did not wish to lessen their powers, and on more than one occasion he had heated arguments with Lloyd George on the subject. Mrs Masterman describes a dinner which she and her husband had with Lloyd George, in the course of which the latter said: “Winston was up here last night and he got just as he did that time in the spring. You remember, Masterman, he began to fume and kick up the hearth rug, and became very offensive, saying: “You can go to Hell your own way, I won’t interfere. I’ll have nothing to do with your policy,” and was almost threatening until I reminded him that “no man can rat twice.” Mrs Masterman commented on this by writing: “Winston, of course, is not a democrat, or at least, he is a Tory Democrat.” He cursed Charlie one night when they dined together, swearing he would resign sooner than accept a Veto policy again, and spend four years with Sir Ernest Cassel, getting rich: “Then again and again repeating: “No, no, no; I won’t follow George if he goes back to that damn Veto.” Three weeks afterwards he was making passionate speeches in favour of the Veto policy. He became cantankerous and very difficult, and, said George, “for three weeks while he is at a thing, he is very persistent, but he always comes to heel in the end,” which is a very true description.

Once in the spring he made a quite excellent speech on the Veto in the House of Commons, although that very morning he had been abusing the Government policy uphill and down to Charlie. “If we,” said George, “put a special clause in the Budget exempting “Sonny (the Duke of Marlborough)” from taxation, Winston would let us do what we liked.””

Although Winston Churchill argued and fought with Lloyd George behind the scenes — in public he presented an absolutely united front. He never stooped to intrigue, or allowed himself to belittle his leader in any way. He was completely loyal; and the reward of this loyalty was a friendship unique among politicians.

Winston’s deflection from the Radical and Isolationist line he had adopted for four years began with his appointment as Home Secretary in 1910, and was completed by the time he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. During the year he spent as Home Secretary he accomplished important prison reforms. But he also took actions which were most bitterly resented by the Leftist and Labour circles and are held against him to this day.

As Home Secretary Winston Churchill was responsible for the maintenance of law and order. The years 1910 to 1911, heralded an epidemic of serious strikes, and his task was neither easy nor enviable. First came a bitter coal strike in South Wales in which his actions were misunderstood and deeply resented by the miners. As recently as the 1950 General Election Welsh Socialists revived the events of that time, now generally grouped together and referred to as “Torypandy” declaring that he had sent soldiers to attack the miners. Churchill hotly denied the charge, and informed a Cardiff audience that the allegation was a “cruel lie.”

Here are the facts. The coal strike broke out during the first week in November. There were riots and a number of mines were partially flooded. On the morning of 8 November Churchill received a telegram from the Chief Constable of Glamorgan declaring that the local police were incapable of maintaining order and that he had applied for troops
from Southern Command. The Liberal Party was facing a General Election and Winston Churchill at once realized the undesirability of using the military against miners.

He prevented the War Office from sending troops on a large scale, and quickly made plans to reinforce the Welsh police with 850 Metropolitan police. At the same time, however, after a consultation with Mr Haldane, the Secretary of State for War, Churchill agreed to send a limited number of troops as a safeguard. Churchill asked that both soldiers and police be placed under the command of a high Army officer, General Macready, and made it clear that the latter must be responsible, not to the War Office, but to himself as Home Secretary.

On that same morning, 8th of November, he sent a telegram to the Chief Constable of Glamorgan, informing him that 250 constables of the London Metropolitan Police would arrive at Pontypridd that evening:
“Expect these forces will be sufficient, but as further precautionary measure, 200 cavalry will be moved into district tonight and remain there pending the cessation of trouble. General Macready will command the military, and will act in conjunction with civil authorities as circumstances may require. Military will not, however, be available, unless it is clear that police reinforcements are unable to cope with the situation.”

In relating the events to the House of Commons on February, of 1911, Churchill said that shortly after this message was sent he was able to get into telephonic communication with the Chief Constable who told him that he believed the Metropolitan Police would be sufficient, and that there was very little accommodation for soldiers as well as police at Pontypridd. Churchill then sent a message, through the War Office, for the cavalry to detrain at Cardiff. “But orders were also sent to General Macready (he continued in his speech to the House of Commons) who was also travelling to Cardiff, that if any further request of special emergency reached him from the Chief Constable, on the spot he could use his own discretion about going forward with the cavalry that night. . . .
About eight o’clock telephonic communication was received that there was rioting in progress, and we immediately telegraphed to General Macready to move into the district with his squadrons, only one of which had up to that time arrived at Cardiff. He had already received authority to do so, and had, in fact, acted in anticipation of that message half an hour earlier.

Macready had strict instructions that the soldiers were to be kept apart from the strikers, and used only to guard mine premises in conjunction with the police, unless the latter found themselves unable to deal with the situation. He meticulously observed his orders, and in most cases police proved equal to the task, and troops were not brought into direct contact with the miners.

On two or three occasions, however, he found it necessary to call out the military to prevent the police from being heavily stoned. “In order to counter these tactics on the part of the strikers on the next occasion when trouble was afoot, (wrote General Macready), small bodies of infantry on the higher ground, keeping level with the police on the main road, moved slowly down the side tracks, and by a little gentle persuasion with the bayonet drove the stone throwers into the arms of the police on the lower
road. The effect was excellent, since no casualties were reported, though it was
rumoured that many young men of the valley found that sitting down was
accompanied by a certain amount of discomfort for many days afterwards. As a
general instruction the soldiers had been warned that if obliged to use their
bayonets they should only be applied to that portion of the body traditionally held by trainers of youth to be reserved for punishment.

No matter how ‘gentle’ the ‘persuasion’ of the bayonet — the very fact that this weapon was used, and men were hurt by it, aroused the miners to fury. Wild and exaggerated stories spread throughout South Wales.

And thus Winston Churchill fell between two stools.

His desire to avoid the use of the military, successful in 99% of the instances, was not appreciated by anyone.

As a result for nearly forty years he has been accused of “sending troops to attack the miners.” Keir Hardie, one of the founders of the Labour Party and a Member of Parliament, contributed to this interpretation by publishing a powerful little booklet entitled “Killing No Murder” in which he wrote:
“One of the riots that took place on the evening of 8 November was in Tonypandy Square. The strikers attempted to attack the colliery in protest against the owners’ lock-out notices, and were driven away by the local police. On their way back they smashed and looted the shops in Tonypandy Square in what The Times described as ‘an orgy of naked anarchy.” In view of the many erroneous accounts given of this well known incident, it is absolutely necessary now, to emphasize that neither London police nor troops arrived in the district in time to take any part in the scene of disorder and general mayhem. Indeed the order was restored fully and bravely by the local police, acting alone.

When Keir Hardie asked in the House of Commons on 15th of November, 1910, “at whose instance the troops had been sent to Wales?” Haldane replied: “They were sent at my instance after careful consultation with my rt. hon. Friend, the Home Secretary.”
This is how Keir Hardie described the events in Parliament: “Once more the Liberals are in office and Asquith is Prime Minister, and troops are let loose upon the people to shoot down if need be, whilst they are fighting for their legitimate rights. They will give you Insurance Bills, they will give you all kinds of soothing syrups to keep you quiet, but in the end your Liberal Party, just like your Tory Party, is the Party of the rich, and exists to protect the rich when Labour and Capital come into conflict.”

In the House of Commons Winston Churchill took full responsibility for the presence of troops in the Welsh valleys, declaring that they would be withdrawn when he decided they were “no longer necessary.” In the light of after events it seems clear that it would have been wiser if Churchill had not stationed them in South Wales at all, but had held them in reserve in a neighbouring county. However, the ironical part of the story is the fact that Churchill was strongly criticized in the House of Commons for exactly the opposite reason by the powerful Conservative Opposition, which was eager to prove Liberal inefficiency at the imminent General Election. The Tories argued that he should have sent troops a week earlier to take charge of the situation, and if this had been done all damage to property would have been prevented. But General Macready in a fair and unbiased account praises Churchill for having sent the London police. ‘It was entirely due to Winston Churchill’s foresight in sending a strong force of Metropolitan Police directly he was aware of the state of affairs in the valleys that bloodshed was avoided, for had the police not been in strength sufficient to cope with the rioters there would have been no alternative but to bring the military into action.

Next came the dock workers and the longshoremen strikes, and the railway strikes, of August 1911. The anger the “Tonypandy incident” had aroused among the working class people had not fully impressed itself on Churchill, for this time he did not hesitate to call upon the military in force. He declared that the nation was on the brink of a national  railway strike and dispatched troops in all directions, without even waiting for the local authorities to ask for them.

Once again he was furiously attacked by Labour Members in the House, and defended himself by saying: “The task which was entrusted to the military forces was to keep the railways running, to safeguard the railways, to protect the railwaymen who were at work, to keep the railways running for the transportation of food supplies and raw materials. And it was necessary, if they were to discharge that task, that the General commanding each area into which the country is divided, the General responsible for each of the different strike areas, should have full liberty to send troops to any point on the line so that communications should not be interrupted. That is how it arose, of course, that on Saturday the soldiers arrived at places to protect railway stations and signal boxes, goods yards, and other points on the line without their having been requisitioned by the local authorities.

There was a feeling in Parliament, however, that Churchill revelled in strong measures; that in this case instead of using troops as a last resort his first instinct has been to turn to the military. Ramsay MacDonald reminded him in biting tones that these were not the sort of methods that the average Englishman liked, whether his party was Liberal, Tory, or even Socialist.

“This is not a mediaeval State, and it is not Russia. It is not even Germany. We have discovered a secret which very few countries have hitherto discovered. The secret this nation has discovered is that the way to maintain law and order is to trust the ordinary operations of a law abiding and order inclined people If the Home Secretary had just a little more knowledge of how to handle masses of men in these critical times, if he had a somewhat better instinct of what civil liberty does mean, and if he had a somewhat better capacity to use the powers which he has got as Home Secretary, we should have had much less difficulty in the last four or five days in facing and finally settling the very difficult problem we have had before us.”

Indeed, the sending of troops was so deeply resented by the labour ranks it nearly resulted in a General Strike. “This military intervention” (wrote Elie Halevy) “was not always successful. If in London the dispute was peaceably settled by an agreement concluded on August, it was not so at Liverpool where the presence of the Irish element no doubt gave the strike a peculiarly violent character. One day the offices of the Shipping Federation were burnt down. Another day the soldiers used their rifles and there were casualties. They were, to be sure, local disturbances. But by the indignation they aroused throughout the working class they provoked, or came within an ace of provoking, another social crisis of a more formidable character.”

At this point Lloyd George stepped in with permission from the Cabinet to act as a negotiator. He was completely successful. He not only brought the railway strike to an end, but left the impression that if his tact and persuasiveness had been employed sooner labour relations would never have reached such a pitch. Winston Churchill on the other hand had merely widened the deep antagonism which was now firmly established between himself and the working class.

In January, before the railway strike and after the Welsh coal stoppage, an incident took place which provided the country with a certain amount of comic relief, but at the same time gave further ammunition to Winston Churchill’s enemies. It was known as “The Siege of Sidney Street.” In January 1911 the police telephoned the Home Secretary and informed him that they had cornered a gang of desperadoes, among whom was “Peter the Painter” an anarchist, responsible for recent murders of the police in Houndsditch. The men were entrenched in a house in Sidney Street in Stepney. No one knew how many there were but they appeared to have plenty of ammunition and probably some home-made bombs. Churchill could not resist the excitement. Dressed in a top-hat and a fur lined overcoat with an astrakhan collar, and accompanied by the Chief of the C.I.D., the Commissioner of the City Police, and the head of the political section of Scotland Yard, he hurried to the scene. The house was surrounded by several hundred armed police reinforced by a small file of Scots Guards, equipped with a Maxim gun, who had been summoned from the Tower. The Guards were firing on the house and occasionally from the broken windows a bullet answered back. One policeman had been wounded.

Hugh Martin, a journalist who was present at the scene, described Mr Churchill as “altogether an imposing figure.” “Peeping round corners he exposed himself with the Scots Guards to the random fire of the besieged burglars, or consulted with his “staff” in tones of utmost gravity. He agreed that it might be an excellent thing to have in reserve a couple of field guns from the Royal Horse Artillery depot at St. John’s Wood, and that a party of Royal Engineers from Chatham might be useful if mining operations had to be undertaken against the citadel. He even suggested that casualties might be avoided if steel plates were brought from Woolwich to form a portable cover for the military sharpshooters an early version of one of his ideas, first utiized during the Great War.”

Soon wisps of smoke began to rise from the windows, and half an hour later the house was burning fiercely. Fire engines arrived and quickly got to work. When the police finally entered the ruins, instead of a formidable gang, they found only two charred bodies; and neither belonged to Peter the Painter.
The Conservatives made as much fun of the story as they could. They ridiculed Churchill for the troops and the field gun, for the false excitement and self advertisement. Arthur Balfour commented sarcastically in the House: “We are concerned to observe photographs in the Illustrated Papers of the Home Secretary in the danger zone. I can understand what the photographer was doing but not the Home Secretary.”

Winston’s Liberal colleagues were also sarcastic. The soldier seemed to be much more prominent these days than the Radical. Were the Tories right? Was he purely an adventurer at heart? In 1912 A. G. Gardiner published a character sketch in the Daily News which showed how far Liberal feeling had changed towards him:

“He is always unconsciously playing a part an heroic part. And he is himself his most astonished spectator. He sees himself moving through the smoke of battle triumphant, terrible, his brow clothed with thunder, his legions looking to him for victory, and not looking in vain. He thinks of Napoleon; he thinks of his great ancestor. Thus did they bear themselves; thus in this rugged and awful crisis, will he bear himself. It is not make-believe, it is not insincerity; it is that in this fervid and picturesque imagination there are always great deeds afoot, with himself cast by destiny in the Agamemnon role. Hence that portentous gravity that sits on his youthful shoulders so oddly, those impressive postures and tremendous silences, the body flung wearily in the chair, the head resting gloomily in the hand, the abstracted look, the knitted brow. Hence that tendency to exaggerate a situation which is so characteristic of him the tendency that
sent artillery down to Sidney Street and during the railway strike dispatched the military hither and thither as though Armageddon was upon us. “You’ve mistaken a coffee-stall row for the social revolution” said one of his colleagues to him as he pored with knitted and portentous brows over a huge map of the country on which he was making his military dispositions.”

This paragraph was often gleefully quoted by Winston’s Tory opponents during the next few years. But once World War I had begun, they found it convenient to omit the three sentences that followed. Gardiner had gone on to say: “Hence his horrific picture of the German menace. He believes it all, because his mind once seized with an idea works with enormous velocity round it, intensifies it, makes it shadow the whole sky. In the theatre of his mind it is always the hour of fate and the crack of doom.”

The year 1911 marked a turning point in Winston Churchill’s life. In July, a German gunboat, the Panther, suddenly stationed itself off the obscure Atlantic port of Agadir on the North African coast. This was a direct threat to French expansion in the Mediterranean. The Chancelleries of Europe were electrified and for three months the western world hovered on the brink of war. Winston Churchill’s eyes opened with a start as he at last became conscious of the peril that threatened England. For eleven years he had followed first in his father’s footsteps, and then in Lloyd George’s, as an apostle of “Peace, Retrenchment and Reform.” The championing of these ideas had cast him in the strangely incongruous role of “The Little Englander” the opponent of a strong Army and Navy, the darling of the pacifists, the provincial reformer so engrossed in tidying up his house, that he could not see the approaching tornado.

Overnight Winston Churchill abandoned retrenchment. His ardour for prison reform
died as his powerful mind swung on to world affairs. For the first time since he had become a Member of Parliament he began to think independently. And although neither he nor anyone else realized it at the time, he had finally veered onto his true course, “as a champion of the might and right of Britain.”

The Agadir incident, as it became known, was a highlight in a series of events which began at the beginning of the century when Germany decided to build a large Navy.

Germany was young and virile.

She was already the strongest military power on the Continent. This fact had worried the French for some time, but it had not aroused much concern among the English who believed they could remain safely aloof in their island fortress with their Navy the undisputed ruler of the sea lanes of the world. But when Germany published a new Fleet Law in 1900 revealing that the Emperor not only wished to control the greatest army in Europe but to rival English sea power as well, the British Foreign Office became
alarmed. The preamble of the “Fleet Law” stated: “In order to protect German trade and commerce, under existing conditions, only one thing will suffice, namely, Germany must possess a battle fleet of such strength that, even for the most powerful naval adversary, a war would involve such risks as to make that Power’s own supremacy doubtful.”

Why did Germany want this vast Navy?

Against whom was it intended?

The British could find only one answer: and that was the beginning of the fear that led to protective alliances; and the alliances that involved them in the subsequent war. Throughout her history Britain had always allied herself with the second strongest power on the Continent, gathering to her banner small states eager to maintain their independence. It therefore seemed natural to the English that in 1904, when the Kaiser in a flamboyant speech was proclaiming himself “The Admiral of the Atlantic,” that Britain should be making an entente with France.

The entente proved of mutual advantage to both countries. The French agreed to give the British a free hand in Egypt and the British agreed to help France round off her North African Empire by the acquisition of Morocco. In the minds of both nations was the belief that it would be a good thing to keep Germany out of the Mediterranean. The Kaiser was indignant. In 1905 he paid a visit to Tangier, in Morocco, and made a speech declaring that his friend, the Sultan, must remain absolutely independent. The result was a twelve months’ cold war, but Britain stood steadfastly by France, and in the end the Germans sulkily backed down.

It is well to remind the reader that in those days diplomacy was for the few and the very few. The British public had little say in Foreign Affairs. And when one speaks of ‘the Government’ deciding this or that, one means the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, and perhaps one or two other leading Ministers, but by no means the whole of the Cabinet. With this in mind it does not seem so strange that while ‘the Government’ was
strengthening its relations with France and keeping an anxious eye on Germany, the Cabinet also decided, in 1906, to cut down Britain’s shipbuilding programme. Winston Churchill and Lloyd George led the attack on naval armaments, while Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, quietly went on his way building up a diplomatic bulwark against Germany.

In 1907 Sir Edward made an alliance with France’s ally, Russia, which led to another ‘cold war’ scare in 1908. Germany’s ally, Austria, stole a march on Russia by proclaiming the annexation of Bosnia, a Turkish province which Russia regarded as within her ‘sphere of influence.’ Russia was compelled to forgo her authority, but British public opinion was stirred; and that was the year that the clamour for eight new warships
reached its height.

Meantime France went ahead with her conquest of Morocco, offering Germany as compensation a part of French Equatorial Africa. When the German gunboat was sent to Agadir in 1911, in order to enforce French generosity, the situation reached its third climax. Once again the Anglo-French entente held firm and once again Germany retreated from her stand. Lloyd George played a sudden and surprising part in the crisis, making it clear that Britain was in no mood to be bullied.

Up to this time there had been a cleavage between Sir Edward Grey as leader of the Liberal Imperialists, and Lloyd George as leader of the Liberal pacifists. Churchill relates in The World Crisis how he met Lloyd George several weeks after Germany had shown her “mailed fist.” Lloyd George was due to make a speech to the City bankers that evening, at an annual dinner at the Mansion House. He evidently saw quite clearly the course to take. During the speech, he pointed out that “Germany was acting as if England did not count in this matter, in any way. Germany behaved as if she had completely ignored our strong representation, while she was proceeding to put the most severe pressure on France claiming that a catastrophe might ensue, and that if the great War, is to be averted, we must take the decision to speak with great ferocity, and act at once.”

Consequently Lloyd George’s speech contained a passage that fell on German ears like a thunderbolt. He said this: “If a situation were forced upon us, in which peace could only be preserved by the surrender of the great and beneficent position Britain has won by centuries of heroism and achievement, by allowing Britain to be treated where her interests were vitally affected, as if she were of no account in the Cabinet of nations, then I say emphatically that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure.”

The Germans were not only astonished but furious. The German Ambassador was recalled in disgrace for portraying Lloyd George as a “Pacifist” and once again after three agitated months, the crisis passed. “People think” complained Lloyd George, “that because I was a pro-Boer, I am anti-war in general, and that I should faint at the mention of a cannon.”

The Agadir episode was a turning point in Winston Churchill’s life. As a matter of fact it was his Epiphany, if not his Paulian Damascus moment of salvation, and a return to Jesus.

Some men are so exhilarated by a sense of danger that a sudden surge of new power seems to rise within them. Winston Churchill was one of these. The prospect of a great conflict obsessed him and he could think of little else.

How could he keep his mind on Home Office matters when life and death were
in the balance? How could he interest himself in labor strikes, employers industrial actions, and Suffragettes, when at any moment Germany might strike at Britain and war would descend upon all?

Indeed Winston had always believed himself to be a Man of Destiny.

His colossal self-confidence, which some people unkindly referred to as egotism, and his almost superstitious attitude towards life had led him to analyse his position a hundred times.

Sometimes, he even dwelt on the chance encounters, the narrow escapes, the impulsive decisions, and the rewarding risks, that had carried him so far along the road to power.

Therefore he reckoned — it must all be for some definite purpose.

As for his own personal purpose, meaning of Life, and Mission of his career when he was placed upon this God’s good Earth — first he had thought his destiny lay in avenging his father and spreading the message of Compassionate Conservatism,that Lord Rqndolph Churchill had first broached to the World.

Later, and after his introspective and experimental with apocryphal religions period, he experienced his Epiphany that brought him squarely to the fold of the Christian Religion — and he felt that his destiny lies in helping the poor.

Yet now after the discovery of the imminent war signals and after hearing the jungle drums of German nihilism overshadowing Europe once again — he became absolutely convinced that he ought to shift his attention in order to save England from annihilation.

AS it always happens — it all came full circle and in the middle of August, a few weeks after the Agadir incident, he went to the country and sat on a hilltop looking over the beautiful green fields and the valley of Kent, while meditating about the perils of war, and how to possibly avoid it.

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But most importantly, he thought abut how to preserve the Peace through his wits, through the networks of commercial interests and familiar trade routes, and also through the sheer genius of British diplomacy, and the use of Soft power…

Soon enough, it seemed that he would have his hands full.

As a footnote, it seems important to add that many years later this Man who was born inside the Blenheim palace in Oxfordshire — Winston Churchill who had been itinerant for more than half his life —  when he did decide to put down roots for the second time in 1922, he was delighted to rediscover Chartwell, virtually on Kent’s western boundary, and the scene of the spectacular vistas that he had come to love. The tranquillity of the place had captivated him in these earlier visits, and he was often found looking out over the Weald of Kent…

Indeed, many years later, he was want to say to visitors and strangers alike, when they found him walking or idling along the ridges: “I bought Chartwell for that view.”

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To be continued:

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