Churchill as a wartime Prime Minister

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  • Churchill as a wartime PM.
    • In 1940, Churchill felt that he was destined to lead Britain. Had first-hand experience of war.
    • By early May the French had large forces, the British were fighting on one front & Churchill had put together a cabinet of his own supporters.
    • TNC was the first real initiative. The Norway Campaign = failure.
      • It was obvious that the war effort wasn't being well co-ordinated.
    • If France were defeated, Britain's army would be isolated.
    • By May 1940, Churchill was facing many challenges.
      • The British army had fallen back on Dunkirk, hoping to be evacuated. 300,000 troops. Chances of being evacuated = slim.
        • Because of German air superiority, and possibility of an assault.
      • Danger of Italian entry to the war, would threaten Egypt and the SC.
      • Gold reserves were running out, wasn't clear whether Britain could afford to go fighting.
        • 30's, issues have been going on for a long time = Devil's Decade.
      • Japan = possible threat to British possessions in SA.
    • Lord Halifax
      • Major supporter of appeasement and foreign secretary in 1940.
      • Proposed for an approach to Mussolini & an appeal to the US, both were REJECTED.
      • By 4th June over 220,000 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk.
    • Churchill maintained a war with no allies against what was perceived to be one of the greatest military powers ever.
      • July, 1940 - attack on the French fleet to prevent it falling into German hands.
        • Better decision to make in the long term.
    • What was special about Churchill's leadership style during the war?
      • He was a hard taskmaster => someone that is always pushing people.
        • Daring and ruthlessness marked him out from his predecessors.
      • Constantly restless and energetic.
      • Officials who couldn't keep up or who displaced him were dismissed.
      • Believed in establishing strong personal relations with his allies.
    • Churchill's relations with his Generals.
      • Brooke
        • Highly competent organizer and a thorough professional.
          • Conscious of the need to deploy British forces carefully & avoid heavy casualties.
            • Often annoyed by Churchill 'thinking aloud'.
              • When it came to major decisions there were fewer disagreements between the two.
              • Supported Churchill's decision to send troops to North Africa.
      • Wavell
        • Churchill gave him little credit for NA. Personally disliked him.
          • Wasn't given time to prepare properly for the Balkan front without him in command in Greece.
            • His troops were taken off to a flawed campaign.
            • Early successes in NA were thrown away.
            • Didn't have the resources to meet German forces under Rommel who were sent to Africa.
              • Took the blame and was demoted.
      • Auchinleck and Montgommery
        • Auchinleck wasn't prepared for an attack on the Germans.
          • Insisted on delaying until prepared.
            • Sacked for his delays and not being daring and aggressive.
        • Montgomery won over Churchill by his self-confidence.
          • Much of the credit for the first major British victory in the war should've gone to Auchinleck, but they didn't.
            • Churchill favoured 'Monty'
    • The war in 1943-44.
      • British commander Sir Harold Alexander merely showed persistence in maintaining a slow advance.
        • Churchill admired him for his unruffled style of leadership.
      • Churchill and his generals didn't clash about the overall strategy of the war.
        • Invasion of France couldn't be delayed, Churchill planned it for the summer of 1944.
      • Eisenhower put in charge.
        • The planning under General Morgan was one of the most important achievements of the war.
          • Churchill showed little appreciation for meticulous planning, only for 'bright ideas'.
        • Compared to US forces, the British forces faced relatively limited resistance at D-Day on June 1944.
      • From 1940-44, Churchill and his generals had occupied Germany.
        • The war in NA was characterised by the PMs loss of confidence in his major commanders.
          • Exerted a major influence on the joint strategy of British and American alliance.
    • Churchill wanted to boost public morale done his way.
      • Tampered with statistics to help himself.
    • Hitler's invasion of C showed that Churchill was right about Germany all along.
    • "We will choke on our own blood" Emphasises Churchill's extreme attitude and determination.
    • By 1940, Churchill had established his position over his rivals and his oratory had become a weapon of war.
    • Churchill's determination had prevented any negotiations with Germany. The nation had steeled itself for a long struggle.

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