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What did Churchill do that made him the hero he is today and how did he change the course of the Second World War?

Info: 11067 words (44 pages) Dissertation
Published: 16th Dec 2019

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Tagged: HistoryPoliticsGovernment





1. Introduction

2. His Youth

2.1 His Origins

2.2 His Education

2.3 In The Army

3. Early politic

3.1 His Beginnings At The Parliament

3.2 First Lord Of Admiralty

4. First World War and Post War

4.1 The Causes

4.2 The Beginning Of The War

4.3 The Dardanelles

4.5 The End of the war

4.6 The Post war period

5. Prime Minister and Second World War (1939-1945)

5.1 The war starts

5.2 Churchill Prime Minister

5.3 The Fall of France

5.4 Free France

5.5 England Alone

5.6 The United States in the War

5.7 The rebound of the allies

5.8 The Landing of Normandie

5.9 The End of the War

5.10 Information during the War

6. After the War and End of Life

7. Conclusion

7. My Experience

8. Sources

1.   Introduction

Who was Winston Churchill?

He was a British politician, a writer, an artist, a soldier and the prime minister of England twice. He did quite a lot of things during his life and had an important role during the Second World War. Like all important men, he was liked and disliked. He was someone that spoke really easily, and always had something to answer. Many of his statements were iconic and are now recorded.

Everybody knows Churchill, at least nominally. They all know that he was the Prime Minister during the second World War, but then we can wonder about the reason of his popularity. He must have done somethings special for his name to be acknowledged in our time. Some people even use the word hero when they speak about him. But, what is a hero? There are lots of different definition of this word, but I think that the one which will interest us here is that a hero is someone admired for being brave or having achieved something great or it is someone that saved life. It is said of him that he saved his country during the second World War, in fact it is mostly due to this time that he is famous nowadays, even if he participated in many other important things. He has had a really interesting life, he was speaking really well therefore a lot of his speeches are recorded and are now known as having been statements encouraging the population not to give up during the war. The project explores the whole of his life and focuses particularly his role in the second World War.

So now we can ask ourselves why, why is he famous? What did he do that made him be called a hero? What did he do during the Second World War that changed its course?

2.   His Youth

2.1 His Origins

Churchill was born on November 30th, 1874 at Blenheim Palace in the Oxfordshire in a family who belonged to highest level of aristocracy. In 1877, (after two years at the castle of Marlborough) he followed his father and his grand-father, who’d been appointed Lord-Lieutenant in 1876, to Ireland. [2] There he received an education at home with a governess called Elizabeth Ann Everest. He nicknamed her “Woomany” and they were very close. She gave Winston the maternal love that he missed due to the absence of his parents whom he hardly ever saw. All Churchill’s pain, problems and confessions were for Mrs Everest. As He said about his mother “I loved her dearly-but at a distance[3].

Mrs Everest has been a very important person for Winston during his youth, and he never forgot her. All his life, he kept a painting of her in his office. His grand-father being the Viceroy of Ireland, Winston lived with him in Dublin until 1880. He almost never saw his parents at this age they were too busy. During his entire life Churchill will always tried to bring his father’s attention on him. The absence of His mother, very busy with her social life, was compensated thanks to his adored governess. His father very taken up by his career will still remain his hero even if he was really strict with him and there was a lack of communication between them. The father of Churchill was a politician, he was an important member of the conservative party and has been leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer and failed to become the prime Minister. He also was someone doing nice speeches.[4]

2.2 His Education

At the age of seven, Churchill went for the first time to school in Ascot near London. Saint George’s School was a very expensive school for boys where they were only ten students per class. This school followed a very traditional and strict system for this era, such as physical punishments and memory exercises that didn’t make any sense. Winston really disliked this boarding school where he had to learn by heart things that he didn’t understand. He was very unhappy and stayed there more than two years before his parents decided to take him out of it. They decided to make him attend a state school in Brighton kept by the Ladies Thomson. Churchill found that school much better. He could choose what he wanted to learn and thus he improved a little bit his performances. Despite these changes, Winston’s behaviour didn’t change enough, and he was still getting bad grades, so his father decided in 1888 to have him join a famous public school in Harrow. He passed the entrance examination to Harrow School thanks only to a Headmaster that saw his “general ability” as he had hardly written anything on his examination sheet. In this school he will spend more than four years until the age of eight-teen even if here as well, he will have a bad behaviour and bad marks. [5] His bad results at school can be explained by his dyslexia but it is only a supposition from his autobiography.[6]Very young, barely a grown up, Churchill already knew he wanted to go into politics. He wanted to leave a mark on his passage and one day wrote to his mother that fame was the best thing in life. He liked his life in the army, but he knew he wanted to do something bigger. He was sure that he had a great future and had an absolute faith on his star.

2.3 In The Army

Winston succeeded to join the Royal Military College Sandhurst after three trials. He joined the army only because he wanted to do something special that would draw the attention on him. In 1895[7] he decided to use his permission to travel to Cuba as a war correspondent with the Spanish during the Cuban rebellion. There he discovered the Cuban cigar he will smoke for the rest of his life. He was writing for the daily Graphic[8] and being very clever he was able to inform people and give his political views and opinions. This way he earned some money, which was very useful as he was spending without counting and therefore really needed the money. Writing was also a good way to make a name for himself. As he never tried to hide his political ambitions in his published articles he was often very much criticised by some even if praised by others as well.

During 1896, Churchill was displaced to India with his regiment. There he lived a nice life and played polo at which he was really good. But that life was too repetitive for him and he began to get bored of his daily routine. It’s at this moment that he decided to cultivate himself and started to read. Books of history, philosophy, French literature, Winston was reading a lot and gained a really good culture which will serve him all his life. Later, Churchill will cover several battles in India and in Egypt as a war correspondent and this way will ensure him a greatly needed income of money. When back in Great Britain in 1898 he started to write “The River War” on the Reconquista of Soudan that was published in 1899. These were the first writings of a man whom will twice be Prime Minister and whom will receive the Nobel Price of literature in 1953.

Figure 1: Churchill in millitary uniform at the age of 19

In 1899, he left the army and tried to enter Oldham, the politic world, but he didn’t pass. After this failure, he decided to cover the Boers’ war, in South Africa, again as a war correspondent for the Morning Post. He was accompanying an expedition on a train when they fell in an ambush held by the Boers who captured him. He escaped soon after which made the eye of the public go directly on him. Even if he wasn’t there as a soldier, he succeeded to prove his talents during the battle following his escape which put him in limelight and made him a kind of a war hero during a short moment. [9]

3. Early politic

3.1 His Beginnings At The Parliament

Churchill made his first steps at Westminster early in 1901 after he won the election of 1900 in Oldham. He had been candidate the year before but had lost. What made the difference this time were his actions during the war against the Boers which contributed to British victory. At the election of 1900 Churchill was welcomed as a hero and was supported by the population in a way that ensured him to be one of the two elected candidates. Churchill joined a faction of the Conservative Party called the Hughligans. He made several speeches defending his views with strength, which made him better known. During this period, he continued to write books, notably from 1902 to 1905, when he wrote a biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, which received critical acclaim. This book was very important for Winston as he admired tremendously his father. We can easily imagine and understand that if he had entered the political world and wanted so much to leave his mark it was to walk in the steps of his father. [10]

In 1904, Winston left the Conservative Party to go to the Liberal Party. For a while already, he had been voting like them, following Lloyd George with whom he spoke a lot about his future and which helped him make his final political choice decision. Churchill won a seat in Manchester North-West two years later, where he stayed until 1908, when he became President of the Board of Trade.[11] In this position, Churchill established the Labour Exchange which was a revolution in the way to find a job and was a great success. In 1908, he married Clementine who was for him a permanent support. In 1910, he became Home Secretary. At this moment Churchill was much criticised, for example when troops were sent to Wales because of a coal miner strike action.

Figure 2: Churchill in 1900

3.2 First Lord Of Admiralty

In 1911, an unexpected event happened. Winston became the First Lord of the Admiralty, the civilian leader of the navy, something he really liked. Upon his arrival, he undertook a large reorganisation of the system encouraging defence against the attack. He brought modernity to the army by encouraging airplanes and by supporting tanks.[12] He really liked flying which made him introduce the army’s use of aircraft and he took flying lessons. He enjoyed piloting a plane but decided to stop on the demands of his wife during an accident that killed someone flying with him.[13]

Churchill was watching the evolution of Germany and was thinking that a war could explode in the near future. Therefore, he prepared the Royal Navy for it. He wanted to be ready when it would burst. He was mentally well prepared and ready.

4. First World War and Post War

4.1 The Causes

On March 28th, 1914 the Archduke of Austria-Este and the Royal Prince of Hungary, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated. The perpetrator of this act, a Serbian, had the Empire of Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia. At that moment, Europe was divided into two alliances: the triple Entente formed by Brittany, Russia and France and the triple Alliance formed by Germany, Italy and the Empire of Austria-Hungary. Serbia was allied with Russia whom mobilised his troops learning Serbia was attacked. Following this, Germany decided to declare the war on Russia and on France at the same time. France had said they would do what was best for them. The day after Germany invaded Belgium to avoid Russia to reach the north of France. This conducted Great Britain to enter the war.[14]

4.2 The Beginning Of The War

Churchill was really active as soon as the war started. He wanted to do something special, to be the key to victory. He was the leader of the Navy and was taking all the important decisions. But the population was not happy about the progress of the war. There were delay and killing, and the war was not ending which caused the Nation’s disappointment. Churchill was looking for the long term which wasn’t in adequacy for the needs of people.

Submarines and mines made the United Kingdom lose many ships. This was not favouring the people’s opinion of Churchill who was the First Lord of the Admiralty. The Germans began to win battles against Britain while Churchill was occupied in Anvers (Belgium), trying to defend it from the Germans attacks. There, many British soldiers will lose their life before Anvers is finally taken a week after. It was a real fiasco, thousands of deaths that could have been avoided. It still permitted to save three Belgian cities. Churchill was blamed for this entire event and was considered the only responsible for this failure. Fortunately, the Royal Navy soon started winning battles again and Churchill’s popularity increased a little again. In fact, Churchill played an important role in those victories because he had supported the search of a decrypt weapon. The British could now decrypt the Germans’ communications which was really a big advantage. This is when Churchill created the famous “Room 40” where he put specialists. They defeated attacks from their opponents and won a battle thanks to this place. But this wasn’t enough for Churchill who wished to deliver a big shot on his enemies.[15]

4.3 The Dardanelles

At the end of 1914, Great Britain had already lost many soldier and the war wasn’t advancing significantly because the trenches were almost impossible to take. Churchill thought about bypassing his enemy by the sea to find another place were the war would advance and where they could win. He had two ideas for this but made his choice after having received a message telling him that the Dardanelles could be forced with a lot of ships.[16] The decision of Winston was to reach and take Constantinople (now known as Istanbul) and the only way to pass was to pass through Dardanelles. This project was adopted on January 1915.[17] They were to attack Gallipoli’s peninsula on the North Dardanelles in order to finally reach Constantinople. Churchill had decided to apply his plan without any real certitude it would work, just his self-confidence and his trust about his own military genius even if every professional were telling him it couldn’t and wouldn’t work only by passing by the see and that they should put troops on the ground as well. The preparation lasted about two months and on March 18th, 1915[18] the operation was launched. A huge naval army composed of French and British troops advanced into the Dardanelles where the Ottoman Empire was waiting, and the worst happened. They reached a naval mine field and lots of ships were destroyed. The loss of men was huge. The Ottomans were very well prepared which wasn’t the case of the Ally and therefore it turned into a one-way battle.

A second attack took place in April including ground troops but was a defeat as well. This time the attack wasn’t organised by Winston but by two other commanders. Several more attacks were launched during the following months, but none succeeded. They only increased the number of victims and injured. The decision to evacuate the army was finally taken in January 1916.[19] The record was catastrophic, about 250 thousand impacted soldiers, including deaths, injuries and illnesses. Most of the British families lost someone during this battle.

Churchill had been really implied in the preparation of this event and therefore this defeat was very heavy in consequences for him. As a human person, he was also personally very much impacted by this defeat. He hadn’t listened to anybody, had been too confident in himself and about his choices and had made a huge mistake. After this disaster, he had no choice but to leave his position of First Lord of the Admiralty.

4.5 The End of the war

After Churchill left his post he decided to go to the front line in France where he will start to paint because of his sadness. He didn’t stay long in France, he was impatient about the French situation and wanted to go back to the Parliament. He came back to England end of 1916 and became Minister of Munition in 1917. His role was to coordinate and watch the distribution of munition. During this time, he participated to the tank production. He had encouraged it when he was the First Lord of the Admiralty and now they were produced in mass. They played an important role at the end of the war.[20] Finally, the armistice was signed in 1918. During this war, the total number of deaths amounted around twenty million of which about half were civils including the deaths by illness and starvation.[21]

4.6 The Post war period

Churchill’s political career didn’t slow down after the war. In early 1919 he became Secretary of State for War. He was against the Bolshevism and tried to have England do something against it but didn’t succeed. In 1921 he became Secretary of State for the Colonies. In this role he was to manage the British Colonies around the world. But Winston was mostly focused on the Indian situation as well as others but not really on what he had to do. Year 1921 was hard on Churchill with the deaths of Mrs Everest and of his last child, only three years old. In 1924 he became Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was considered as the second highest position in the British parliament, just under the prime Minister. That same year he also came back to the Conservative Party having had differences with the Liberals.[22] While Chancellor he had the wish to make the British pound as strong as before the war, but he didn’t succeed at all and caused the crash of 1929 which had really bad consequences on the economy.

The Conservative Party lost the election in 1929 and would be re-elected only two years later. Churchill had to leave his Chancellor position.[23] During the thirties Winston wrote a lot. He was not really liked and considered as unreliable because of his past actions like the Dardanelles and some other political views.

Churchill was insisting that Great Britain should arm themselves. From the time he saw Hitler take power in Germany, he was predicting the war and did many speeches to inform the British people.

5. Prime Minister and Second World War (1939-1945)

5.1 The war starts

On September 1st, 1939 Germany attacks Poland thus breaking the Munich Agreement established one year before by Chamberlain. The war began on September 3rd after a speech pronounced by the king George VI on the BBC saying what Churchill had been saying from a long time. The same day, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty by Chamberlain, who was convinced that it was essential. The message “Winston is back” was sent to all ships and bases of the Navy and was well welcomed.

5.2 Churchill Prime Minister

Chamberlain suffered a lot of the events that happened in Norway in 1939-40. He was not a “war leader” and the decision to change Prime Minister was taken. On May 10th, 1940 Chamberlain resigned. Winston Churchill, who was the only real asset of England and who had been warning about the Germans for some time already, was suggested to become the new Prime Minister. Halifax, Churchill’s principal opponent and favourite for this position, had withdrawn the day before considering he was in the House of Lords and that a Prime Minister must be in the House of Commons. [24] Therefore, Churchill succeeded to Chamberlain that same day on the evening.  He wrote a letter to his predecessor to thank him for his support. Winston was really happy, he finally had the power. He said that all his life had been lived to reach this achievement. On May 13th Churchill made his first speech as Prime Minister where he pronounced these words:” I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat[25] thereby requesting the Chambers to support him and showing that he was there to work hard. It was an encouragement as well as motivational speech when he said:” You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: it is victory; victory at all costs”. [26] A nice speech and a real war statement that certainly motivated the British army and the population even if Churchill wasn’t appreciated by everybody due to his past defeats and his temperament.

5.3 The Fall of France

Churchill was alone against all by thinking to continue to fight and not sign the piece with the Germans. He had to convince his allies that it was the right thing to do. Without him at this point, the war could have taken a totally different way. France was in a really bad position against Germany and the leaders were thinking about giving up. Churchill came to France on May 16th, 1940 and started to think that England was going to be alone in the war. On May 26th Churchill decided almost against everyone to continue the war and not to deal with Hitler. [27] Belgium had capitulated, and Norway had almost lost. After the success of the evacuation of hundred thousand French and British whom had been blocked by the Germans, Churchill shared his willingness with the Nation on June 4th in his famous speech saying:” We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”.[28]

This message made sensation to the people, who began to think that Churchill was at his perfection in the battle, in the war. He did encourage the Nation to continue to fight which turned out to be the right thing to do.

The French situation didn’t improve, it became even worse so that the government left Paris. Churchill went to France twice to convince their leader not to sign an agreement with the Germans and continue to fight. Churchill really liked France, so he couldn’t believe they were going to be defeated by their opponent in only the first months. When Churchill came to their leader it was only to encourage them saying they had to fight, even in the streets, everywhere. The government of Pétain which was just replacing Albert Lebrun (the president of the republic before he gave his place to Phillipe Pétain) from a month was afraid of Germany and decided to ask for the armistice on the night between the 16th and the 17th June 1940[29] which was signed some days later. France and Great Britain had signed a convention saying that they wouldn’t sign an armistice with Germany individually. This convention was signed by Paul Reynaud in the French side who hadn’t discuss about it with his government. It had an importance in the deterioration of the relation between the two countries .

The French rendition affected a lot the moral of British inhabitants and soldiers. Churchill had to do something as leader to encourage them and stop their thinks or wishes about giving up. He used his biggest arm to achieve that goal, the words, by doing a speech that motivated all the country and helped the people overcome this difficult period on the 18th June 1940. In his statement he said: “What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire”. This shows us how much Britain was now alone in this war and how much it was crucial to win and that he was not going to give up. He finished his oration by a very supportive part telling people that they were not only fighting to survive but for their own pride as well: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”[30] At this time Churchill was becoming more liked, there were more and more supporters adopting his ideas. He was reunifying the country.

5.4 Free France

After the French capitulation the British Prime Minister allowed De Gaulle to speak at the BBC. De Gaulle was a French General who came to London after the fall of his country because he didn’t accept that they had lost. His message at the radio was a call to all the French and Allies asking them to continue to fight with him at their head. The fact that De Gaulle wanted to continue to fight for his country, even after their rendition, was totally in the way of thinking of Churchill. At the beginning of their collaboration, Winston talked about De Gaulle as “the man of destiny”. The call to the French didn’t reach as many as he had hoped but still enough people heard his message and soon formed a new state called the Free France. This state depended on United Kingdom and its government was created on the 24th September 1941 with a flag similar to the French one but with the cross of Loraine in the middle of it in opposition to the swastika / Nazi cross. [31]

Figure 3: Flag of the free-france with the cross of lorraine

While France was occupied by the Germans, Churchill had to take what he said was the hardest decision of the war. A powerful French naval army was stationing in Algeria. Winston, who wasn’t informed about the details of the armistice between France and Germany (which said that the French Navy would not be delivered) didn’t want the French float to be taken by the Germans. It would have put England in great danger should the Nazis have taken over these warships. On the 3rd July 1940 he gave the French an ultimatum allowing them to escape or to scuttle their ships. The French refused this deadline which was considered as unacceptable and would have broken their contract with Germany. The British Admiral had to launch the operation “catapult” that destroyed part of their ships and made more than a thousand casualties and deteriorated the relationship between the two countries.[32] Churchill who was really human was very unhappy to have had to make this choice, but it had been the right thing to do. Even de Gaulle admitted afterwards that it had been the best decision. With this decision Churchill proved that he was not going to stop fighting, his desire to win this war and the sacrifices he was ready to make. It showed his determination to continue in spite of everything and made of him real a war leader. This decision also affected him personally and he became very moody. His wife Clementine wrote

to him saying he was going to be hated if he persisted like that. He followed her advice.

5.5 United Kingdom Alone

During the summer of 1940 the battles were highly concentrated in the sky of England and the government was leading from an underground bunker where Churchill had his office. People worked there day and night during a few years. The famous old fashion phones were permanently ringing to inform about the development of the situation at the front and how the troops were advancing. In the sky, there were only few pilots defending Britain against the assault of Germany. This is also when Winston chose to inform how well the Nation was protected by some courageous pilots. In this speech on the 20th August 1940, he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few[33] which is a really strong message telling how much the British Air Force was doing, fighting alone against their enemy. This message was as well saying how much the United Kingdom was alone in these battles, alone in this war after the fall of France, Belgium and all the allies.

Soon after, during the night of September 7th, 1940 London suffered a bombardment from German planes which killed hundreds of people and injured as many. This was only the beginning of a long series of bombardments. The Germans called them “Blitz” which means lightning in German. These incessant attacks were realized to ruin the moral of the civils. The day bombings stopped a few weeks after their beginning because Germany was losing to many bombardiers. Only the ones occurring at night remained and expanded their aim to other big cities as well. Coventry was nearly wholly destroyed in November. A German answer to the British bombing on Berlin. The Blitz finished in May 1941 having caused 43 thousand deaths and 240 thousand injured[34]. Even if these numbers are huge, the goal of Hitler has not been reached and this thanks to Churchill. He went to see the attacked people even if he was very busy. He moved to town and encouraged the population of London to continue to live like they always had to avoid becoming demoralized or depressive. This is when Churchill started to do the “V” sign, for Victory, to give confidence to people. This is when he said that London could absorb. He was becoming really popular, and his appearances were comforting the people. This German offensive could have finished the war if everybody had given up or if the moral of the British population had fallen. That would have made the moral of the army fall as well. Win a war with a demoralized army is impossible.

Figure 4: Churchill as prime minster in 1941

5.6 The United States in the War

On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese, allies of Germany and Italy, attacked the American military base in Pearl Harbor without any war declaration before it. This surprise attack provoked the United States of America to enter the Second World War. The declaration of war from Japan arrived on December 8th only and President Roosevelt declared war the war the same day. Three days after Hitler and Italy declared the war to the U S.[35]

After that Churchill directly left by boat for the White House in Washington to discuss strategy with the American president. On January 1st, 1942 the declaration of the United Nations was signed by 26 countries including the U S, the Soviet Union and Great Britain.[36] This declaration said that the Nation participating was engaged to use all possible resource against the force of the Tripartite Pact and not to sign armistice with the enemies separately.[37]

Churchill and the United States talked a lot about strategies to adopt against their common enemy. They didn’t agree on how to proceed in the future of the war. In the end, it was Winston Churchill’s plan that was chosen. The operation would land somewhere in North Africa. The only problem was that this part of Africa was French territory and was occupied by the Axes.[38]

5.7 The rebound of the allies

The operation was called “Torch” and took place on November 8th,1942. The two counties participating in the project were the United States and Great Britain. They tried unsuccessfully to convince France to let them pass through North Africa. They had to go through Morocco and Algeria. The taking of Alger happened really easily and in one day they were in possession of the city even if they had had some resistance from the French. The taking of Oran in Algeria took a day longer (Nov 9th) due to a tougher resistance than in Alger. The last city, Casablanca in Morocco, was taken on November 11th and the same day they got a ceasefire with the French military. An agreement was signed saying the North of Africa would be given to Free France. General de Gaulle hadn’t been informed about the mission in Africa. This attack was the first big success of this war and conducted to make the force of the Axis retreat in Tunisia.[39]

Shortly before the operation “Torch”, the battle of El-Alamein in Egypt took place, the first big victory for the allies. The British Lieutenant General Montgomery won the battle considered as the one that changed the war, that signed the rebound of the Allies whom were losing all battles before it. On November 3rd , 1942,  the Allies captured Italians and forced the German forces to retreat to the west, in Libya. After the operation in North Africa, the French decided to leave for Tunisia to join the forces that were already in place. Thanks to the combination of the Allies’ forces in Africa the Axis troop surrendered on Mai 1943.[40] It was a big victory for the Allies and for Churchill who was one of the strategist of this plan. This operation had the Africans leave the battlefields and concentrate on the axis military in Europe which was a massive advance in favour of Great Britain and the Allies.

During this time the battle of Stalingrad took place in Russia. This too was an important battle that changed the war. It opposed Russia, some Allies and the Axis, notably Germany. It was a very murderous battle that made hundreds of thousands of deaths. Russia won this battle that had seemed lost and was added to the Allies victories.[41]

At this time, Italy was in a really bad position. Being constantly bombarded and suffering from internal fights, the population was against the war. The Allies had invaded Sicily and taken the city of Napoli. After a change of Prime Minister, Italy surrendered in September 1943.

In December 1943, Churchill got very ill and had a second heart attack (the first attack was during hisfirst trip to the White House in 1941). Not so young anymore and a big smoker and heavy drinker this wasn’t a real surprise. This time, he almost died but was saved and went to Marrakesh to recover. He obviously continued to work after that.

5.8 The Normandy Landings

The operation of Normandy was one of the most important actions of the Ally during the Second World War. Its code name was operation “Overlord” and the day when it was executed was called the D-Day. Its goal was to liberate Western Europe from the Germans. The landing happened on the 6th of June 1944 on the beaches of Normandy where more than a hundred thousand British and American troops landed. Some diversion, in order to avoid the risk that the Nazis discovered their plan, by doing several operations of smaller scale and that actually all failed had been put in place. On the first day of this landing, there were already thousands of deaths in the Ally side and especially on the American side. It was a really well organised operation and was a big success, even if they had huge human losses. This attack was welcomed by Russia because it opened a second front of war which they were asking to open since 1942.[42]

A few days after the Normandy landing, Churchill was invited by one of his Generals to come on the Beaches of the landing which made him really happy. He was thanked by the French for what he had done during this war and for having freed them. In August, two months after the beginning of Overlord, Paris was taken from the hands of Germany and Winston Churchill walked the streets with Charles de Gaulle. Their relationship was really bad at this time but still he decided to make the French General liberate the French capital thinking it was the best thing to do.

5.9 The End of the War

After the Normandy landing, there was a new front of war on the west side of Germany and there was the one that was existing from a long time and held by Russia on the east side of Germany. The Soviet Union wanted to take Berlin before the occidentals and therefore attacked the city alone on May the 2nd, 1945. This was not a problem because they had a lot more force than the Nazi. On this day two and a half million Russians attacked Hitler in Berlin where his force was under one million. Berlin fell in sixteen days. Hitler committed suicide and the German army did a general capitulation between the 7th and the 8th May 1945.

5.10 Information during the War

Churchill was really interested about information and secret services, so he always supported them. During the Second World War there were operations which consisted in decoding the very complicated system of coding of the German messages, Enigma. In Bletchley Park in England, Alan Turing invented a machine capable to find the code of Enigma (that often changed) and thus capable to read the Germans’ communications.

Being capable to read the enemy’s messages was a real advantage. It could be used to counter them really quickly and to know what they were going to do. It was very useful during the war, it helped England and the Allies to win battles, for example the battle of El-Alamein. The decryption of Enigma has probably shortened the war by many years. It has been a decisive asset for England during the course of the war and especially during the Normandy Landing.

   6. After the War and End of Life

Churchill lost the general election on July 5th, 1945 to become a second time Prime Minster. It was quite a shock for him which is understandable as he had won the war and was liked by everybody. There are several reasons for his defeat. Nobody was doubting about his role in the war the fact that he led the nation really well during his years as Prime Minister, but he was only seen as a war leader and not in at the head of the country in peacetime. Another reason is that he really liked wars, victory had been Churchill’s first concern and that made him neglect the conservative party which was not at his advantage for his re-election. During the Second World War, politic didn’t stop in the United Kingdom, the labour party promoted himself by promising employment for all, free medical services and more. The question of social reform played an important role in the election of 1945. William Beveridge wrote a report about it and was supported by the labour party. It was in fact the follow up of the system Winston putted in place between 1908 and 1911, as they had worked together. The report, published in 1942 offered to Churchill a great opportunity to involve himself into the social reform but he missed it. The labour party had a strong campaign with their idea of Welfare state (where the state plays a key role in the economic well-being of the population) and the conservative were counting on the image of Churchill and were trying to prove that he could lead the nation even in peacetime, but it wasn’t enough, so the conservative party lost and the labour won.[43] He was disappointed but still said that it was democracy which was what they fought for. After this Churchill moved to Hyde Park Gate in the centre of London. There he began to write his memories of war.

Figure 5: Churchill as leader of the opposition

Churchill became the leader of the opposition Party, which means he was the leader of the largest party not in government (the conservative party at this moment because they lost the election) and started to advise about the threat of communism in the Soviet Union by making speeches, even in the United States. By this and other actions, he was rebuilding the Conservative Party that achieved to win the general election in 1951 that made him become Prime Minister for the second time. At this post he decided to go to come back to a traditional society and during the cold war he prioritized direct action.[44] He received the Nobel Price of Literature which disappointed him because he wanted the Nobel Price for the Peace in 1953 and the same year “Winston Churchill” became “Sir Winston Churchill” when was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.  He finally left the leadership in 1955 because of health problems.[45]

Winston Churchill lived until 1965 and reached the age of 90 years which can shock some people because he was a big smoker and drinker. He died in the morning of the 24th January after nine days grave illness.[46] He was buried in a small cemetery next the palace of Blenheim, the place where e is born.

7. Conclusion

To conclude we can say that Churchill was the protagonist of the Allies’ victory during the Second World War by having taken the right decisions at the right moments. His talent for strategy made him elaborate plans nobody would have thought about to finally turn up as a big success. He was also a really effective leader whom never thought about surrender and whom had said from the beginning that they would have to fight, and he had been right. Without Winston, England would certainly have given up, and Germany would then probably have won the war with terrible consequences. The world would today be totally different.

The main difference between Churchill and the other leaders was that he spoke really well. He was very charismatic and his speeches during the Second World War were always encouraging, full of hope and pride. He believed in what he told his compatriots. He had the capacity to find and speak the right words at the appropriate time. His statements and quotes are still very famous today. Without his many speeches addressed to his People before and during the war, England would have lost. This is what made of him a real war leader whom totally inversed the course of the war.

I think we can call Churchill a hero because of his leadership and tenacity during the Second World War.

Winston Churchill lived a very intense life which involves much more than the years he spent leading England in the Second World War. This last part only concerns six years of his life and he lived to the great age of ninety even if he smoked a lot and drank heavily. I believe he deserves to be called a hero for his tenacity and strong character giving him the capacity to recover after his failures and pursue his objectives. He was a resilient man and even, after his defeats and mistakes, after having gone through depression and very tough times, he always came back to serve his country and lead his People. For example, after the Dardanelles where because of him many thousands of people died, he had to leave his position as First Lord of Admiralty. Churchill was also very human and this event really touched him profoundly. Some politicians opposed to him never forgot to remind him this terrible event. But he made his way back and became Prime Minister. This is something not everybody would have been able to do, to put your pride aside and come back even stronger and lead your nation to victory. This is why Winston Churchill became a Hero and is still considered as such.

7. My Experience

8. Sources


Bédarida, François. (1999) Churchill. Paris: Fayard

Churchill, Winston. (1930) My Early Life.

Lamb, Richard. (1991) Churchill as War Leader Right or Wrong? London: Bloomsbury

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Title http://cdn3.spiegel.de/images/image-119542-860_poster_16x9-abcd-119542.jpg

Figure 1 https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/50th-anniversary-winston-churchill-death-life-britains-greatest-prime-minister-pictures-1484718

Figure 2 https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/23/winston-churchill-life-pictures_n_6531328.html#gallery/397622/5

Figure 3 https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/fr_freef.html

Figure 4 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Winston-Churchill

Figure 5 https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/23/winston-churchill-life-pictures_n_6531328.html#gallery/397622/58

[1] http://cdn3.spiegel.de/images/image-119542-860_poster_16x9-abcd-119542.jpg

[2] Winston Churchill, my early life

[3] Winston Churchill, my early life

[5] François Bédarida, Churchill

[10] François Bédarida, Churchill P55-67

[16] François Bédarida, Churchill

[24] François Bédarida, Churchill

[26] François Bédarida, Churchill

[29] François Bédarida, Churchill

[35] Churchill as war leader right or wrong?  P160 and 371

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