Sunday, 15 July 2012

History Essay - Winston Churchill

How Effective a Wartime Leader was Winston Churchill between 1940 and 1945


On the 10th of May 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Britain. He has a long career in politics before the Second World War broke out in 1939. In the 1930's he has warned against the dangers of the Nazis and was opposed to the policy of appeasement and the Munich conference. Neville Chamberlain appointed Churchill to the war cabinet in charge of the Royal Navy in 1939. Churchill succeeded Chamberlain as Prime Minister on 10th May 1940. Chamberlain had resigned due to the failure of appeasement and the Munich Conferences and because Hitler took Norway before he did. The day Churchill took over was the same day as the France invasion. He took over at a time when Britain needed strong leadership and that is what he gave them. He was the ideal war leader. He was enthusiastic and inspiring to the British people.

When the British and French soldiers were trapped at Dunkirk by the Nazi army he organised Operation Dynamo. While the RAF defended the air, hundreds of British boats ad ships crossed the English Channel over 10 days and rescued 300,000 soldiers. Churchill turned this defeat into a victory by his inspiring speeches which boosted morale among the British people and saved the army for D-day.

In August 1940, Hitler began Operation Sea lion. He had expected that Churchill would sue for peace as they were now completely alone in Europe, but Churchill said they would "never surrender." Hitler then has no choice but to invade Britain although he was disappointed at this. First he had to get control of the air. For this he needed to destroy the RAF. He began by bombing the ships and the RAF airfields and radar stations but then he began to bomb cities, especially London, instead. HE was trying to break the morale of the people. Churchill's leadership was inspiring and motivating during the Blitz. He kept up the morale of the people as he didn't leave London, he stayed with the people event though he could have been killed. He was also out on the streets everyday with the people. He encouraged them to continue their lives as normally as possible. He praised the RAF pilots by saying, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." He kept u the spirits of people which encourages them to continue fighting. In the middle of September, Hitler postponed the invasion and by October he called it off. This was his first defeat. He didn't have the commitment or the desire to invade Britain. This is because Hitler didn't really want to invade Britain, he admired them and wished for them to form an alliance, it is thought.

Churchill worked well with the American President Roosevelt. His friendship with Roosevelt was crucial to Britain in the war as they agreed the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 which gave supplies to Britain without charge. America also gave them 50 ships. America has great resources, the arsenal of democracy. Although the transatlantic alliance helped Britain to continue the war, Churchill became too overdependent on America and not on the Common Wealth. Because of this, when America joined the war, Britain just went along with America and after the war the Empire began to fall apart.

Britain was kept supplied during the war by ships coming across the Atlantic. Hitler wanted to close off Britain's supply lines which would force them to surrender. In the Battle of the Atlantic, Hitler's U-boats tried to sink the supply ships. To stop them, Churchill had war ships with the convoys to protect supplies. He broke the German enigma code by setting up the Ultra code so they would know where the U-boats were so they could avoid them. Churchill said that he feared the U-boats the most because, as Britain was an island, if supply lines were blocked they wouldn't survive. Britain won the Battle of the Atlantic and survived.

Churchill and Roosevelt had a strong bond even before America entered the war. Their success was increased because they met several times face to face to discuss things. They met for the first time just off Newfoundland in 1941. Here they agreed the Atlantic Charter. They were planning the for the world for after the war. The second time they met was in Casablanca in 1943. This conference was after the Battle of El Alemain. Italy had tried to take the Suez Canal which would block British supply lines to the Empire. Churchill appointed Montgomery as commander of the Eight Army. Montgomery defeated the Germans under Rommel in October 1942 which saved the oil supplies from the Middle East. The Americans then came to help under Eisenhower. In Casablanca they planned Operation Husky, to invade Italy. The next time the pair met was in November/December 1943 in Teheran and Stalin was also present this time. Stalin urged them to open a second front in France as he was fighting the Germans in Russia. They planned D-day for May 1944. Churchill had doubts about D-day as in World War 1 he had organised an attack on an open beach in Turkey and it failed so he did not want to make the same mistake twice. However Roosevelt and Stalin wanted it so Churchill went along with their plan. The invasion was known as Operation Overlord. They were to land on the beaches of Normandy. On the 6th of June 1944, thousands of ships, soldiers and tanks landed on five beaches in Normandy. They had made mulberries, artificial harbours, to bring across the channel. Oils supplies were brought by Pluto, an underwater pipeline that crossed the channel. By August 1944 the Allies broke out of Normandy were headed for Paris, which they captured on August 24th. It was a great success for the Allies.

The forth time the Allies met was in Yalta in February 1945. Again the three leaders were present. This conference was mainly all Stalin as he got part of Poland which had been agreed between himself and Hitler in 1939. He also controlled a lot of Eastern Europe. They agreed to divide Germany in four parts after the war, and to set up the United Nations. Russia agreed to help America in the war against Japan, 3 months after the war in Europe ended. Churchill had gone to war in the beginning over Poland and now he was just letting Stalin take it.

During the conference in Potsdam in July/August 1945, there was elections in Britain. The result was that Churchill had lost and Attlee was the new Prime Minister, so Churchill had to return home in the middle of the conference.

Churchill was a brilliant war leader but he was more effective early on in the war. He became too dependant on Roosevelt and after a while it was really only Stalin and Roosevelt making the big decisions. This may have led to him losing the election. Also, when the election was held the war was over. Churchill had been in politics for many years but the people knew he was not as effective during peace, so this may have caused him to lose.

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