Road to Victory: 1942-1945
On New Year’s Day Churchill returned from Ottawa to Washington where he and Roosevelt signed the United Nations Charter. A few days later he flew to Pompano Beach, Florida, for a short vacation.
While in Pompano, FL, Churchill visited the home of Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., on Hillsboro Beach for five days in January. Churchill had come to the United States on December 22, 1941, to confer with Roosevelt on the grant strategy of the war. This meeting was known as the Arcadia Conference.
On January 5, 1942, Churchill flew to Florida from Washington for a brief rest.
January 5 - Washington and Pompano Beach, FL
WSC flew to Florida in an airplane provided by General Marshall, accompanied by Sir Charles Wilson, John Martin and Tommy Thompson. They stayed in a bungalow provided by US Secretary of State Stettinius. They landed at West Palm Beach airport and drove to Pompano. Word was put out that a Mr. Lobb, an invalid requesting quiet, was staying at the house. They were closely guarded by the Secret Service. The press guessed they were there but left them alone.
January 6 - Pompano, FL
WSC relaxed by bathing in the ocean. Two couriers a day flew down to Pompano from Washington.Churchill to Roosevelt, Jan. 6, 1942
Dear Mr. President,
We have been greeted on arrival by this cutting from the local paper. This shows that all the trouble you took about secrecy has been in vain. Tommy [Detective Thompson] is plainly identifiable.
[signed] Winston S. Churchill
[The "cutting" was a cartoon from the Miami Daily News
, Jan 5, 1942 showing two overweight middle-aged men flopped on a beach. The clipping was captioned "Hard work is the thing that will win this war -- we must keep at it night and day."]
January 9 - Pompano, FL
WSC worked on rewriting his four mid-Atlantic surveys of the future of the world. Sir Charles Wilson recorded that WSC was in "a belligerent mood." WSC lunched with Consuelo Balsan (Vanderbilt).
January 10 - Pompano and Fort Lauderdale, FL
WSC lunched with Consuelo Balsan in Fort Lauderdale before leaving by train for Washington.
Although Stettinius' home was not then (nor would it be now) within the city limits of Pompano, most of the beach area that is now Hillsboro Beach was commonly referred to as Pompano.
On 14 January he left the United States for home. Over the Atlantic he took over the controls of a Boeing flying boat, even making a couple of banked turns.
At a meeting of the War Cabinet Churchill reported that Roosevelt had said to trust him to the bitter end. The next day he told the King that he was confident of ultimate victory.
Dramatic events were taking place on the Eastern Front as the Russians forced Germany to give up the seige of Sevastopol. Hitler attributed this German failure to the severe cold. As desperate as he was for Russian support, Churchill refused to acknowledge Soviet claims to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The horror which the Allies were fighting was graphically illustrated at a February meeting in Wannsee, near Berlin, where, in a ninety minute meeting, Heydrich outlined plans for exterminating all Jews in Europe. A month later the first deportees arrived at Auschwitz.
At the end of January the news seemed dark on all fronts. Rommel had become "a kind of magician or bogeyman" to troops in Africa; British forces were being pushed back at Singapore; Churchill faced a no-confidence vote in the Commons. He won the vote with only one dissenter in the Commons and Rommel’s advance was stopped at Libya, but Singapore fell in what Churchill called the greatest military defeat in the history of the British Empire. Nonetheless, Roosevelt, now also in his Sixties, responded to a Churchill birthday greeting: "It is fun to be in the same decade with you."
Command appointments were being made which would eventually carry the Allies to victory. Stilwell was appointed C-in-C, US Forces in Chinese Theatre; Harris was appointed C-in-C, Bomber Command; Mountbatten was appointed C-in-C, Combined Operations; Slim was appointed C-in-C, Burma; and Blamey was appointed C-in-C, Australian forces. MacArthur left the Philippines with the vow, "I shall return." Churchill’s dissatisfaction with Auchlinleck in Africa grew.
Concern for Churchill’s burdens and their affect on his health and demeanor grew among his family and associates. His doctor, Charles Wilson, expressed the wish to "put out the fires that seem to be consurning him." Brooke commented that the Prime Minister was dejected and "in for a lot more trouble." Mary Churchill noted that her father was "saddened — appalled by events" and "desperately taxed." Eden speculated privately that Churchill had had a stroke.
Churchill wrote Roosevelt that he was finding it very difficult to get over the fall of Singapore. It may have had as traumatic an impact on him as the Dardanelles did in the First World War. In his public speeches he continued to exude confidence but never withheld the realities of the situation. To the Conservative Party Council Meeting, he said: "This is a very hard war. Its numerous and fearful problems reach down to the very foundations of human society. Its scope is worldwide, and it involves all nations and every man, woman, and child in them. Strategy and economics are interwoven. Sea, land, and air are but a single service. The latest refinements of science are linked with the cruelties of the Stone Age. The workshop and the fighting line are one. All may fall, and all will stand together. We must aid each other, must stand by each other."
Harry Hopkins and General Marshall visited Churchill to relay President Roosevelt’s "heart and mind" concerning a second front. They told the Prime Minister that American public opinion was weighted toward priority against Japan, but that American leaders considered Germany the primary enemy. They agreed on a cross-channel invasion in 1943 and named it Operation Roundup. In the meantime, they would engage the enemy in Africa and, Churchill hoped, Norway. The Germans prepared for the cross-channel assault by appointing Field Marshal Von Rundstedt Commander in Chief, Atlantic Wall Defences.
Losing patience with the pace of war in North Africa, Churchill ordered General Auchinleck to engage the enemy, but Rommel was the first to take the initiative with an attack on 26 May. Churchill pressed the importance of not losing Malta as a supply base, and sent the following message to Auchinleck: "Your decision to fight it out to the end is most cordially endorsed. We shall sustain you whatever the result. Retreat would be fatal. This is a business not only of armour but of willpower."
While the battles raged in Africa there was also considerable action elsewhere. Bataan and Corregidor feU but the Japanese Navy was stopped at the Battle of Midway. In Europe the Allies sent 1,000 bombers against Cologne. Germany lost a potential successor to Hitler with the assassination of Heydrich. As the Germans waged campaigns against partisans throughout the Eastern Front, news reached Warsaw that gas was being used on Jews in Auschwitz.
Churchill decided that plans for operations had to be finalized so he set out to visit Roosevelt in America. Before leaving he advised the King to appoint Anthony Eden as Prime Minister should anything happen on this trip. The British and American leaders met first at Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park, New York. On returning to Washington, Churchill was informed that Tobruk had fallen. This was one of the heaviest blows he received during the war, comparable to the loss of Singapore.
Before returning to Britain, he wrote Auchinleck: "Do not have the slightest anxiety about the course of affairs at home. Whatever views I may have about how the battle was fought or whether it should have been fought a good deal earlier, you have my entire confidence and I share your responsibilities to the full ..."
The course of affairs at home, which Churchill called "a beautiful row," involved a debate on a vote of censure in the House of Commons. Churchill later wrote that had he led a party government he might have suffered the fate of Chamberlain in May 1940, but the National Coalition Government was strong enough to survive "a long succession of misfortune and defeats in Malaya, Singapore and Burma; Auchinleck’s lost battle in the Desert, Tobruk, unexplained, and, it seemed, inexplicable; the rapid retreat of the Desert Army and the loss of all our conquests in Libya and Cyrenaica; four hundred miles of retrogression towards the Egyptian frontier. . .
In this case Churchill’s Government was supported by 475 votes to 25. Parallels were drawn between Churchill and Pitt who experienced similar dark days in 1799, but, sustained by the House of Commons, emerged victorious.
As Churchill's Government defeated a No Confidence motion in the House of Commons, the Eighth Army finally stopped Rommel's advance in Egypt. Churchill's fear that the fate of Singapore would befall Cairo was not to be realized.
On 19 July a high level American delegation including General Marshall, Admiral King and Harry Hopkins arrived at Chequers to discuss "Operation Sledgehammer," the invasion of the Cherbourg Peninsula. Although Chuxchill also favoured "Operation Jupiter, " the invasion of Norway, the British proposed "Operation Gymnast," the invasion of French North Africa.
The British view prevailed and the Americans agreed to an attack against North Africa, renamed "Operation Torch." Roosevelt expressed the view that "the past week represented a turning point in the whole war and that now we are on our way shoulder to shoulder."
They would also require the shoulder of the Russian bear and Churchill determined to visit Stalin in his own den to gain support fox his invasion sequence of Africa, then Italy, then France. On the way to Moscow, he visited Egypt to investigate personally the need for a command change in the Middle East. Because WSC would have to fly in an unpressurized airplane he practised using an oxygen mask, which he asked to be adapted to allow him to smoke while wearing it.
In Egypt Churchill met with all the commanders including Wavell, who came in from India. Smuts also joined them from South Africa. Determined to make changes after visiting the Eighth Army at El Alamein, Churchill telegraphed Attlee that he proposed the following appointments: Alexander as C-in-C, Near East Command with Gott to command the Eighth Army. The next day Gott was killed and Churchill wanted to replace him with Maitland Wilson, but under pressure from Smuts and Brooke, he appointed the little-known Bernard Montgomery. Auchinleck was offered the Middle East Command, Iraq and Persia. Churchill also visited the Fourth Hussars, in which he had served in 1895.
Arriving in Moscow by way of Teheran, the Churchill entourage included Averell Harriman, the personal representative of President Roosevelt. After a "bleak and sombre" beginning, Churchill and Stalin had a frank and productive few days. While Stalin still argued for an attack on France, Churchill explained why North Africa was the appropriate target. "If we could end the year in possession of North Africa, we could threaten the belly of Hitler's Europe" Stalin replied: "May God help this enterprise to succeed." Churchill also assured the Russian leader that "Operation Bolero," the assemblage of American and Commonwealth forces in Britain for an eventual invasion across the Channel, would proceed.
Although German troops were at the time only fifty miles from Stalingrad, Churchill sent the following message to Attlee: "Stalin gave me a full account of the Russian position which seemed very encouraging. He certainly speaks with great confidence of being able to hold out to the winter."
When Churchill was back in Egypt on his return home, the raid an Dieppe, predominantly by Canadian forces, occurred. Churchill conducted his own investigation of the fiasco, particularly on the roles of General Montgomery and of Combined Operations under Admiral Louis Mountbatten. Many years later Churchill commented that the Dieppe raid "served to make the Germans more conscious of danger along the whole of Occupied France. This helped to hold troops and resources in the west, which did something to take the weight off Russia."
While it appeared that Stalingrad would be lost, convoys were getting through and Russia would survive. Berlin was being bombed and the Germans were having difficulty supplying Rommel. Churchill was meeting every Tuesday with Eisenhower to discuss "Torch." By the end of September Churchill said: "The tide of destiny is moving steadily in our favour, though our voyage will be long and hard."
In early October Churchill went to Scotland to receive the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh and to visit the Home Fleet. The Prime Minister was showing great fatigue and stress and so he made several journeys to rest at Chequers, but he was seldom alone. Among his visitors were Smuts, Attlee, Cripps and numerous senior military officers. His stress showed in his response to an article in the New Statesman about British policy in India. He protested to Bracken: "Pray stop any repetition of any New Statesman comments outside this country till you have been personally consulted on the text of each message."
This period saw the turning of "the Hinge of Fate." As the Russians stopped the Germans at Stalingrad, the British opened an offensive at El Alamein. As Rommel's forces were in full retreat in East Africa, the Allies landed in the West, under "Operation Torch."
After Alexander advised Churchill to "Ring out the bells" to celebrate victory in Egypt, Churchill told a Lord Mayor's luncheon at Mansion House: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
Churchill's Private Secretary, John Martin, recorded the visit to Mansion House in his diary: "These have been exceptionally active days. I do not remember any more so since the summer of 1940. For the Lord Mayor's luncheon the PM and Mrs. Churchill drove into the City in an open car ... loudspeaker vans had announced his coming and we made a triumphal progress along the Strand and Fleet Street, up Ludgate Hill and past St. Paul's. There were huge and enthusiastic crowds, with scarcely enough police to control them, and at the last stage we had difficulty in getting through."
On the German side, Hitler was determined to stand firm and ordered no retreat in both Russia and Africa. British cities were still not completely safe. On 31 October waves of German bombers blasted the cathedral city of Canterbury in the biggest daylight raid since the Battle of Britain.
Vichy France became more overtly pro-German. It broke off diplomatic relations with the United States and in response Canada severed relations with Vichy. However, it did not save them: the Germans invaded Unoccupied France. Britain became a virtual prisoner and Laval a puppet of the Germans. French naval commanders were ordered to scuttle the fleet in Toulon and all obeyed. Some captains went down with their ships. Admiral Darlan abandoned Vichy after the Allied landing in North Africa and ordered resistance fighters to side with the Allies. Darlan was assassinated and succeeded by General Giraud as High Commissioner and Commander in Chief in French Africa.
In a broadcast to the Italian people, Churchill told them to oust their leaders or face shattering Allied air blows.
The Beveridge scheme for compulsory social insurance, the basis of the postwar welfare state, was announced in early December.
Churchill made some changes in his Government. Herbert Morrison replaced Sir Stafford Cripps. Lloyd George advised his old friend that he did not want a role in this war: "I've had my show. This is your show and I don't want to interfere with it."
Eleanor Roosevelt came to Britain to see firsthand the effect of the war on the British people, particularly the women. She was accompanied on a number of her activities by Clementine, who visibly showed the strain in keeping up to the pace set by the First Lady.
Although Churchill greatly admired the work of both the Roosevelts, according to Mary Soames he and Eleanor "never really got on." One evening the British Prime Minister and the American First Lady had a "slight difference of opinion over Loyalist Spain" and required the conciliating role of Clementine. Nevertheless, when Eleanor left Britain, Churchill wrote her a note that included the comment that "you certainly have left golden footprints behind you."
As the year ended, fierce fighting raged on Guadalcanal, the Germans were in full retreat at Stalingrad and the Allies were closing in on Rommel's forces in North Africa.
As he prepared to leave for Casablanca Churchill also considered his plans for postwar Britain. Full employment, improved education, increased housing, better health rare with no increase in cost of living were to be his priorities.
On 12 January he left for Casablanca where the leaders of Britain and the United States planned the invasion of the European continent. Churchill thought that it was essential for them to alleviate the pressure on the Soviets in 1943 with an attack on Sicily and then a cross-Channel invasion. The allies also had to reassure each other of mutual support. The British feared that the Americans might give priority to the Pacific front and the Americans were concerned that Britain would pull out of the war after the defeat of Germany. French unity was also important and General de Gaulle was invited to meet with and hopefully accept the authority of General Giraud in North Africa.
The Conference had been kept secret until the press conference on 24 January. The press, wrote Churchill, could hardly believe their eyes and then their ears when they heard that the Conference had been meeting for two weeks. Roosevelt and Churchill had agreed to continue convoys to Russia, send support to American forces in China, begin plans for a June landing in Sicily, and build up American forces in Britain. They also announced (against Churchill's inner judgment) that Unconditional Surrender was the only term which the Allies would accept to end the war. This decision would bring the criticism that it unduly prolonged hostilities.
The leaders drove to Marrakech, where Churchill showed Roosevelt the Atlas Mountains and enjoyed his only opportunity to paint during the war. Then Churchill flew on to Cairo, where he was advised by his former research assistant, William Deakin, to support Tito in Yugoslavia. He continued up the coast where he met the President of Turkey, He returned to Cairo via Cyprus where he again met with the Fourth Hussars, of which he was Colonel in Chief. Back at Cairo he learned of the surrender of the Germans at Stalingrad.
He also gave attention to India, once more pressuring Wavell to press the attack on Burma. Wavell responded that India, two-thirds the size of Europe, was still threatened from within, as well as by Japanese and German forces from East and West. Gandhi had been arrested and was about to begin his first hunger strike.
At his final dinner in Cairo Winston and his son, Randolph, "snapped at each other," but the party relaxed when the Prime Minister regaled everyone with stories of his adventures at Omdurman. The voyage home included a visit to Montgomery at Tripoli and Eisenhower at Algiers. WSC arrived in London on 9 February and immediately met with the Cabinet to review the war situation. That evening he watched the movie "Casablanca. "
The journey of 10,000 miles had exhausted him and within days he had a cold and sore throat. Lord Moran diagnosed inflammation of the base of the lung. Rest was ordered, even his regular meetings with the King were cancelled, but the patient was allowed to read a novel. He chose "Moll Flanders." While recovering he felt great anxiety for the situation in India. Gandhi's fast caused all the Indian members of the Viceroy's Executive Council to resign and Churchill was worried about the impact of the fast on public opinion in Britain and the United States, as well as India.
As he recovered in early March he was able to go to Chartwell, where he was visited by the King. The Germans in North Africa were fighting desperately but the8th Army was inflicting a severe defeat upon them. On the Eastern Front the spring thaw brought the war to a muddy halt.
Stalin still distrusted his allies. He demanded a second front and accused them of treachery. This was an indication of the postwar problems that would have to be faced concerning Russia. Churchill told the Editor of The Times that he favoured confederations with smaller states after the war. "I do not want to be left alone in Europe with the Bear."
Churchill's tensions were often manifested in his treatment of his staff. A secretary, Elizabeth Lay- ton (now Nel), wrote her parents that "sometimes he is just as merry and on edge as he could be and barks at you for nothing at all." On another occasion she told her parents that they had a grand time at Chequers because "the boss was in a grand temper and ... he treated us like human beings for once!" Churchill had earlier told another secretary, Marian Holmes, that "you must never be frightened of me when I snap. I'm not snapping at you but thinking of my work."
He had much both to snap about and to be in a grand tem-per over. Relations with Russia were strained by the news of the discovery of the remains of 8,000 Polish officers executed in the Katyn forest near Smolensk. Polish General Sikorski accused the Russians of the atrocity. An angry Stalin retaliated by breaking relations with the Polish Government-in-Exile. Churchill was caught in the middle between his two allies. Acknowledging that the Russians could be very cruel, he argued that the Poles must "shift the argument from the dead to the living and from the past to the future.' There was no use, Churchill wrote Eden, prowling morbidly around the three-year-old graves of Smolensk." He successfully softened the public wrath of the Polish communique.
At the same time Churchill learned that 'the Germans had developed rockets capable of hit- ting London and it appeared that Operation Sledgehammer, the invasion of Europe in 1943, was not going to happen. The good news was that the Allies were advancing in North Africa. Churchill wrote his son: "What a change this is from the days when Hitler danced his jig of joy at Compiegne.' [Actually there was no jig, as has since been noted. -Ed.]
His attention was drawn to the Pacific Theatre by a fear that the Americans were going to give it more attention, despite their professed "Germany first" policy. He felt that a meeting of Pacific commanders in Washington required his presence. On 5 May Churchill, accompanied by Brooke, Beaverbrook, Harriman and the Chiefs of Staff, boarded the Queen Mary for America. En route, Churchill and the Chiefs discussed future strategy now that victory in Africa was imminent. He had no illusions about the challenges in the Pacific: "Going into swampy jungles to fight the Japanese is like going into the water to fight a shark.'
On 12 May the Trident Conference began at the White House. Churchill suggested sending the victorious armies from Africa against Sicily and then Italy and the armies in India against the Japanese forces in Malaya and Sumatra.
While in Washington Churchill received a message from General Alexander: "Sir, it is my duty to report that the Tunisian campaign is over. All enemy resistance has ceased. We are masters of the North African shores.
One of the great deceptions of the war involved putting a body ashore with false documents indicating Greece as the probable next target. This deception was later made famous in the film "The Man Who Never Was.'
On 19 May Churchill spoke for the second time to the U.S. Congress. He warned that only a lack of will or a dispute among the Allies would provide hope to the Axis and that much blood must still be shed before victory.
Two momentous decisions came from Trident: the date of the cross-Channel invasion was set for1 May 1944 and the US agreed to share more information on the development of an atomic bomb.
Churchill flew to Algiers via Newfoundland and Gibraltar for a meeting with Eisenhower, Marshall, Montgomery, Brooke and Alexander which reached final agreement on an invasion of Sicily. He also mediated a reconciliation between the French Generals Giraud and de Gaulle.
Before leaving Africa Churchill spoke to troops in a Roman amphitheatre in Carthage. Later he said: "I was speaking from where the cries of Christian virgins rent the air whilst roaring lions devoured them - and yet I am no lion and certainly not a virgin."
After being unable to decide whether to back Tito's partisans or the rival Chetnik army of General Mihailovich, Churchill chose Tito and parachuted emissaries into Yugoslavia, including his pre-war research assistant, Bill Deakin.
On a June evening at Chequers, Churchill viewed films of the bombing of German towns. "Are we beasts?,' he asked. "Are we taking this too far?' In his heart he knew how far they must go. On receiving the Freedom of the City of London at the Guildhall he said: "We, the United Nations, demand from the Nazi, Fascist and Japanese tyrannies, unconditional surrender." But, he insisted, this demand must not come from a "mere lust for vengeance."
As the Allies bombed targets in Sicily in preparation for invasion, Churchill pressed for another meeting with FDR. Churchill knew that this was a propitious moment. In a communication with Roosevelt and Eisenhower, he quoted Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: 'There is a tide in the affairs of men Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune ... And we must take the current when it serves Or lose our ventures." The present venture was to get onto the Italian mainland as quickly as possible, with Rome as "the bull’s-eye." Even if the Americans hesitated he was prepared to use British troops, and perhaps Polish troops stationed in Persia, to achieve his objectives in "the soft underbelly." When he learned that General Marshall agreed he responded, "I am with you heart and soul" and he told Smuts that "we all go the same way home."
Notwithstanding their troubles in Italy and the fact that the Allies had won the Battle of the Atlantic, the Germans opened an offensive on the Eastern Front; but it was stopped by mid-July after the great tank battle at Kursk. Churchill’s attention was also on the Balkans and the "hardy and hunted guerrillas" of Tito as he prepared to leave for Quebec and a meeting with the American President.
Traveling under the code-name Colonel Warden, Churchill boarded RMS Queen Mary on the Clyde. Despite the attempt at secrecy, large crowds met them at Halifax and at every train stop on the way to Quebec. Churchill’s V-sign was extremely popular. The Churchills were accommodated in the Citadel, the residence of the Governor-General of Canada. The remainder of the 200 people in the British party stayed at the Chateau Frontenac Hotel. The conference was not to begin for a few days so Roosevelt invited Churchill to his home in Hyde Park, New York. Leaving his wife in Quebec, Churchill and his daughter Mary traveled by private rail-car donated by the Canadian National Railways. He wanted to show his daughter Niagara Falls where he was asked what he thought of the natural wonder. "I saw them before you were born," he replied. "I came here first in 1900." "Do they look the same?," he was asked. "Well,"he responded, ‘the principle seems the same. The water still keeps falling over." For two oppressively hot days Churchill and his daughter visited the Roosevelt home, where they swam and picnicked on hot dogs and hamburgers.
Churchill wanted Brooke and Roosevelt wanted Marshall to command the invasion of Europe. Roosevelt insisted that the position go to an American but eventually he could not bear to be without Marshall in Washington. They agreed that Mountbatten should receive the South-East Asia Command. They also agreed that the atomic bomb would be manufactured in the United States and that they would invite Stalin to meet them, probably in Alaska.
The Quebec conference, code-named Quadrant, began on August 17th. For a break, Churchill, Roosevelt, Hopkins and Harriman visited the Canadian Governor-General’s country retreat where they fished and discussed global strategy in a log cabin in the woods. The conference ended on 24 August and a weary Churchill took his family to a fishing camp in the Laurentian mountains for a few days’ rest. Anthony Eden noted that the Prime Minister "did not look well and was a bad colour. He said to me that he felt the need for a longer change. I urged him to take it." The mountain air, fishing and shooting the rapids of the Montmorency River revived him.
On his return to Quebec he spoke to the people of Canada where "in mighty lands which have never know the totalitarian tyrannies of Hitler and Mussolini, the spirit of freedom has found a safe and abiding home." Clementine and Mary Churchill also made radio broadcasts from Quebec.
After Quebec, Churchill went to Washington to discuss a tripartite meeting with Stalin. From there he proceeded to Boston where he received an honorary degree from Harvard. John Martin noted that the academic gowned Churchill "looked like a genial Henry VIII." Elizabeth Layton said that Churchill had his Harvard audience in the palm of his hand. It was one of his very best deliveries." The New York Times said that "he has opened up a vast and hopeful field of discussion. Down the grim corridors of war light begins to show."
The Churchills returned to Washington and then to Hyde Park where they celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. Then on to Halifax where they boarded HMS Renown. To the strains of "0 Canada" and "Will ye no come back again?" they headed for home. On the Atlantic crossing Mary Churchill celebrated her 21st birthday. She had been received as enthusiastically as had her father by both their Canadian and American friends.
While "closing the ring' the issue of postwar boundaries in Eastern Europe had to be resolved. Stalin desired a resolution now but Churchill wanted to wait until after the war was won. Concerning Poland, die British Prime Minister said, "we should do everything in our power to persuade the Poles to agree with the Russians about the Eastern frontier, in return for gains in East Prussia and Silesia. We could certaiinly promise to use our influence in that respect."
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin did agree on the surrender terms for Italy and, on October 15th, the Royal Italian Government declared war on Germany, even though Rome would not be liberated for many months.
Churchill's attention then turned to freeing the islands of the Aegean where he had long had strategic interests. His plan, however, was not supported by Roosevelt, who agreed with Eisenhower that re- sources should not be diverted from the planned invasion of Normandy.
Stalin's distrust of his allies' intention to establish a second front would have to be addressed at a meeting of the 'Big Three." The appointment of a supreme commander was essential and Churchill was confident it would be George Marshall. In December Roosevelt informed him that he needed Marshall in Washington and that the appointment would go to Dwight Eisenhower.
A foreign ministers' conference in October set the stage for a meeting of the 'Big Boys" at Tehran in December. Eden told Churchill that Stalin knew the British were committed to defeating Germany, but that the Soviet leader believed Churchill "had a tendency to take the easy road and leave the difficult job to the Russians."
As Churchill prepared to leave for the conference he was far from well. He had a heavy cold and sore throat and he was affected by typhoid and cholera inoculations. His health would deteriorate during the trip.
On 12 November Churchill boarded HMS Renown at Plymouth for a journey that would keep him from England for three months. After he arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, following a stop in Malta, he was vexed that the presence of Chiang Kaishek distracted American attention, and that Roosevelt seemed more interest in China-related issues. Nevertheless, Churchill was particularly charmed by Madame Chiang Kaishek.
On the personal level, the British were invited to join the Americans for Thanksgiving. Churchill later described the event: "After the meal was over we returned to the big room. Dance music from gramophone records began to play. Sarah was the only woman present and she had her work cut out, so I danced with 'Pa' Watson [FDR's trusted old friend and aide], to the delight of his chief, who watched us from the sofa.'
On 27 November they flew to Tehran to meet Stalin. After those meetings Churchill telegraphed Attlee. 'relations between Britain, US and USSR have never been so cordial and intimate. All war plans are agreed and concerted."
Back in Cairo Churchill carried out a punishing work schedule depite his continued poor health.
Nevertheless, he flew to Tunisia and then on to Carthage where more medical attention was required. He had pneumonia. In December his wife arrived and they were joined by Randolph and Sarah. Clementine knew that he was improving when he 'consented not to smoke, and to drink only weak whisky and soda."
They had been at Carthage long enough for the Germans to locate them so it was time to move. Lord Moran insisted on a three-week convalescence and Churchill chose Marrakech. Under the protection of the Coldstream Guards, the Brifish Prime Minister recovered in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains.
In October Churchill had cabled Roosevelt. 'Unless there is a German collapse, the campaign of 1944 will be far the most dangerous we have undertaken and personally, I am more anxious about its success than I was about 1941, 1942, or 1943."
Preparing for "Overlord"
Churchill entered his wife’s room on New Year's morning and exclaimed: 'I am so happy. I feel so much better." They lunched in bright warm sunshine in an olive grove. Montgomery was visiting before he left to assume command of the Allied land forces preparing for Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. Montgomery was overheard commenting that his chaplains were more important to him than his artillery and that he thought the 8th Army would follow his instructions in voting in an election.
Lord Beaverbrook also visited and after an evening of reminiscences about their experiences in two world wars, Churchill turned to Commander Thompson and said, "But, Tommy, you will bear witness that I do not repeat my stories so often as my dear friend, the President of the United States."
Exiled Czech President Benes came to lunch and expressed his belief that Russia would have come to the aid of Czechoslovakia at the time of Munich and that he could reach an accommodation with Stalin on the border between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia after the war, which he thought would end this year.
Fitzroy Maclean and Randolph Churchill visited while they awaited their drop into Yugoslavia to meet Tito's forces. Colville noted that the Yugoslavian situation was next to Anzio in Churchill's attention while in Marrakesh.
Commenting on the Polish situation, Churchill made it quite clear that the Allies were not prepared "to begin a new war with Russia for the sake of the Polish Eastern frontier."
After General de Gaulle's visit Churchill commented: "Now that the General speaks English so well he understands my French perfectly."
After a review of French troops with de Gaulle the British party flew to Gibraltar where they boarded the battleship King George V for Plymouth.
Shortly after their return an amusing incident occurred. Churchill had enquired who wrote political summaries which arrived from the Washington Embassy. He was informed that it was Mr. Isaiah Berlin, Fellow of All Souls and Tutor of New College (who subsequently wrote Mr. Churchill in 1940). When the famous song writer Irving Berlin arrived to entertain the troops, the Prime Minister confused him with Isaiah and invited him to lunch - and conversed with him as if he had been the academic, asking such questions as "When do you think the war will end, Mr. Berlin?" Irving Berlin enjoyed the occasion and confidently forecast the reelection of President Roosevelt.
Churchill was not so pleased particularly when Berlin told him that his most important piece of work was 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas'. The Prime Minister was quite amused later when he learned of the mistaken identi-ty. On meeting Isaiah Berlin, Churchill said: "I fear that you have learned of the grave solecism I was so unfortunate to have perpetrated."
On other occasions Churchill's fatigue and stress were evident. John Colville found him reflecting that 'with the great events pending, [it] was the time when national unity was essential: the question of annihilating great states had to be faced: it began to look as if democracy had not the persistence necessary to go through with it, however well it might have shown its capacity.' On another occasion he said that "this world (this dusty and lamentable ball) is now too beastly to live in."
Attention focused on Anzio in February and Churchill's feelings were summed up in his remark that 'we hurled a wildcat an the shores of Anzio - all we have is a stranded whale.'
On February 15 the Allies unsuccessfully attacked German forces at Monte Cassio and on February 16 the Germans counter-attacked at Anzio. The war was bogged down by Napoleon's fifth ele- ment - mud. The hope of capturing Roxne in January was now distant.
'The lessons of Italy would be applied in Normandy. Bordeaux was rejected as a suitable port for landing. Churchill directed that planning keep casualties to a minimum. Meanwhile, Rommel was busy strengthening the Atlantic wall.
On February 21 bombs hit Horse Guards Parade, damaged Kitchener's statue and shattered windows of 10 Downing St. The March 14 dinner with King George ended in an air raid shelter.
Also in March Churchill was deeply upset by the death of Wingate whom he called a man of genius "who might well have been a man of destiny."
On February 26 he broadcast to the world with extensive references to the Government's social services and post- war plans. But there was much to be done before victory was achieved. "The hour of our greatest effort and action is approaching. It will require from our own people here, from parliament, from the Press, from all classes, the same cool, strong nerves, the same toughness of fibre, which stood us in good stead in those days when we were all alone under the blitz.' His message was not well received.
No one had given more to the cause than Churchill but the cost to his health was great. Brooke noted in his diary: "We found him in a desperately tired mood. I am afraid that he is losing ground rapidly. He seems quite incapable of concentrating for a few minutes on end, and keeps wandering continuously. He kept yawning and said he was feeling desperately tired.' His box was accumulating a 'monstrous pile of urgent and unsettled matter.'
At times of stress Churchill often reverted to his encyclopedic knowledge of history and literature, sometimes to the chagrin of his associates. John Colville: "At dinner he spent most of the time repeating the Lays of Ancient Rome and Marmoin, which was a remarkable feat of memory but rather boring."
Three Miles from the Enemy: While eagerly and anxiously awaiting the invasion of Europe, Churchill also worried about possible perfidy by the Soviets. "Once we get on to the Continent with a large commitment, they will have the means of blackmail, which they have not at the present, by refusing to advance beyond a certain point, or even tipping the wink to the Germans that they can move more troops to the West." Force and facts, he believed, were the only realities the Communists understood. Later he would comment: "Never forget that the Bolsheviks are crocodiles." At home his government purged known British Communists from D-Day planning.
Clementine's fifty-ninth birthday was the occasion for a family gathering except for Randolph who was in Yugoslavia. They partied until 4:30 a.m., playing Gilbert and Sullivan and old musichall songs on the gramophone. Churchill wrote Randolph: I am keeping Winston with me in the country where he is safe from the London bombings and has room to play about... Mary is in action two or three nights a week."
Churchill's disagreement with the Americans on strategy in Italy continued. He feared that their insistence on an invasion of the south of France after Normandy, on top of Alexander's "desolating delay," would destroy future success in Italy. He and his American allies also disagreed on whom to support in Yugoslavia.
On Good Friday, he spoke to the senior British and American generals on plans for D-Day. General de Gaulle was not yet aware of those plans. It was decided not to tell him until June 4th.
In their memoirs Brooke, Eden and Eisenhower all comment on the Prime Minister's exhaustion at this time. In early May Churchill admitted to Brooke that he felt like Roosevelt, who "was no longer the man he had been." Speaking of himself, Churchill said that "he could still always sleep well, eat well, and especially drink well, but that he no longer jumped out of bed the way he used to.'"
One evening at Chequers Churchill startled his guests, who had assembled to listen to a professional pianist, when he commented that what mattered most in music are the silences between the notes.
In early May be met with the Dominion Prime Ministers, King of Canada, Curtin of Australia, Fraser of New Zealand, Smuts of South Africa and Huggins of Southern Rhodesia.
Casualties were a constant worry for him. He was unhappy about the pre-invasion bombing of France but accepted the arguments of the Americans that it was necessary to limit the losses and perhaps the success of the invasion. Before he went to bed on the evening of June 5th he told his wife: 'Do you realize that by the time you wake up in the morning twenty thousand men may have been killed?"
On June 4th Rome was liberated and Churchill's feelings of elation about that achievement were so strong that he took the first ten minutes of his speech to the House on June 6th to ask the House to 'take formal cognisance of the liberation of Rome by the Allied forces under the command of General Alexander.' Need-less to say, members waited throughout that speech for his announcement about the landings in Normandy. After his speech in the House, he lunched with the King and drove with him to Eisenhower's headquarters.
On June 10th, after Montgomery announced that "we have won the battle of the beaches" Churchill, Smuts, Brooke, General Marshall and Admiral King crossed the Channel where they were met by Montgomery. After a beach welcome they drove through "our limited but fertile domain in Normandy." They lunched on the lawn at Montgomery's headquarters, looking towards the front which was only three miles away. Churchill enquired about the chances of German - armour breaking up their lunch. Montgomery acknowledged that the chateau had indeed taken a pounding the night before. The Prime Minister reminded him that "anything can be done once or for a short time, but custom, repetition, prolongation, is always to be avoided when possible in war." Montgomery moved his headquarters two days later.
On the night of June 12th the first flying bombs fell on London and for the next nine months the home front was once again a battlefield.
Brooke now found Churchill, relieved of his Normandy worries, "in a very good form, and quite ten years younger," but the debate over a Southern France invasion versus an aggressive offensive in Italy would continue to vex the British Prime Minister.
In a note to Stalin, Churchill summed up the military situation: "The enemy is burning and bleeding on every front at once."
The enemy was still capable of inflicting serious injury, however, and many casualties resulted from the flying bomb attacks against London. Unfavorable weather made it difficult for Allied planes to find the launch sites. An even greater threat was imminent from V2 rockets being tested by the Germans.
On 7 July Churchill received a full report on the situation in Auschwitz. His instructions to Eden were to provide as much assistance as possible to prevent the Germans from transporting prisoners to the concentration camp, and to "invoke my name if necessary."
Churchill's family was very important to him. Whenever possible he took some time to be with them at Chequers. On one occasion, as he left to return to London, his grandchildren, Winston Churchill and Celia Sandys, cried to the departing car: "Don't go Grandpapa." Churchill commented to his secretary: "What a world to bring children into." He was relieved to hear that Randolph had survived an air crash upon his return to duty in Yugoslavia, but greatly distressed when the marriage of Randolph and Pamela broke up.
On the day German officers attempted to assassinate Hitler at the Wolf’s Lair, Churchill flew to Cherbourg. From there he drove to Utah Beach and boarded a torpedo boat to Armmanches. After touring among the British troops an officer remarked how much it meant to the soldiers to have Churchill "see them at work in the gun pits."
In early August the inhabitants of Warsaw rose up against the German occupier. Churchill appealed to Stalin for assistance on their behalf. He was very concerned about a "summit," yet both Stalin and Roosevelt declined his invitation to come to Britain; but he and the American President agreed to meet in Quebec in September.
Before that meeting, Churchill flew to ltaly where he met Tito at the Vifla Rivalta in Naples. While there, he had time for relaxation and on several occasions he swam in the Bay of Naples. "My vigour has been greatly restored," he wrote the King. From Naples he drove to the battlefield at Cassino and then flew to Siena for discussions with Alexander, "whose splendid army," he lamented, "is pulled to pieces by American policy," meaning the resource requirements of the invasion of the south of France.
On 23 August, while the French Resistance revolted in Paris, Churchill had an audience with Pope Pius XII. "We had no lack of topics for conversation" but the most important to both was the danger of communism. As they left the Vatican, Lord Moran remembers Churchill "declaiming a fine passage from Macaulay's essay on Ranke's History of the Papacy." Paris was liberated on 25 August.
Although ill on his return voyage to Britain he immediately began to prepare to meet Roosevelt at Quebec. After crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary, they arrived at Halifax amid "great cheers and cameras clicking," then boarded a Canadian National Railways "in for Quebec. At the Conference, Churchill and Roosevelt were awarded honorary degrees by officials of McGill University in Montreal, who had come to Quebec for the ceremony.
On 17 September, while British airborne troops were landing at Arnhem, Churchill went by train to Roosevelt's home at Hyde Park, New York. From Hyde Park he returned to New York City where he boarded the Queen Mary for the journey home. Upon his return to Britain his good health returned and he immediately prepared to leave for Moscow.
Churchill was always a peripatetic leader. There was never a time when he was more so as he prepared for the final victory over Germany and the creation of a postwar world. It was an incredible feat for a man about to celebrate his 70th birthday.
Churchill was compelled to deal with some of the very people he had so opposed in 1919. By then the Soviet Union was needed to defeat Germany, and it would be the strongest land force in Europe after victory.
In October Churchill flew to Italy, where he met Alexander and Wilson, then to Cairo, then on to Moscow, where the 'Tolstoy Conference" began. Churchill wanted to deal candidly with Stalin so he said, "Let us settle about our affairs in the Balkans." While his comments to Stalin were being translated Churchill wrote on a half-sheet of paper- "Rumania: Russia 90%. The others 10%; Greece: Great Britain (in accord with USA) 90%, Russia 10%; Yugoslavia. 50-50%; Hungary: 5O- 50%; Bulgaria: Russia 75%. The others 25%." Stalin took out his blue pencil and made a large tick upon it.
The greatest problem was the Polish situation, particularly the boundary between Poland and the Soviet Union and the relationship between the Polish Government and the Lublin Poles, whose leader Churchill characterized as "a kind of Quisling." Churchill left Moscow without a settlement.
In a letter to President Roosevelt, Churchill made the following interesting comments on his discussions with Stalin: "We also discussed informally the future partition of Germany. U.J. wants Poland, Czecho, and Hungary to form a realm of independent, anti-Nazi, pro-Russian States, the first two of which might join together. Contrary to his previously expressed view, he would be glad to see Vienna the capital of a federation of South German States, including Austria, Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Baden. As you know, the idea of Vienna becoming the capital of a large Danubian federation has always been attractive to me, though I should prefer to add Hungary, to which U.J. is strongly opposed.'
Churchill's next foreign excursion was to Paris for Armistice Day. Accompanied by his wife and his daughter, Mary, he stayed at the Quai d'Orsay. On 11 November he and deGaulle marched down the Champs Elysees and laid wreaths on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the Arc de Triomphe. After reviewing a march past by French and British troops, Churchill laid a wreath beneath the statue of Clemenceau, "who was much in my thoughts on this moving occasion."
On his return to London Churchill reassured Roosevelt that, despite press reports about decisions made in Paris, "you may be sure that our discussions about important things took place solely on an ad referendum basis to the three Great Powers, and of course especially to you, who have by far the largest forces in France." In a letter to Field Marshal Smuts, Churchill shared some of his frustrations at being the smaller partner. Commenting on the reverse in the Ardennes, he wrote: "I imagine some readjustments will be made giving back to Montgomery some of the scope taken from him after the victory he gained in Normandy. You must remember however that our Armies are only about one-half the size of the American and will soon be little more than one-third. All is friendly and loyal in the military sphere in spite of the disappointment sustained ... [however] ... it is not so easy as it used to be for me to get things done."
Allied fortunes in the Mediterranean had always been a priority for Churchill and his attention was now focused on Greece and the Communist threat following the Nazi withdrawal. Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins warned him, however, that American public opinion might not support Allied intervention in a Greek civil war.
Deciding almost on the spur-of- the-moment to see the situation for himself, Churchill flew to Athens on Christmas Eve. On 26 December Churchill, Eden, Alexander and American and French representatives met with the warring parties in Athens. With the support of the Americans, Churchill was able to persuade the Greek King to make Archbishop Damaskinos the Regent without Communist participation in the Government.
When Churchill returned home he received the following message from Field Marshal Smuts: "A wholly distorted picture of the true position in Greece has unfortunately been painted by the Press ... So that the world will see that Britain, as friend and ally, had no choice, a factual exposure should now be made of the bitter suffering inflicted on the Greek people."
More fighting would ensue and suffering would occur but Greece would not go the way of the rest of the Balkans. Churchill wrote-. "When three million men were fighting on either side on the Western Front and vast American forms were deployed against Japan in the Pacific the spasms of Greece may seem petty, but nevertheless they stood at the nerve-centre of power, law and freedom in the Western World."
Looking forward to final victory, Churchill glumly but prophetically commented: ‘I think the end of this war may well prove to be more disappointing than was the last."
In February he met Roosevelt and Stalin in the Crimea where they signed the Yalta Agreement. With full understanding of the Anglo-American relationship with the Soviets, Churchill commented that "the only bend of the victors is their common hate." His parting toast to Marshal Stalin was that the Soviet leader would live "to see his beloved Russia not only glorious in war, but also happy in peace."
Churchill was deeply anxious about the fate of Poland and Greece. On his return from Russia he visited Athens where he was wildly received in Constitution Square. The Acropolis was floodlit for the first time since the beginning of the war.
In Egypt he met his friend Franklin Roosevelt for the final time. As they parted, Churchill recalled that "I felt he had a slender contact with life."
Back home his worst fears were realized concerning the Soviets’ intention not to uphold the Yalta Agreement regarding Poland. Specifically, he learned that soldiers of the Polish Home Army were being rounded up. Jock Colville recorded: "The PM and Eden both fear that our willingness to trust our Russian ally may have been vain and they look with despondency to the future."
As Churchill crossed the Rhine River on 26 March his old friend and political ally, David Lloyd George, died. Churchill told the House of Commons that "there was no man so gifted, so eloquent, so forceful, who knew the life of the people so well."
Shortly after he made the following valedictory comments about the life of his great American friend and ally, Franklin Roosevelt. "As the saying goes, he died in harness, and we may well say in battle harness, like his soldiers, sailors, and airmen, who side by side with ours are carrying on their task to the end all over the world. What an enviable death was his. He had brought his country through the worst of its perils and the heaviest of its toils. Victory had cast its sure and steady beam upon him."
The end of April brought the death of two of his mortal enemies, Mussolini and Hitler. Jock Colville informed Churchill that German radio had announced that Hitler had died "fighting with his last breath against Bolshevism." "Well," commented Churchill, "I must say I think he was perfectly right to die like that."
The two days of VE-Day celebrations were some of the most celebratory in Churchill’s long life. On 8 May after lunch and an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony with the King and Queen he returned to 10 Downing Street and then drove to the House of Commons in an open car. No engine power was necessary, said his bodyguard. The car was literally forced along by the crowd.
He led a procession of his Cabinet and members of the House of Commons to St. Margaret’s Church for a Thanksgiving Service. Before heading back to Buckingham Palace Churchill asked Inspector Thompson for a cigar. "For once I had forgotten to bring his case," wrote the Inspector. "Drive to the Annexe and I will get one," said Churchill. "I must put one on for them. They expect it."
Returning to the Annexe after his meeting at the Palace, Churchill went to the Ministry of Health balcony overlooking Whitehall. The Times described the scene:
"One of the most moving and remarkable scenes in the national rejoicing took place just before 6 o’clock when Prime Minister Churchill spoke from a balcony in Whitehall to a great crowd, whose self-disciplined orderliness and gaiety were so typical of the proud, unconquerable spirit of London through the dark and perilous days now left behind.
This was London’s own joyous meeting with the Nation’s war leader and with other Ministers who have worked at his side though five exacting years. Mr. Churchill spoke to this assembled multitude of citizens only a few sentences, but they were deeply expressive. ‘This,’ he said to them, ‘is your victory.’"
Late in the evening he again appeared on the balcony and the crowd below him sang "Land of Hope and Glory" and "For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow."
The next day he made a tour of London in an open car. At 8:30 that evening he decided to go out again. Informed that the open car had been dismissed he angrily retorted that he would just walk. Going down Downing Street was easy but on reaching Whitehall he realized that it would be impossible to continue so he decided to walk between his two escort cars. Everyone wanted to talk to him and touch him so the Prime Minister decided to climb on the top of the car assisted by Inspector Thompson who describes the incredible scene: "After a while he climbed along the car roof on all fours until he could sit on the front with his legs dangling over the windscreen. He looked very funny and very happy and the crowds cheered their heads off."
Returning to the balcony at Whitehall he led the crowd in a singing of "Rule Britannia."
Later in the month Churchill was informed by the Labour Party that the coalition could not continue. At the King’s request he took over a caretaker government while conducting a general election, continuing the war with Japan and creating a post-war Europe with Truman and Stalin.
During June Churchill fought an election, on one day visiting ten cities. As it became clear that the people thought Labour had a better post-war policy and were about to express their long-held resentment against the Conservative pre-war appeasers, Churchill hoped that his own popularity could withstand the tide. He advised the overseas troops that there is "no truth that you can vote Labour or Liberal without voting against me."
Despite Churchill’s war record his Party’s prospects for reelection were discouraging. Since 1942 the Gallup poll had shown a large Labour lead. Eight Conservative candidates, unopposed by Labour because of a wartime electoral truce, had already been beaten by independents.
The Conservatives focused on Churchill as the leader who had won the war. Churchill reminded the overseas troops that there was "no truth that you can vote Labour or Liberal without voting against me." As grateful as they were, many people expressed concern that the great war leader would not be a good peace leader. He was even heckled at Walthamston Stadium. He responded to that challenge by telling the hecklers that he forgave them because they were about to receive a thrashing.
From the beginning he struck hard against his opponents. Controversy ensued when he said the Socialists "would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo." His daughter Mary later recounted how her mother begged Churchill "to delete the odious and invidious reference to the Gestapo. But he would not heed her." His daughter Sarah told him that Socialism as practiced in the war did no harm, and did quite a lot of people good." Churchill’s views were influenced by the recently published Road to Serfdom, which argued that economic planning resulted inevitably in totalitarian government and the extinction of personal liberty. Years later Churchill told the author of the book that while his ideas were good they would never work in Britain.
Polling day was 5 July in Britain but it took three weeks to count the service vote. Meanwhile Churchill flew to Bordeaux to rest before moving on to Berlin. Shortly after arriving in the German capital Churchill, with his daughter Mary, toured its ruins including Hitler’s Chancellery. When Churchill observed the German populace he said his "hate died with their surrender." On the same day he met President Truman for the first time. A few days later the two leaders agreed to use the atomic bomb against Japan.
Churchill’s last public event as British Prime Minister occurred on 21 July when he took the victory salute in Berlin. "Twice in one generation," he told the troops, "as in bygone times the German fury has been unleashed on her neighbours. Now it is we who take our place in the occupation of this country."
Among the cheers, however, were ominous signs. John Peck noted how "the great war leader but for whom we should never have been in Berlin at all, got a markedly less vociferous cheer than Mr. Attlee."
On 25 July Churchill left Stalin and Truman, without saying goodbye, to return to London with Attlee to await the results of the election. On 28 July Clement Attlee returned to Berlin as Prime Minister.
Unknown to anyone but his doctor, Churchill had a premonition of the results in a dream. "I dreamed that life was over. I saw — it was very vivid — my dead body under a white sheet on a table in an empty room. I recognized my bare feet projecting from under the sheet. It was very life-like. Perhaps this is the end."
The concession speech included the admirable comment: "I thank the British people for many kindnesses shown towards their servant." This remark stands in contrast to Stalin’s reported comment that he was surprised because he had supposed that Churchill would have "fixed" the results. On 29 July Churchill signed "finis" in the visitors’ book at Chequers. Many high-ranking officials who owed their positions to Churchill, including Lord Louis Mountbatten, were now expressing Labour sympathies.
When Chamberlain had resigned in 1940 many Conservatives clearly expressed their preference for him over the new Prime Minister. This time, however, the Conservative MPs showed their hearts were with Churchill. When he entered the House on 1 August they sang an enthusiastic "For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow." Later he joined Attlee to celebrate VJ-Day and clearly received greater ovations.
On 16 August the House recognized Churchill’s war leadership. The new Prime Minister spoke for all when he said that Churchill’s "place in history is secure."
Upon his return from a holiday in Italy, Churchill began a series of speaking engagements which provided an opportunity to reflect on the war and comment on the post-war situation. One of the first was a particularly moving event because Winston and Clementine received together the Freedom of the Borough of Wanstead and Woodford, which Churchill had represented since 1924. To his constituents Churchill promised that "I shall not waste your time or mine with vain repinings, but on the contrary you may be sure that I shall devote myself unswervingly to whatever duties may come my way..." Mrs. Churchill recalled that "at the first meeting of women I attended I said that I hoped we would be with you ‘for keeps’. It has turned out to be so, and when the tale is told it will be seen that our association with you is woven into the pattern of our lives in rich and happy colours."
Their daughter, Mary Soames, wrote her mother that while both parents were"... noble beasts" her mother’s particular triumph was that "you really have been — and are — everything to Papa. Many great men have had wives who ran their houses beautifully and lavished care and attention on them — but they looked for love and amusement and repose elsewhere. And vice versa. You have supplied him with all these things — without surrendering your own soul or mind ..."
Speaking at the Alamein Reunion Dinner at Albert Hall he predicted that the victory would become one of the most famous in British history and called it a turning point in the war. "Up till Alamein we survived. After Alamein we conquered." He praised Field Marshal Montgomery as "one of the greatest living masters of the art of war."
In late October Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King visited the Churchills at Hyde Park Gate, being greeted by Randolph and Mary on the pavement (sidewalk). King and Churchill discussed the British political scene and relations with the Soviet Union. Hoping that he was not betraying the trust of the British Government and basing the conversation on the fact that they were both Privy Councillors, King told Churchill about the defection of Igor Gouzenko from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa and the extent of Soviet spying in Canada and the United States. Churchill responded that "Communism is a religion" in that "they were using any means to gain an end." Churchill approved of concerted UK, USA and Canada action and asked King to do all he could to keep the United States and Great Britain together.
The Canadian Prime Minister recorded in his diary that Churchill informed him of the invitation from President Truman to speak in Missouri, "to give a course of lectures on European conditions ... Truman had scribbled in his own hand across the letter that he would like very much to see him come and deliver the course. He mentioned a large honorarium, etc. He said that he thought he might go and deliver one lecture on the condition of the world. He would not wish any honorarium but this might give him a chance to talk with Truman and he might be helpful to British and American relations in that way."
At the end of October Churchill told the boys at Harrow School that "as a youth I wanted to play the kettledrum, and when that could not be arranged I thought I would like to be a leader of the school orchestra ... After a great deal of perseverance I rose to be the conductor of quite a considerable band [which] played very strange and formidable instruments. The roar and thunder of its music resounded throughout the world. We played all sorts of tunes, and we finished up the concert with Rule Britannia and God Save the King.
In November, accompanied by his daughter Mary, he visited Paris, where he was profoundly touched by the welcome and recalled the joy of liberation in his visit the previous year. After indicating that he supported France’s return to great power status, he visited Brussels, where he spoke on the "Foundations of Freedom" and "The Future of Europe." He told Brussels University that "the champions of freedom can never afford to sleep" and a Joint Meeting of the Belgian Senate and Chamber that the "supreme task" was "the building of a world instrument of security, in which all peoples, treat and small, have a vital interest, and assuredly none more than those who dwell in the famous cockpit of Europe."
He was also actively engaged in domestic politics in Britain, particularly in the fight against socialism. He had hoped for Liberal allies in that cause but noted that "animal hatred of the Conservative Party is the sole remaining theme of Liberalism." Speaking to the Conservative Central Council Meeting at Friends House in London, he began with "you give a generous welcome to one who has led you through one of the greatest political defeats in the history of the Tory Party. It may perhaps be that you give me some indulgence for leading you in some other matters which have not turned out so badly."