Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


This is coolbert:

Don't expect things to always go your way in war.

Even when a new leader assumes command, it may take a while to turn around a bad state of affairs.

Even people with great promise sometimes take time to properly assess the situation and know in what direction to head.

And these people of promise may make mistakes and errors that sometimes result in great defeat or loss of life. War is not any easy business! The learning curve, as they call it, is sometimes protracted.

Such was the case with Winston Churchill during World War Two [WW2].

Upon gaining the position of Prime Minister in 1940, the war at that point was going very grimly for the British. Dunkirk had just occurred and the British had been expelled from the continent, and invasion of the British home islands by the Germans was imminent. Churchill at that point gave his blood, sweat, and tears speech that is so famous.

British leadership in the war up until the fall of France in June 1940 was under the control of Chamberlain, whose abilities seem to have been quite limited and lackluster. With the fall of France, a big shake up was definitely needed, and the result was the ascendancy of Churchill to the top spot.

The first test for Churchill upon assuming office of course was the Battle of Britain. And this resulted in a defeat for the Germans, albeit at great loss to the British as well. With the German defeat, an invasion of Britain itself was precluded, and the British and Churchill did have a brief respite. Churchill at this point was more or less commanding the war and making decisions normally left to the General Staff

However, subsequent to the Battle of Britain, a string of continuous British defeats in other parts of the world began.

And continued for almost two years.

First British defeat in Greece, then the same in Crete, then the numerous defeats in North Africa at the hands of the German Afrika Corps commanded by Rommel. The besieged fortress of Tobruk finally falling to the Germans after a gallant but futile British defense.

And the catastrophic defeat of the British forces in Singapore at the hands of the Japanese cannot be forgotten [was mentioned in detail in another blog entry].

Then in the summer of 1942 came the debacle at Dieppe, also touched upon in another blog entry. It was at this point that Churchill himself became nervous that he could follow the same fate at Chamberlain.

This did not happen. The victory of Montgomery at El Alamein seems to have saved Churchill..

[It should also be remembered that during the First world War, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty. and proposed the abortive Gallipoli mis-adventure. And in the aftermath of this British defeat was sacked and removed from office. Great men do make mistakes!!].

Persons such as Lincoln and Churchill did have to deal with incompetence and did despair on many occasions at defeats of their forces. But they did prevail and showed greatness in the process. Even with defeats, superior leadership and ability can and will prevail.



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