Newest Companion Volume in the Official Biography Edited by Sir Martin Gilbert Published by Hillsdale College Press
1942 was the first full year that the United States was in the Second World War as a combatant power. Contact between the British and American governments thus became much closer and more substantive. In fact Churchill began the year travelling from Ottawa, where he had addressed the Canadian Parliament and posed for his most famous portrait photograph, to Washington to resume direct talks with President Roosevelt. Sir Martin calculates that as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day, Churchill’s train, travelling south along the Hudson River, was in the vicinity of Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park. He arrived in Washington at 1PM.
The early months of 1942 saw the Japanese on the march and the devastating fall of Singapore. Churchill later described this time as the most anxious period of the war for him personally. The Grand Alliance he long sought of Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union was finally in place. Churchill knew the Allies would therefore prevail but as yet “had nothing but disaster to show.” Twice that year he faced votes of confidence. He feared that he might be replaced as prime minister just before the fruits of victory would begin to appear enabling others to take the credit that rightly belonged to him.
In June, Churchill returned to Washington for more discussions with President Roosevelt, and in August Churchill flew at great risk and in great discomfort all the way to Moscow to meet with Stalin, “the ogre in his den.” Finally, in the autumn came the successful “Torch” landings in North Africa and the smashing victory of Gen. Montgomery’s Eighth Army over Rommel at El Alamein. Not for nothing did Churchill describe this year in his war memoirs as The Hinge of Fate.