March 20, 2015

Beginning work on The Second World War

After his speech at Zurich  Churchill returned to London. Then, accompanied by his wife and daughter Mary, he went to Brussels and to Paris, where Mary met her future husband, Christopher Soames; the Assistant Military Attaché at the British Embassy.

At home again. Churchill resumed work on his war memoirs. Aware that he was dealing with topics and documents which remained sensitive, he outlined his plans to the Secretary of the Cabinet: “I should of course not wish to publish any paper which’ was not considered in the public interest by the Government of the day, and I should be quite ready to discuss the omission of any particular phrase, sentence or passage in any memorandum otherwise unobjectionable. Moreover I do not expect that any publication can take place for two or three years and I may not live so long.” The proposal was submitted to the Cabinet, which approved Churchill’s proposal on condition that a final revision would be subject to approval “in the light of the situation existing at the time.”

Churchill renewed his prewar relationship with Bill Deakin, who coordinated all the documentary evidence. Deakin later recalled the experience for Martin Gilbert:

“Winston and I would discuss together, alone, a sort of synopsis, which he would think out in his head and discuss with me. I would work into that frame. I would look up what happened. He then would dictate away what he remembered about people. He would also send me to talk to people, as a kind of interpreter. When I would produce a memorandum, this would provoke his personal memory. He would stop completely. No more documents. He would dictate his feelings (when he became First Lord, when he became Prime Minister). I would go to Chartwell for days at a time. Everything was devoted to his memoirs. He concentrated ruthlessly on this. He saw it as his monument.”

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Outside of this work Churchill continued to be active in political affairs. Brendan Bracken noted that Churchill “is determined to continue to lead the Tory Party until he becomes Prime Minister on earth or Minister of Defence in Heaven.”

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