The Place to Find All Things Churchill

Autumn 1940 (Age 66)

The Battle of Britain is underway

Although Hitler cancelled Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Britain, and the Battle of Britain was all but won by mid-September, the threat to ultimate British victory in the war was made more ominous by the pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan on 27 September. This in no way diminished Churchill’s defiance. He reminded people, never maltreat the enemy by halves.”

The President called on America to become the “arsenal of democracy.”

On 9 October Churchill accepted the leadership of the Conservative Party, a remarkable achievement considering his relationship with the Conservative establishment since he had left them to join the Liberals in 1904. This action was taken despite the vehement opposition of Clementine. Their daughter Mary has written: “[Clementine] never altered her opinion that this step was a mistake, and that it alienated much of the support which Winston derived from the working classes through the vindication of his pre-war prophecies and his record as a war leader. “

The bombing continued. Among the more notable events: on 10 October St. Paul’s Cathedral was hit; on 15 October the Germans gave priority to night bombing; on 14 November Coventry was heavily bombed. In reprisal the British conducted their own bombing raids on numerous targets, including Berlin.

Churchill gave much thought to Germany and Germans exclusive of Hitler and Nazism. He commented to friends that “a Hun alive is a war in prospect” but, looking ahead to the end of the war, he knew that the mistakes of the previous war must not be repeated and that “Germany must remain in the European family. “

While confident of ultimate victory, he believed it would come only with the United States as an ally. One impediment was the US Ambassador to Britain, Joseph P. Kennedy, whose Irish-American biases left him with little sympathy for Britain and whose reports to Roosevelt showed no confidence in British victory. But the President had other eyes and ears: Harry Hopkins, Wendell Willkie and Kennedy’s replacement as Ambassador, John Winant were staunch supporters of the British cause. Carl Spaatz and “Wild Bill’ Donovan, then colonels but later to play leading roles in the US war effort, visited Britain and drew quite different conclusions from Kennedy’s.

The initial stages in the US-British alliance would involve the provision of essential supplies to Britain. Their importance was recognized by Churchill who declared that submarines were a greater menace to Britain’s survival than bombers. On 17 December Roosevelt announced the policy of Lend-Lease and on 29 December the President called on America to become the “arsenal of democracy.”

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