A more unexpected ally had already been found in the form of the Soviet Union: an uncomfortable ally, certainly, but Churchill couldn’t afford to be choosy and realized the necessity of the relationship. When Hitler invaded Russia on 22 June 1941, Germany had unwittingly played into the hands of the Allies. Churchill seized on the advantage. And so the ‘grand alliance’ – of ‘The Big Three’ – was established.
It was Churchill who kept the ‘big three’ together throughout the remaining years of the war and did most of the travelling to ensure they continued to talk, negotiate, and plan. He established the first of his ‘summit’ meetings – with Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam – and these have remained a feature of international diplomacy and foreign affairs ever since.
Relations were often tense and uneasy and the ‘Big Three’ often argued over the direction the war should take – what tactics should be used, how various strategies should be implemented – and of course the three countries had very different interests and aims. But Churchill, at some cost to his health (he suffered at least one minor heart condition and a severe bout of pneumonia during the War; he was in his late sixties, after all), kept talking. It was one of his great skills, of course.
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