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Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

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Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Ivan on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:35 am

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In a BBC poll a few years ago, Churchill was voted the greatest ever Briton, but I wonder if Churchill’s contribution to Britain has been overrated. Spare me the froth of indignation, I know the standard interpretation as well as anyone. Churchill is supposed to be the man who won the war for us, an inspiration, someone who impressed the ladies by making remarks such as “it will be long, it will be hard and there will be no withdrawal”.
Embarassed

Churchill was a dunce at school, and a political turncoat who switched from Conservative to Liberal and back to Conservative again, swaying with the prevailing wind whenever it suited his career prospects. As he explained: "anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat”. In 1910, while still a Liberal, he was made Home Secretary and used troops to maintain law and order during a miners’ strike in South Wales. He also used a detachment of Scots Guards to assist police during a house siege in Sidney Street in East London in January 1911. He used the military against private citizens, when it would normally have been something for the police to sort out.

At the start of the First World War, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty and was the chief proponent of the invasion of Turkey, now known as the Gallipoli campaign. The idea was to create a southern link to England and France's eastern ally, Russia, and provide the struggling Russians with material assistance. It was a total failure. Although not solely responsible for the tactical defeat on the ground, the campaign was nevertheless, Churchill’s baby, and it cost the lives of 44,092 Allied troops, including 21,255 from the UK. Over 86,000 enemy soldiers also died. Churchill was forced to leave the War Cabinet after this debacle.

Churchill became Colonial Secretary in January 1921, which meant he was in charge of drawing the map of much of the Middle East, from which the Turks had been forced to pull out. Churchill made yet more mistakes, of which the most enduring was his failure to establish Kurdistan, a state for the Kurds, among the other new nations.

By the time Churchill became Prime Minister at the age of 65, his career had largely been a disaster. During the Second World War, his poor judgement continued. Churchill was responsible (at least in part) for the decision to occupy Norway. The invasion of Norway (or perhaps "military occupation" is a better term) was challenged and defeated by the Germans. Perhaps the main reason for this failure was the defeat of British naval surface power by German air power. Just like Gallipoli, it could be said of Norway that it was "a nice idea but it didn't work".

As Prime Minister, Churchill must take some of the responsibility for the foolish raid on the heavily fortified port of Dieppe in 1942, which incurred heavy Allied casualties. Churchill was also a proponent of the invasion of Italy, hoping to reach the German Reich via the southern route, through "Europe's soft underbelly" as he said. Thanks to the German Army under Albert Kesselring, and the natural defensive terrain, Italy turned out to be, as American soldiers fighting there put it, a "tough old gut".

During the Second World War, Wladyslaw Sikorski took command of the Polish army in France and thereafter became the head of the Polish government in exile in London. He died mysteriously in a plane crash in July 1943, while he was returning to London from the Middle East where he had been inspecting Polish troops who were about to join the allies. British investigations in the aftermath of his death concluded that it was an accident. New investigations in 1992 revealed, however, that, at the height and speed at which it was travelling, the plane could technically not have crashed. Some claimed that the pilot had deliberately brought the plane down. The mystery of Sikorski’s death remains and has since been subject to various theories: a murder planned by the Soviet Union or by the British government. One theory is that the murder was ordered by Churchill in an effort to maintain good relations with Stalin, at a time of increasing tension between Poland and the Soviet Union.

By 1944, the saturation bombing of dormitory towns in Germany had given up any pretence of choosing military targets. This always happens with long drawn-out bombing campaigns (compare the end of the Kosovo war), but in 1944 we went further and began attempting massacres. We only really succeeded at Dresden, but not for want of trying.

The later years of the war were years of Soviet and American ascendancy. The strategy for the final conquest of Germany was largely decided by these powers. It could reasonably be argued that the USA and the Soviet Union won the Second World War, with British support. Ostensibly, Britain had gone to war to try to save Poland from being taken over by Germany. At the end of the war, Churchill promptly handed over Poland to the Russians.

Churchill was unscrupulous enough to campaign in the 1945 general election using the smear that, if elected, Labour would “set up a Gestapo”, an appalling thing to say at any time, but especially so close to the end of the war. It didn’t do him much good. However, an electoral quirk in the 1951 general election (Labour won the most votes but the Tories won more seats), returned Churchill to Downing Street at the age of almost 77, where he had a stroke, but with customary deception, the Tories hid that from public knowledge. He was eventually eased out of office in 1955 (to be replaced by the disastrous Eden), but he stayed on as an MP until three months before his death in January 1965 at the age of 90.

Britain survived the Second World War, and was on the winning side, not because of the platitudes of Churchill, but because of those brave people in small boats who went to Dunkirk, those heroic Spitfire pilots, and the many servicemen, anonymous to most apart from their families and friends, who gave their lives to preserve our freedom from Nazi tyranny. Don't you think they were the great Britons who deserved accolades, not Churchill?
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by bobby on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:02 pm

Rockonbrother wrote:

A politician whose lack of geopolitical acumen allowed him to proclaim “Peace in our time” whilst waving that damnable worthless scrap of paper with Herr Adolf “The Beast” Hitler’s signature affixed, deserves blame, righteous blame.


That danmable worthless scrap of paper you so disrespectfully call itrefer to, was in fact worth its weight in gold. It was the agreement on that scrap of paper that gave us "Britain" the time to arm in preparation of the war every one knew was coming, including Chamberlain. Had the war come to us sooner we most certainly would have lost it. My personal opinion is that Chamberlain went to Munich with nothing to negotiate with and won a much needed delay, as for the waving of the document (one word), that was simply to delay any fears the civilian population may have had, he was doing what all politicians in his place would have done. Prior to this it was Nevil Chamberlain and Sir Hugh Dowding championing the building and use of Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires. Had the man been the pacifist many now call him, why then was he doing his utmost to get us the weaponry needed to fight a war, it just doesn’t add up. As for Sir Hugh Dowding, the man solely responsible for us winning the Battle of Britain, soon after the battle was won, Churchill got rid of him for no other reason than Sir Hugh Dowding went against Churchill re the sending of Spitfires to France (AJP Taylor Historian), he at the time received hardly any recognition for what he did for Britain and has received no honours since. But who was it with his (allegedly) speeches took the credit, Churchill, he gave a bit back to the few, but on the whole he thought it was him.

In the North Africa Campaign we had an extremely able Commander in Sir Claude Auchinleck, but unfortunately the Auk was no friend of Churchill, and was replaced by the more successful General Bernard Law Montgomery, what gets very little mention is that with Montgomery (who was an extremely able General) cam masses of new equipment that for some reason was unavailable to Auchinleck, due to the addition of much more equipment and further troops, is it any doubt that Monty managed to do more than the Auk. These are just examples of Churchill’s ruthlessness, based on nothing other than his personal likes and dislikes.

You Americans had your Token Hero’s, you had Sergeant York in WW1, and Audie Murphy along with those troops who raised the flag at I Think Guadal Canal or Iwo Jima in WW2. We had Churchill and he was quite happy to take the public acclaim for what others where achieving

By the way Rock, what about the hanging woman. You really can not get upset with people not answering your posts, when you will not do the same yourself.

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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:25 pm

bobby wrote:Rockonbrother wrote:

A politician whose lack of geopolitical acumen allowed him to proclaim “Peace in our time” whilst waving that damnable worthless scrap of paper with Herr Adolf “The Beast” Hitler’s signature affixed, deserves blame, righteous blame.


That danmable worthless scrap of paper you so disrespectfully call itrefer to, was in fact worth its weight in gold. It was the agreement on that scrap of paper that gave us "Britain" the time to arm in preparation of the war every one knew was coming, including Chamberlain.....

In the North Africa Campaign we had an extremely able Commander in Sir Claude Auchinleck, but unfortunately the Auk was no friend of Churchill, and was replaced by the more successful General Bernard Law Montgomery, what gets very little mention is that with Montgomery (who was an extremely able General) cam masses of new equipment that for some reason was unavailable to Auchinleck, due to the addition of much more equipment and further troops, is it any doubt that Monty managed to do more than the Auk. These are just examples of Churchill’s ruthlessness, based on nothing other than his personal likes and dislikes.
.

Re-armament obviously did not happen overnight, and the arrival of "new equipment" coincidentally with the appointment of Montgomery to the North African campaign probably confirms the preference of Napoleon, that his Generals should first of all be "lucky".
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Shirina on Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:05 pm

Had the war come to us sooner we most certainly would have lost it.
Actually, you wouldn't have. Hitler was very much outnumbered and outgunned in the early days of the war. Hitler lost 25% of the Luftwaffe and a third of his tanks in his attack on Poland. If France and Britain had shown early signs of an actual offense, Hitler would have tucked tail and scurried back to Germany. He really didn't want a war with western Europe anyway. Giving time for Britain to prepare for war also gave Hitler the same amount of time to also prepare. Hitler came out ahead in that arms race and was able to push Britain off the continent in 1940. If a decisive Allied attack had occurred in response to Czechoslovakia, it would have been all over right then and there.

Instead, Chamberlain has to live with the immortal shame of selling out Czechoslovakia in order to buy a few extra months of peace, and Britain didn't do a whole lot with those extra months in terms of arming itself. The arms industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the war years; Germany was out-producing Britain by leaps and bounds.

Churchill is no saint, though, since he sold out Poland to the Russians at the end of the war. He did this in secret with Stalin and never told the Americans because he knew they would object. When America did eventually find out about it, they were furious.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:35 pm

It's convenient journalistic shorthand to describe an entire Government or entire Country by using just the name of its Principal.

Nobody can believe that "Churchill" made all the decisions and enforced all the actions personally. At the beginning of WWII he was saddled with the type of cabinet colleague that said things like, "You can't just bomb German factories, they're Private Property!"

The 2012 Coalition bears traces of that attitude.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Shirina on Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:13 pm

"You can't just bomb German factories, they're Private Property!"
LOL! I was going to bring that up, but I didn't want to type it all out. I'm glad you did.

What was even worse was the RAF's "leaflet war" they waged during the "Phony War." Yes, let's drop leaflets on Germany telling them what a bad idea it is to go to war with Britain! Well, Hitler already knew that. You can't blitzkrieg an island! If Britain had offered Hitler peace, he would have accepted in a heartbeat. After the RAF began using actual bombs on German cities, though, all bets were off.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by bobby on Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:00 pm

Sharina Wrote:

Instead, Chamberlain has to live with the immortal shame of selling out Czechoslovakia in order to buy a few extra months of peace, and Britain didn't do a whole lot with those extra months in terms of arming itself. The arms industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the war years; Germany was out-producing Britain by leaps and bounds.

Churchill is no saint, though, since he sold out Poland to the Russians at the end of the war. He did this in secret with Stalin and never told the Americans because he knew they would object. When America did eventually find out about it,

they were furious


I will Repeat the last part:

they were furious.

The Western Allies in the persons of Roosevelt and Churchill have been criticised, both by Polish writers and some western historians, for what most Poles see as the abandonment of Poland to Stalin. Well before Yalta, they secretly consigned Eastern Europe and the Baltics to the Soviet Union. At the Teheran Conference in 1943, Roosevelt committed that Stalin could have Romania, Bulgaria, Bukovina, eastern Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Finland,[71] in addition to making changes to the Polish frontier.[







The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Behind them stand, from the left, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, General of the Army George Marshall, Major General Laurence S. Kuter, General Aleksei Antonov, Vice Admiral Stepan Kucherov, and Admiral of the Fleet Nikolay Kuznetsov.
So I'm sorry Sharina, but America's hands are just as filthy as Britains. When will Americans accept the blame for things they do. The US has equall responsibility, and nothing done in eastern Europe was done in secret between Churchill and Stalin, but was agreed well before the Yalta Conference By Churchill (British) Roosevelt (American) and Stalin (Russian)
You probably are aware of why Roosevelt sat in the centre, it wasn't because it was the prominant seat, but that Churchill refused to sit next to Stalin.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Stox 16 on Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:26 am

Bobby
     have you read Alan Brooks book? it was just a great read...he was a very clever man in my view...
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Shirina on Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:18 am

The US has equall responsibility, and nothing done in eastern Europe was done in secret between Churchill and Stalin, but was agreed well before the Yalta Conference By Churchill (British) Roosevelt (American) and Stalin (Russian)

Truth be told, Bobby, this issue is so massively complex that I feel I cannot even debate it properly. These decisions go all the way back through WWI, and the politics and maneuvering and machinations are absolutely mind blowing. It's like trying to watch 20 different movies simultaneously and keeping up with each of them.

I will say that the US had very little to do with European politics after Congress rejected Wilson's 14 Points and removed the USA from the League of Nations, and that continued throughout those early decisions. Even at Yalta, the chief negotiator for the USA was Alger Hiss who turned out to be a Soviet spy - which of course makes it obvious why the USA had some dirty fingers.

Even Churchill's relationship with Stalin was more cordial than we were led to believe.

It was an experience of great interest to me to meet Premier Stalin ... It is very fortunate for Russia in her agony to have this great rugged war chief at her head. He is a man of massive outstanding personality, suited to the sombre and stormy times in which his life has been cast; a man of inexhaustible courage and will-power and a man direct and even blunt in speech, which, having been brought up in the House of Commons, I do not mind at all, especially when I have something to say of my own. Above all, he is a man with that saving sense of humour which is of high importance to all men and all nations, but particularly to great men and great nations. Stalin also left upon me the impression of a deep, cool wisdom and a complete absence of illusions of any kind. I believe I made him feel that we were good and faithful comrades in this war – but that, after all, is a matter which deeds not words will prove. -- Winston Churchill, Sept. 8th, 1942.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:52 am

Nobody should be surprised that when the victorious European powers, at the end of the Great War, carved up the Middle East between them, it created problems that have already festered for almost a Century.

To forecast trouble-spots, look at an Atlas with particular attention to National Borders drawn with a ruler.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by bobby on Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:20 am

Hello Stox mate. Can you give me any more info re the Alan Brooke Book. Thanks Bob
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by trevorw2539 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:23 pm

[
Hello Stox mate. Can you give me any more info re the Alan Brooke Book. Thanks Bob

Being nosey. Would that be the 'Alanbrooke Diaries'. These were diaries kept by Victor Brooke (or Viscount Alanbrooke) Chief of Imperial General Staff in WWII.

Google 'Viscount Alanbrooke'. Please excuse my butting in but these are interesting.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by bobby on Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:48 pm

Many thanks if you are correct trev, but if your wrong I'll never forgive you:D Very Happy
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Chivnail on Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:57 pm

Well, I'll say this much: I certainly wouldn't have voted for him and his wacky Benito-loving, strike-breaking, eugenicist, send-in-the-black-and-tans, let's-invade-Russia, better-yet-let's-gas-the-Kurds, gold-standard antics.

Meanwhile, Churchill or no Churchill, I'm mostly puzzled by the apparently widespread acceptance of the notion that a German invasion of Britain would have been successful. I can't for the life of me envision it ending with anything other than the killing and capturing of a few tens of thousands of shell-shocked, strafed, immobile, hungry, barely-armed German infantry who would then not be available for Barbarossa. But perhaps I'm getting off track...

bobby wrote:
You Americans had your Token Hero’s, you had Sergeant York in WW1, and Audie Murphy along with those troops who raised the flag at I Think Guadal Canal or Iwo Jima in WW2. We had Churchill and he was quite happy to take the public acclaim for what others where achieving

Indeed we did have a heroic Churchill to answer York and Murphy et cetera, but his name wasn't so much Winston as it were John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming, or better yet, Mad Jack. Who needs Spitfires and battleships when you've got bagpipes, broadswords, and longbows? Razz
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:41 pm

errr .... I don't want to spoil anybody's day, but Churchill is the name of a large toy dog who sells Insurance on TV.

Oh YESS!
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Shirina on Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:00 pm

Meanwhile, Churchill or no Churchill, I'm mostly puzzled by the apparently widespread acceptance of the notion that a German invasion of Britain would have been successful.
Well, it could have been successful given that Britain had left almost all of its tanks, artillery, and heavy weapons back on the beaches of Dunkirk. If the Luftwaffe had achieved air superiority during the Battle of Britain, the UK would have been in dire straits.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Chivnail on Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:20 am

Yes, Britain lost much of its heavy equipment on the beaches, but, to my mind, this is much like the current Falklands excitement in which the focus is on what Britain has lost in capability, ignoring utterly what the enemy has (and lacks) in capability.

Just as an Argentine invasion of the Falklands today would be conducted with twenty light infantry, a chartered airliner, and a lot of praying to an imaginary sky pixie who lacks the ability to down a flight of Eurofighter Typhoons, so a Nazi invasion in 1940 would have been conducted with a few towed, un-powered barges, some aircraft that lacked the range and endurance to be of much relevance, and an abject inability either to interdict the greatest navy in the world, or to disable numerous small airfields, or to offer even a tiny bit of close-air-support to a totally non-mechanised invasion force that, even if it landed 100% intact, would be outnumbered several hundred percent by local partially mechanised defence force fighting on home ground, with prepared stop-lines.

A German invasion of Britain would have been, so far as I can see, the most sad and pathetic excuse for a military operation ever recorded in history (aside from the last French and Spanish invasions of Britain, mayhap?). We may not have had many tanks left, but a German invasion force would have had none. We may have had limited air cover, but the Germans would have had very close to none. We may have had somewhat limited trained front-line man-power, but the Germans would have had a measly fraction of it.

It would have been, what, optimistically 80,000 widely dispersed light infantry on strange ground with no prospect of resupply, no armour, no close air support, no artillery, and no ideological motive against their supposed equals and comrades, against >300,000 light infantry on home ground, fighting for their lives, liberty, homes, wives, and children, in prepared defensive positions, with some armour, artillery, and close-air support, to say nothing of hundreds of thousands of formative paramilitaries.

The notion of a Nazi invasion of Britain was/is beyond farce.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:15 am

Chivnail wrote:
… a Nazi invasion in 1940 would have been conducted with a few towed, un-powered barges, some aircraft that lacked the range and endurance to be of much relevance, and an abject inability either to interdict the greatest navy in the world, or to disable numerous small airfields, or to offer even a tiny bit of close-air-support to a totally non-mechanised invasion force that, even if it landed 100% intact, would be outnumbered several hundred percent by local partially mechanised defence force fighting on home ground, with prepared stop-lines.

Absent Fighter Command’s 660 Hurricanes and Spitfires on 15 September 1940, Britain would have been ripe for German enslavement. The Royal Navy was far too occupied trying to keep Doenitz’s wool from strangling Britain to have been able to pay much attention to the channel, Moreover, as Japan demonstrated in early 1942 during the “defense” of Singapore, attack aircraft vs. battleship equals battleship down.

Range “don’t much matter” when one’s airfields are in northern France. If the RAF had been eliminated, the channel would have been a Luftwaffe shooting gallery just long enough to reduce the battleships, cruisers, and destroyers of the world’s greatest navy to a devastating preview of Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. British decision makers understood this fact of modern warfare before anyone else, having sunk the Bismarck and decimated Italy’s fleet at Taranto with some of the sorriest attack aircraft of WWII, the snail-slow flying canvass coffin called the Swordfish.

Now if Swordfish can do all that, then simple extrapolation compellingly predicts that unchallenged Stukas prowling the skies over the channel would have ripped the heart out of the vaunted Royal Navy.

Fighter Command on that fateful day, 15 September 1940, had no reserves. Every Hurricane and Spitfire, all 660, were either in the air or being refueled and rearmed for another sortie. An old RAF spit pilot, interviewed for “The Lost Evidence” segment on the Battle of Britain, testified to this fact in recounting his experience on that day. Had the Luftwaffe prevailed, lights out.

As far as mechanized warfare, the Germans were planning to send Panzer divisions cross channel on motorized barges that proved their seaworthiness and effectiveness both in trials and later on during operations against the Soviets in the Baltic Sea. Once the Luftwaffe had destroyed Royal Navy warships and achieved absolute air superiority over the channel and southern England, motorized barges would have had smooth sailing while delivering superior German tanks to the southern end of your island.

When you say your prayers, thank God for Air Marshall Dowding and his crew of dedicated heroes. Without them, the German language might be mandatory in British schools so that Brits could verbally acknowledge the commands of their masters in their masters’ native tongue.


Last edited by RockOnBrother on Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:03 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Shirina on Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:26 am

Now if Swordfish can do all that, then simple extrapolation compellingly predicts that unchallenged Stukas prowling the skies over the channel would have ripped the heart out of the vaunted Royal Navy.

Hans-Ulrich Rudel, flying a Stuka, managed to sink a Russian battleship, the Marat, with a single 1000 kg. bomb.

The Germans also sank an Italian battleship, the Roma, with one of the first guided missiles called the Fritz-X. The thing was so accurate that the missile went right down the battleship's funnel and caused Roma's magazine to explode.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by trevorw2539 on Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:59 pm

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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:56 pm


Trevor,

Interesting article. What’s striking is the attitude of no surrender exhibited by these courageous civilians.

During discussions of the United Kingdom’s pivotal role in determining the fate of the world during the period between the capitulation of France and the US entry into the fray, about one and a half years, it is often mentioned that there could never have been a Vichy UK. The unsung heroes spotlighted in this article provide more evidence of the truth of that statement.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Chivnail on Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:20 pm

I still can't take the notion seriously. Barely a third of Germany's planned invasion barges were powered at all, and some of them for puttering around at a couple of knots on smooth canals, and though they could have got across the channel they couldn't have done it quickly or with a lot of men, vehicles, and supplies. Many of them would have to be grounded to unload at all, which would be a pain in an unpowered vessel under fire and facing mines and burning oil. By late 1940 only a few dozen large and effective barges for deploying tanks were available, along with two hundred odd light and medium tanks able to swim or effectively wade, while any other vehicles would have taken an age to get ashore after grounding and erecting ramps etc. Presumably the defenders would have given them all the time in the world to do that, though! It was going to take days just to get a few -mostly infantry- divisions ashore.

After the initial landing, it's unlikely that the Germans could have got even close to half the supplies they needed to sustain the initial -rather small- invasion force for even a few days, even assuming that the RAF had somehow evaporated and the RN sat on its backside in Scotland. Faced with the invasion of the country and total defeat, I don't think the risk of heavy losses would serve to discourage the Admiralty all that much. And hey, if the Luftwaffe's attacking scores and scores of warships across hundreds of square miles of sea, at least it's not attacking airfields any more, eh?

For the invasion to even last beyond a few days we do have to assume the total collapse of the RAF, and unless we really are crediting Churchill with primary responsibility for its survival I don't see how we can claim that he's responsible for Britain's freedom. But even without the British ability to contest enemy air superiority over the Channel, I can't really see the Germans getting past the major stop lines with much of their mobility intact, and by the time the regular (British) army was mobilised the invaders would have been running on fumes and enormously outnumbered. Particularly so if even a small portion of the RAF was kept back out of range of most French bases, while being still close enough to reach the south coast, or at least GHQ stop line etc to provide support/cover.

(Erm. Anyway, on the main thrust of the thread, I still don't care for Winston.)
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Chivnail on Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:21 pm

RockOnBrother wrote:
Trevor,

Interesting article. What’s striking is the attitude of no surrender exhibited by these courageous civilians.

During discussions of the United Kingdom’s pivotal role in determining the fate of the world during the period between the capitulation of France and the US entry into the fray, about one and a half years, it is often mentioned that there could never have been a Vichy UK. The unsung heroes spotlighted in this article provide more evidence of the truth of that statement.

Well, I certainly agree with you on these points, at least Smile
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:23 pm

Chivnail wrote:I still can't take the notion seriously.....

(Erm. Anyway, on the main thrust of the thread, I still don't care for Winston.)

That was well concealed Herr Obersturm-Führer.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by trevorw2539 on Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:58 pm

Chivnail quote.

After the initial landing, it's unlikely that the Germans could have got even close to half the supplies they needed to sustain the initial -rather small- invasion force for even a few days, even assuming that the RAF had somehow evaporated and the RN sat on its backside in Scotland.

We did at Normandy. The difference is that our scientists and planners etc. had the initiative to make it possible with Mulberry harbours, etc, and a massive deception ploy. The difference between 2 leaders. One who would listen to his commanders. The other who believed he knew better than his.

Churchill wasn't the greatest politician, the greatest Prime Minister, the greatest planner, but he was the right man for the right time. He was inspirational in terms of his outward determination, though often privately having doubts, and was able to inspire others. He risked his own life often in his leadership, so much so that King George VI had to stop him at times. Churchill was in the habit of going to the rooftops when the German bombers came over. When the King found out he told Winston that 'if you continue I shall do the same'. Winston stopped. He often went to conferences in North Africa etc knowing full well that the German's were aware of where he was and what he was doing.

It was his determination, friendship and pleading with FDR that prompted FDR to recommend to the US Congress LendLease on the grounds that 'the fall of Britain would threaten the USA'. A ground that allowed LendLease.

No. Not the greatest, but a great man who, for years, had warned of the probability of impending war with a Germany which had modern arms. He was ignored.

But then I am biased, having been born near Chartwell, his Kent home, and listened as a child to his speeches on the green of the local town.


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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:58 am

Chivnail wrote:
Barely a third of Germany's planned invasion barges were powered at all, and some of them for puttering around at a couple of knots on smooth canals, and though they could have got across the channel they couldn't have done it quickly or with a lot of men, vehicles, and supplies. Many of them would have to be grounded to unload at all, which would be a pain in an unpowered vessel under fire and facing mines and burning oil. By late 1940 only a few dozen large and effective barges for deploying tanks were available, along with two hundred odd light and medium tanks able to swim or effectively wade, while any other vehicles would have taken an age to get ashore after grounding and erecting ramps etc. Presumably the defenders would have given them all the time in the world to do that, though! It was going to take days just to get a few -mostly infantry- divisions ashore.

After the initial landing, it's unlikely that the Germans could have got even close to half the supplies they needed to sustain the initial -rather small- invasion force for even a few days, even assuming that the RAF had somehow evaporated and the RN sat on its backside in Scotland. Faced with the invasion of the country and total defeat, I don't think the risk of heavy losses would serve to discourage the Admiralty all that much. And hey, if the Luftwaffe's attacking scores and scores of warships across hundreds of square miles of sea, at least it's not attacking airfields any more, eh?

For the invasion to even last beyond a few days we do have to assume the total collapse of the RAF, and unless we really are crediting Churchill with primary responsibility for its survival I don't see how we can claim that he's responsible for Britain's freedom. But even without the British ability to contest enemy air superiority over the Channel, I can't really see the Germans getting past the major stop lines with much of their mobility intact, and by the time the regular (British) army was mobilised the invaders would have been running on fumes and enormously outnumbered. Particularly so if even a small portion of the RAF was kept back out of range of most French bases, while being still close enough to reach the south coast, or at least GHQ stop line etc to provide support/cover.


  1. Destruction of Fighter Command’s six hundred sixty Hurricanes and Spitfires equals absolute Luftwaffe air superiority over the channel and southern England.

  2. Absolute Luftwaffe air superiority over the channel and southern England equals unchallenged Stukas prowling the skies over the channel and southern England.

  3. Unchallenged Stukas prowling the skies over the channel equals Royal Navy battleships, cruisers, and destroyers at the bottom of the channel.

  4. Unchallenged Stukas prowling the skies over southern England equals dead British soldiers littering the fields of southern England.

  5. Unchallenged Stukas prowling the skies over the channel and southern England equals absolute German control of the channel and southern England.

  6. Absolute German control of the channel and southern England equals absolute control of Portsmouth and Plymouth.

  7. Absolute German control of the channel, southern England, Portsmouth, and Plymouth equals Luftwaffe takeover of southern England RAF bases.

  8. Luftwaffe takeover of southern England RAF bases equals absolute Luftwaffe air superiority over the whole of England, Wales, and Scotland.

  9. Absolute Luftwaffe air superiority over the whole of England, Wales, and Scotland equals game over.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Shirina on Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:49 pm

Operation Sea Lion, Hitler's planned invasion of Britain, was sabotaged by the Nazi regime's own internecine back biting. Admiral Donitz and Hermann Goering hated each other which meant there would never be cooperation between Donitz's U-boat forces and Goering's Luftwaffe. Modern warfare is all about combined arms tactics which the German's understood in relation to air power supporting the Wehrmacht, but it failed abysmally when it came to the Luftwaffe supporting the Kriegsmarine.

The end of the battleship came with the sinking of the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse by Japanese bombers as the two ships raced through the Pacific to support Singapore. At that point, the submarine and the aircraft carrier became the queens of the seas. In 1940, however, no one knew that yet, and had Donitz and Goering worked together, Britain would have been strangled by Donitz's U-boats while simultaneously invaded by the Wehrmacht. The other epic blunder involved Hitler's obsession with capital ships like the Bismarck despite being told Germany could never build a surface fleet powerful enough to rival the Royal Navy. Donitz never had more than 100 U-boats at sea at any given time; he tried to convince Hitler that U-boats could win the war, and if Donitz had had the 300 U-boats he had asked for instead of Hitler sinking money into battleships, that could have happened long before an invasion took place. Even America's entry into the war wouldn't have changed things since Admiral King of the USN absolutely (and stupidly) refused to corral US shipping into convoys, allowing German U-boats to pick off lone American ships with ease.

What really decided Britain's fate was the inability for the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine to coordinate a comprehensive strategy coupled with Hitler's refusal to give Donitz the U-boats he wanted. Of course, none of that mattered after Germany lost the Battle of Britain.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:33 pm


Shirina,

All true. Additionally, had Dowding bowed to pressure and allowed his assets to be sent over with the BEF, Fighter Command’s Hurricanes and Spitfires would have been lost during the six week Wehrmacht-Luftwaffe blitzkrieg through the Low Countries and France and thus unavailable for the Battle of Britain.

Also, had Goering not switched targets and gone after London, RAF southern England airfields would have become unusable, forcing Fighter Command’s short range Hurricanes and Spitfires to operate at a distinct distance disadvantage.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Chivnail on Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:24 am

Not that it impacts on the thrust of the argument, but, for future reference, "absolute air superiority" is more properly called, "air supremacy".

A Stuka, operating from France or Belgium, carrying a useful bomb load can 'prowl' the south coast of England for about as long as it'll take me to pour my next glass of home-brew from a keg under pressure. Okay, Kent may be in useful range, but even Plymouth is seriously pushing it. While this may allow the Germans some cover over the beaches -assuming they attack the beaches they'd be expected to attack, which will defintiely end well for them, right?- it's of little value in attacking fighter bases further from the front, or offering close air support. At some point, the Germans have to start taking British airbases... but how do they achieve this with RAF aircraft coming at them from further north and west, out of effective range of their continental aircraft? How is it that they knock-out 10, 12, and 13 Groups, and Bomber Command et cetera?

What was it Halder said about not being particularly keen to send his men into a sausage grinder?

I think we must be discussing two different hypothetical situations, now. One assumes that, in early/mid 1940 the Nazis invent magic, and mine doesn't Razz No, more seriously, though, what are we trying to get at? Operation Sealion couldn't have succeeded without going back years and massively altering what both sides did, and I can't imagine that anyone disagrees. I'm not sure what else we're trying to discern.

(Oh, by the by, the reason I tacked on that direct mention of Churchill, the other day, was that I'm new here, and I kinda felt like I was maybe pulling the thread off topic, from Churchill specifically to how LOL-FAIL was Operation Sealion generally.)
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:06 am

Chivnail wrote:
Not that it impacts on the thrust of the argument, but, for future reference, "absolute air superiority" is more properly called, "air supremacy".

Absolute air superiority is also properly called air supremacy; however, the phrase “more properly called” presumes a contrasting “less properly called”, and air supremacy is not less properly called absolute air superiority. And is the F-15C Eagle an air supremacy aircraft or an air superiority aircraft?

Chivnail wrote:
A Stuka, operating from France or Belgium, carrying a useful bomb load can 'prowl' the south coast of England for about as long as it'll take me to pour my next glass of home-brew from a keg under pressure.

Stukas did in fact prowl southern England with useful bomb loads during the initial phase of the Battle of Britain. Air Marshall Dowding’s Hurricanes and Spitfires rather than range limitation forced Goering to withdraw his Stukas. Had the Luftwaffe achieved absolute air superiority, Stukas would have been free to prowl southern England and the channel at will. The significance of this denial to the UK’s survival is the difference in accuaray. Prior to modern smart bombs, dive bombing wa the only way to achieve bombing accuracy. Two years later, at Midway, antiquated USN dive bombers took out how many Japanese aircraft carriers?

Chivnail wrote:
Okay, Kent may be in useful range, but even Plymouth is seriously pushing it. While this may allow the Germans some cover over the beaches -assuming they attack the beaches they'd be expected to attack, which will defintiely end well for them, right?- it's of little value in attacking fighter bases further from the front, or offering close air support. At some point, the Germans have to start taking British airbases... but how do they achieve this with RAF aircraft coming at them from further north and west, out of effective range of their continental aircraft? How is it that they knock-out 10, 12, and 13 Groups, and Bomber Command et cetera?

Remove Fighter Command’s six hundred sixty Hurricanes and Spitfires (the whole shebang on 15 September 1940) and all this changes, since there are no RAF aircraft in existence to come at them from further north and west. And though Plymouth may be a bit far, Portsmouth is much closer. Once Portsmouth is secured, breakout results in takeover of nearby RAF airfields, which moves Stukas closer to the fray.

Chivnail wrote:
I think we must be discussing two different hypothetical situations, now. One assumes that, in early/mid 1940 the Nazis invent magic…

Air superiority is not magic.

Chivnail wrote:
… more seriously, though, what are we trying to get at? Operation Sealion couldn't have succeeded without going back years and massively altering what both sides did…

This is not a massive shift. 15 September 1940, even after the unintentional break afforded Fighter Command by Goering’s sudden obsession with London, there were but six hundred sixty Hurricanes and Spitfires available. They held on, just barely, and in this case, just barely was just enough.

Now jump back a few months, and envision Dowding bowing to pressure to send to France with the BEF the Fighter Command assets he held back. Dunkirk now becomes a killing field as Luftwaffe Stukas, fighters, and bombers roam unopposed overhead during the evacuation. Then the bombing campaign begins, and the only Luftwaffe losses are to ground anti-aircraft fire.

Not massive shifts; had either (a) Dowding bowed to pressure, or (b) Goering kept his focus, the Battle of Britain is lost, and English skies become the Luftwaffe’s playground.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Chivnail on Thu May 03, 2012 3:49 am


Absolute air superiority is also properly called air supremacy; however, the phrase “more properly called” presumes a contrasting “less properly called”, and air supremacy is not less properly called absolute air superiority. And is the F-15C Eagle an air supremacy aircraft or an air superiority aircraft?


'Less properly called' because you called it so, not because anyone else ever did. Irrelevant to the argument, but if 'air supremacy' is not 'less properly called absolute air superiority' I wonder why you ever said it so in the first place. Meh, moving on...


Stukas did in fact prowl southern England with useful bomb loads during the initial phase of the Battle of Britain. Air Marshall Dowding’s Hurricanes and Spitfires rather than range limitation forced Goering to withdraw his Stukas. Had the Luftwaffe achieved absolute air superiority, Stukas would have been free to prowl southern England and the channel at will. The significance of this denial to the UK’s survival is the difference in accuaray. Prior to modern smart bombs, dive bombing wa the only way to achieve bombing accuracy. Two years later, at Midway, antiquated USN dive bombers took out how many Japanese aircraft carriers?


Stukas attacked the south coast of England with useful bomb loads, when they knew where they were going, yes. They did not 'prowl' as if to suggest that the Nazis could maintain a constant air patrol of dive-bombers over the south coast. I don't contend that it was the range limitation that forced the Stukas out. I just suggest that your point #4 from a few posts back is a bit OTT. Stukas could come over and attack specific targets, as they indeed did... but they couldn't provide close air support to invading German ground forces.


Remove Fighter Command’s six hundred sixty Hurricanes and Spitfires (the whole shebang on 15 September 1940) and all this changes, since there are no RAF aircraft in existence to come at them from further north and west. And though Plymouth may be a bit far, Portsmouth is much closer. Once Portsmouth is secured, breakout results in takeover of nearby RAF airfields, which moves Stukas closer to the fray.


Removing those six hundred is in itself an act of magic, right? Even if southerly 11 Group had been wiped out, somehow... why are you assuming that 10, 12, and 13 groups, largely out of range of Luftwaffe bombers, are completely erased? I might be missing the thrust of your argument here. Some of those fighters -and most of the light bombers and other ground-attack aircraft further north- were always going to be held back to meet an invasion.


This is not a massive shift. 15 September 1940, even after the unintentional break afforded Fighter Command by Goering’s sudden obsession with London, there were but six hundred sixty Hurricanes and Spitfires available. They held on, just barely, and in this case, just barely was just enough.

Now jump back a few months, and envision Dowding bowing to pressure to send to France with the BEF the Fighter Command assets he held back. Dunkirk now becomes a killing field as Luftwaffe Stukas, fighters, and bombers roam unopposed overhead during the evacuation. Then the bombing campaign begins, and the only Luftwaffe losses are to ground anti-aircraft fire.

Not massive shifts; had either (a) Dowding bowed to pressure, or (b) Goering kept his focus, the Battle of Britain is lost, and English skies become the Luftwaffe’s playground.


Okay, it was possible that we could have sent hundreds more/better fighters to France, and lost a lot of them (and their pilots, which would have been more significant) (while destroying scores more German aircraft in the process). Is it Churchill who made sure that wasn't so (given the point of the thread)? And why do you assume that every single fighter would have been sent, apparently without exception? Seems like a bit of a straw-man... either the restrained way it was, or absolutely no restraint what so ever? Is that the only alternative?

Even unchallenged in the sky, as I say, most of Germany's aircraft lacked the range -and with it endurance- to be so effective as we may now think of air-power. When we hit back across the Channel after D-Day, our fighter-bombers had a range pushing 200 miles greater than the Stukas that Germany had in 1940, thus they were able to loiter and respond to the situation on the ground. No suck luck for a prospective German invasion in 1940.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu May 03, 2012 11:17 am

There has been more than one book relating the history of the Second World War, and whenever a German plan to invade Britain is mentioned, the author usually points out that it was never Hitler's intention to do so prior to Chamberlain's Declaration of War in September 1939.

It may have been that Herr Hitler was content to have a Continental European Empire as counterweight to the British Empire which so impressed him. Certainly he was well aware that in taking on Britain he would also be taking on Australia, Canada, India and the rest.

So WW2 is our fault really.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Thu May 03, 2012 1:54 pm

oftenwrong wrote:
So WW2 is our fault really.

Nope. Responsibility for World War II must properly be laid at the feet of Uncle Adolf and Uncle Tojo and his Emperor, all of whom selfishly walked over the unalienable human rights of many countries’ inhabitants in quest of what they wanted.

For the United Kingdom, it was the sea change event that transformed Britain from the great Imperial overlord of locales that today contain damn near half the world’s non-Chinese inhabitants (well over one quarter including Chinese) into the savior of world decency.

Churchill said, “This was their finest hour”, and he was correct. The actions of British troops during the Zulu Wars inspire no one save those who worship British Imperialism and long for its return. The Battle of Britain, of which Churchill said prior to its inception “if necessary, for years; if necessary alone”, inspired Black Texans two years later than to join their brothers in demanding that Black Americans be trained as fighter pilots to protect bomber crews across the pond. Look up Tuskegee Airmen and Red Tails.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” (Winston Churchill, 20 August 1940).


This World War II poster was taken from the uploader's own collection. A lower resolutio version of the same poster is available at https://www.mplib.org/wpdb/index.asp?exact=MPW00376 where the publisher information is provided as follows "Printed for H.M. Stationery Office by Lowe & Brydon Printers, Ltd". This implies that the copyright holder is HMSO or, in other words, it is Crown Copyright. As this poster is more than 50 years old, it is now in the public domain.

By the way, on 15 September 2010, the 70th anniversary of the date that changed the world, I asked my congregation to join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for the sacrifices willingly endured by those courageous men of Fighter Command who strapped on their Hurricanes and Spitfires and rose into the southern English skies time after time to turn back Goering’s Luftwaffe. There wasn’t a dry eye in the auditorium.

Afterward, a lady who had been working the fields with her mother during that time told me this story. Seems this Luftwaffe Me-109 pilot had the utter audacity to parachute from the sky after a brave RAF Spit aviator blew his invasive behind out of the sky. As the German alit, this dear lady’s mother joined several other English ladies who drew near to the Bosch invader and beat/stabbed him to death with pitchforks, hoes, spades, shovels, and whatever other farm implements they had at hand. “We will fight in the fields; we will never surrender.”

As of 16 September 2010, I’ve been on a personal campaign to make 15 September a US National Day of Remembrance. I don’t want school kids to be let out of school tha6 day, I want school kids to learn of those few to whom those school kids owe so much today. I’ve gotten a few “nibbles”, including one from a junior high teacher who, sick and tired of this Cinco de Mayo foolishness, now during September has her students create artwork commemorating the British victory in the Battle of Britain. One person at a time…
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu May 03, 2012 5:04 pm

15 September 2010, the 70th anniversary of the date that changed the world

Unfortunately followed by sustained strategic bombing of Britain and Northern Ireland by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe between September 1940 and May 1941.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Thu May 03, 2012 7:03 pm

oftenwrong wrote:
15 September 2010, the 70th anniversary of the date that changed the world

Unfortunately followed by sustained strategic bombing of Britain and Northern Ireland by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe between September 1940 and  May 1941.

It was in fact fortunate in a strange twist of history. Since I wasn’t alive and certainly wasn’t cognizant in 1940-1941, I must needs rely upon historians’ works and journalists’ first-hand accounts for my information. Based upon that information, Goering’s sudden but timely obsession saved Fighter Command just at the time that its airfields, aircraft, an airmen were succumbing to unrelenting Luftwaffe pressure.

This was an impatient, egotistic, and ultimately stupid move on Goering’s part, based upon the fallacious notion that shifting Luftwaffe bombing raids from southern England Fighter Command facilities and Chain Home early warning radar installations to metro London would break the back of British resolve and hasten a capitulation like that of the oh so proud French who held out all of six weeks. Unfortunately for Goering, Hitler, and the rest of the Nazi beasts who yearned for a compliant Britain. “Vichy” ain’t in the UK English dictionary, while “We shall never surrender” is featured on Page 1 right before “aardvark.”

Given that much needed respite, Fighter Command came back with more resolve, while Brits on the ground, in the words of William Ernest Henley, lived these words:

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed

(William Ernest Henley, 1875)


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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu May 03, 2012 7:34 pm

RockOnBrother wrote:
oftenwrong wrote:
15 September 2010, the 70th anniversary of the date that changed the world

Unfortunately followed by sustained strategic bombing of Britain and Northern Ireland by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe between September 1940 and May 1941.
[color=black]
It was in fact fortunate in a strange twist of history. Since I wasn’t alive and certainly wasn’t cognizant in 1940-1941, I must needs rely upon historians’ works and journalists’ first-hand accounts for my information. Based upon that information, Goering’s sudden but timely obsession saved Fighter Command just at the time that its airfields, aircraft, an airmen were succumbing to unrelenting Luftwaffe pressure.

I don't wish to pull rank simply because I was alive during the Blitz, but it was very definitely uncomfortable. Whether Goering was a posturing fool or not, his Luftwaffe Officers knew their job, and had prepared for it by photo-reconnaissance during the 1930s which meant that they had detailed images of British targets. They very nearly succeeded in removing British Industry from the map. Something which had to await the appointment of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister to complete.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Shirina on Thu May 03, 2012 11:39 pm

Something which had to await the appointment of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister to complete.

lol!
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by Shirina on Thu May 03, 2012 11:56 pm

If Britain had lost the Battle of Britain, I think the biggest threat for invasion wasn't a cross-channel invasion but rather airborne units being dropped into Britain using aircraft based in Norway. These units would undoubtedly be tasked with taking the nearly empty airfields in northern England and Scotland (as most RAF aircraft based in those areas would have been moved to southern England to fight the Luftwaffe there). It is possible as well for these airborne units to disable the Chain Home radar nets operating there. Once the airfields were secure, they would begin ferrying shorter ranged Stukas and Me-109s and base them in the UK itself.

I think the question in this case is: What would Roosevelt do? He could simply throw up his hands and allow Britain to fight her own battles; he may even stop Lend-Lease shipments fearful that they may fall into Nazi hands.

But I don't think that's what would have happened. Roosevelt knew better than anyone in America the importance of Britain staying sovereign and the evils of Nazi Germany. I think Roosevelt would have told the pacifistic American people where to stick it, would have declared war on Germany, and Operation Torch would have been an amphibious landing on the shores of Western England instead of North Africa. Even if the Nazis managed to get tanks across the North Sea (which would have been a riskier but far more sneaky strategy than invading across the Channel), a few divisions of Shermans and Grants ... led by none other than George S. Patton ... would have sent the Huns packing. At this early stage of the war, the Sherman and Grant were more than a match for any German tank. It wasn't until the Panther hit the battlefields in 1943 when US tanks began feeling the pinch.

I'm also surprised that Churchill did not authorize the US to begin manufacturing Spitfires and Hurricanes to be sent to Britain should Britain's industry fail. The P-40 wasn't a bad plane against the Japanese - if you used the right tactics - but wasn't all that great against the Germans. Sending Britain hundreds of P-40s didn't help much. In fact, Britain gave all of its P-40s to France and, later, to the Soviets. But if the US started rolling out Spitfires and Hurricanes, Britain would never be without aircraft and Donitz would be tearing his hair out trying to stop those shipments.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Fri May 04, 2012 12:42 am

Chivnail wrote:
Stukas attacked the south coast of England with useful bomb loads, when they knew where they were going, yes. They did not 'prowl' as if to suggest that the Nazis could maintain a constant air patrol of dive-bombers over the south coast.

Had Goering’s Luftwaffe ever achieved absolute air superiority over southern England and the channel, Stukas would have been free to prowl. Stukas did prowl over southern England as they had done over Poland for a quick moment. Goering quickly withdrew the already antiquated design after Dowding’s Fighter Command blew them out of the sky. Thank Dowding’s stubbornness in refusing to omit Hurricanes and Spits to the six week battle of France for that.

Chivnail wrote:
Stukas could come over and attack specific targets, as they indeed did... but they couldn't provide close air support to invading German ground forces.

Stukas could come over and get blown out of the sky. That’s why Goering withdrew them. Had there been no Hurricanes and Spits, Stukas could have in fact provided close air support as they were designed to do.

Chivnail wrote:
Removing those six hundred is in itself an act of magic, right?

Nope. Had Dowding’s assets been sucked into the mess in France, Hurricanes and Spitfires would have been in the Nazi “virtual reserve inventory” along with French fighters in Vichy France. That’s not magic; that’s capitulation.

Chivnail wrote:
Even if southerly 11 Group had been wiped out, somehow... why are you assuming that 10, 12, and 13 groups, largely out of range of Luftwaffe bombers, are completely erased?

Thank you for the Fighter Command group designations. Had 11 Group been wiped out, 10, 12, and 13 Groups would have sent their assets into southern England where they also would have been wiped out. That’s assuming that Goering could have stayed the course and not let his impatience, hubris, and gross underestimation of understated but absolute British resolve move him to bomb London instead of southern England Fighter Command and Chain Home assets.

Chivnail wrote:
I might be missing the thrust of your argument here. Some of those fighters -and most of the light bombers and other ground-attack aircraft further north- were always going to be held back to meet an invasion.

If one’s aircraft are destroyed, one has no choice but to throw everything left into the fray. Goering’s hubris and consequent stupidity endured against that scenario.

Chivnail wrote:
Okay, it was possible that we could have sent hundreds more/better fighters to France, and lost a lot of them (and their pilots, which would have been more significant) while destroying scores more German aircraft in the process. Is it Churchill who made sure that wasn't so (given the point of the thread)?

It was Air Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding who made sure that it wasn’t so.

Chivnail wrote:
And why do you assume that every single fighter would have been sent, apparently without exception?

Because every single fighter would have been sent without exception.

Chivnail wrote:
Even unchallenged in the sky, as I say, most of Germany's aircraft lacked the range -and with it endurance- to be so effective as we may now think of air-power.

Range ceases to be a game-changing issue when one’s aircraft are based close to the front.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri May 04, 2012 12:02 pm

Hindsight is much more accurate than the contemporaneous variety, and it does now seem that during the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe did not fully comprehend the difference being made to the outcome by British Chain Home Radar (cunningly concealed on towers which were 360 feet tall).
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by ROB on Fri May 04, 2012 4:51 pm

oftenwrong wrote:
I don't wish to pull rank simply because I was alive during the Blitz, but it was very definitely uncomfortable.  Whether Goering was a posturing fool or not, his Luftwaffe Officers knew their job, and had prepared for it by photo-reconnaissance during the 1930s which meant that they had detailed images of British targets.  They very nearly succeeded in removing British Industry from the map.  Something which had to await the appointment of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister to complete.

Providing first person testimony is not pulling rank; first person testimony is the finest primary source. My place, or “rank”, is at your “feet”, listening to your stories as I “sat” at the “feet” of the English lady and listened as she provided first person testimony of the Luftwaffe fighter pilot’s demise.

I’m ready to listen further. I invite you to tell me as much as you can about your experiences during that time and place.
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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri May 04, 2012 5:23 pm

Forgive me, but it was not a happy experience for anyone that was involved in the bombing of British cities, and as a child I may have seen almost as many corpses in the rubble of British buildings as my Dad would have encountered in the front line a couple of years later. The detail is readily available elsewhere for those who wish to dwell upon it. The pity is that it's a scenario that has been re-played many, many times since 1945 all over the world.

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Re: Is Winston Churchill grossly overrated?

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