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Churchill's role in the Second World War needs little introduction. His immediate contribution was to instill in the British people his own fiery resolve and will to resist. Throughout the tense summer of 1940, when Britain stood alone, his speeches proved an inspiration.Yet Churchill did more than just talk. He toured the country inspecting the bomb-damaged towns and cities. He also worked tirelessly on diplomatic and military initiatives to regain the offensive.


Like other Conservatives who opposed appeasement, Churchill was an anachronism in the 1930s. He was an old-fashioned British imperialist, at a time when the Conservative Party increasingly preferred calculating technocrats like Chamberlain, who carefully worked out the cost of everything.

When Britain found itself confronted by an utterly fanatical German nationalist, an able, traditional imperialist was exactly what Britain needed - the sort of person who lets others worry about finance, a man who had a very clear sense of national and imperial dignity, a man with a sound grasp of international affairs and a man with determination.

In 1939 when Britain went to war, Chamberlain had talked about "evil men", but had said nothing about winning the war.

In Churchill's first speech as Prime Minister (13 May 1940) he made his aims clear in rumbustious terms. He stated his aim as "Victory! Victory, whatever the cost. Victory, however long and hard the road may be". However, he immediately went further and added, "We shall not lay down our arms till the Nazi curse has been lifted from the brow of mankind for ever". Instead of talking of "evil men", he spoke of "the most monstrous tyranny in the long, lamentable catalogue of human crime".

Here was a political leader with the kind of grasp of international affairs that British leaders of the 1930s had lacked, a man with a sense that a great nation and great empire has a global mission, that it was fighting for and on behalf of mankind. (Implicitly Churchill was calling, already in May 1940, for nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the Nazi regime, though it was not expressed in these terms).

In the Battle of Britain it became clear that this was not mere rhetoric. Here was a nation determined to fight on. Churchill inspired hope at home and among the defeated nations of Continental Europe. Here was a nation that a growing number of American politicians felt was worth supporting. Even in Germany astute observers noted that the Western Front had NOT been eliminated, and that behind Britain hovered the USA.

It is ironic that the British Empire collapsed after WW2, but I don't think it had would have lasted much longer anyway.

All quotations are from memory.


He was a confidence builder to the people of Britain.

He vetoed the invasion of France in 1943.

He was an designer of, and advocate for the detour through Italy.


Both at home and abroad, Churchill's main contributions to the war effort were:

· INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP It was argued that Churchill's defiant and motivational speeches and attitude inspired Britons to make more sacrifices and work harder towards the war effort.

· GRAND ALLIANCE. Churchill sided with Russia when the Germans invaded in 1941 and negotiated the Atlantic Charter with the USA. His relationship with FDR was crucial in forming this alliance, which was confirmed when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

· WAR CABINET. This was crucial for smooth decision-making throughout the war and maintained party co-operation.

· EXPERTS such as Lord Beaverbrook were brought into Government (see next question)

· US RELATIONS. The Lend-Lease agreement of March 1941 ensured imports arrived on credit from USA and opened North Atlantic shipping routes. The USA provided Britain with 50 destroyers. The Atlantic Charter ensured UK/US cooperation

· PURSUIT OF SMALLER POWERS. Churchill aided Yugoslavia and Singapore, whilst encouraging smaller countries to join the allies or remain neutral. Churchill's defiance and unwillingness to give up with this pursuit gained Britain several allies.

· SPECIAL OPERATION EXECUTIVE formed in July 1940 designed to link up with resistance movements in Europe (notably the French Resistance) to undermine the Germans in Europe and sabotage their plans/equipment. The SOE agents enjoyed success at Pessacpower station, France in June 1941, assassinating Himmler's deputy in Czechoslovakia 1942 and ended the Nazi atomic bomb programme in Norway in 1943.

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โˆ™ 2009-12-19 18:44:38
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Q: What were Winston Churchill's most significant contributions in World War 2?
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