Meticulously detailed on figures like the ever fascinating Churchill daughter-in-law Pamela Harriman, Lovell softens her focus when it comes to the great man himself. Drink and depression remain mostly offstage. Lovell steers even farther clear of the revisionist literature on both the left and the libertarian right that paints Churchill as a warmonger and political opportunist. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser. See next articles. Lovell Illustrated. To many of his fellow officers he appeared pushy and bumptious.
Offspring though he was of the landed aristocracy, he belonged to a plutocratic milieu in which old and new wealth rubbed shoulders. His friends included great financiers like Cassel and Baron de Forest , who invited him aboard their yachts for Mediterranean cruises, or played host in magnificent villas and castles on the continent. Churchill enjoyed fox-hunting and country-house weekends but he was equally at home at the gambling tables of the French Riviera. Meeting him for the first time in July , Beatrice Webb thought him 'egotistical, bumptious, shallow-minded and reactionary, but with a certain personal magnetism, great pluck and some originality, not of intellect but of character.
More of the American speculator than the English aristocrat' Diary , When Arthur Balfour succeeded his uncle, Lord Salisbury , as prime minister in May , there was no place in the new government for Churchill. Then in May Joseph Chamberlain raised the banner of tariff reform. At the head of a divided party Balfour himself could only procrastinate, a predicament which laid him open to the taunts of Churchill , whose platform speeches combined lucid expositions of political economy with political slapstick.
Most Conservative adherents of free trade decided to remain in the party, but Churchill , after some hesitation, crossed the floor of the house and took his seat, next to David Lloyd George , on the Liberal benches 31 May He had already accepted an invitation from the Liberal Association of North-West Manchester to contest the forthcoming general election as the free-trade candidate.
During the next eighteen months, as the Balfour government drifted helplessly towards the rocks, Churchill attacked his former party with a ferocity that gave rise to lasting enmities and the accusation that he was a turncoat. Churchill shrugged off charges of opportunism.
It was the Conservatives, he argued, who had abandoned their principles. For good measure he claimed that he was following in the footsteps of his father, whose life he was then writing. In Lord Randolph Churchill , he presented his father as a tory with increasingly radical sympathies, who would probably have opposed the South African War had he lived. His own Liberalism, therefore, could be construed as a continuation of tory democracy.
Reviewers were not wholly persuaded by Churchill's portrait of his father as an earnest Victorian statesman, but they acclaimed the book as a literary tour de force and a well-documented political history in which the reputations of the living were handled with delicacy and tact. When Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman became prime minister in December Churchill achieved ministerial office for the first time as under-secretary at the Colonial Office.
One of his first acts was to appoint the civil servant and scholar Edward Marsh as his private secretary, a role in which he was to serve Churchill in every one of the offices he held between and Since the colonial secretary, Lord Elgin , was a member of the House of Lords, Churchill had the responsibility of handling colonial affairs in the Commons. In March his first important ministerial speech went badly wrong.
Remembered against him for years to come, the episode was an early example of a flaw in his oratorical style: an overbearing manner that seemed intended to humiliate his opponents, of whose injured feelings he was largely unaware. In July he recovered with a statesmanlike speech announcing the restoration of self-government in the Transvaal, a policy to which he had made a significant contribution. Delighted by his new responsibilities, Churchill ranged inquisitively over the affairs of scores of British colonies, annotating documents with a red fountain pen.
As one historian has written: 'He had a generous and sensitive, if highly paternalistic, sympathy for subject peoples, and a determination to see that justice was done to humble individuals throughout the empire' Hyam , In autumn he set out on a tour of east Africa which began as a hunting expedition but turned into a semi-official inquiry into colonial affairs. In Kenya he went big-game hunting and investigated the conditions of African contract workers. In Uganda he visited Christian missions, took tea with Daudi Chewa , the eleven-year-old kabaka of Buganda, and took up with great enthusiasm the project for a dam across the Ripon Falls.
It would, he concluded,. In the interludes Churchill dictated memoranda for the Colonial Office , and a series of articles for the Pall Mall Gazette , later published as My African Journey On his return home he published an article, 'The untrodden field in politics' , advocating a more active role for the state in the economy and the establishment of a national minimum standard to mitigate poverty.
When Asquith succeeded as prime minister in March he took the bold step of bringing Churchill into the cabinet as president of the Board of Trade 16 April At thirty-three, he was the youngest cabinet minister since Since constitutional convention required that a minister entering the cabinet must resign his seat, Churchill was compelled to contest Manchester North-West for a second time in a by-election, which he lost. He at once accepted an invitation to stand for the safe Liberal seat of Dundee, where he was returned at a by-election in May and remained MP until A great admirer of beautiful women, but self-centred and gauche in their company, Churchill had already proposed to Pamela Plowden and Ethel Barrymore , only to be rejected by both.
Then, at a dinner party early in , he was re-introduced to Clementine Hozier — [ see Churchill, Clementine Ogilvy Spencer ], whom he had met briefly once before. Bowled over, he began an ardent courtship. In August he proposed, and was accepted, as they took shelter from the rain in the Temple of Diana overlooking the lake at Blenheim Palace. Churchill expected his wife to be a loyal follower, and it was a role she was content to play.
The unhappy child of a disastrous marriage and a financially precarious home, Clementine found in Winston a faithful husband who loved her, sustained her in material comfort, and placed her in the front row of a great historical drama. He could never be accused of marrying for money or running after other women. She, for her part, was never uncritical of her husband or afraid to express her opinions. A lifelong Liberal, with a puritan streak, she never approved of his more louche tory companions such as F.
Winston , nevertheless, discussed all his political affairs with her and she often gave him sound advice, which he seldom took. Given the dissimilarities between them, it was not surprising that Winston and Clementine sometimes quarrelled furiously. She once threw a dish of spinach at him, and missed.
Nevertheless they were quick to make up after a row, and their marriage was sustained by a lifelong mutual affection expressed in their pet names for each other. Their first child, Diana , was born in Their only son, Randolph Churchill followed in , and Sarah in Marigold was born in , but died in , and the youngest daughter, Mary , was born in As Asquith's daughter Violet observed, Lloyd George was undoubtedly the dominant partner:.
His was the only personal leadership I have ever known Winston to accept unquestioningly in the whole of his career. He was fascinated by a mind more swift and agile than his own … From Lloyd George he was to learn the language of Radicalism. Lloyd George encouraged Churchill to concentrate on social policy. Though none of these measures was especially controversial in itself, they were part of a wider radical strategy which Lloyd George and Churchill urged on the cabinet , and for which they campaigned at great public meetings.
In order to pay for welfare reforms they demanded reductions in the defence budget, precipitating a cabinet crisis over the naval estimates of Proclaiming something very like their own foreign policy of peace with Germany, they denounced the prophets of a great European war as alarmists. The greatest threat to Britain's imperial might, Churchill declared, was from the internal decay of its people.
But Liberalism, in his view, was the antithesis of socialism. Collected and published in as The People's Rights , his speeches display him at his most radical. Indeed he was ostracized and traduced, as he recalled in old age:. They said that I beat Clemmie and that you could hear her crying as you passed our house. They said that I drugged, and if you rolled up my sleeve, my arm was a mass of piqures.
We were cut by people we had known well and had looked on as friends. The Liberals meanwhile, though grateful for the loan of Churchill's talents, could never forget that he was an aristocrat who had begun his career as a soldier and a tory. After the general election of January Asquith promoted Churchill to the Home Office , where his many responsibilities ranged from the supervision of the Metropolitan Police to the regulation of prisons, borstals, factories, coalmines, and shops.
Churchill was eager to pursue an agenda of social reform.
Persuaded by the arguments of eugenicists, who maintained that the 'quality of the race' was degenerating due to the multiplication of the 'unfit', he was briefly an enthusiastic supporter of the compulsory sterilization of the 'feeble-minded'. Nothing came of this, but he did secure the passage of a bill to regulate the hours and conditions of shop assistants.
In penal policy he made very active use of the home secretary's right to intervene, frequently mitigating the harsh sentences awarded by magistrates for petty crime. A firm believer in capital punishment, he nevertheless agonized over the fate of prisoners under sentence of death and reprieved many of them. His ambitious plans for reducing the number of petty criminals sent to prison were, however, thwarted by the brevity of his tenure of the Home Office.
Churchill's more constructive endeavours as home secretary were overshadowed by controversial problems of law and order. Although he was on record as favouring votes for women in principle, he detested the suffragettes for interrupting his meetings. Warning that he would not be 'henpecked' on the issue, he found reasons to object to the suffrage bill of and subjected it to a slashing attack in the House of Commons.
Book Review - The Churchills - By Mary S. Lovell - The New York Times
In November a suffragette rally at Westminster was met by the police with extremely rough tactics in which several women were injured. Within a few days of black Friday a dispute in the south Wales coalfield led to a strike by miners employed by the Cambrian Colliery. Riots and looting broke out in the town of Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley and one of the rioters was fatally injured in a struggle with the Glamorganshire police.
The local magistrates pleaded with the Home Office to authorize the dispatch of troops. Recognizing that any direct clash between troops and strikers might result in bloodshed, Churchill at first refused the request of the local authorities, and sent instead a contingent of the Metropolitan Police.
But twenty-four hours later, when it was clear that the riots were continuing unabated, Churchill authorized the dispatch of troops. In a bold and imaginative stroke, which may have been unconstitutional, he appointed General Nevil Macready to command both troops and police, with instructions to ensure that the police acted as a buffer between the strikers and the troops.
He thereby took control out of the hands of the local authorities, who might well have been tempted to employ both police and troops as strike-breakers. Churchill's conduct of the Tonypandy affair prevented further bloodshed, but he was strongly attacked by Keir Hardie for condoning brutality on the part of the Metropolitan Police. Afterwards the legend grew that Churchill had sent troops to shoot down striking Welsh miners. Although this was a gross distortion, Churchill's response to industrial unrest was not always cool and measured. During the summer of , when strikes in the docks spread to the railways, he was seized by a nightmare vision of a starving community held to ransom by industrial anarchists.
Overriding the local authorities, he dispatched troops to many parts of the country and gave army commanders discretion to employ them. When rioters tried to prevent the movement of a train at Llanelli, troops opened fire and two of the rioters were shot dead. Together with Tonypandy, these events marked a turning point in Churchill's relations with the Labour Party and the trade unions. The impression was deepened by a famous episode in January Churchill hastened to the scene, where his conspicuous presence in the danger zone—recorded by a press photographer—led critics to accuse him of seizing operational control from the police.
The charge was mistaken. When the house suddenly caught fire, Churchill confirmed the decision of the police to let it burn down, but otherwise he was simply an enthralled spectator whose antics caused much amusement. In the House of Commons Balfour enquired: 'I understand what the photographer was doing, but what was the right honourable gentleman doing? Though he was still at the forefront of domestic politics, the soldier in Churchill was never far below the surface.
As he explained to Clementine in May I would greatly like to have some practice in the handling of large forces. I have much confidence in my judgment on things, when I see clearly, but on nothing do I seem to feel the truth more than in tactical combinations.
From onwards, contact with the intelligence services made Churchill apprehensive about German intentions and he began to think seriously about the implications of a major war. At about the same time, and possibly as a consequence, there were signs that he was moving to the right. In September Lloyd George told Churchill that he had two alternatives for the future: a coalition in which the Liberals and Conservatives reached a compromise over the issues that divided them, and a Liberal government with an advanced land and social policy.
Churchill was all for a coalition and henceforth made various efforts to find common ground with his Conservative opponents. With a view to assuaging the bitterness caused by the House of Lords crisis, Churchill and F. Smith in May co-founded the Other Club, a bipartisan dining club of which the Liberal and Conservative chief whips were both members. The Agadir crisis of July—August aroused the strategist in Churchill and he composed for the cabinet an important paper entitled 'Military aspects of the continental problem'.
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At Asquith's invitation he attended a critical meeting of the committee of imperial defence, which revealed a complete lack of co-ordination between the plans of the Admiralty and the War Office. Much impressed by Churchill's interventions, and by his obvious desire to take charge of the Royal Navy , Asquith appointed him first lord of the Admiralty in October Tradition has it that when an admiral spoke reverently to him of naval tradition, Churchill retorted: 'What are the traditions of the Navy? Rum, sodomy, and the lash! His mission at the Admiralty was to modernize. But Churchill , of course, also had great confidence in his own judgement and was ready to act boldly.
Churchill's first act was to replace three of the four sea lords. Sir Arthur Wilson was succeeded as first sea lord by Sir Francis Bridgeman , and Prince Louis of Battenberg , a German prince and naturalized British subject, was appointed second sea lord. A dashing young officer, David Beatty , became Churchill's naval secretary.
Subsequently, in December , Churchill coerced Bridgeman into retirement, appointing Battenberg in his place. Churchill displayed little respect for many of the senior officers of the Royal Navy , whom he regarded as unimaginative and set in their ways. One of his first actions, in line with Fisher's advice, was to establish a naval war staff of three divisions—operations, intelligence, and mobilization—to prepare and co-ordinate war plans. With the assistance of Herbert Richmond he sought to encourage the interest of naval officers in history and strategy, and helped to launch a new periodical, the Naval Review.
Eager to explore almost every aspect of naval affairs, Churchill set out to discover the facts for himself. Making frequent use of the Admiralty yacht Enchantress —where he also entertained his political friends from time to time—he inspected ships, dockyards, and naval installations with a vigilant eye. In defiance of protocol he sometimes bypassed senior naval officers and sought information directly from junior officers or ordinary seamen.
Many of the admirals were unimpressed. According to the second sea lord, Sir John Jellicoe , Churchill's fatal error was 'his entire inability to realize his own limitations as a civilian … quite ignorant of naval affairs' Marder , From the Dreadnought , But the admirals, like so many of the experts Churchill was to encounter, were often blinkered by convention. With Fisher's encouragement he developed a fast division of battleships, the Queen Elizabeth class, equipped with the new 15 inch gun.
He pressed on with converting the fleet from coal-fired to oil-fired engines. In June he announced that he had negotiated the purchase by the British government of 51 per cent of the shares in the Anglo-Iranian oil company, thus ensuring a guaranteed supply of oil for the fleet. He promoted the development of submarines and air power, wresting full control of the Royal Naval Air Service from the War Office. In , much to Clementine's alarm, he took up flying lessons and took to the air times, after which she persuaded him to give up flying—for the moment.
Churchill was determined that Britain should retain a clear margin of naval supremacy over Germany. In a speech in Glasgow on 8 February he argued that for Britain a large navy was a necessity whereas for Germany it was a 'luxury'—a comment which provoked much German anger. When the draft of a new German naval law proposed a further increase in the size of the German fleet, Churchill obtained the cabinet's approval in principle for an expansion of the British naval programme.
Following the German rejection of this idea, Churchill sought a naval arrangement with France under which the British Mediterranean Fleet would be withdrawn and concentrated in home waters, leaving the French to patrol the Mediterranean. Since this would involve the British in a pledge to defend the channel and Atlantic coasts of France, it was tantamount to a military alliance. After long and complex arguments the cabinet agreed in July , but Churchill's expansionist naval policy, and the strengthening of the Anglo-French entente, alienated the radical wing of the Liberal Party and confirmed growing speculation that he was 'moving to the right' or preparing to rejoin the Conservative Party.
During the winter of —14 Churchill's insistence on the construction of another four dreadnoughts, and a further increase in the naval estimates, led to a crisis in which he found himself at loggerheads with Lloyd George , the majority of the cabinet , and most of the Liberal Party. Only the delaying tactics of Asquith , and a last-minute decision by Lloyd George to concede most of Churchill's demands, averted his resignation. As first lord, Churchill tended to concentrate on naval matters to the exclusion of everything else. Nevertheless Churchill was actively involved in the greatest political issue of the day: Irish home rule.
Lord Randolph Churchill had famously declared: 'Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right'. His son took the opposite line, denouncing Bonar Law and the Conservatives for inciting rebellion. In February he attempted to confront a Unionist audience in Belfast in the very same hall in which his father had spoken in , but so great was the threat to his safety that the meeting had to be moved at the last minute to the Celtic Road football stadium.
In private, however, Churchill made persistent efforts to find a compromise. One possibility, which he proposed in the secrecy of the cabinet room in March , was to include Ireland in an all-round scheme of federal devolution, with seven regional parliaments in England alongside parliaments for Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The cabinet , however, decided in favour of a single parliament for the whole of Ireland. In September he caused something of a sensation by airing the concept of federal devolution in a speech in Dundee.
Twice in that same year Churchill urged the cabinet , without success, to offer temporary exclusion from home rule to the predominantly protestant counties. During the winter of —14 he was the principal go-between in a number of secret moves to promote a bipartisan settlement. On the Conservative side his main contact was F. Smith , who was both a personal friend and a fervent champion of Ulster. Churchill , it was said, was threatening to quit the cabinet if force were employed against Ulster: 'You understand that if a shot is fired I shall go out' ibid.
As the hour at which the Home Rule Bill would become law approached, the Ulster Unionists rejected out of hand a belated offer by Asquith to allow the protestant counties to opt out for a six-year period. Churchill now changed tack, arguing that, having obtained a compromise, the Ulster Unionists must accept it. He was also eager to restore his standing in the Liberal Party. In a speech at Bradford on 14 March he issued a stern warning that Ulster Unionists must agree to the government's plan or take the consequences: 'There are worse things than bloodshed, even on an extended scale', he declared Rhodes James , Meanwhile the cabinet was much alarmed by police reports suggesting that the Ulster Volunteers were planning a military coup.
A cabinet committee under Churchill authorized precautionary troop movements and Churchill himself, as first lord of the Admiralty , ordered the 5th battle squadron to steam to Lamlash, menacingly close to Belfast. Churchill often employed provocative language on the public platform while pursuing relatively conciliatory policies behind the scenes. Contemporaries, however, tended to equate extremism of style with extremism of intent. Churchill was partly to blame for the Conservative belief that he had attempted a pogrom. On the eve of war in July Churchill wrote to his wife: 'Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse.
I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be built like that? When Austria declared war on Serbia two days later, Churchill , acting with Asquith's approval, ordered the fleets to their battle stations. In the critical cabinet discussions over the next few days Churchill , Grey , and Haldane were consistently in favour of British intervention while others, including Lloyd George , wavered. Churchill took a more active part in the day-to-day running of the war than any First Lord in history.
His were many of the ideas for action; it was he who drafted many of the signals to the ships. He studied and analysed each operation with great care. Churchill's interventionism, which he scarcely bothered to conceal, was a double-edged sword. Though he stood to gain the credit from successful actions by the Royal Navy , he was sure to get the blame when things went wrong. During the first few months of the war the Germans achieved a number of naval successes for which Churchill was strongly criticized.
On 21 September Churchill boasted that if the German fleet did not come out and fight they would be 'dug out like rats in a hole' Gilbert , Life , , but on the following day the Germans sank three British cruisers, with the loss of officers and men, off the Dogger Bank. Two more British cruisers were sunk at the battle of Coronel, off the coast of Chile, on 1 November. On 16 December German battlecruisers shelled Scarborough and other east coast ports, killing or injuring civilians.
Criticism of the Admiralty mounted and was only partially offset by successful actions off the Falkland Islands 8 December and the Dogger Bank 25 January Enthralled by all aspects of the fighting, Churchill was eager to play a part in the land war and ingenious in stretching the Admiralty's responsibilities. He converted the naval reserve into the Royal Naval division , an infantry force of 15, men, in which many of his friends were commissioned as officers. Although Churchill promised that the division would later be transferred to the control of the War Office , he now had at his disposal something very like a private army.
A prototype was housed in the Admiralty basement. For three-and-a-half days in October Churchill found himself in virtual command of a land battle. The Germans, advancing rapidly along the channel coast, were threatening the Belgian city of Antwerp. The cabinet dispatched Churchill to organize reinforcements and stiffen the resistance of the Belgian government.
Churchill did a superb job organizing the defences of Antwerp and delaying the German advance. No sooner was he on the spot than his fascination with the conduct of military operations gained the upper hand. He called in as reinforcements the bulk of three battalions of the Royal Naval division and fired off a telegram offering to resign his cabinet post in return for a high-ranking command in the field. When Asquith read out the telegram to his colleagues there was a roar of laughter and Churchill was ordered home.
The laughter illustrated the gulf between Churchill and the other politicians. The politicians were ultimately responsible for the conduct of the war, but since very few of them knew anything of military matters they relied heavily on the judgement of the generals and the admirals.
Inside Churchill , however, was a generalissimo struggling to get out. As Churchill's critics saw it, his military ambitions were foolish and his melodramatic defence of Antwerp a tragic sequel to the farce of Sidney Street. When the city fell he was strongly attacked in the press for the apparent failure of the expedition.
This, perhaps, was the moment at which long-held suspicions in the political world hardened into the conviction that he lacked judgement. In October the first sea lord, Prince Louis of Battenberg , was forced by anti-German prejudice to resign, and Churchill decided to recall the year-old Fisher to take his place. Williams , 'realized that the arrangement involving such domineering characters, each used to having his own way, fond as they were of each other, would not work' DNB.
For a time both Churchill and Fisher were excited by the possibility of a naval operation to capture the island of Borkum in the Baltic. But when the Russian government appealed urgently for action to relieve Turkish pressure in the Caucasus, Kitchener , the secretary for war, urged Churchill to undertake a naval demonstration at the Dardanelles.
Churchill replied that a naval attack alone would be insufficient: a combined operation would probably be more effective. Kitchener , however, declared that he could not spare any troops, and again pressed the first lord to mount a naval demonstration. Churchill now dispatched a telegram to Admiral Carden , the commander of the Mediterranean squadron , seeking his opinion on whether it would be possible to force the Dardanelles with the aid of obsolete battleships surplus to requirements in home waters.
Carden replied that he thought the Dardanelles might be forced by extended operations with a large number of ships. Churchill became captivated by the vision of a fleet sailing through the Dardanelles, bombarding and destroying the Turkish forts and gun batteries on both sides of the straits, and provoking by their appearance in front of Constantinople a revolution and the withdrawal of Turkey from the war. The supply lines to and from Russia through the straits would be opened up, and the Balkan states rallied to the cause of the allies: at a stroke the military balance would be transformed.
Such was the vision. The outcome was a disaster. Both Kitchener and Churchill wavered between the concept of an operation carried out by ships alone, with troops landing subsequently as an occupation force, and a combined naval and military operation. A naval attack was finally launched on 18 March under the command of Admiral De Robeck.
Whether it could ever have succeeded against the dual threat of minefield defences and gunfire from the Turkish forts remains a subject for debate. After the loss of three battleships De Robeck halted the attack and in spite of Churchill's pleas and injunctions refused to renew it. The war council now came down definitely in favour of a combined operation and the purely Churchillian phase of the action was over.
After many delays and hesitations, a combined British, Australian, and New Zealand expeditionary force under the command of Churchill's friend Sir Ian Hamilton landed on the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula on 25 April. Within a few days it was clear that the troops were pinned down on a narrow stretch of beach with the Turks shelling them from the commanding heights above. The war council authorized further reinforcements, but there was no disguising the fact that the news was bad.
Fortune now deserted Churchill. From the start, Fisher had blown hot and cold about the Dardanelles. Increasingly overwrought and unstable, and fearful of losses, he suddenly cracked when Churchill , without consulting him, added two submarines from home waters to a list of reinforcements for the Mediterranean. On 15 May Fisher resigned and fled into hiding. Churchill might have weathered the storm but for the fact that Asquith , beset by a crisis over munitions, chose this moment to invite the Conservatives into a coalition.
Eager to pay off old scores against Churchill , and fearful of his exploits as an amateur strategist, they insisted on his removal from the Admiralty and the war council. Asquith appointed him chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster , a post that was largely honorific, together with a place on the new Dardanelles committee.
The Gallipoli affair dragged on through the summer and autumn. Though casualties mounted and there was little sign of progress, Churchill continued to champion the operation with unquenchable enthusiasm. By October the majority of the Dardanelles committee had come to the conclusion that the operation should be abandoned and when at last the cabinet decided in favour of withdrawal, Churchill was left with no alternative but to resign from the government. One of the few redeeming features of the Gallipoli affair was the brilliant evacuation with which it was brought to a close in January By that time, however, some 46, allied troops, including Australians and New Zealanders, had been killed.
Churchill was, to a great extent, the scapegoat. It was Kitchener who first pressed for a naval operation and Asquith , as prime minister, who authorized it. Fisher concealed his early doubts and subsequently expressed great enthusiasm. Nor did Churchill's responsibility extend much beyond the naval attack on 18 March.
The land campaign which began on 25 April was primarily the responsibility of the War Office. Nevertheless Churchill's own egotism and impetuosity were factors in his downfall. He was over-confident of success, trumpeting victory in advance and passionately supporting the operation long after most people had written it off. Gallipoli was a cross to which he nailed himself. Churchill was devastated by his fall from grace in May Nothing could wholly fill the void, but his family proved a great source of strength.
Clemmie was a loyal supporter in time of trouble as was Churchill's brother Jack , currently serving at Gallipoli, and his sister-in-law Gwendeline Goonie. At the weekends the two families would gather at a weekend retreat: Hoe Farm, near Godalming. Here Churchill discovered a powerful antidote to depression. He took up oil-painting and was shown by Hazel Lavery , the wife of Sir John Lavery , how to daub the canvas with bold strokes and bright colours.
Soon he was haunting Lavery's studio and painting alongside him. Churchill never claimed to be a professional artist, let alone a great one, but in the course of a lifetime he greatly enjoyed himself painting hundreds of pictures.
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Whenever he went on holiday abroad he took his easel and paints with him, and even managed to paint one picture during the Second World War—a view of Marrakesh, which he presented to President Roosevelt. After his resignation in November Churchill sought active service and obtained from Sir John French a promise of the command of a brigade. In the interim he joined the 2nd battalion of the Grenadier Guards at Laventie for training.
To Churchill's dismay, Asquith then vetoed his promotion to brigadier-general and ordered that he be given the command of a battalion instead. He arranged for his friend Archibald Archie Sinclair , a highland laird and aspiring Liberal politician, to join him as second in command. Towards the end of January the battalion moved up to the front line, close to the village of Ploegsteert, near Messines on the Franco-Belgian frontier. Churchill's arrival, and his unorthodox methods of command, caused much astonishment, and some resentment at first among the junior officers.
But he proved a good commanding officer, combining leadership and inspiration with a great solicitude for the welfare of the ordinary soldier. He waged a successful campaign against lice, reduced punishments, and organized entertainments. The sector of the front on which he was served was relatively quiet and the battle of the Somme 1 July took place after he had returned home. But Churchill was frequently under fire and had a number of narrow escapes from death.
Much as Churchill enjoyed soldiering, his military ambitions were thwarted by his modest rank, and he feared that a prolonged absence from Westminster would deny him the chance to restore his fortunes. In March he returned home on leave to speak in the house but destroyed the effect of an otherwise powerful attack upon Balfour's conduct of the Admiralty with an ill-judged appeal for the return of Fisher as first sea lord.
In May the amalgamation of his battalion with another led to the extinction of his command and gave him a presentable excuse for resigning his commission and coming home. Churchill had spent only days at the front, but the experience had served to confirm his critical estimate of the British high command. To replenish his income, while keeping his name in the public eye, he began to write war commentaries for the press. He also made a number of speeches, critical of the conduct of the war, in the House of Commons.
Eagerly awaiting the downfall of Asquith , he planned to ally himself with a victorious combination of Lloyd George , Bonar Law , Curzon , and Carson. They, however, were less eager to ally with him. In the political crisis of December , Asquith was replaced by Lloyd George , but the Unionists under Bonar Law insisted that Churchill should be excluded from the new government.
Churchill's main achievement during this first period in the political wilderness was the partial rehabilitation of his reputation. In June Asquith agreed to the appointment of a commission to inquire into the responsibility for the Gallipoli operation. Though handicapped by Asquith's refusal to allow him access to the official records, Churchill devoted much of his time to preparing a very eloquent and plausible defence.
The first report of the Dardanelles commission, published in March , made it clear that Churchill was not solely or even principally responsible. After the battle of the Somme, Churchill had come to the conclusion that great offensives on the western front were far more costly to the allies than to the enemy, and ought to be avoided until new methods of attack were invented or overwhelming numerical superiority achieved.
In a secret session of the House of Commons on 10 May , Churchill argued the case in a powerful speech. Here was one of the perennial sources of his survival in British politics. No one else could match his ability, on a good day, to sway the House of Commons by the force of his argument. Churchill for his part felt a deep and genuine respect for a body that could make or break him, but also something more: a romantic faith in the providential character of an institution at the heart of British history. One evening in March he was at the house in the company of Alexander MacCullum Scott , a back-bench Liberal MP, who recorded the following scene in his diary:.
As we were leaving the House late tonight, he called me into the Chamber to take a last look round. All was darkness except a ring of faint light all around under the gallery. We could dimly see the table, but walls and roof were invisible. This little room is the shrine of the world's liberties. Fearful, perhaps, that Churchill would emerge as the new leader of the opposition, Lloyd George promised to restore him to office. In July , with great difficulty, he obtained Bonar Law's consent to the appointment of Churchill as minister of munitions.
Since his new post was outside the war cabinet , this appeared to meet Bonar Law's demand for the exclusion of Churchill from any part in the conduct of the war. Nevertheless Conservative MPs signed a motion deploring his appointment, and the Conservative press complained loudly. Accompanied by his bust of Napoleon , Churchill moved into the ministry's quarters in the former premises of the Metropole Hotel in Northumberland Avenue. Created by Lloyd George in , it was already in full swing with a staff of 12, officials, two and a half million workers employed in its factories, and the output of guns and shells running at record levels.
Churchill's brief was to ensure a continuous and increasing flow of production. He began by reorganizing the ministry itself, compressing fifty separate divisions into ten, and creating a munitions council which met daily to co-ordinate and determine policy. The next priority was industrial unrest.
Production was threatened by strikes and Churchill took action to redress some of the most prominent grievances. More controversially he authorized a 12 per cent bonus for skilled workers on time rates, unwittingly setting off a train of inflationary wage demands as unskilled workers struggled to catch up. Churchill , however, was ready to employ the stick as well as the carrot. In the summer of he put an end to a strike of engineers in Coventry by threatening to conscript them into the army.
Although Churchill was excluded from the war cabinet , he displayed all the dynamism of a war leader. Determined to investigate for himself the needs of the armies on the western front, he made frequent visits to France for consultations with his French opposite number, Louis Loucheur , and the British commander-in-chief, Sir Douglas Haig. In spite of Churchill's past criticisms of strategy on the western front, he managed to convince Haig that he was doing everything in his power to assist him.
He also struck up a firm friendship with Haig's aide-de-camp, Major Desmond Morton , in later years his most important contact in the world of secret intelligence. Churchill continued to urge that the British and French allied armies remain on the defensive until , by which date the build-up of American forces, together with an overwhelming superiority in tanks, aircraft, gas, and machine-guns, would ensure an allied victory.
Lloyd George rejected this advice. But during the crisis of March , when the German offensive in the west threatened to break through the allied lines, he turned to Churchill , dispatching him on an urgent mission to Paris to co-ordinate action with the French premier, Georges Clemenceau. At school he had acquired a fluent but ungrammatical command of French with the vowels pronounced in an emphatically English accent. But his love affair with France seems to have begun in when he first set eyes on the French army at its annual manoeuvres:. When I saw the great masses of the French infantry storming the position, while the bands played the 'Marseillaise' , I felt that by those valiant bayonets the rights of man had been gained and that by them the rights and liberties of Europe would be faithfully guarded.
Both Clemenceau and his great rival, Marshal Foch , made an abiding impression on Churchill. The First World War came to an end sooner than Churchill expected. With the Liberal Party split Lloyd George went to the country at the head of a coalition of Conservatives and Coalition Liberals, a group in which he and Churchill were the most prominent figures.
In the general election of December the coalition obtained a stupendous majority and Churchill was again victorious in Dundee. Churchill hoped to return to the Admiralty , but Lloyd George insisted that he accept the twin posts of secretary for war and air. He was immediately faced with a crisis over demobilization. There was much resentment in the ranks against existing arrangements because they took no account of how long a man had served. So great was the anger that a mutiny broke out at Calais and there were riots at home.
Acting with great speed and decision, Churchill introduced a new scheme, based on the principle of 'first in, first out', which defused the discontent. In the aftermath of war Churchill was haunted by the spectre of the Bolshevik revolution. Soviet communism, he concluded, was the worst tyranny in history and Lenin and Trotsky more dangerous enemies than the Kaiser's Germany. His loathing of communism found expression in the nightmare imagery with which he depicted 'the foul baboonery of Bolshevism' as 'a plague bacillus', a 'cancer', and a 'horrible form of mental and moral disease' Rose , His greatest fear was that Bolshevism would conquer both Russia and Germany, thus creating a hostile and aggressive bloc stretching from Europe to the Pacific.
He therefore urged the victors to adopt a policy of magnanimity and friendship towards Germany: 'Kill the Bolshie, Kiss the Hun', as he put it to Asquith's daughter Violet Gilbert , Life , Churchill claimed to be carrying out the war cabinet's policy of withdrawing from Russia the 14, British troops remaining there at the end of the war. But at a meeting of the supreme allied war council in Paris in February , he argued passionately in favour of a concerted allied attempt to send extra troops, money, and supplies to the white armies. Although he managed to persuade the war cabinet —which remained in being until September —to furnish extra supplies to the white Russian forces, his repeated pleas in favour of more direct intervention fell on deaf ears.
Lloyd George , who was bombarded by Churchill with memoranda on the subject, complained that he was obsessed with Russia to the exclusion of all other issues, but Churchill was unmoved. He was strongly opposed to opening trade negotiations with Russia and hovered on the brink of resignation when an Anglo-Soviet trade treaty was approved by the cabinet in November Churchill's perceptions of the evils and barbarism of the Bolshevik regime have been vindicated by the passage of time. But after the bloodbath of the First World War neither Britain nor its allies could mobilize the money, the manpower, or the popular consent essential for continued military intervention.
Churchill was also anxious about developments at home.
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The intelligence services supplied him with intercepts of messages from Moscow authorizing Soviet agents in Britain to subsidize with Russian gold the Daily Herald , the British Communist Party , and other left-wing organizations. The Herald had already identified Churchill as the labour movement's most dangerous enemy; Churchill , for his part, denounced the Labour Party as unfit to govern, and a prey to the manipulations of extremists.
When Lloyd George appointed him chairman of a cabinet committee on Ireland in June , Churchill was full of rash ideas for intensifying the conflict including raising a force of 30, Ulstermen to maintain British authority throughout Ireland. But as he also explained to the cabinet , his aim was to achieve a position of strength from which constitutional concessions could be granted. In May Churchill , by now colonial secretary, urged the cabinet to enter into negotiations on the grounds that British forces now had the upper hand.
Two months later Lloyd George called a truce and Churchill was drawn once more into the prime minister's confidence. During the negotiations which led to the Anglo-Irish treaty of 6 December , Churchill was a member of the British delegation and determined to drive a hard bargain. His opposite number in the military negotiations was Michael Collins , the leader of the IRA , with whom he established a good working relationship. With the granting of dominion status to the Irish Free State, Churchill as colonial secretary became responsible for Anglo-Irish relations during an extremely tense period in which there was violence along the border between north and south, and the south itself was descending into civil war.
Collins feared that in signing the treaty he was signing his own death warrant, and so it proved. But shortly before his assassination in August he sent Churchill a message to thank him for all the support he had given to the precarious government of the Irish Free State during the first few troubled months of its existence: 'Tell Winston that we could never have done anything without him' Churchill , World Crisis , 5.
Churchill felt a sense of paternity towards the Irish Free State and was greatly affronted when De Valera came to power in and began to abrogate the constitutional terms of the treaty.
He was even more incensed when Neville Chamberlain returned the treaty ports to Ireland in Churchill's reputation as a militarist was often at variance with his record in cutting defence expenditure. In the aftermath of the First World War the pressures to reduce public spending were overwhelming. Churchill himself chafed at the expense involved in the British occupation of the former Ottoman territories of Palestine and Mesopotamia Iraq —regions which, he told the House of Commons in July , were 'unduly stocked with peppery, pugnacious, proud politicians and theologians' Churchill and Gilbert , 4.
He recommended that the League of Nations mandate for Palestine be given to the United States: it was Lloyd George who insisted that it should go to Britain. Churchill's drive for a settlement of the Middle East led him to propose that both Palestine and Iraq should be run by a new Middle East department of the Colonial Office. In February , Lloyd George took the logical step of appointing Churchill himself colonial secretary until April he also retained the air portfolio , and the new Middle East department was established, with a staff which included T. In March Churchill visited Cairo to preside over a conference to settle the affairs of Palestine and Mesopotamia.
Although the details of the settlement owed much to others, it was Churchill who took the final decisions. Mesopotamia was transformed into the kingdom of Iraq and the emir Feisal of the Hashemite dynasty was installed as the first monarch. To the dismay of Zionists, Churchill also decided that the whole of Palestine east of the River Jordan should become a second Arab kingdom of Transjordan under Feisal's brother, the emir Abdullah. In accordance with the Balfour declaration of , the League of Nations mandate for Palestine included the provision that Palestine should become a 'national home' for the Jews.
Under Churchill's settlement, the promise of a Jewish national home was to apply only to Palestine west of the Jordan, and even then it was to be cautiously interpreted. Though Churchill had been personally sympathetic to Zionism ever since his contacts with Manchester Jews in the Edwardian period, he recognized the need to assuage Arab fears of unlimited Jewish immigration. In a white paper of June , drafted by the British high commissioner in Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel , but fully endorsed by Churchill , the government declared that the 'Jewish National Home' did not mean 'the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole' but the continued development of the existing Jewish community Rose , Churchill could point to great achievements, but they failed to dispel doubts and reservations about him.
The general consensus was well expressed by a political commentator who wrote in Unhappily for himself, and perhaps for the nation, since he has many of the qualities of real greatness, Mr Churchill lacks the unifying spirit of character which alone can master the discrepant or even antagonistic elements in a single mind, giving them not merely force, which is something, but direction, which is much more.
He is a man of truly brilliant gifts, but you cannot depend upon him. His love for danger runs away with his discretion; his passion for adventure makes him forget the importance of the goal. The Lloyd George coalition was essentially an alliance between Lloyd George himself and the Conservative Party , a temporary arrangement which left the Coalition Liberals insecure. Churchill campaigned strongly for this during the first half of , at a time when the Conservatives might have accepted the idea, but it foundered on the opposition of many Coalition Liberals.
After this, Lloyd George and Churchill could only hope to find some means of prolonging the life of the coalition. In response Turkish nationalists under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal rose up against the treaty and began to force the Greeks into retreat.