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The Second World War: Volume 3: The Grand Alliance [Secure eReader]
eBook by Winston Churchill

eBook Category: History
eBook Description: One of the most fascinating works of history ever written, Winston's Churchill's monumental The Second World War is a six-volume account of the struggle of the Allied powers in Europe against Germany and the Axis. Told through the eyes of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, The Second World War is also the story of one nation's singular, heroic role in the fight against tyranny. Pride and patriotism are evident everywhere in Churchill's dramatic account and for good reason. Having learned a lesson at Munich that they would never forget, the British refused to make peace with Hitler, defying him even after France had fallen and after it seemed as though the Nazis were unstoppable. Churchill remained unbowed throughout, as did the people of Britain in whose determination and courage he placed his confidence. Patriotic as Churchill was, he managed to maintain a balanced impartiality in his description of the war. What is perhaps most interesting, and what lends the work its tension and emotion, is Churchill's inclusion of a significant amount of primary material. We hear his retrospective analysis of the war, to be sure, but we are also presented with memos, letters, orders, speeches, and telegrams that give a day-by-day account of the reactions-both mistaken and justified-to the unfolding drama. Strategies and counterstrategies develop to respond to Hitler's ruthless conquest of Europe, his planned invasion of England, and his treacherous assault on Russia. It is a mesmerizing account of the crucial decisions that have to be made with imperfect knowledge and an awareness that the fate of the world hangs in the balance. The Grand Alliance, the third volume of this work, describes the end of an extraordinary period in British military history in which that country stood virtually alone against the German onslaught. Two crucial events bring about the end of Britain's isolation and prove key turning points in the war against Hitler. The first is Hitler's well-documented decision to attack the Soviet Union, opening up a battle front in the East. Stalin, who a few months earlier had been making plans with Hitler to carve up the British Empire between them, now finds himself looking to the British for support and entreating Churchill to open up a second front in France. Churchill includes the fascinating correspondence between himself and the Russian leader. The second event is the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into the war. U.S. support had long been seen as crucial to the British war effort, and Churchill documents his efforts to draw the Americans to the aid of their allies across the ocean, including his direct correspondence with President Roosevelt. The attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, changes everything, and soon after the British began coordinate their efforts against Nazi Germany with the cooperation of the United States. The Grand Alliance is formed. Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 due in no small part to this awe-inspiring work.

eBook Publisher: RosettaBooks, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2002


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Book One
Germany Drives East

1: The Desert and the Balkans

Looking back upon the unceasing tumult of the war, I cannot recall any period when its stresses and the onset of so many problems all at once or in rapid succession bore more directly on me and my colleagues than the first half of 1941. The scale of events grew larger every year; but the decisions required were not more difficult. Greater military disasters fell upon us in 1942, but by then we were no longer alone and our fortunes were mingled with those of the Grand Alliance. No part of our problem in 1941 could be solved without relation to all the rest. What was given to one theatre had to be taken from another. An effort here meant a risk there. Our physical resources were harshly limited. The attitude of a dozen Powers, friendly, opportunist, or potentially hostile, was unknowable. At home we must face the war against the U-boats, the invasion threat, and the continuing Blitz; we had to conduct the group of campaigns in the Middle East; and, thirdly, to try to make a front against Germany in the Balkans. And we had to do all this for a long time alone. After shooting Niagara we had now to struggle in the rapids. One of the difficulties of this narrative is the disproportion between our single-handed efforts to keep our heads above water from day to day and do our duty, and the remorseless development of far larger events.

* * *

We had at any rate a solid foundation in Great Britain. I was sure that, provided we maintained the highest state of readiness at home and the necessary forces, a German attempt at invasion in 1941 would not be to our disadvantage. The German air strength in all theatres was very little greater than in 1940, whereas our air fighter force at home had grown from fifty-one to seventy-eight squadrons, and our bombers from twenty-seven to forty-five squadrons. The Germans had not won the air battle in 1940. They seemed to have little chance of winning it in 1941. Our army in the Island had grown far stronger. Between September, 1940, and September, 1941, it was raised from twenty-six active divisions to thirty-four, plus five armoured divisions. To this must be added the maturity of the troops and the enormous increase in their weapons. The Home Guard had risen from a million to a million and a half; and now all had firearms. Numbers, mobility, equipment, training, organisation, and defence works were vastly improved. Hitler, of course, had always a superabundance of soldiers for invasion. To conquer us he would have had to carry and supply across the Channel at least a million men. He could by 1941 have had a large though not a sufficient quantity of landing-craft. But with our dominant air force and naval power giving us the command of both elements we had no doubt of our ability to destroy or cripple his armada. All the arguments, therefore, on which we had relied in 1940 were now incomparably stronger. So long as there was no relaxation in vigilance or serious reduction in our own defence the War Cabinet and the Chiefs of the Staff felt no anxiety.

Although our American friends, some of whose generals visited us, took a more alarmist view of our position, and the world at large regarded the invasion of Britain as probable, we ourselves felt free to send overseas all the troops our available shipping could carry and to wage offensive war in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Here was the hinge on which our ultimate victory turned, and it was in 1941 that the first significant events began. In war armies must fight. Africa was the only continent in which we could meet our foes on land. The defence of Egypt and of Malta were duties compulsive upon us, and the destruction of the Italian Empire the first prize we could gain. The British resistance in the Middle East to the triumphant Axis Powers and our attempt to rally the Balkans and Turkey against them are the theme and thread of our story now.

Copyright © 1948 by Winston Churchill


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