Churchill and Seapower by Christopher M. Bell

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By Christopher M. Bell

Winston Churchill had an extended and nearer courting with the Royal military than any British statesman nowa days, yet his checklist as a naval strategist and custodian of the nation's sea strength has been mired in controversy because the ill-fated Dardanelles crusade in 1915. this present day, Churchill remains to be appeared by way of many as a clumsy strategist who interfered in naval operations and sometimes overrode his specialist advisers--with necessarily disastrous effects.

Churchill and Seapower is the 1st significant examine of Winston Churchill's list as a naval strategist and his impression because the such a lot famous parent of Britain's sea strength within the glossy period. in accordance with wide archival study, the booklet debunks many renowned and well-entrenched myths surrounding debatable episodes in either international Wars, together with the Dardanelles catastrophe, the failed Norwegian crusade, the conflict of the Atlantic, and the devastating lack of the Prince of Wales and Repulse in 1941. It indicates that many universal criticisms of Churchill were exaggerated, but additionally that a few of his error were mostly overlooked--such as his willingness to delay the conflict of the Atlantic in an effort to focus assets at the bombing crusade opposed to Nazi Germany.

The booklet additionally examines Churchill's evolution as a maritime strategist over the process his profession, and records his severe half in coping with Britain's naval decline in the course of the first half the 20th century. Churchill's actual affection for the Royal military has usually distracted realization from the truth that his perspectives on sea strength have been pragmatic and unsentimental. certainly, as Christopher M. Bell exhibits, in a interval ruled by way of declining assets, worldwide threats, and fast technological switch, it was once more and more air instead of sea energy that Churchill seemed to because the beginning of Britain's safety.

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Churchill’s political career had, by this time, taken off. He moved to the Liberal Party in early 1904 and received his first Cabinet post, as President of the Board of Trade, in 1908. Even though he was the most junior minister in the Cabinet, Churchill did not hesitate to plunge into the controversy over the emerging German challenge to Britain’s naval supremacy. 9 This had changed, however, by the time Britain launched the first all big-gun battleship, HMS Dreadnought, in 1906. Dreadnought marked such an advance in firepower and speed that earlier battleships were soon regarded as virtually obsolete.

His difficulties increased in May 1913 when Borden’s naval aid bill was rejected outright by the Canadian Senate. Churchill had to scramble again to find ships for the Mediterranean, despite his clear lack of enthusiasm. He still disliked the idea of tying up modern capital ships in a secondary theatre, and he assumed that the naval agreement with France made it strategically unnecessary for Britain to match Austrian strength. It was ‘extremely improbable’, he argued in September 1913, that Britain would have to face Germany and one or both of its allies without French support.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir ap p re nt i c e shi p, 19 0 0 – 14 15 Arthur Wilson, Fisher’s successor, also refused to fall in with the army’s plans. The issue was not formally addressed until it appeared Britain might actually have to act. The Committee of Imperial Defence (CID), the Cabinet subcommittee charged with the oversight of strategic issues, met on 23 August 1911 to consider how Britain would support France in the event of war. The army’s case for direct military assistance was ably presented by Sir Henry Wilson, the War Office’s Director of Military Operations, who maintained that the presence of four to six British divisions alongside the much larger French army might play a decisive role in halting a German advance into France.

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