Which was Churchill's biggest wartime blunder? - Page 3




 
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September 10th, 2005  
LeEnfield
 
 
The Australian Government requested that Churchill released their troops to fight the Japanese who were at that time approaching Australia. This requested was granted immediately and with out any rancour from any one.
September 14th, 2005  
Max Power
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claymore
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Londonderry
Churchill had a deep resentment for the Australians in WW2. Why was this?
From what source do you draw this statement? I have read his series on WW2 and several biographies of the man and have never seen anything other than a possible personal dislike of the Aussie PM of the time...
In his 6 volume set on the war he wrote very much in praise of the Austrailian soldiers throughout the series.
Winston Churchill was more than willing to see Australia handed to the Japanese so he could defeat the Germans in Europe:

Although happy to take all the sailors, soldiers and airmen that Australia was prepared to place at his disposal for the defence of Britain, Churchill had no concern about Australia's fate when Japan's conquering armies menaced Australia. His assurances of British military support for Australia proved worthless, and he even resisted the return of Australian troops from the Middle East to defend their own country.

Although repeatedly assuring Australia's Prime Minister John Curtin of the British government's commitment to the defence of Singapore, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had already written off the defence of Singapore as a lost cause when he was giving those assurances. Churchill was now only interested in saving Burma and India, and ignored pleas from Curtin for meaningful reinforcement for the defenders of Singapore. Although not admitting this to Curtin, Churchill was obsessed with defeating Germany and was prepared to abandon Australia to the Japanese. To ease Curtin's deepening concern for Australia's safety, and resist Australia withdrawing its military forces from Britain, North Africa, and the Middle East, Churchill assured Curtin that a British fleet would be dispatched to save Australia if Japan invaded in massive strength. There was no truth in the assurance. Churchill had no intention of sending a British fleet to save Australia from a Japanese invasion.

Curtin was becoming convinced during December 1941 that Churchill's assurances of military support for Australia against Japan were worthless, and he was not prepared to see Australia abandoned by the British to a Japanese invasion. On 26 December 1941, the Australian Prime Minister addressed the nation in a radio address that made it quite clear that Australia was in grave danger from the Japanese and reflected Curtin's disillusionment with Churchill's assurances that Britain would furnish powerful support if Australia was threatened with Japanese invasion. In the course of this famous speech, which was published in the Melbourne Herald newspaper on 27 December 1942, Curtin said,

"Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom."

The statement caused a sensation. Churchill was furious, and addressed an angry cable to Curtin. President Roosevelt mistakenly believed that Australia was a British colony in 1941, and felt that Curtin's speech smacked of disloyalty. When it was explained to Roosevelt later that Australia was an independent nation, the American President came to respect Curtin's strong leadership and patriotism.

On 14 March 1942, with British Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies now occupied by Japanese troops, and the Japanese on Australia's doorstep, Curtin addressed the people of the United States in a famous radio message. The Australian Prime Minister urged Americans to stand with Australia to resist Japanese aggression. Curtin accurately reminded Americans of their own danger when he used these words:

"Australia is the last bastion between the west coast of America and the Japanese. If Australia goes, the Americas are wide open."

Curtin did not need to address these words to the Commander in Chief of the United States Navy, Admiral Ernest J. King, who was already convinced of the importance of Australia to the United States and the compelling need to keep Australia an American ally and a bastion of freedom. Since his appointment in December 1941, following the Pearl Harbor disaster, Admiral King had been fighting the demand by Winston Churchill and the top United States generals that Australia be abandoned to the Japanese so that all military resources, including those of Australia, could be directed to the war against Germany.

It was not until the middle of 1942 that Curtin received concrete evidence that Churchill had been lying to him when he promised powerful British support to oppose a Japanese invasion of Australia. Curtin learned that Churchill had travelled to the United States shortly after Pearl Harbor and had persuaded the American President to give priority to the defeat of Germany. This involved treating the Japanese threat in the Pacific as a secondary priority. The American public was infuriated by the treacherous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and could not be told about the "Germany First" strategy. Adoption of Churchill's "Germany First" strategy effectively meant that Britain and the United States were abandoning Australia, the Philippines, Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies to Japanese occupation. Fortunately for Australia, Admiral King refused to accept that it should be abandoned to the Japanese.

http://www.users.bigpond.com/battlef...tinvasion.html
December 16th, 2005  
Reiben
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Power
Winston Churchill was more than willing to see Australia handed to the Japanese so he could defeat the Germans in Europe:

Although happy to take all the sailors, soldiers and airmen that Australia was prepared to place at his disposal for the defence of Britain, Churchill had no concern about Australia's fate when Japan's conquering armies menaced Australia. His assurances of British military support for Australia proved worthless, and he even resisted the return of Australian troops from the Middle East to defend their own country.
I dont believe that. Britain was stretched figting the germans. Britain allied itself to american policy in the far east, perhaps the war in the far east was inevitable but Britain wasnt ready for it. As to the transfer of troops, they were Australian and could have been moved to Australia. The question is a more about the seriousness of the threat at the time to Australia amd need to transfer troops.
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December 17th, 2005  
bulldogg
 
 
Max I think your source was written by a crack addict no offense but after the publication of the details of the Rape of Nanking NO ONE wanted to surrender anything to the Japanese. If the assertion of your quote was true he would hardly have urged the defenders of Singapore to "fight to the death" in defense of the naval outpost there.

Source: Empire; How Britain Made the Modern World - Nial Ferguson ISBN 0-141-00754-0
page 342
December 17th, 2005  
Reiben
 
 
I should have put in my post that everyone including Britain underestimate the japanese. With troops scare and big demands on them, it did not equate to britain abandonning Australia, which is the last thing that they would do.

As an aside, Japan where kings of the jungle, but you wouldnt fancy there chances in a battle on mainland Australia. Japanese armour was very poor.

Big problem in Malay campagin was the lack of allied aromour and air cover. Churchill was against a surrender at Singapore. There was major demands on armour for the middle east at the same time.
January 16th, 2006  
LeEnfield
 
 
Because we had been disarming for so long we just did not have the resources for every front. From 1939 until December 1941 there was no fighting in far East so Britain's main concern was then the middle East and it's home front so that was were the baulk of the men and equipment went. Now Churchill had not issued instructions to Generals out in far east, it was the Generals that cocked things up out there, I am not saying they could have won with what they had there disposal but they could have made a better showing of it
March 13th, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Churchill's greatest blunder? Did he even know what has happening around him? The man was drunk every day.

"Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me".
--Winston Churchill
March 14th, 2006  
LeEnfield
 
 
Yes Churchill used to drink and drink heavily , but was he ever drunk, well I don't think so. Was he befuddled by drink, well if you listen to his speeches, look at his paintings or read any of the countless books that he wrote, and try and convince any one that these where the works of drunk.
March 14th, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
I was just joking. I wish that I was as skilled as Churchill at speaking and writing while "under the influence".

Ollie Garchy
April 24th, 2006  
perseus
 
 
Quote:
Yes the Dardanelles was Churchill's idea and the General Idea was a good one
Indeed this is regarded as a potential Strategic masterpiece, so if Churchill had one great idea, perhaps in principle this was it! No doubt if it had been carried out by commanders of adequete experience and drive it could have been a success. Unfortunately, this was not the case, neither can Churchill claim all the credit or escape all the blame.

First of all the operation had been initiated at the request of the Russians to open the Straits to relieve the attacks on their troops in the Caucasus. True, Churchill realised that this would also knock Turkey out of the war.

Secondly, Churchill was warned by his admirals that the Straits Fortress guns were too high for the elevation of the British guns on the battleships when near enough to hit them accurately. He was also warned that it was far easier for the camouflaged fortress guns to aim at the ships (because of the splash) than the other way around, and the fortresses needed a direct hit to disable them, as a consequence these guns were not silenced.

Thirdly a ship had been being recently sunk by mines in the straits, so it was obvious that the guns were there partly to prevent ships from clearing the mines but no-one seemed to realise this and adequete plans were not made.

Eventually an amphibious assault was deemed necessary, but an unsuccesful shelling campaign had been launched in the same place a hundred years previously, so this was not entirely without precedent.

Now perhaps all this is academic since Churchill was not tasked with designing the Military details only the political strategy anf some historians let him off the hook, but there is a final twist to the story which is less well known.

It was not the first time the fortress guns had been attacked in WW1 (well sort of), Churchill had already ordered them to be bombarded early in the war as 'target practice' just before Britain had declared war on Turkey. This encouraged the Turks to improve defences, especially by the laying of minefields. This decision by Churchill was heavily criticised by Jellicoe and another admiral at the time, therefore much of the blame has to rest on his shoulders.