Perhaps no leader of the twentieth century is as
synonymous with wartime leadership as Winston
Churchill. For nearly 54 years, from his initial seat
in Parliament in 1901 until his resignation in 1955,
Churchill was actively involved in the organization
and implementation of military efforts throughout
Europe. He was an idealist: one who believed in the
unequivocal greatness of Britain, and the role that
they were destined to play in the preservation of
Europe. His passionate, impulsive nature, confident
demeanor, and perpetual hatred of tyranny made him a
force to be reckoned with throughout the world.
From entering politics at the turn of the century
through 1940, Churchill held many leadership
positions in Britain. However, his greatest success
came in his military positions. While serving in the
Admiralty in 1911, he strengthened the British navy.
Later, after leaving that post, he served as an
active military officer and as the minister of
munitions. His opinions on international issues were
well known. From 1929 through 1939, he was
tremendously vocal about his hatred of Adolf Hitler
and the Nazi regime. He became very isolated in his
political beliefs. Most people felt that avoiding
confrontation was a safer bet than provoking Hitler
into combat, however, Churchill was unwilling to
avoid such a conflict. But the realities of life in
Britain made it impossible to pursue battle.
The economy was in poor shape and there was no
national support of Churchill's cause. His distrust
of Hitler became justified when, during the meeting
of Hitler and Neville Chamberlain in 1938,
Chamberlain accepted Hitler's promise to only go
after the Sudentenland because he thought it would
prevent an international war. Churchill understood
that Hitler was lying and repeatedly sought an
alliance with the Soviets and French to hopefully
prevent a German attack. He was certain that a
unified front would scare Germany into a retreat.
However, with the German invasion of Poland, it
became evident that Hitler was not going to shy away
from conflict. In May of 1940, with the German
invasion of the Low Countries, Churchill was chosen
to replace Chamberlain as Britain's Prime Minister.
He was the obvious choice for many reasons, first,
his clear ideology for the world:
...Whether it be peace or war...we must strive
to frame some system of human relations in the
future which will put an end to this prolonged
hideous uncertainty, which will let the working
and creative forced of the world get on with
their job, and which will no longer leave the
whole life of mankind dependent upon virtues, the
caprice, or the wickedness of a single man (The
Rise to Power...).
Most importantly, only he could unite and lead the
nation, for no other leader in the world despised
Hitler as much as Churchill, and no one possessed the
commitment to see to it that Hitler's rule was
brought down. Churchill's goal was to see Hitler
destroyed, and anyone who agreed with Churchill, no
matter their ideology, was his ally. His complete and
total desire to be victorious led Parliament to pass
legislation demanding that all "persons, their
services, and their property at the disposal of the
crown" (Leadership during WWII).similar to
Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution for Hitler's
Germany, legislation left the entire nation at the
beckon call of Churchill's whims.
By 1941, the war was developing into a worldwide
catastrophe. The bombing of Pearl Harbor provoked
Churchill to travel to Washington DC to establish the
Angle-American accords, a series of agreements
binding the two nations to each other in this time of
crisis. These accords pooled the two nations'
economic, military, and political resources.
Churchill was at the forefront of these efforts and
was to be the principal organizer of the US/British
effort to justly and accurately determine how and
when the Germans, and later the Japanese.
Following the landing of Allied forces in North
Africa, the leaders met again. Churchill was adamant
about a full-scale attack on the Axis nations,
fearing that other military commitments, like
America's invasion of Burma in 1944, would detract
effort and attention from their imminent invasion of
Normandy. However, he was faced by stiff resistance
on the part of Stalin and Roosevelt, who were opposed
his plan to drive the Allied offensive into southern
Europe. Illness prevented further involvement, but by
May he was ready to watch D-Day's effect on Germany.
Though he rejoiced in his D-Day invasion in 1944,
slowly, the sphere of influence was shifting from
England and America to America and Russia. The last
Big Three Conference in 1945 made that clear to him.
Not long after returning, he was fluctuating in an
illness until poor health led him to resign in 1955.
Ultimately, Winston Churchill proved to be a poor
Minister, but an extraordinarily successful wartime
Prime Minister. His brilliant understanding of the
behavior of other international leaders and his skill
as an effective military leader make him one of the
greatest leaders our century produced.
Bernard Law Montgomery
Just as Dwight Eisenhower is synonymous with wartime
success in America, no English commander is as
renowned for his work in World War II as Bernard Law
Montgomery. Known to his friends and family simply as
Monty, he led the British Eighth Army with
considerable success in 1942. When the British troops
were traveling to North Africa, Montgomery was the
fundamental player who weakened the Axis power as
they were forced to retreat from the from El Alamein.
This led to attacks in Tunisia and Sicily and
ultimately, a post under Eisenhower. They were to
plan and organize the D-Day invasion of France.
Montgomery felt that the size of the invading space
and landing area were not sufficient. Despite their
ability to work together though, Eisenhower and
Monfgomery did not get along and had numerous
conflicts. There was a time in his life when he was
unaware of failure, however, in September, 1944, he
fought his worse battle, trying to cross the Rhine
River at Arnhem and survive the Battle of the Bulge.
Almost a year later, German troops in the Netherlands
and in northwest Germany surrendered to Montgomery.
General Bernard Montgomery was once described as
"the biggest obstacle facing the planners."
(The Valour and the Horror). A perpetual strategist,
he insisted that all men be completely prepared for
battle, and that persistence and longevity are more
important to success in battle than speed. Montgomery
was an egotist, who believed that he deserved the
most important task and objectives purely due to his
worth, but that made him pompous and difficult to
work with. In the end, his career reflected that