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Why did Winston Churchill become so important as Prime Minister of Britain between 1940 and 1945?

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Introduction

Why did Winston Churchill become so important as Prime Minister of Britain between 1940 and 1945? Though the path of history holds many diverse opinions of Churchill's importance during the war, it would be fair to say that he played a crucial role. Winston Churchill has long been considered as one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers, many follow the conventional attitude towards Churchill, that he gallantly drove the British to victory over Germany. However some historians nowadays have begun to challenge this notion whilst others are still sure of the fact that Churchill was an outstanding and inspirational war leader, 'the saviour of his country'. It would be unrealistic to justify just one overall judgement of Churchill; therefore I aim to achieve many different viewpoints from exploring a range of sources. In conclusion to this essay I hope to be able to establish why Churchill became so important as Prime Minister of Britain during the wartime years of 1940 and 1945. When the time came to confront the Nazi threat to Europe the people of Britain turned to Churchill. He had been the lone voice in the wilderness urging decisive action when Hitler's evil works were but small bidings. Churchill's willpower and his consistent stance against appeasement gave him credibility amongst the British people. On 10th of May 1940, the sixty-four year old became Prime Minister, on this same day the Nazis invaded Holland and Belgium, which turned the so-called 'Phoney War' into a real threat for Britain. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore Churchill was important because he made an essential decision in forming a coalition government. There may have been some of Churchill's colleagues in the War Cabinet who didn't consider Churchill to be very important; even though his influence over them was powerful, there were times when he was being overruled. Churchill's influence on the people of Britain may also have seemed trivial at times due to the fact that he was frequently absent, through illness of journeys abroad. Churchill had the aptitude to make difficult decisions; this was another factor that made him important. An example of a difficult decision he had to make was when the Royal Navy sank the French ships at Oran under the order of Churchill. He did not want the Germans to use the French ships against Britain and therefore had to sacrifice the lives of 1,200 French sailors, which meant leaving Britain to effectively 'fight alone' against Germany. This was in effect a well thought out decision and if it had not been made then Britain could have lost the war. Churchill wasn't very rational at times, giving vain to fantasy speeches so that the people felt like heroes within themselves. He was also known to take chances; he is described by Alan Farmer (a historian) as being 'unable to resist an unconventional idea'. When the end of the war was approaching Churchill made one of his most ridiculous ideas. Days before the invasion of France, Churchill said that too many of their soldiers would be killed if they attacked from over sea, therefore he planned to approach France through Portugal, and up through Spain. ...read more.

Conclusion

Churchill also depended more upon his personal relationships with Roosevelt and Stalin rather than focussing on the countries' mutual requirements. Churchill must therefore be congratulated for upholding the alliance between Russia, America and Britain as this certainly benefited Britain. The war weakened Britain's international position. By the end of the war she was surpassed by the USSR and the USA. Churchill can be partially blamed for bankrupting England, raising the Russian spectre in Europe and mortgaging Britains future to the USA, however this was mainly in an effort to stop Hitler. One thing that Churchill can certainly be blamed for is driving Britain in to the war in1939 and thus weakening Britains economy. However some defend Churchill and say that the economy would have gone into chaos under any Prime Minister. Even though Churchill was not perfect and didn't always get things right he was important as Prime Minister during the years of 1940-1945 because of his oratory and military talent as well as his victorious effort in persuading America to join the war and keeping the 'Grand Alliance'. However his importance during the war must not be overrated as much of his success was due to others such as the Deputy Prime Minister, General Montgomery and the workers at 'Ultra'. Churchill's importance and influence varied during the war. I can therefore conclude that despite the fact that Churchill was not as important as all the hype makes out, he still inspires, his words motivate and his dedication and successes are still praised, at least for the moment. Word count: 2390 including quotations Georgina Wells 26/04/07 1 ...read more.

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