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Robert Blake and Wm. Roger Louis

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206262

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206262.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 October 2021

Churchill and the Defence Chiefs

Churchill and the Defence Chiefs

(p.353) 20 Churchill and the Defence Chiefs

Michael Carver

Oxford University Press

To understand the relations between Winston Churchill and the senior officers of Britain's Royal Navy, the army, and the Royal Air Force in the Second World War, one must appreciate that he took a romantic view of war and how it should be conducted. In Churchill's view, most of the generals, admirals, or air marshals were little more than the ‘intelligent scribes’ he scorned. Ironically, the general who at last brought him the victories he craved, Bernard Montgomery, exhibited all the characteristics that Churchill deplored. In the last years of the war, all the defence chiefs, not least Alan Brooke, Harold Alexander, Montgomery, and Louis Mountbatten, had learned how to deal with Churchill: never to complain about the ‘ceaseless prodding’; to stand firm, but to keep him sweet by a constant stream of information and an adroit balance of flattery, cajolery, and frankness. They knew that they could not do without him, and did not want to, and he knew that they were indispensable to him.

Keywords:   Winston Churchill, Britain, Second World War, generals, defence chiefs, Bernard Montgomery, Alan Brooke, Harold Alexander, Louis Mountbatten, army

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