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The Churchill Society

London.

At this moment everyone ought to consider very carefully
what is his duty towards his country,
towards his home and family,
and to his own personal rights and responsibilities.

Winston Churchill
Broadcast

January 21st 1950.

Schools

WHO WAS CHURCHILL?

CHRONOLOGY

THE MAIN INDEX

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Flanders PoppyThe purpose of these pages is to tell the story of Churchill's life - not to give a detailed account of the wars he was involved in, for that is a vast subject.

Month by month factual and photographic calendars of the Ist World War
1914. 1915. 1916. 1917. 1918.

 It is important to remember that heavy censorship of news took place throughout them, and therefore knowledge of many of these events was not available until long after they happened - or until after the wars had ended.

Explanatory notes are given against some of these dates, but to read about particular battles or political events please go to Bibliography

 _____________________________

 

The First World War
also known as

The Great War

In October 1914, when Antwerp was falling to the Germans, in spite of being the First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill characteristically rushed in person to organise its defence. When it fell, the public saw only a disillusioning defeat, but in fact the prolongation of its resistance for almost a week enabled the Belgian Army to escape and the crucial Channel ports to be saved.

Col ChurchillIn 1915 Churchill resigned from the Government and went to the war zone as a soldier - in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. It was during these months that he experienced first hand that trench warfare -something hitherto unknown in war - was certain to lead to huge losses from sickness - let alone shelling.

THE RANKS IN THE BRITISH ARMED FORCES.

When Churchill realised that the terrible slaughter and fighting stalemate along the entire Western Front of mud entrenched soldiers could never be resolved, he fought in cabinet for a landing of troops in the Dardanelles. It was a campaign aimed at forcing the straits and opening up direct communications with Russia. The purpose in supporting Russia was that Germany would be forced to fight on two fronts at the same time and so bring the war to a swift end.

It was Churchill's most important part in the First World War. It was a heroic attempt to bring it to a swift end by organising what is now known as the The Gallipoli Campaign. BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Cabinet gave him special responsibility for the campaign (a land assault at the straits) but no powers of direction. Thus reinforcements were too few and too late; the campaign failed and casualties were heavy. Eventually evacuation was ordered in the autumn on the spot by Admiral. J.M. de Robeck.

The Admiralty war planning group and Prime Minister Asquith both supported de Robeck - rather than Churchill - and he was dismissed from the Admiralty.

Churchill came under sustained, bitter and heavy political attack for the failure of this expedition.

Churchill was to learn (in time) from his dismissal, how to cope with cruel failure and an unjust personal

World War I Artillery

First World War Artillery

and political defeat . . . without (in fact) being defeated by it.

Map of DardenellesIt was The Great War's awful experiences that were to steel him for a long period in the political wilderness - the scorn and hatred of his countrymen and the majority of the Conservative Party: and his extraordinary dismissal after his incredible achievements in the Second World War.

In June 1916 Churchill left the army and went back to Parliament as a private member because the politicians in Parliament were disagreeing about almost everything, and he knew how disastrous that was when fighting such a war.

In March 1917 the publication of the Dardanelles commission report demonstrated that he was at least no more to blame for the fiasco than his colleagues. Churchill could not be blamed - he was not in command. Had he been, the outcome is likely to have very different indeed when one considers with the benefit of hindsight the success he so often had when given the means and authority to carry projects through.

Churchill was deeply affected by the terrible loss of life on both fronts - so much so that his wife said that his tears, grief and sense of responsibility were so great that she feared for his mental and physical health.

WW1 Tanks

First World War Tanks

(Why were they called "Tanks"?)

He was dismissed as Lord of the Admiralty and appointed to the minor office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - a political sincecure - a trivial post appointing local dignitaries to their offices.

He resigned from this and went as a battalion commander to the trenches on the Western Front.

Churchill as a Colonel in the War

Portrait by Lowery .
Churchill as a Battalion Commander served in the trenches on the Western Front.

After six months he was recalled and appointed Minister of Munitions - against a storm of Tory protests and only on the understanding that he was not permitted any further direction of military or naval actions. But Lloyd George knew he could solve the acute problem of internal rivalries in that amorphous department which were the root cause of the acute shortage of munitions. Once installed in this department Churchill immediately had the leader of 'a gang of desperate Glasgow munitions strikers and agitators' down to London and by listening and being humane won them over and ended the strikes, with the result that those factories thereafter had the highest output rates for the rest of the war. All this against a background of vitriolic Press and Parliamentary personal scorn and criticism because of the failure and terrible loss of life in Gallipoli. This so impressed his London staff that they were won over by Churchill who then brought in key people to do a root and branch reform of the ministry. He increased women's factory pay and brought forward the production of aircraft (until then considered of minor importance to the war effort). He introduced a regular daily aircraft schedule between England and France to enable swift transport of senior personnel.

War Poets

Some of the War Poets

Laurence Binyon.
Siegfried Sassoon.
Henry Thomas.
Wilfred Owen.

 
Throughout his long life Churchill was continually updating his knowledge by seeking out the views of all kinds of experts upon all manner of subjects. Years earlier he had observed how a farmer had a ploughing machine which had caterpillar tracks that enabled it to go through the muddiest fields: in spite of being the Lord of the Admiralty at the time, he made his naval staff build one with armoured plating around the driver and with a gun on it. But no-one took him seriously. Now, being Minister of Munitions and knowing first hand of conditions in the trenches he robustly supported his earlier Admiralty idea of designing the tank, which he knew could drive through the appalling mud to smash through the enemy barbed wire, and then ride right over the enemy's trenches and so punch a hole through their lines to let the infantry soldiers then fight their way out and get right behind the German lines.
 

Woman Motorcyclist

 

Woman Despatch Rider.

 
Everyone thought him stupid to waste precious time and effort on such a contraption, but Churchill knew that if the idea worked (and it did eventually) it would save thousands of lives (on both sides). As usual - people did not do as he said - to keep its existence a secret ! - so when they were ready for use at the front, the Germans knew all about them. It was Churchill's sheer persistence and organising skill that made possible the design and manufacture of the tank.
He saw that it was likely to terrify the enemy and shorten and eventually bring the end of the war. In the event he was proved right. He knew that these battles in the mud could never be won any other way. He grieved at the terrible loss of life and injuries. He wrote
'Let the Germans traipse across the crater fields. Let them rejoice in the occasional capture of placeless names and sterile ridges: and let us dart here and there armed with science and surprise and back all points by a superior artillery. That is the way to break their hearts and leave them bankrupt in resources at the end of the 1918 campaign'.
 
Churchill vigorously explored every aspect of munitions manufacture and the armed forces requirements. He frequently travelled to the front lines and met senior ranks in all theatres of war reporting back in great detail to the prime minister Lloyd George. During one of these visits to France he passed a lunatic asylum as he wrote to his wife 'blown up by the sane people outside' .
 

Helen Thomas

 

Helen Thomas
Wife of the War Poet.
She wrote one of the most moving accounts of early married life as a soldiers wife.

 
He vastly increased the output of aircraft and munitions. In spite of all his cares and responsibilities he still kept a sharp eye on the events taking place with the Bolsheviks in Russia, wary of how these might influence events on the western front.

US Troops enter Battle

US Troops engage the enemy.

To obtain an idea of the magnitude of The Great War just examine the calendar for each year of the years

1914. 1915. 1916. 1917. 1918.

The First World War claimed the lives of 13 million people! It was the most catastrophic conflict in human history and brought enormous changes in its wake.

There was not a single family in Europe - to say nothing of Russia, America or the Commonwealth countries - that was unaffected by the Great War - indeed after it in Europe there was an acute shortage of men, and many women as a consequence were forced into spinsterhood.

Sargents Portrayal of War

So bad was the suffering of the soldiers during the war that upon their return after it they never spoke or wrote about it. It was only after many years that the true scale of the suffering slowly became public knowledge. So revolted was everyone by the enormity of the war that no-one could comprehend that such an evil thing could, or would ever happen again. Thus it was that the Second World War - really the continuation of the first - crept up upon the people without them realising it - but that story I will relate a little later. When the next war came, it became known as THE SECOND WORLD WAR and THE GREAT WAR then became known as THE FIRST WORLD WAR.

Soldiers in mud

Knee deep in mud trying to rescue the wounded

Stop now and listen to THE FIRST WORLD WAR. (Movement No 12)

from

THE CHURCHILL MUSIC.

It portrays in anguished music, the horrors of the First World War.

It has a solo the words of which are as follows:-

THE SOLDIER'S PRAYER:

Soloist Vladimir Okenko

My God, to Thee do I implore;
Oh, take away my fear.
That in this night of terror and fright;
I beg, I pray, You keep near to me:
God, hear my prayer.
Forgive me Lord, for sins long past,
For deeds of hurt and thoughtlessness:
If Thou should'st spare me yet to live,
I will love Thee.

In this the hour of my despair,
Oh, come and give me strength.
That in the agony of this war,
I'll feel and know Thy presence,
Comforting me.
Steel my heart to bravely endure,
These days of sorrow and nights of fear;
Nor let me an act of cowardice do,
And I'll love Thee.

 

I have outlined only in the briefest detail the causes and events of THE GREAT WAR You must read more about these terrible events. It is very important that you do so - not because of school exams or anything like that - but because war is like a terrible disease - if you do not understand what causes war, you may not see it coming, nor will you know how to help to stop it; and therefore you and your family could die in one.

A wounded soldier

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides suffered such horrendous injuries.

We do not know the name of this gallant man

We salute him -
We salute his family -
We salute all who suffered likewise.

THE CHURCHILL SOCIETY'S prime purpose is the study of the causes of war and ways of preventing it. The Society needs financial support if it is to pursue its aims. It welcomes letters and articles for publication.

 

Flanders PoppyThe purpose of these pages is to tell the story of Churchill's life - not to give a detailed account of the wars he was involved in, for that is a vast subject.

Month by month factual and photographic calendars of the Ist World War

1914. 1915. 1916. 1917. 1918.

It is important to remember that heavy censorship of news took place throughout them, and therefore knowledge of many of these events was not available until long after they happened - or until after the wars had ended. Morevover, the experiences of the soldiers were so terrible, that of the the few who returned, none spoke of them for many many years.

Explanatory notes are given against some of these dates, but to read about particular battles or political events please go to Bibliography

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THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR.

1914.

The causes
of the Gt War.

1914.

Unfolding events
in the summer.

1914.

Autumn and early
winter

 

1915.

 

1916.

 

1917.

 

1918.

Armistice.

 

1919.

The aftermath.

The 1920's

. . SCHOOL INDEX . .

CHRONOLOGY

BIBLIOGRAPHY

THE MAIN INDEX

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...................Ladybird.

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