Winston Churchill Analysis – We Shall Fight On The Beaches Essay
In 1940 the Nazis and Hitler were rapidly spreading through Europe. Only sixteen days after Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister of Britain were the British Expeditionary Force and the First French Army trapped on the beaches surrounding Dunkirk, France (“Battle of Dunkirk”). There were 400,000 troops trapped on there, with the Nazis surprisingly halted. 338,000 troops were rescued from those beaches, thanks to efforts from many different groups of people (“World War II: Battle and Evacuation of Dunkirk”). In the speech “We Shall Fight On The Beaches” Winston Churchill used inspiring words and recent events to rally Britain to defy Hitler’s tyranny.
Early on Churchill wanted to go into politics like his dad, but he did not have much money. He was a failure at school, so he did the only thing a poor person like him could do, he joined the Army. Even that was difficult to him. He failed his first two attempts at the Army exam, and got into the Royal Military College on his third try, which would have been his final (John).
Although soldiering may have been a last resort career to Churchill, he embraced it. He was physically fearless and was very brave in action. He had no problem killing enemies of Britain (John). As a war correspondent during the Boer war, he first gained attention when he escaped from a war prison in Pretoria (Britannia Government). While in the Army, Churchill discovered his natural talent for writing. By age 25 he was a best-selling author. He earned enough money to go into politics, and he won a parliamentary seat.
Churchill’s political career began in the year 1900 when he was elected to parliament as a conservative. He later switched association to the liberals over a proposed tariff reform. In 1908 he was appointed president of the Board of Trade by H.H. Asquith and was home secretary in 1910. He was in the Commons until 1923 and other ministerial offices including first Lord of the Admiralty in the Asquith government from 1911 to 1915. He served in World War I in France from 1915 to 1916, and then returned to Parliament in 1917 to serve as the Minister of Munitions under Lloyd George while the tank was being developed. Following the war he served as Secretary for War from 1918 to 1921. He was Colonial Secretary and played a major role in establishing the Irish Free State. Churchill was out of Parliament from 1922 to 1924, and returned as a Conservative representing Epping in 1924 and was made Chancellor of the Exchequer under Baldwin from 1924 to 1929. He was in and out of office from 1929 to 1939 but was a vocal critic of Conservative policy on India and Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler and Mussolini (Britannia Government).
Churchill’s early political ascent ended with the failed naval assault on the Dardanelles in 1915. He had hoped for an easy victory and to knock Turkey out of the war, but instead suffered massive amounts of casualties, almost 250,000 before withdrawing. “Let me stand or fall by the Dardanelles, but do not take it from my hands,” Churchill said to Prime Minister Asquith in May, 1915 (Mulligan and Barr).
“Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Nazi Germany, had conquered Western Europe… He believed no one would oppose his demands. He was wrong.”(John). When World War II started, Churchill returned to the Admiralty (Britannia Government). When Chamberlain resigned he was asked to form a coalition government. New Prime Minister Winston Churchill fought back against Adolf Hitler’s tyranny. He said he did not take office to watch the British Empire be vanquished. While the Nazi’s grew in the 1930’s, Churchill’s pugnacity caught Hitler’s attention, and Hitler accused Churchill of “mad” talk of war. Churchill simply responded saying that he was sorry that Hitler “had not been mellowed by the success which has attended him.” Churchill was very close friends with American president Franklin Roosevelt, signing the Atlantic Charter in 1941, which proclaimed their strategy for the war. Churchill gave many emotional speeches that gave the country the will to endure suffering and hardship. By the year’s end, Britain had barely survived, and in doing so, destroyed Hitler’s war plans. This made Churchill a hero (John).
In late May, 1940, at the last minute, the Belgians called upon the British to help them on the beaches of Dunkirk. The British answered, and came to help, covering their left flank. Then, out of nowhere, the Belgians surrendered, leaving the British exposed not only on their whole flank, but their means of retreat as well (FiftiesWeb). 400,000 British troops were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, with the Nazi’s surprisingly halted. They had to get those soldiers off the beaches, so they formed an evacuation plan. Operation Dynamo consisted of many little ships coming to beaches and rescuing soldiers in small groups, taking them to bigger ships, which were farther away. In the nine days from May 27th to June 4th they rescued approximately 338,000 troops. Churchill was quick to warn the nation saying, “We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.” Britain could handle losing 30,000 men, but their material loss was far worse. They lost 50,000 vehicles including tanks, 9 destroyers, 200 marine vessels, and 177 aircrafts (“Battle of Dunkirk”).
Hitler was so sure of victory in September of 1940 that he delayed invading Britain, thinking Churchill would want peace. He was wrong. Once Britain had gotten the Army off Dunkirk, he never considered surrender an option (John). He expressed this in his infamous speech, “We Shall Fight On The Beaches”, saying We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight on the hills, we shall never surrender… (FiftiesWeb). Today, “Dunkirk Spirit” is a common term that refers to the solidarity of the British people in the times of adversity (“Battle of Dunkirk”).
Churchill met with Allied leaders Joseph Stalin and President Roosevelt in the Crimea in February, 1945 to plan for the final victory over Germany. He announced the Nazi surrender on May 8th, 1945.
Following World War II, Churchill was defeated in a general election not two weeks after the war’s end. He then took to literature and painting, winning the Nobel Prize for literature for his 6 volume history of World War II. He also wrote the 4 volume, “History of the English-Speaking People.” In October, 1951 he again became Prime Minister, until he resigned in April, 1955 (Britannia Government.) The Battle of Dunkirk was a turning point in World War II. It was a period of struggle for the British, but after the evacuation it was clear that they could not and would not surrender. In the speech “We Shall Fight On The Beaches” Winston Churchill used inspiring words and recent events to rally Britain to defy Hitler’s tyranny.
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