I just finished reading a tremendously interesting book that discusses the life of Winston Churchill during WWII.  It was written by Mr. Christopher Catherwood; published by Berkley Canber; copyright 2009.  The basic thesis of the book is that even though Churchill was one of the very best Prime Ministers in England’s long history, many of the decisions he made during the Second World War were tactically incorrect costing the lives of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. He was definitely a man for the times but he was not a military genius and some of his errors were grave and prolonged the war by at least one and one-half years.   The author is of the opinion that the “real” winners of WWII were the United States and Russia and that England played a secondary role as far as providing the manpower to actually execute and win the war.  I might mention right now that Mr. Catherwood is from England so his conclusions are not biased by place of birth. He is a historian and presents the facts as he sees them from verifiable and multiple sources.

The United States fought the war on two fronts, the Pacific Theater and the European Theater.  The Russians fought on the Eastern front and the struggle was absolutely heroic in proportions.   In the early years of the war, England committed troops but did so only in Western Europe and during the Normandy invasion although they were very much involved in Northern Africa and Italy with one great victory being the defeat of Field Marshal Rommel at El Alamein.  This battle was perhaps the greatest victory England experienced during the war.  Also, Churchill was adamant that India and Greece must be kept from Nazi invasion and was committed to sending troops to those areas if needed to push back German soldiers. This consumed a remarkable amount of time and was a considerable frustration to the other Allied powers.

  The United States and Russia were continuously pushing for the invasion of France; i.e. Operation Overlord, and hammered Churchill and his cabinet for approval to launch the invasion of Normandy.    Russia needed help with the Germans to reduce armed conflict on the Eastern Front and the countries in Western Europe needed a frontal assault that would initiate their liberation.  At one time there were close to 400 divisions of Russian and German soldiers fighting on the Eastern Front.   The loss of life was remarkable.

In looking at the loss of life, the following information has been stated in the book:

  • Between 1939 and 1945, 144,000 British lives were lost.
  • Between 1941 and 1945, 143,000 American lives were lost.
  • The Russians lost 11 million people, both military and civilian
  • In the battle of Kursk (1943) there were 325,000 German and Russian lives lost, both military and civilian.
  • In the battle of Stalingrad, 973,000 people died.
  • On the beaches of Normandy there were 132,000 Allied lives lost.
  • The battle of the Bulge, 38,000 lives lost
  • 6 million Jews were executed by the Germans.
  • An unknown number of gypsies died the same death as the Jews.

Remarkable numbers!  In today’s world, we cannot imagine such a loss of life and yet these facts have been documented and verified as being correct.  If anything, they are conservative.

On of the most striking comments made in the book is the list that Churchill presented to Stalin detailing those countries which would be “carved up” and controlled by England, Russia and others.  This list reads as follows:

RUMANIA              Russia—90%         Others—10%

GREECE                    Britain—90%         Russia—10%

YUGOSLAVIA         50%–50%

HUNGARY              50%–50%

BULGARIA              Russia—75%         Others—25%


This meeting altered the European political structure and changed the course of history for decades.  It also declared Russia to be a major player in world events until this day.

Catherwood states correctly that:

  • The greatest loss for future generations resulted from the great number of deaths occurring as a result of the war.  Think of the teachers, musicians, artists, scientists, engineers and other professional people lost as a result of the war.  All the knowledge, creativity and optimism lost and not available to rebuild Europe and Russia.
  • The end of the war was the commencement of the “cold war” between the West and Russia.
  • The Jewish state was decimated and reduced in numbers by at least six million people.

The book is very interesting, especially if you are a history enthusiast or just interested in Winston Churchill. I can recommend it to you without hesitation.

%d bloggers like this: