“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Johnny Cash
November 1914 – London, England – The world is at war. The British War Council is conducting a strategic meeting. The confident 40-year-old political head of the Royal Navy proposes a bold and reckless plan to strike Ottoman enemies more than 1,000 miles to east. He convinces the Council to thread his naval fleet through the needle of the Dardanelles, the narrow 38-mile strait that severs Europe and Asia in northwest Turkey, to seize Constantinople (known as Istanbul today) and gain control of the strategic waterways linking the Black Sea in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
March 1915 – The Dardanelles – A fleet of 13 battleships attacks in the Dardanelles but faces severe problems from submerged mines. Nevertheless, the 29th Division begins its assault at Gallipoli.
British troops are slaughtered as they attempt to land upon the shores of the straits. The leader of the naval assault plan is demoted. Everyone believes that the young man’s political and military future will be non-existent.
November 1915 – The statesman becomes a soldier. He resigns from the government, picks up a rifle, and heads to the front-line trenches in France as an infantry officer with the Royal Scots Fusiliers. After several brushes with death, he returns home in 1917.
However, he is haunted by Gallipoli for decades. When running for Parliament in 1923, hecklers called out, “What about the Dardanelles?”
As the world entered the 1930’s, another World War I war veteran slowly gains power in Germany with visions of mass conquest. Adolph Hitler appoints the ace German fighter pilot, Hermann Goring, as Air Traffic Minister in May 1933. Germany begins a massive military buildup, particularly aircrafts, in violation of the Treaty or Versailles. In 1935, the existence of the Luftwaffe is formally acknowledged, with Goring as Reich Aviation Minister.
September 1939 – German tanks mobilize and invade Poland. World War II begins.
After German successes in the east accumulate, Hitler turns his attention to the west. German forces invade Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands as a prelude to their assault on France.
Britain turns to the man who was responsible for the disaster in the Dardanelles to save them.
Winston Churchill becomes prime minister in 1940. Upon taking office, he wrote, “All my past life had been a preparation for this hour and for this trial.” That included Gallipoli.
While Churchill, who the Russians call “The British Bulldog” because of his ferociousness and focus, is known for many things, it was his leadership throughout the war that he is best remembered for.
September 7th, 1940 – the mighty Luftwaffe begins to unleash incendiary bombs over London. The raids are soon extended to other cities on the island. The Blitz becomes especially intensive through October and November. After eight months, Hitler realized that Churchill and Britain would not surrender. Hitler stops the bombing and makes the biggest mistake in military history, launching Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.
During the months of continued bombing, Churchill was asked to surrender by Germany, some powerful people in Britain, and others. But, the British Bulldog would not give in. His leadership would infuriate Hitler and push the him to make decisions that would result in the destruction of the Third German Reich in 1945.
Churchill also had some of the most interesting quotes in history. Here are four of many:
1. “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” On Labour politician Stafford Cripps.
2. “A communist is like a crocodile: when it opens its mouth, you cannot tell whether it is trying to smile or preparing to eat you.”
3. “You have enemies? Good. That means you have stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
4. “When I was younger, I made it a rule never to take a strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast.” To King George VI on a cold morning as Churchill boarded his plane.
Sir Winston Churchill was one of the most unique and intriguing leaders in the past 200 years.
His name and legacy will not be forgotten for many centuries.