Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 5)

Churchill traveled to the United States for a meeting with President Roosevelt.  He addressed the US Congress and Canadian Parliament. The Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee was created.  Lord Beaverbrook helped the Americans get more efficient production going, and a United Nations Joint Declaration was issued.  

After Churchill returned to Britain, Singapore fell (February 15, 1942).  It's unconditional surrender to the Japanese was a major disaster.  During the first 6 months of 1942, everything went badly.  The U-boats were taking a very heavy toll.  In 7 months, losses to the U-boats in the Atlantic totalled over 3 million tons while only 14 U-boats were sunk.  However, methods were developed, an Anti-U-boat Committee was formed, and gradually the U-boat menace was lessened.  

Next, Churchill tells the stories of the American naval victories at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway Island.  

He returned to Washington DC to discuss atomic weapons with the Americans.  While at the White House, he learned that Tobruk in North Africa had surrendered and the Germans had taken 25,000 men prisoners. This was another great disaster.

Rommel crossed into Egypt on June 24th.  There was heavy fighting and General Auchinleck ordered counterattacks.  Rommel's communications were strained and his troops exhausted.  He tried again to break the British line, but his attack was checked.  By the end of July, fighting was at a standstill.

Churchill visited Cairo himself and replaced Auchinleck with General Alexander.  General Montgomery was to fight under him in charge of the 8th Army.  These changes were very well received.

On August 30th Rommel made his last thrust for Cairo.  He failed.  During October, the Allies sunk 40% of Axis shipping to North Africa, and on October 23rd, the British attack began.  The British won a magnificent victory at the Battle of Alamein.  This was a major turning point.  Churchill says, "Before Alamein we never had a victory.  After Alamein we never had a defeat."

Meanwhile, plans were made for "Operation Torch" to liberate French North Africa.  These plans were made with the Americans, and then agreed upon with Stalin.  
Part 6 is coming soon!

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