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SEPilot
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:41 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 99):
And let's not even begin to think about the very special kind of courage needed to serve on tankers or munitions ships.

I think you omitted the category with the greatest percentage of losses: submarines. I think that for the US navy the casualty rate was about 50% (and remember that those were almost all fatalities); for the Germans it was over 70%. I don't know what it was for the Japanese, but I suspect it was at least as high as the Germans.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:01 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 99):
The various British battleships mentioned in this post are the only ones (don't think I've forgotten any!) lost during the war

I forgot Repulse and Prince of Wales. Oops.

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 100):
I think you omitted the category with the greatest percentage of losses: submarines.

Yes, submarines are a category apart. The German U Boat service did suffer a dreadful rate of loss particularly as the war situation worsened. The British submarine service wasn't quite as bad. I will bow to your greater knowledge on the subject of US and Japanese losses though, it isn't my area of expertise.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:14 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 101):
I will bow to your greater knowledge on the subject of US and Japanese losses though, it isn't my area of expertise.

Actually, I have no knowledge of the Japanese figures, but I do know how badly their submarines fared toward the end of the war, so I suspect that they were as bad as the Germans. I did a quick search online, but could not find any figures. The figures for the German and US casualties are from memory, but I believe that they are accurate.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:58 pm

from what I recall your German numbers are likely low. They had insanely brutal loss rates. It didn't help that the few that survived the middle of the war often were sent out on a new submarine and lost on their first mission, so the "true" veterans of the U-boat service who survived the war was nearly 0. They really shouldn't have even tried to sortie in the later parts of the war. The Destroyers were far too plentiful. They had modern sonars and radars which the early/mid war destroyers (often WWI leftovers) had little to none of any quality. They didn't have enough U-boats to operate in a proper tactical sense. The Allies were clearly getting intel on U-boat operations somehow. Etc. It basically adds up to the same effective strategy as the Kamikaze attacks in the pacific.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:48 pm



Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 103):
from what I recall your German numbers are likely low.

You may be right; I was going on memory from years ago when I read the figures.

Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 103):
The Allies were clearly getting intel on U-boat operations somehow.

Yes, we were. We had broken their codes.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:07 am



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 104):
We had broken their codes.

Although in the early years of US entry into the war, your Admiral King refused to believe the British when they kept providing intelligence based on broken ciphers, and went his own way, hence the Second Happy Time for the German crews. The man was a complete idiot, and cost the lives of thousands.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:47 am

A great read on the code breaking story is "Colossus". From what I understand, the second happy time started in 1942.

The almost disasterous 3rd happy time happened when the Germans added a 4th rotor to Enigma in 1943.
Throughout the war the British had been able to keep up with all the modifications of the Geheimschreiber and Enigma and were breaking the code/wheel settings/messages with the exception of this one extended time starting February 1943. A lot of ships were sunk in this time which would not have been.

The fact the USA could not believe the British we so on top of things, is amazing. Then again Stalin refused to believe the British had so much information on the pending Barbarossa situation. The British never told him how they knew which I suspect made him more paranoid.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:02 am



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 104):
Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 103):
The Allies were clearly getting intel on U-boat operations somehow.

Yes, we were. We had broken their codes.

I was thinking of thier point of view. It was *something* that was giving the allies the info, but they more or less stuck thier head in the sand on the issue.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:27 am



Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 107):
I was thinking of thier point of view. It was *something* that was giving the allies the info, but they more or less stuck thier head in the sand on the issue.

It was probably a number of factors, but the primary one was arrogance. They just couldn't believe that those stupid Englishmen could break their unbreakable code. They would have been even more mortified if they had known that the primary work was done by a Pole. Interestingly, the reason that the Battle of the Bulge was such a big surprise to the Allies is that the Germans did not put any of the communications about their preparations on Enigma, and the Allies were by then so convinced that they were reading ALL the German's mail that they ignored other intelligence that could have warned them that the Germans were up to something. This could have tipped off the Germans, but fortunately for us they didn't suspect anything. Also, the US had broken the Japanese code (I believe with British help) and so were reading the Japanese mail for most of the war. They used that information to shoot down Yamamoto, which made Churchill absolutely apoplectic, but fortunately the Japanese did not put two and two together, either. In fact, Churchill knew in advance when Coventry would be bombed, but did not send out any alerts because he had no cover story for how he knew. He was very, very concerned that the Germans would realize that we were reading their mail and was frequently furious with the Americans because he thought we were overly careless about protecting the source of information.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:15 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 108):
Also, the US had broken the Japanese code (I believe with British help)

Correct. The Americans were aware that the British had broken the by now far more complex naval Enigma machines, and requested the British send Bletchley Park experts over to assist them. Although a lot of American histories tend to ignore the British contribution and talk about American success, the British were critical in breaking Japanese codes, partly because they were doing it anyway (remember, not just the Americans were attacked on the day of Pearl Harbor), and partly for the obvious reason that the British were rather more involved in war-work, of which code-breaking was one bit. In the early years of US entry, the British were miles ahead of the Americans in most areas. That really shouldn't be viewed as an affront or a surprise. It was inevitable.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:40 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 109):
the British were miles ahead of the Americans in most areas.

Agreed. When you look at the histories of the two nations up to this point, it is not at all surprising. Great Britain was the preeminent world power at that time, and had achieved that status through centuries of war. The US had up until WWI fought primarily (except for the Civil War) to be left alone, and wanted nothing to do with European wars. WWI was viewed by many in this country to have been a colossal mistake to have gotten involved in, and the isolationist sentiment in this country was immensely strong. This being the case, the US military was not well regarded and in many respects was a joke. Very few top-notch people went for a military career, and at the outset of the war the military was woefully unprepared.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 1:15 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 101):
Quoting Banco (Reply 99):
The various British battleships mentioned in this post are the only ones (don't think I've forgotten any!) lost during the war

I forgot Repulse and Prince of Wales. Oops.

Glad you remembered them, I was beginning to think they had been refloated and someone forgot to tell me. Still, as they were sunk so quickly, it was probably when you blinked.

If only Churchill had spared some Spits Vs for the Far East during 1941 instead of wasting those beautiful Merlins (yes Merlins) over N France on Rhubarbs, then they might not have been sunk.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:03 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 111):
If only Churchill had spared some Spits Vs for the Far East during 1941 instead of wasting those beautiful Merlins (yes Merlins) over N France on Rhubarbs, then they might not have been sunk.

It is easy to look back now and say that, but at the time it was believed that battleships could fend for themselves. During 1940 and 1941 the British air force was under incredible stress, and it is easy to see now that some decisions were poor. It looked much different then. The world in general did not really comprehend that surface ships were totally vulnerable to airplanes until Pearl Harbor; not even Repulse and Prince of Wales drove that home, although they should have.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:55 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 110):
WWI was viewed by many in this country to have been a colossal mistake to have gotten involved in, and the isolationist sentiment in this country was immensely strong.

The US got involved because they wanted a place at the negotiating table after the conclusion of the war. Unfortunately for them, they were under the impression that Germany was on the point of collapse (it was, but that collapse wasn't imminent) and that the war would be over before American troops actually had to get involved in fighting. It was anything but a case of the American government riding to the rescue, it was the first true example of the coming power flexing its muscles and wanting to be part of the decision making process.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 111):
If only Churchill had spared some Spits Vs for the Far East during 1941 instead of wasting those beautiful Merlins (yes Merlins) over N France on Rhubarbs, then they might not have been sunk.

The aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable was scheduled to accompany the two capital ships, but unfortunately she was damaged and had to return to port. Whether realistically she would have made any difference to the waves of attack the battleship and battlecruiser underwent is unlikely, but then the British really didn't expect them to come under such an attack so quickly, and they also expected the USN to have a presence in the region. As it turned out, both RN and USN were comprehensively squashed at the same time thousands of miles apart. The reality is that with the RN so concentrated (for obvious reasons) in Europe and the Atlantic, they could never have alone provided a sufficiently strong force to deter Japan.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:12 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 113):
The US got involved because they wanted a place at the negotiating table after the conclusion of the war. Unfortunately for them, they were under the impression that Germany was on the point of collapse (it was, but that collapse wasn't imminent) and that the war would be over before American troops actually had to get involved in fighting. It was anything but a case of the American government riding to the rescue, it was the first true example of the coming power flexing its muscles and wanting to be part of the decision making process.

I doubt that this was the primary motivation. Certainly Wilson, like Roosevelt after him, wanted to get involved while publicly saying that he didn't want to and wouldn't. But the event that pushed Wilson into actually getting into the war was when the British decoded the German messages to Mexico encouraging them to attack the Southwest US and shared this with Wilson. Why the Germans thought this was a good idea escapes me, as the result was that the US did enter the war against them. But, again, they didn't have a clue that those pesky Brits had broken their code. They made the same mistake in WWII, as we have discussed.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:27 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 114):
I doubt that this was the primary motivation.

It's the one that a lot of historians ascribe it to. Although the United States did have a sizeable isolationist grouping, it was becoming a serious power in the world. The USA had been anything but truly isolationist anyway, as their exploits in places like the Philippines demonstrated. It's something of a myth that the US was anti-colonial and wanted no part of European engagement; the US wanted its power recognised, just as the Japanese did (although nothing like as "nasty") following their victory over Russia in 1905. With France and especially Britain as the two major world powers, European engagement was critical for a United States that wanted to be treated as an equal in world affairs. I would repeat that Wilson had no expectation that the American forces would actually have to do any fighting and that Germany would have been defeated before then. That's why it's a misunderstanding to think that the Americans went over to fight - they didn't think they'd have to do so. It's not that the US wanted to win its coming pre-eminence on the battlefield, they just wanted that pre-eminence anyway. American isolationism in the affairs of Europe was almost identical to British isolationism in the same context - they wanted to be a pivot, but not to actually have to fight. Both got that horribly wrong.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:57 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 115):
It's the one that a lot of historians ascribe it to. Although the United States did have a sizeable isolationist grouping, it was becoming a serious power in the world.

I don't doubt that this was part of it, at least for Wilson and his gang. But I think you underestimate the isolationist sentiment that was very, very strong among the population, and was only strengthened by the eventual outcome. Wilson campaigned for re-election on the promise that he would keep us out of the war, as did Roosevelt in 1940. The sentiment was so strong prior to Pearl Harbor that many (including then Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont) have accused Roosevelt of deliberately inciting the Japanese to attack so as to force us into the war. I do not accept that; but it certainly took just such a cataclysmic event to unify the US behind the war. If WWI had dragged on for several years then the antiwar feeling would have strengthened greatly, much as has happened with the present conflict. This can be seen in the defeat of the League of Nations treaty in the US; it was immensely unpopular and its defeat was a statement that the US population largely wanted nothing to do with Europe and their conflicts. What is amazing is how strong this feeling was right up to Pearl Harbor and yet how completely Pearl Harbor extinguished it, although it has reemerged.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:29 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 113):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 111):
If only Churchill had spared some Spits Vs for the Far East during 1941 instead of wasting those beautiful Merlins (yes Merlins) over N France on Rhubarbs, then they might not have been sunk.

The aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable was scheduled to accompany the two capital ships, but unfortunately she was damaged and had to return to port.

Indomitable's planes certainly could not have done that task - the RN planes of 1941 were still hopelessly antiquated. But 30 to 40 Spits could have made a difference. And dear old Winnie was wasting the things over France.

David Day's "The Politics of War" is a damning analysis of the cavalier attitude of Churchill towards his allies and the promises to Aus about Singapore defence - as well as of the ineptitude showed by quite a few Aus "diplomats".

It is not a good chapter in Winnies capers. Even less impressive was the diversion of an Aus division sailing from Sri Lanka to Perth up to Burma which was the point at which Aus finally put its foot down. It took arguably until 1944 for the British to get a real victory in Burma, whereas Aus within months defeated the Japanese first at Milne Bay and then on the Kokoda Track, then bloody Buna.

Aus developed an aircraft industry initially to provide planes for the UK, but in practice by the time the first Beauforts were delivered they went straight up to PNG.

A properly defended Singapore would have prevented most of that and saved the Allies nearly half a million men.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:09 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 117):

A properly defended Singapore would have prevented most of that and saved the Allies nearly half a million men.

There are so many "what if's" and "if only's" in history, especially in wartime, that I do not waste much effort in indulging in them. The only reason to is to try and avoid the same mistakes in the future, and unfortunately this is often not done (see my comments above about the Germans not believing that the Brits could break their codes.) WWII was by far the bloodiest mess the world has ever seen, and many mistakes were made by everyone involved. But I do believe that the figure that stands head and shoulders above all others in this period is Churchill. Yes, he made many mistakes; after all, he was still human. But it was his drive and determination more than any other factor that ultimately led to victory.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:15 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 118):
But I do believe that the figure that stands head and shoulders above all others in this period is Churchill. Yes, he made many mistakes; after all, he was still human. But it was his drive and determination more than any other factor that ultimately led to victory.

Do not doubt it. But read David Day and look at how he treated allies.

Arguably more his determination than his drive, because his drive was so often going in the wrong direction.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:21 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 100):
I think you omitted the category with the greatest percentage of losses: submarines. I think that for the US navy the casualty rate was about 50% (and remember that those were almost all fatalities); for the Germans it was over 70%. I don't know what it was for the Japanese, but I suspect it was at least as high as the Germans.

Yup! They're not the easiest things to get out of when things go "crunch"!.

You'd be astonished how much cost and engineering goes into escape arrangements on a modern sub.
The RN crew I know laugh their heads off, and call them the "See Mum's"....
As in
"See Mum, we really CAN get out if anything goes wrong".
"Oh thank goodness for that, dear".  biggrin 

Regards
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:55 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 119):
But read David Day and look at how he treated allies.

I haven't had the opportunity; perhaps I will. But you can look at any leader and (somewhat) accurately paint very different pictures of them. What their real motives actually were is impossible to know; they can be very easily misconstrued. I know this first hand from my own childhood; when I was growing up whenever my father was displeased with something I had done (which was often) he would search around for the worst possible motive for why I might have done whatever it was, and once he had found it that was why I had done it, and nothing could change his mind. I see the same behavior every day in political news analysis every day, and also have encountered it in historical writing. Most observers tend to form an opinion about a person early on that they are investigating and then color all information they find about them in that light; it is very difficult once that opinion is formed to change it. But it may be a very false picture. I am not saying that David Day did this; without having read his book it would be presumptuous in the extreme to say so. But it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Quoting Astuteman (Reply 120):
"See Mum, we really CAN get out if anything goes wrong".
"Oh thank goodness for that, dear".

Fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, most mum's are ignorant of the actual casualty rate in sub accidents. A more meaningful statistic would be how many people have actually survived a sub sinking; there have been precious few.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:04 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 117):
Indomitable's planes certainly could not have done that task

No, certainly they couldn't have carried the attack to the Japanese, but fighter cover from her might just have allowed Repulse and PoW to survive. Probably not though.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 117):
And dear old Winnie was wasting the things over France.

The defence of France was viewed as critical to the defence of Britain. The defence of Singapore, was, with all due respect, not. That Britain should ultimately view Australia as expendable shouldn't be either a surprise or cause for offence. It's not different to the USA's viewpoint in the Cold War that Europe was ultimately expendable.

In any case, Fighter Command ultimately refused to allow Spitfires and Hurricanes to be deployed to France as being akin to "pouring water into the desert". But they were needed for British defence, not that of Singapore.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 119):
But read David Day and look at how he treated allies.

This is very true. And Canada was treated far worse than Australia ever was - and by the Americans too. Nevertheless, it misses the main issue about Churchill. Unlike Australia, Canada or the USA, Britain was fighting for her very survival; that the British Prime Minister might have been extraordinarily ruthless in ensuring that (remember he gave the order to sink the French navy) is not something for which he would - or even should - have to apologise for.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 117):
A properly defended Singapore would have prevented most of that and saved the Allies nearly half a million men.

The United States were equally appalled at the loss of Singapore, but the annihilation of allied naval power in the Indian and Pacific Oceans destroyed the realistic chance of holding it. Although the Japanese armies were essentially out of ammunition when the city was lost meant that surrender wasn't ultimately necessary, it is specious to believe that the land war existed in isolation. Then, just as now, naval power was the key, and the allies were comprehensively defeated and there was no prospect whatsoever of re-inforcement in the forseeable future at the time. The surrender seems unnecessary to us with hindsight, but for those involved, they were with their backs to the sea. That so many were killed fleeing by ship showed the way the balance of power had shifted.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:22 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 122):
Unlike Australia, Canada or the USA, Britain was fighting for her very survival; that the British Prime Minister might have been extraordinarily ruthless in ensuring that (remember he gave the order to sink the French navy) is not something for which he would - or even should - have to apologise for.

Excellent point, and something that is very easy to overlook. This was before the US had entered the war and after France had fallen. Churchill's position could not have looked bleaker, and a lesser man would have given up. He had to make very, very difficult decisions, and someone not in that position can easily come to erroneous conclusions about his motivation. Churchill knew that Great Britain could not defeat the Nazis without the US, and while Roosevelt (a master of doubletalk if ever there was one) gave lip service to not letting GB collapse he was at the same time making speeches about not letting any more American boys die in European wars.
 
baroque
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:23 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 122):
The surrender seems unnecessary to us with hindsight, but for those involved, they were with their backs to the sea. That so many were killed fleeing by ship showed the way the balance of power had shifted.

But that was largely because the UK had conceded control of the air, effectively on purpose.

Quoting Banco (Reply 122):
In any case, Fighter Command ultimately refused to allow Spitfires and Hurricanes to be deployed to France as being akin to "pouring water into the desert". But they were needed for British defence, not that of Singapore.

That was 1940 and perfectly understandable and correct. By 1941 things were different and Spits were being wasted over France for very very little. Ask the Maltese how much they would have liked Spits in 1941 compared with 1942 when they actually got them. So not clever in relation to N Africa either.
 
Banco
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Sat Mar 15, 2008 3:48 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 124):
But that was largely because the UK had conceded control of the air, effectively on purpose.

No. Without naval assets, there was no prospect of Britain ever being able to retain an air component. Re-inforcements would have been more or less impossible, and the air cover would have been stripped away in short order. The trouble is that far too many historians look at individual elements without seeking the whole picture. The calamity of losing Repulse and Prince of Wales, which was due to lack of air cover, was in the event completely inevitable. There was no way that Britain could have maintained a local air superiority under any circumstances. That's not to say that mistakes weren't made, because of course they were, but to say that the outcome was a certainty irrespective of whether those mistakes had been made or not.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 124):
That was 1940 and perfectly understandable and correct. By 1941 things were different and Spits were being wasted over France for very very little. Ask the Maltese how much they would have liked Spits in 1941 compared with 1942 when they actually got them. So not clever in relation to N Africa either.

Not so, 1941 was looking every bit as bleak as 1940. Britain was in an even worse condition, because the battle of the Atlantic was going so badly. The attempt to force a new front in the Mediterranean and North Africa was going poorly too, and if you want to take the example of Faith, Hope and Charity - the Maltese "squadron", then the dreadful British marine losses should give you the indication as to how stretched British resources really were. In essence, you had the British trying to fight more or less a world war on their own, because their allies were so far distant.
 
astuteman
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Sat Mar 15, 2008 6:00 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 122):
Unlike Australia, Canada or the USA, Britain was fighting for her very survival; that the British Prime Minister might have been extraordinarily ruthless in ensuring that (remember he gave the order to sink the French navy) is not something for which he would - or even should - have to apologise for.

I think Australia could reasonably argue that it had an overwhelming enemy pretty much on its doorstep, too...

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 123):
Churchill's position could not have looked bleaker, and a lesser man would have given up

An awesome guy in a wartime enviroment. Problems, dear boy? Opportunities!  Smile

Quoting Banco (Reply 125):
In essence, you had the British trying to fight more or less a world war on their own, because their allies were so far distant.

 thumbsup 
It's good to remind ourselves (and everyone else, for that matter), that, following the fall of France, for around 2 years, the UK and its Commonwealth stood essentially alone, and survived (minus fingernails).
And the context in which that puts the Battle of Britain, and the RAF fighters, powered by merlins (we should do a thread on that sometime..  Wink ) which prevailed at that time, is awesome.

Personally, eternally grateful as I am for the huge support the USA finally provided, once provoked, I believe that, without the survival of the UK in those 2 years, the (massive) contibutions (and sacrifices) of others would ultimately have proved futile, and the world would be a VASTLY different place today.

Just wonder how much "cachet" the Merlin gets, just from being the engine that powered the fighters that won the battle that saved the world...... scratchchin 

Regards
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Sat Mar 15, 2008 6:02 pm

If nothing else, Singapore showed that even the British Empire, with in 1941/2, still the largest navy in the World, could not seriously defend even a vital asset (or allied Commonwealth nation), on the other side of the planet, when the British Isles were not in a secure situation and her forces were already fully engaged on several fronts.

So 25 years later, when maintaining a viable force 'East Of Suez', including a carrier group at all times, was competing for resources with the forces defending the nation in Cold War, largely by forward defence in Germany, for the RN, a large ASW force for the Atlantic, with an expanded sub force as the Capitol ships for this role, as well as a large tactical RAF, the priority was clear.
Running the nuclear deterrent was about to get much cheaper though, as the V-Bombers gave way to Polaris. That system impacted the rest of the RN really only in manpower, since the UK got an incredible deal on the missiles.
The loss of foreign exchange paying for 'East Of Suez' could no longer be tolerated either.

In this, thoughts of the Fall Of Singapore must have loomed large.
Though the Indonesian Confrontation was one of the must successful wars the UK and Commonwealth ever fought, to deter further escalation from basically a counter insurgency jungle war, to something bigger, the UK had to re-inforce forces in the Far East. Including with some V-Bombers, conventionally armed as well as nuclear.

Had the large, recently Soviet re-equipped Indonesian forces stepped up, including attacking Singapore, the UK/Commonwealth forces would have required still more re-inforcements.
Do-able, but a strain, though US intervention would have been likely, even as they were heavily committed in Vietnam, this however might well have slowed their response and limited the forces they deployed.

But, it was more likely that any major military confrontation for the UK, would be much more directly within the Cold War context.
So defence of the UK would be the priority again, from trying to keep the sea lanes open, to air defence of the British Isles and the major one, helping to prevent the USSR ever reaching the English Channel.
It was too close a call last time around.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Sun Mar 16, 2008 4:33 pm



Quoting Astuteman (Reply 126):
Personally, eternally grateful as I am for the huge support the USA finally provided, once provoked, I believe that, without the survival of the UK in those 2 years, the (massive) contibutions (and sacrifices) of others would ultimately have proved futile, and the world would be a VASTLY different place today.

I certainly concur. I believe history will say exactly what Churchill desired it to say about Great Britain's finest hour; and it certainly was thanks to the Merlin powered Spitfires and Hurricanes more than any other single factor that it did survive. If Great Britian had fallen before the US entered the war, then it is almost certain that Germany would have defeated Russia, and the US would have had a very, very difficult time defeating Germany. Even if we eventually managed to defeat Japan (which without British help is not at all certain we would have been able to do) we would have faced essentially the entire landmass of Europe, Asia, and probably Africa under Axis control. If we had not eventually tired of the conflict and reached some kind of accommodation we would probably be at war still.
 
Olympus69
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Sun Mar 16, 2008 4:49 pm

As probably the oldest person who has been reading this thread (unfortunately I discovered it very recently), I could not resist putting my 2 cents worth in. I joined the Royal Navy in Nov. 1944, and after flunking a preliminary officer training course I switched to Air Mechanic, Engines. I was still undergoing technical training when WW2 ended in August 1945 but served on several stations after that. I worked almost entirely on Seafires - the naval version of the Spitfire, with both Merlin and Griffon engines, and Fireflies with Griffon engines.

My favourite job was test running engines after maintenance, and for a 19 year old who had always wanted to be a fighter pilot, but who's eyesight let him down, there was nothing to compare with sitting in the cockpit of a Seafire or Firefly with a Merlin or Griffon engine roaring a few feet in front of him - especially doing a full-throttle test with the tail tied down. I used to day dream about actually taking off in one of these planes but I wasn't quite besotted enough to actually try it.

If my memory serves me right the Griffon engined planes had a cartridge starter system. The Firely had a 5 barreled starter - something like a revolver, but the Seafire's starter only held a single cartridge. This meant that if the engine didn't catch, you had to climb out of the cockpit, open a panel in the cowling, remove the used cartridge - something like a shotgun shell, put in a new one, climb back in the cockpit and try again.

Oh, happy days!

John.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Mon Mar 17, 2008 12:30 am

Got to see 2 P-51's flying the blue skies today down at the TICO Warbird airshow in Titusville, FL. One was flown by fellow Floridian Dale Snodgrass. Great to hear the sound of those beauties.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:07 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 128):
I believe history will say exactly what Churchill desired it to say about Great Britain's finest hour

That's some epitaph, when you think about it..........

Rgds
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:18 pm



Quoting Astuteman (Reply 131):
That's some epitaph, when you think about it..........

 bigthumbsup 
And Churchill had my vote for Man of the Century. For that matter I vote him as one of the greatest leaders of all time, right up with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:08 pm



Quoting Astuteman (Reply 131):
That's some epitaph, when you think about it..........

Well, one thing Churchill really wasn't bad at was saying the right thing. It's at least a possibility that his words in those darkest days of 1940 directly stiffened the resolve of an entire nation not to give in, no matter what the cost. 45 million people in Britain, and all the tens of millions beyond who heard it and realised exactly what it meant. Think about that, a few well chosen phrases having the effect of changing the entire course of world history.

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. 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 in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.


It still has the power to take the breath away. Remember, at this time the situation was desperate, the country beaten and in fear of what would happen next. Many were advocating that Britain sue for peace while she still could - Churchill's own position was anything but secure as so many believed that he was leading Britain to complete catastrophe. And nor can you ignore the extraordinary impact that the resolution of the Royal Family had in those dark days. That Queen Elizabeth (mother of the present Queen) could say that "The Princesses [Elizabeth and Margaret] will not leave without me, I will not leave without the King and the King will never leave" and it was fully meant. King George had every intention of meeting an invading German army with a pistol at the gates of Buckingham Palace.

And this was Churchill's "Finest Hour" speech:


What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."


It was well known throughout the 1930s that in the event of any war, that with Britain's resources stretched across the world, that irrespective of the outcome, Britain would be a catastrophic loser. Churchill knew this as well as anyone. Britain sacrificed her future and her power to win. Quite noble if you think about it.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:21 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 133):
Well, one thing Churchill really wasn't bad at was saying the right thing. It's at least a possibility that his words in those darkest days of 1940 directly stiffened the resolve of an entire nation not to give in, no matter what the cost. 45 million people in Britain, and all the tens of millions beyond who heard it and realised exactly what it meant. Think about that, a few well chosen phrases having the effect of changing the entire course of world history.

When you consider it, the most important part of leadership is inspiring the people to work toward a common goal, and this is usually done with speeches. Of the three great leaders I referred to earlier, they all had this ability, although Washington also led by example more than the other two had the opportunity to do. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, while one of the shortest notable speeches in history, was also one of the most influential. It would certainly qualify as the most powerful per word uttered, without any competition. Not even Jesus ever uttered any speech as powerful, moving, and concise.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:07 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 134):
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, while one of the shortest notable speeches in history, was also one of the most influential.

And as with Churchill, people make the mistake of judging many of Lincoln's words by 21st century standards. Yes, if Lincoln said things today that he said then, no doubt people would regard him as appallingly bigoted. But that's not the point. By the standards of the time he was enlightened, and should be judged by those standards - which is why he was a great man.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:03 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 135):

And as with Churchill, people make the mistake of judging many of Lincoln's words by 21st century standards.

This is true of many leaders. Certainly there are many people who will dismiss Washington because he owned slaves. And yet Washington was the one indispensable figure in establishing this country, which most fairminded people will concede has set the standard for freedom in the world, in spite of mistakes and failings. The simple test is how many people want to get in, and how many want to get out. Alec Baldwin notwithstanding, I have not noticed a great exodus from the US, and I do see hordes and hordes of people from all over the world wanting to get in. This simply would not be without George Washington, slaveholder or not.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:22 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 136):
The simple test is how many people want to get in, and how many want to get out.

Nah, doesn't always work. The people of this country have been possibly the greatest elective emigrants in world history; we've always buggered off around the world and set up (in the purest sense of the term ) colonies elsewhere. We still do. Loads of people come in, loads of people go out. It's been like that for 500 years.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:47 am



Quoting Banco (Reply 137):
The people of this country have been possibly the greatest elective emigrants in world history; we've always buggered off around the world and set up (in the purest sense of the term ) colonies elsewhere.

Very true, and the British Empire (in spite of all of the anti-imperialist rhetoric that has clogged up the planet in the last 60 years) has been one of the greatest influences for good in all of world history. Most of the free nations of the world owe their freedom either directly or indirectly to the British Empire, like it or not. So I did not mean to sound off on my high American horse to the exclusion of all others; after all, the US was born out of the British Empire as well.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:00 am

It appears that I am in the position of pouring some cold water onto the Winnie fan club. Yes, he was a great inspiration as leader. But it would have been better for the UK if he had been kept out of meddling with many of the things he meddled in.

The mess in Norway was more down to him than anyone else and that was just for starters. Go on to the obsession with bombing Germany as opposed to protecting ships from U-boats with heavy bombers .........

While the speeches before during and after the Battle of Britain were inspirational and memorable - yes we all listened spellbound - remember that as soon as the Battle of Britain was over he got rid of Dowding and Park. Not quite as bad as the Blamey dismissals after Kokoda, but nearly as bad. Those two were the master strategist and tactician for the Battle, not Leigh Mallory.

Why is Churchill so well remembered? Firstly because he WAS inspirational, and secondly because many view the happenings in WWII from the perspective of The Second World War, by WSC. Wiki remarks about this:
"The Second World War can still be read with great profit by students of the period, provided it is seen mainly as a memoir by a leading participant rather than as an authoritative history by a professional and detached historian. The Second World War, particularly the period between 1940 and 1942 when Britain was fighting almost alone, was after all the climax of Churchill's career and his personal account of the inside story of those days is unique and invaluable. But since the archives have been opened far more accurate and reliable histories have been written."

Also remember that much of it was not actually written by Churchill but a number of other authors commissioned by Churchill but as I understand it, told pretty much what to write.

Alas, the Comet crashes killed Chester Wilmot before he moved on to a wider canvas (and would he have had something to say about Blamey!!). So for general alternative overviews we are left mainly with Liddell Hart aside from the official histories.

So let us give Churchill his due, but also let us not get carried away with homage to him. Just the right amount is fine by me.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:31 am



Quoting Baroque (Reply 139):
It appears that I am in the position of pouring some cold water onto the Winnie fan club. Yes, he was a great inspiration as leader. But it would have been better for the UK if he had been kept out of meddling with many of the things he meddled in.

The mess in Norway was more down to him than anyone else and that was just for starters. Go on to the obsession with bombing Germany as opposed to protecting ships from U-boats with heavy bombers .........

As (apparently) the number one fan of Winnie on this forum, I would like to acknowledge the fact that he was certainly human and certainly made mistakes. We cannot know for sure whether or not decisions such as bombing Germany were mistakes or not, as we cannot rewind history, change the variables and rerun it. I do believe that bombing Germany ultimately did speed up the war; however, the night bombing was probably much less effective than the daylight bombing. It was undoubtedly less effective than Churchill hoped. Would the planes have been better utilized protecting the convoys? I question that, as the submarines could stay outside the range of the planes and could attack at night when the planes would be much less effective. Air cover was effective when it could be given, but supplying Britain was only half the issue; the other was inflicting damage on Germany. Up until 1944 that could only be done by bombing; the African and Italian campaigns were attacking the tentacles of the Axis empire but not the heart. Remember that Stalin was applying intense pressure to open a Western front; if Churchill had not at least been bombing Germany that pressure would have been even greater. Also, note that Churchill was the only leader who had correctly assessed Stalin; certainly Roosevelt never did, and even Truman never fully comprehended how evil he was. For my money Stalin was even worse than Hitler.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:08 am



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 140):
We cannot know for sure whether or not decisions such as bombing Germany were mistakes or not, as we cannot rewind history, change the variables and rerun it. I do believe that bombing Germany ultimately did speed up the war; however, the night bombing was probably much less effective than the daylight bombing. It was undoubtedly less effective than Churchill hoped. Would the planes have been better utilized protecting the convoys? I question that, as the submarines could stay outside the range of the planes and could attack at night when the planes would be much less effective.

I slightly mislead you SEP. That was not a critique of bombing per se, although I will take that up if you give me three more threads!!. Rather that it was known that bombing, day or night in 1941 and 42 was ineffective. Those were the years when the U-boats could have been pushed further out into the Atlantic and the battle of Bay of Biscay could have been started earlier.

As for the night bombing vs day bombing, the latter was simply not possible as the US later found out with faster, better armed planes (B17 and B24s) that also flew higher at the cost of a much smaller bomb load.

Night control of U-boats - radar. And keeping centimetric radar out of the bombers sent to Germany for longer would have been a bright idea. Until a centimetric set was captured, the Germans had no idea how those bloody Wellingtons knew when and where to turn on their damned searchlights.

Left to professional military, most of those decisions would have been different.

By 1943 Bomber command was ready to inflict damage on Germany. Until that time it was not.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:40 am



Quoting Baroque (Reply 141):

By 1943 Bomber command was ready to inflict damage on Germany. Until that time it was not.

This may well be true; however, there is a learning curve in everything. Unfortunately, learning, especially in wartime, sometimes has a very high price. Using the aircraft against U-boats before 1943 would not have given them those lessons.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 141):
Left to professional military, most of those decisions would have been different.

But they could well have made other mistakes, and the war might have lasted longer. Churchill may have made mistakes that cost lives, but he did see the big picture, which many military leaders did not. Churchill realized that great risks needed to be taken because of the desperation of the situation; there just was no easy or painless way to do it. It is very easy in hindsight to say this or that was a mistake; but under the heat of the situation it is much different. Churchill was far more concerned in inflicting damage on Germany than in protecting British assets; this may seem cold hearted but I believe that he felt in the long run the harder he could hit Germany the lower the overall cost would be. Therefore if there was a choice between an offensive action or a defensive action, he always chose offense. We can second-guess all we want, but he did save Great Britain and Western civilization in the process. Maybe there were others who could have done it at less cost, but the historical fact is that Winnie was the one who did it.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:22 pm



Quoting SEPilot (Reply 142):
Maybe there were others who could have done it at less cost, but the historical fact is that Winnie was the one who did it.

Cannot argue with either of those propositions.

But interesting to speculate on how Dowding and Park would have managed "their" part of the 1941 air war.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:57 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 143):

But interesting to speculate on how Dowding and Park would have managed "their" part of the 1941 air war.

This is one of many questions that will never be answered. For example,what if Patton had not slapped the soldier and had been in good graces prior to D-day; would he have led it and left a less illustrious general to lead the imaginary army? If so, would the Germans have bought it? Perhaps Patton actually performed his greatest service in deception, because the Germans couldn't believe that the Americans would be so stupid as to leave their best general behind.
 
Banco
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:19 pm

Thing is, Baroque, I doubt many people who have any awareness of Churchill's role in the war would disagree with your criticisms - they are entirely valid, and it's certainly true for a good 20 years or so (i.e. in Churchill's lifetime) little of what he said was properly challenged. Nevertheless, despite the revisions by a plethora of historians to offer a more balanced critique of his role, it still remains true that he was an utterly extraordinary leader. That mistakes were made is not really the point, since it is often said that the victor is the one who makes the fewest major blunders. Churchill was also unbearably arrogant, outrageously interfering, and prone to drunkenness at the most inappropriate moments.

So he had feet of clay, just like anyone else. That we can now appreciate the more human figure with serious failings and frailties doesn't alter the single truth that for the time, he did what quite possibly no-one else could have done. And that remains genuinely awesome.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:48 pm



Quoting Banco (Reply 145):
So he had feet of clay, just like anyone else. That we can now appreciate the more human figure with serious failings and frailties doesn't alter the single truth that for the time, he did what quite possibly no-one else could have done. And that remains genuinely awesome.

 bigthumbsup 
Excellent summation. I totally agree with your sentiments.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:07 am

The thing about Churchill I think, was that while he was wrong about a great many things, he was right when it really mattered the most.
Having Alanbrooke at his side in WW2 was vital too, though they rowed often, though Winnie drove Alanbrooke half around the twist all too often, Churchill was ultimately big enough to defer to him and others, admit that he was wrong.

And many of his ideas were impressive, the Mulberry Harbours for D-Day, his advocacy of what we now call special forces to name two, it's just that he had so many ideas, schemes, inevitably many were off the wall.
This was a vital aspect to Churchill, his sheer energy, this surely helped him quickly overcome the serious health problems he suffered in WW2 (kept quiet at the time and not at least directly drink related), in this respect he was a metaphor for the country he led, every part of his being was commited to victory.

He WAS an old imperialist, but he was also as passionate about defending democracy too, he would mourn the end of Empire, but as he must of have known for a long time, WW2 would accelerate it's decline.
I suspect he found comfort in that the USA was effectively taking Britain's place as the major Western power, since he was part American himself, while he had frequent arguments with FDR, he was as pro-US as a Victorian Empire Man could perhaps possibly be.
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:02 am

Quoting GDB (Reply 147):
The thing about Churchill I think, was that while he was wrong about a great many things, he was right when it really mattered the most.

Very well put. Let's not forget that he was the first prominent figure to recognize Hitler for what he was, and was the voice crying in the wilderness when the rest of the world willingly stuck its collective head in the sand. It has now been established that when Hitler re militarized the Rhineland he was prepared to turn tail and run if France or Great Britain had said "Boo!" Since we have been indulging in "what if's", what if people had listened to him then?

[Edited 2008-03-18 18:03:04]
 
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RE: Rolls Royce Merlin Still The Greatest.

Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:49 am



Quoting GDB (Reply 147):
I suspect he found comfort in that the USA was effectively taking Britain's place as the major Western power, since he was part American himself, while he had frequent arguments with FDR, he was as pro-US as a Victorian Empire Man could perhaps possibly be.

Certainly he did. Churchill was an advocate of the hegemony of the English-speaking peoples as he put it. It's not a particularly difficult concept to grasp, that if there had to be one superpower, better it be the United States than anyone else, if not Britain. The so-called special relationship ultimately rests on Britain and the US having a common outlook more than anything else. Although both nations have rowed endlessly, that central tenet has always remained. Even the American War of Independence was based on English values to all intents and purposes, which is largely why it so confused the British, who struggled to grasp how it got to that point. Indeed, you can largely categorise it as akin to a civil war.

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