Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Churchill Series - Jan. 22, 2009

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Many historians consider Carlo d’Este’s
Decision in Normandy the finest account of that June through August 1944 campaign.

Here d’Este describes the relationship between Churchill and the commander of Allied ground forces in the Normandy campaign, Britain’s General (later Field Marshal) Bernard Law Montgomery.

In Montgomery, Churchill had at last found a general who won battles, the most professional soldier, in fact, that he had ever encountered: a tough, blunt, no-nonsense commander with tenacious qualities, and a near-obsession with winning the war. It was of little consequence to Churchill that he was often high-handed, arrogant and difficult to handle, perhaps because these same qualities could just as well describe the Prime Minister himself.

For his part, while Montgomery deeply respected Churchill as a great statesman he was never afraid of him; he was respectful and admiring but, as he was to prove on several occasions, he never hesitated to say ‘no’ to his Prime Minister when he believed he was meddling in a general’s business – and managed to escape the wrath which traditionally followed a confrontation with the strong-willed Churchill.
Carlo d'Este,
Decision in Normandy. (p. 46)