I recently added two books to library that both deal with Churchill’s relationship with the military. Military memoirs of Churchill, and accounts of his relationships his military advisers is nothing new. Carlo D’Este recounted his association with the military in general in Warlord (2008) and Stephen Roskill dealt with his relationship with the Admiralty during the First and Second World War in Churchill and the Admirals (1977).
Bell’s book examines Churchill’s development as a strategist as well as his relationship with sea power during his career. Bell claims that he debunks myth’s surrounding many of Churchill’s key actions in this period such as Gallipoli and the Norway Campaign. It will be interesting to consider what he has to say on these contentious aspects of Churchill’s career. Given that Churchill’s relationship with sea power has been well covered, it will be interesting to see what Bell add to the historiography. Bell also includes a chapter on the debates surrounding the closing of the air gap during the Battle of Atlantic that is of particular interest to me.
N.B. Christopher Bell has a comprehensive website here. It includes some interesting blog posts concerning the academic publishing process.
Vincent Orange, Churchill and His Airmen: Relationships, Intrigue and Policy Making, 1914-1945 (London: Grub Street, 2013)
Churchill’s relationship with air power has not been explored in same manner as sea power. While many volumes reference his close, association with air power and the Royal Air Force this is, as far as I know, the first book to chart that relationship. Churchill was an early advocate of aircraft when he was First Lord of the Admiralty pre-First World War and recognised its potential. Churchill was also Secretary of State for War and Air from 1919 to 1921 and with Trenchard did much to ensure the survival of the RAF in these years of inter-service rivalry. As Prime Minister and Minister of Defence during the Second World War, Churchill was central to the conduct and formulation of an effective air power strategy and perhaps most infamously sought to distance himself from the strategic bomber offensive after the raids on Dresden in February 1945. This was Vincent Orange’s final book before his death late last year. There is a publisher’s note that notes that he passed away at the book’s proof reading stage. The book also includes a chapter on the Battle of the Atlantic. As such, it will be interesting to compare approaches with Bell. Nevertheless, I have a degree of trepidation with this book given my criticisms of some of Orange’s biographies of RAF officers. I hope to be proven wrong, as this is an important topic that requires effective exploration.