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Their Finest Hour

BOOK: Their Finest Hour
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THEIR FINEST HOUR

WINSTON CHURCHILL

Copyright

Their Finest Hour

Copyright © 1949 by Winston Churchill
Cover art and eForeword to the electronic edition copyright © 2002 by RosettaBooks, LLC

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

For information address
[email protected]

First electronic edition published 2002 by RosettaBooks LLC, New York.
ISBN 0-7953-0640-7

Book One
The Fall of France
  
1
The National Coalition
  
2
The Battle of France
The First Week. Gamelin
  
3
The Battle of France
The Second Week. Weygand
  
4
The March to the Sea
  
5
The Deliverance of Dunkirk
  
6
The Rush for the Spoils
  
7
Back to France
  
8
Home Defence June
  
9
The French Agony
10
The Bordeaux Armistice
11
Admiral Darlan and the French Fleet Oran
12
The Apparatus of Counter-Attack 1940
13
At Bay
14
The Invasion Problem
15
Operation Sea Lion
Book Two
Alone
  
1
The Battle of Britain
  
2
The Blitz
  
3
“London Can Take It”
  
4
The Wizard War
  
5
United States Destroyers and West Indian Bases
  
6
Egypt and the Middle East 1940
  
7
The Mediterranean Passage
  
8
September Tensions
  
9
Dakar
10
Mr. Eden’s Mission
11
Relations with Vichy and Spain
12
Mussolini Attacks Greece
13
Lend-Lease
14
Germany and Russia
15
Ocean Peril
16
Desert Victory
Publisher’s Note
Appendices
Notes
About the Author
About this Title

Changes in text, received too late for inclusion in the first edition, are listed under the heading, Publisher’s Note

Maps and Diagrams

The Forward Movements, Starting May 10

The Opposing Forces, May 13

Germany Advances, May 13–17, 1940

Situation Evening, May 18

Situation Evening, May 22

Battle of Arras, May 21–22

Situation at Nightfall, May 25

Situation, May 28

Diagram of Dunkirk Perimeter, May 29 and 30

Diagram of Dunkirk Perimeter, May 31 and June 1

Areas of Operations, May, 1940

The Opposing Forces on the Western Flank, June 5, 1940

The German Advance, June 5–9

The Last Stand of the French Army, June, 1940

General Map: Western France (Cherbourg–Brest)

State of Readiness, Infantry Divisions, July 13, 1940

State of Readiness, Infantry Divisions, September 7, 1940

Sketch Map of German Invasion Plan

General Map of Northwest France and Belgium

Battle of Britain

Disposition of Main Fleets in Mediterranean, June 14, 1940

Desert Victory, December, 1940, to January, 1941

eForeword

One of the most fascinating works of history ever written, Winston Churchill’s monumental The Second World War is a six-volume account of the struggle of the Allied powers in Europe against Germany and the Axis. Told through the eyes of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, The Second World War is also the story of one nation’s singular, heroic role in the fight against tyranny. Pride and patriotism are evident everywhere in Churchill’s dramatic account and for good reason. Having learned a lesson at Munich that they would never forget, the British refused to make peace with Hitler, defying him even after France had fallen and after it seemed as though the Nazis were unstoppable. Churchill remained unbowed throughout, as did the people of Britain in whose determination and courage he placed his confidence.

Patriotic as Churchill was, he managed to maintain a balanced impartiality in his description of the war. What is perhaps most interesting, and what lends the work its tension and emotion, is Churchill’s inclusion of a significant amount of primary material. We hear his retrospective analysis of the war, to be sure, but we are also presented with memos, letters, orders, speeches, and telegrams that give a day-by-day account of the reactions-both mistaken and justified-to the unfolding drama. Strategies and counterstrategies develop to respond to Hitler’s ruthless conquest of Europe, his planned invasion of England, and his treacherous assault on Russia. It is a mesmerizing account of the crucial decisions that have to be made with imperfect knowledge and an awareness that the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

In Their Finest Hour, the second volume of this work, Churchill describes the German invasion of France and the growing sense of dismay on the part of the British and French leadership as it becomes clear that the German war machine is simply too overpowering. As the French defenses begin to crumble, Churchill faces some bleak options: should the British meet France’s desperate pleas for reinforcements of troops, ships, and aircraft in the hopes of turning the tide, or should they husband their resources in preparation for the inevitable German assault if France falls?

In the book’s second half, entitled “Alone,” Churchill discusses Great Britain’s position as the last stronghold of resistance against the German conquest. The expected events are all included in fascinating detail: the battle for control of the skies over Britain, the bombing of London, the diplomatic efforts to draw the United States into the war, and the spread of the conflict into Africa and the Middle East. But we also hear of the contingency plans, the speculations about what will happen should Britain fall to Hitler, and how the far-flung reaches of its Empire could turn to rescue the mother country. The behind-the-scenes deliberations, the fears expressed, and the possibilities considered continually remind us of exactly what was at stake and how grim the situation often seemed.

Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 due in no small part to this awe-inspiring work.

RosettaBooks is the leading publisher dedicated exclusively to electronic editions of great works of fiction and non-fiction that reflect our world. RosettaBooks is a committed e-publisher, maximizing the resources of the Web in opening a fresh dimension in the reading experience. In this electronic reading environment, each RosettaBook will enhance the experience through The RosettaBooks Connection. This gateway instantly delivers to the reader the opportunity to learn more about the title, the author, the content and the context of each work, using the full resources of the Web.

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Preface

D
URING THE PERIOD
covered by this volume I bore a heavy burden of responsibility. I was Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister of Defence, and Leader of the House of Commons. After the first forty days we were alone, with victorious Germany and Italy engaged in mortal attack upon us, with Soviet Russia a hostile neutral actively aiding Hitler, and Japan an unknowable menace. However, the British War Cabinet, conducting His Majesty’s affairs with vigilance and fidelity, supported by Parliament and sustained by the Governments and peoples of the British Commonwealth and Empire, enabled all tasks to be accomplished and overcame all our foes.

W
INSTON
S
PENCER
C
HURCHILL

C
HARTWELL
,
W
ESTERHAM
,
K
ENT
January
1. 1949

BOOK: Their Finest Hour
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