An account by Major Dewar Gibb, originally under the pen name of Captain X, of his time in the trenches with Winston Churchill. This is a story about one stage in the life of one of the most important people of the 20th Century. It will of course appeal to all those interested in the land actions of WWI and it will appeal to all those who are interested in politics and politicians. It should appeal to a very wider audience because it is about a truly inspirational and controversial individual who is much larger than life. A great story, told with humour, and a great individual. Most recommended.
NAME: With Winston Churchill at the Front, Winston in the Trenches 1916
AUTHOR: Major Andrew Dewar Gibb
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Western Front, WWI, Great War, World War One, First World War, trench warfare, France, Belgium, Dardanelles, politics, failure, Guards, Duke of Marlborough, Royal Scots Fusiliers
DESCRIPTION: An account by Major Dewar Gibb, originally under the pen name of Captain X, of his time in the trenches with Winston Churchill. This is a story about one stage in the life of one of the most important people of the 20th Century. It will of course appeal to all those interested in the land actions of WWI and it will appeal to all those who are interested in politics and politicians. It should appeal to a very wider audience because it is about a truly inspirational and controversial individual who is much larger than life. A great story, told with humour, and a great individual. Most recommended.
Churchill was dominated by his reverence for his great ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough. He understood the nature and importance of a commander who commanded at the time he was needed. Winston Churchill lived a life of highs and lows and he combined many interests. He had a passion for history and of writing of history and a special skill as a presenter of history. He was a gambler and a thrill seeker. His political fortunates varied, as did his political allegiances. When WWII broke out he was uniquely a man whose time had come. If his life had started and ended as a war leader it would have been more of an epitaph than anyone could expect, but he had already lived several lives.
Churchill commanded in the opening of WWI what was still the greatest navy in the world, a force which had stood unchallenged for the best part of a century. However, it was not without its deficiencies. When Churchill promoted in Cabinet the idea of a battle with the Turks to end the stalemate of the Western Front and end the Great War, he was eagerly heard. By 1916, both the Germans and the Allies were desperately searching for a solution to the attrition of trench warfare. The early German hopes of a lightning war to defeat the French in days had been dashed, partly because the small British Expeditionary Force had been grossly underestimated by the German High Command. The determined and spirited fighting rear guard actions of British troops, in a fighting retreat, had slowed the German advance to a virtual halt and opened a German vulnerability that the French had spotted. The exhausted BEF regrouped and, with their French Allies, made one more courageous counter attack that drove the Germans back towards their own frontier. Unfortunately the BEF was exhausted and just could not raise the effort to complete the Germans route. In the brief relief of pressure, the Germans dug in and the Anglo-French armies dug a parallel line of trenches. By early 1916, the trenches were becoming sophisticated and impenetrable. Both sides sought a new approach to break the stalemate that was consuming so many lives.
When Germany allied with the Turks, it was a strange union. It did little for either country. The Ottoman Empire was already well into terminal decline, covering a huge area of land that offered little to support a population, being mostly desert and peopled across vast tracts by nomadic people who feuded and produced little of substance, having in common a religion that was more fragmented than it might seem. The removal of Turkey from the war was primarily significant because it potentially allowed the Russians to join their Western Allies in opening a new front through the Balkans.
Churchill was buoyed by a probe by RN warships into the Bospherous. It suggested that an unexpected landing at the Dardanelles might allow a rapid strike towards Istanbul and a defeat for the Ottomans. It became a contentious trench war that was consuming yet more resources without success, and it was riddled with incompetence by the commanders in the field. Finally the troops had to be lifted from the beaches and the campaign ended in failure. Churchill decided to resign and take up his Territorial Army duty on the Western Front. He was promoted to Lt Colonel and given command of a Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He proved to be an effective and sensitive commander, well-regarded by those who served him and to his superiors.
Dewar Gibbs became adjutant to the Battalion and this gave him a unique perspective on Churchill as a commander in the field. He has produced a very unusual narrative that is absorbing. A very worthwhile book that offers a very different perspective of Churchill to the majority of books about him.