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Winston Churchill was one of only two people holding ministerial office at the outbreak of both WW1 and WW2. Whilst he was First Lord of the Admiralty in both cases, he did hold other posts in between. As First Lord, he learned a great deal about the Royal Navy and was extremely well versed in naval matters generally by the time he came to be Prime Minister during the latter of those two wars. It is for this reason alone that he was often accused of paying more attention to the Royal Navy and their operations than he did the Army and RAF and theirs.

Stephen Roskill comes to the subject with excellent credentials - having been appointed to the Cabinet Office Historical Section in 1949 to write those volumes of the UK Military History Series eventually published as "The War at Sea 1939-45." Having been granted immediate access to the First Lord's and First Sea Lord's papers (the First Lord of the Admiralty being the Government Minister with special responsibility for the Royal Navy and the First Sea Lord of the Admiralty being the senior Royal Navy Admiral (also known as Chief of Naval Staff) who is in charge of the Royal Navy) for the period in question, he undoubtedly had access to information which would have been denied to other writers at that time. Little wonder his work eventually, though incorrectly, became known as the official history of WW2.

In "Churchill and the Admirals," the author now explores the very relationships Churchill had with a variety of senior RN officers (and others) throughout both wars. Whilst names like Beatty, Jellicoe (WW1), Pound and Mountbatten (WW2) spring readily to mind, what makes this account all the more remarkable is the fact that one man - i.e. Churchill, was involved at the very top of British Naval operations and strategy throughout this most important time in the history of the world. And!, he almost out-lived them all.

NM
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