“How Churchill and Marshall Waged War”

On Tuesday evening, Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, England, concluded the “Friends” in High Places sequence of the Marshall Legacy Series with his captivating lecture “How Churchill and Marshall Waged War.” His lecture can be seen below, or on the foundation’s YouTube channel.

Packwood’s lecture drew upon Sir Winston Churchill’s own papers and related collections from the Churchill Archives Centre to examine the challenges and tensions behind Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General George C. Marshall’s wartime relationship. “A key difference between Churchill and Marshall” Packwood stated “is Churchill is in office and fighting the Second World War for more than two years before Pearl Harbor… In order to understand some of the differences that arise in Allied strategy later in the war, you have to understand what Churchill and Britain had already gone through.”

The lecture continued with Packwood’s observation that “After Pearl Harbor… Marshall’s view is that Nazi German is the strongest enemy and must be defeated first… but of course Marshall also believed that Nazi Germany was best defeated in France by bringing superior force against the greatest concentration of enemy forces.” On the other hand, “Churchill… was only too aware that the Germans had beaten the British in Norway, in France, in Greece, and his own studies of history and the horrors of the First World War had led him and the British Chiefs of Staff to the conclusion that they should fight a peripheral war on as many fronts as possible while building up their forces.” The difference of opinion between Marshall and Churchill featured prominently in Allied strategy discussions for the next two years.

Packwood concluded his lecture by summarizing Churchill’s approach to Allied strategy and his interactions with Marshall saying “It’s important to realize he did so without the benefit of hindsight, in the moment, and from a position of comparative weakness. First of all, military weakness in the face of German success and later political weakness in the face of Soviet and American strength… Time and again he chose not to worry about the long-term implications, but to win the immediate battle in front of him. One battle at a time, that was how Winston waged war.”

The Marshall Legacy Series will begin its next sequence Winter’s Coming with an exhibition opening and lecture on January 24, 2019. For more information about the Marshall Foundation’s upcoming programs, please visit the event calendar on the website.