By John (ed) WHEELER-BENNETT
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Additional resources for Action This Day: Working with Churchill
Chivalry to the defeated ranked with honour to the brave among the sentiments he particularly cherished. When Lord Dowding said that his men were expected to shoot at enemy pilots descending by parachute over enemy territory, Churchill expressed horror and said that an escaping pilot should be treated in all respects like a drowning sailor. In January 1941 he was deeply worried by the fate which might be in store for Italian civilians in Abyssinia when 'those savage warriors who have been burned with poison gas get among them'; and in the same month he said to me that he hated nobody and did not feel he had any enemies 'except the Huns, and that is professional'.
His natural pugnacity, which had commanded the united support of his fellow-countrymen when it was aimed at Hitler and the Nazis and the 'jackal' Mussolini, had now to find a different target; and, when it was directed against Socialism, it evoked a much more limited response. His speech in the election campaign of I 945, in which he likened the methods of Socialism to those of the Gestapo, had dismayed many of his friends and supporters. In the past he had enjoyed the cut and thrust of party politics.
It was these changes of circumstance, and not any loss of mental or physical vigour on the part of Churchill, that led to lost opportunities in the concluding phases of the warespecially perhaps at the Allied Conferences at Yalta and at Potsdam. There is other evidence that throughout this period, and in spite of its growing difficulties, Churchill's judgment and foresight remained undimmed. He was, after all, the first to see and foretell the threat which a victorious Russia would present to Europe.
Action This Day: Working with Churchill by John (ed) WHEELER-BENNETT