Tuesday 4th July; 7:30pm
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1942: Britain At The Brink
Most people think that Britain’s worst moment of the war was in 1940 when the nation stood up against the threat of German invasion with the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. But I argue that Britain’s darkest hour was actually in 1942 when a string of military disasters engulfed Britain in rapid succession. The collapse in Malaya, the surrender at Singapore, three large German warships passing through the Straits of Dover, failures and defeat of the Eighth Army in North Africa and the surrender at Tobruk. All of this against the backdrop of catastrophic shipping losses in the Atlantic and in supplying Russia in the Arctic convoys. The run of military failures created a crisis for Winston Churchill and his government. People began to claim that Churchill was not up to the job and his leadership was failing badly. Public morale collapsed. I will explain how unpopular Churchill became in 1942 with two votes attacking his leadership in the Commons and the emergence of a serious political rival. After El Alamein and Stalingrad the war took a favourable turn for the Allies but I want to bring a fresh eye on the events of eighty years ago.
‘Taylor Downing vividly brings to life a terrible year’ Max Hastings, Sunday Times
Taylor Downing has written a run of popular history books looking at different aspects of the two world wars and the Cold War. They include Breakdown on shell shock, Spies in the Sky on photo intelligence in WW2, The World at War on the popular TV series, ColdWar and 1983 – The World at the Brink. His books have been widely praised, translated into many languages and the last three have been serialised in the Daily Mail. Before this Taylor worked at the Imperial War Museum and then became a television producer who made about 300 historical documentaries many of which won international awards.
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