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Best leader of WW2

DAVID CESARANI: I think the greatest leader of the Second World War is Alanbrooke. Having read his diary twice, I am just full of admiration for his patience, his physical strength, his morale, and his ability to save Churchill from losing the war because if one man could have lost the war and inflicted a terrible setback on the Allies it was Churchill. And Churchill did manage to wreck quite a lot - the soft underbelly of Europe? That was a pretty bad mistake. The attempt to occupy the Dodecanese Islands? Churchill had that kind of idea three or four times before breakfast, and Alanbrooke came along and had to say, no Prime Minister, you can’t do that. And sometimes he would have to say it bleary eyed, exhausted at two o’clock in the morning having been up since seven, having been running a global war in the Far East and in the Atlantic. He would be summoned to Churchill for a massive dinner, loads of booze and at two o’clock in the morning Churchill would say “how about occupying Northern Norway?” “No Prime Minister, you can’t do that.”

And it is to the glory of Churchill that he was a democratic leader and he took advice and he usually pulled back. But it was vital to the operation of the command system that these democratic leaders had military advisors who were outstanding men who they listened to. And I think Alanbrooke is the hero of the British war effort and perhaps the hero of the entire Allied war effort. He was, I think, the greatest soldier. In the battlefield, in the Cabinet Room, he towers above all other soldiers.