Britain and strategic planning towards a second front, June 1940 - January 1944 (2005)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsMiller, David G.show all
In its original proposal, this thesis aimed to examine the wartime policies of Winston Churchill and his influence on Britain's decision to campaign throughout North Africa and the Mediterranean region and to assess whether his motivation was to preserve what remained of the British Imperial System following the military reversals of the Second World War. However, the problem with this original idea was that there was not enough primary material available on Churchill in New Zealand and it would have been difficult to import material from the United Kingdom and elsewhere within the timeframe allowed for a Masters thesis and at to great a cost. Therefore, a new direction was required and in 2003, the focus began to shift towards the Second Front because the literature on British and Allied campaigns in the Mediterranean so often referred to it and due to the amount of primary sources that are available at the University of Canterbury and that allowed for detailed research on this subject.
Although the Second Front opened in 1944, it has its origins following evacuation of the British Expeditionary Forces and units of the French military from the Continent in 1940. Even in defeat and faced with the prospect of invasion, the British began to examine the possibility of their forces re deploying across the English Channel and the circumstances under which an operation of this kind could prove successful against the Wehrmacht. The prospect of a re-deployment to North-West Europe became central to Britain's strategic planning throughout the four years that followed yet Churchill and his military commanders devised alternative plans and sought to prevent the Axis forces from taking control of the Indian Ocean region and the Middle East. The purpose of this thesis is to ascertain the British stance towards the Second Front between 1940 and 1943 and to determine whether they were in favour of it or not and if so, what reasons did they have for not committing forces. It also addresses how the divisions between London and Washington concerning the Second Front influenced the dynamics of their alliance and how it came to symbolise the transforming international political and military landscape, the decline of British power and the ascendancy of two countries that would shape the post-war environment known as the Cold War.