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The following exercises are specially designed to enable teachers and students to make use of archive material in the classroom.
They are divided into units reflecting important issues which arose during the long public career of Sir Winston Churchill. Each unit contains specific enquiries which can be addressed and explored using reproductions of material drawn from the Churchill Archives.
Key words, terms, and names may be checked in the glossary.
Churchill served as First Lord of the Admiralty and as Minister of Munitions in the Liberal Governments which took Britain through the First World War. He was intimately involved in leading the British response to the perceived German naval threat before the war, and his was the bold but ultimately over-ambitious plan to try to seize the Dardanelles. The enquiries in this unit invite students to assess how real the German naval threat to Britain was before 1914; the extent to which Churchill was to blame for the Dardanelles disaster or was just unlucky; and whether or not it is time to rehabilitate the reputation of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig.
To what extent was Churchill to blame for the failure of the Dardanelles campaign?
How serious was the German naval threat to Great Britain before 1914?
How fairly was Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig judged by contemporaries?
After the First World War, enormous faith was placed, especially in Britain, in the role of the League of Nations in dealing with international disputes, but by the early 1930s both Italy and Japan had shown that they could undertake aggressive policies with impunity. Churchill was a stern critic of the British policy of appeasement in the 1930s, and hindsight has been kind to him, but he had been out of political office since 1929, and his warnings seemed to ignore the realities of Britain's military weakness and of public opposition to rearmament. This enquiry considers the issue of whether it is right to view Churchill as a lone voice of reason in his opposition to appeasement.
Appeasement: The Gathering Storm
Further information about the exercises in the Churchill Era is available in the Teachers area of this website.