|Field Marshal Alanbrooke (courtesy IWM)
Brooke, supported by his subordinate commanders including a certain Major General Bernard Montgomery was a superb trainer of men and as the weeks and months passed, he was to prove instrumental in rebuilding the Army and can indeed be justly described as one of the founders of the recovery of the British Army which was to return to Europe in triumph a little under four years later.
|The ruins of Cologne in 1945 (US Dept of Defense)
On July 5th 1945, the first General Election was held in Great Britain for almost ten years. Winston Churchill, who had led the country to victory in the wartime coalition government was widely expected to be returned to power. The counting of the votes was an unusually protracted affair since the hundreds of thousands of servicemen's votes had to be returned to the UK for counting. However, when the count was complete and the result was announced on 26th July, Churchill had been voted out and the Labour Party under Clement Attlee had been voted into power in a landslide victory. The British people wanted change and no return to the social injustices of the 1930's and they saw Attlee rather than Churchill as the man most likely to introduce these changes and to bring Britain into the modern age.
Churchill had been attending the Potsdam Conference, the final meeting of the so called "Big Three" and had returned home for the result, no doubt expecting to return to the conference shortly afterwards. It was not to be and Mr Attlee was to take his place as Prime Minister alongside Harry Truman, himself newly installed as American President following the passing of Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. This Conference was to shape postwar Europe and the administration of Germany for the next 45 years.
In the Far East, the war against the Japanese continued and was expected to continue for possibly another two years, culminating in a conventional land invasion of mainland Japan, which had it occurred, would have cost the lives of many hundreds of thousands of Allied servicemen. The Atomic Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were to dramatically shorten the war by avoiding the need for an invasion. The 240,000 civilian casualties as a direct result of the bombs as well as the many thousands of subsequent deaths from radiation burns and other related illnesses are the subject of another debate.
Rangoon had fallen to the British Fourteenth Army in May and the remainder of Burma was liberated by the end of July. The final campaign in the Tenasserim Province cost the Japanese ten thousand troops at minimal cost for the British. The next stage of the campaign was to have been an amphibious assault to re-take Malaya but once again, the Atomic Bombs forestalled this, although the operation, codenamed 'Zipper' was still undertaken post-war as the quickest method of occupying Malaya.
At sea, the East Indies and British Pacific Fleets were in the thick of the action and although the latter fleet tended to be overshadowed by the vast American effort in this theatre, it was nevertheless the largest fleet ever put together by the Royal Navy and acquitted itself was great distinction. On 17th July, the British Pacific Fleet, aka Task Force 37 was operating as part of the US Third Fleet, attacking airfields and shipping north of Tokyo and would be at the forefront of the action right up until the Japanese surrender on August 15th and beyond.
So, as we can see the month of July throughout the Second World War was often the backdrop for momentous events in history. Obviously a blog such as this can merely scratch the surface in describing the events mentioned above. To study them in more detail, the following source reading is recommended.
The Black Bull: From Normandy to The Baltic with 11th Armoured Division - Patrick Delaforce, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1993
Bomber Command 1939-45 - Richard Overy, Harper Collins, 1997
Decision in Normandy - Carlo D'Este, Penguin, 2001
The Forgotten Fleet - John Winton, Douglas-Boyd, 1989
Hitler's U-Boat War - Clay Blair, Cassell, 2000
The Narrow Margin - Derek Wood with Derek Dempster, Tri-Service Press, 1990
War Diaries 1939-45 Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke - Alex Danchev & Daniel Todman (ed.), Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001
The War at Sea - John Winton (ed.) - Hutchinson, 1967