Eighty years ago, Britain stood at the brink of defeat. In 1942, a string of military disasters engulfed Britain in rapid succession : the collapse in Malaya; the biggest surrender in British history at Singapore; the passing of three large German warships through the Straits of Dover in broad daylight; the longest ever retreat through Burma to the gates of India; serious losses to Rommel’s forces in North Africa; the siege of Malta and the surrender at Tobruk. All of this occurred against the backdrop of catastrophic sinkings in the Atlantic and the Arctic convoys. People began to claim that Churchill was not up to the job and his leadership was failing badly. Public morale reached a new low. 1942 Britain At the Brink explores the story of frustration and despair in that year prompting the Prime Minister to demand of his army chief ‘Have you not got a single general who can win battles?’ Using new archival material, historian Taylor Downing shows just how unpopular Churchill became in 1942 with two votes attacking his leadership in the Commons and the emergence of a serious political rival.
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. In 1942 Britain at the Brink, Taylor Downing describes in nail-biting detail what was really Britain’s darkest hour .