On 8th May 1945, Winston Churchill, Britain’s then Prime Minister, announced the end of the War in Europe with a speech broadcast from Downing Street. That day became known as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day, and to this day is dedicated to commemorating the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
That was 75 years ago and the need for strong and inspirational leadership is as true as it was then as it is now.
Winston Churchill was voted Britain’s greatest leader of the 20th Century and enjoyed his ‘Finest Hour’ as Prime Minister from 1940-1945.
In recognition of his outstanding efforts, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, becoming Sir Winston Churchill during his return to office as Prime Minister from 1951-55.
To commemorate his achievements there are many tributes to him in the UK and extensive coverage of the VE Celebrations in various countries across Europe and the world. We’d encourage you to catch up with some of them and consider this great wartime leader.
You might want to obtain a copy of his autobiography on ‘The Second World War’. The six volume set is now a collector’s item but obtainable. Arguably, Max Hastings book ‘Finest Years; Churchill – The Warlord’ is the best ever written book on him though Boris Johnston’s attempt is readable. There are of course many books written about his speeches.
As a leader, Churchill alone stood against the Axis in 1940. He was a lone voice in the 1930s warning of the evils of Nazism. His foresight, drive and skills of persuasion assisted in convincing the US to join sides with Britain.
As Prime Minister, he was surrounded by doubters and appeasers. As he began his Prime Ministerial duties he was faced with the crisis that was Dunkirk, the unrelenting Blitz and an undefeated Nazi machine.
As we know, it is darkest before the dawn. It is in those moments our doubts, fears and concerns are the greatest and can feel all consuming. Despite the odds, Churchill stood firm. His words inspired. He truly believed that Britain would win through. But when the war was over, it was not the end of hardship. Millions of people around the world had lost their lives or loved ones and at the very least everyone’s lives had been affected in one way or another.
Imagine being Winnie in those darkest days. Imagine the pressure. How would you have led?
Thankfully we will never be in such a situation but we are faced with difficulties from time to time, especially during these strange and uncertain times. So take strength that purpose, vision, and unwavering commitment will stand you in good stead.