Harold Gill (1919 – 2003): Politics, Protest & Class

Initially, it is important to provide you with some information about politics in Britain during 1939- 1945. During this time Winston Churchill was thought to be the most popular British Prime Minister of all time. “In May 1945 his approval rating… stood at 83 percent and commentators predicted he would lead the Conservatives into victory at the forthcoming general election” (BBC- History World Wars).

winston_churchill
Winston Churchill

Harold Gill can be seen to be one of these supporters as he writes “Winston Churchill, -possibly the greatest war leader in history, -confessed his ignorance in his memoirs, of the true state of Singapore’s defences; was completely unaware that the big guns menaced only the sea approaches, and could not be swivelled, or utilised to oppose an attack by land”. (Page 2, section 2). Of course this is written many years after his time spent at war and he still considers him to be the greatest war leader in history, despite his mistakes. However, this honesty shown by Churchill, also gives Gill a reason to still have such faith in his policies as Gill states that he does not like politicians that lie, even if it is for the good of the country. This disapproval can be seen when Gill recalls that on October 1941 that he had read an article in the newspaper that “’carried the report by the German news agency, TASS, that the American ships were ferrying British troops across the Atlantic, in violation of international law.” And although the same report said that President Roosevelt had denied the accusation, Gills response was to say “So much for the duplicity of politics rendered a necessity when a man of the integrity of Roosevelt in his efforts to help Britain, should descend to the level of Hitler and resort to falsehood. A character change was a deplorable necessity, as Chamberlain could testify, in dealing with Nazi thugs. In Churchill and Roosevelt we now recognised the essential ingredients.” (Page 17, section 1).

Again it can be seen that Gill thinks that any politician that lies is classed in the same category as Hitler who is thought to have no morals and is probably known as one of the most hated politicians around the world.

Adolf Hitler Saluting, 1934
Adolf Hitler Saluting, 1934

However, this can only determine Gill’s view on politics during the Second World War, not the view he carried with him for the rest of his life, though as information would suggest he would probably appreciate the politicians if they were proven to be honest men and women as Gill strongly believed in the stereotypical “British image – that of laughter in the face of danger; typical British phlegm, and stiff upper lip, and all that”. (Page 12, section 1)

 

Written by Alexandra Meadwell and Joanne Gibson

 

References:

Gill, Harold, Untitled, TS, pp.66 (c. 31,000 words). Brunel University Library, July 1987.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/election_01.shtml

Picture of Winston Churchill:

http://static.bbc.co.uk/history/img/ic/640/images/resources/people/winston_churchill.jpg

Picture Of Adolf Hitler:

http://images.wikia.com/residentevil/images/c/cd/Adolf_hitler_20100527_1185227214.jpg

 

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