DECEMBER I941 TO NOVEMBER 1943
Apparently our political system would re-
quire major operations this year in Africa.
—General George C. Marshall,
July 14, 1942
Winston Churchill was at Chequers on Sunday, December 7, 1941, relaxing at the prime minister's official retreat with John G. Winant, the American ambassador, and Averell Harriman, the president's envoy. After a somewhat subdued dinner, the three men gathered around the radio set to catch the BBC's nine o'clock news. As the announcer began to recount the first sketchy details of a Japanese attack on Hawaii, everyone in the room was stunned, for it seemed scarcely credible that the Japanese would be foolish enough to launch a direct assault on U.S. territory. Churchill, desperate for additional information, immediately placed a transatlantic call to the White House. "It's quite true," the president soon confirmed. "They have attacked us at Pearl Harbor. We are all in the same boat now." When he put down the phone, Churchill was ecstatic. Confident that American power would prove decisive in the struggle against the Axis, he now deemed victory to be certain. "All the rest," as he later put it, "was merely the proper application of overwhelming force."1
Yet Churchill's burst of optimism greatly minimized the problems that lay ahead. While there was no doubting that the Allies had far more raw