President Saunders, ladies and gentlemen!
I regard it as a single honour to be invited today to address you as the third Crosby Kemper lecturer, and very specially to be conferred by you with the first honorary degree which I have received in my life. I appreciate also that I am speaking to you in Westminster College - in a place of beauty dedicated to Sir Winston Churchill and to his contribution towards creating a 'special relationship' between our two countries.
When he addressed you on the 'Sinews of Peace' in March 1946, he was 71-years-old - the same age I am this afternoon.
If I may strike a brief personal note: at the time he was considering his lecture, I was engaged on assembling material for his 'Second World War' and had returned to him as his literary assistant - a close and privileged association which began in 1935.
I have chosen to speak today on the subject of 'Churchill and Europe in 1944' and hope to present to you an image of the man, at a particular moment in time, when he was faced with the supreme crisis in the conduct of the closing war in Europe, and the as yet, unresolved debates within the Grand Alliance on the shore of peace still beyond the horizon - before the chips were down.
The balance of power on the continent - a traditional concern of Great Britain, one of whose central purpose in going to war in 1939 was to re-establish - was in the last stages of disintegration.
The military liquidation of Germany would, in a matter of months, leave a central desert and empty space. A revolutionary adjustment of power in Europe would follow, and its form moulded by the relative interests and strengths of the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.
The culminating military strategy of the Grand Alliance was, in reality, worked-out on two isolated fronts: in the West and the East. At no point was there a combined great operation accepted by the three Great Powers. Indeed, two separate wars were being fought against Germany: the only common denominators being her total destruction.
The last stages of the conduct of the war in the West by the United States and Great Britain brought into the open, frustrating strategic controversies which have since bedevilled historians and led to the emergence - and at times demolition - of myths and legends on both sides.
The outcome was inevitably a compromise. The year 1944 led to strains in the 'special relationship' between us.
The debate over the launching of 'Overlord' and the opening of the Second Front is both too complex and familiar for me to venture into this well-trampled arena.
My own study of the British records; of many talks with Churchill himself and British leaders of the day, lead me to what he would call certain 'recorded truths.'
To Churchill, the strategic concept of the Second Front was never in doubt, and would be the decisive Anglo-American operation in the European War - an irreversible and unrepeatable assault on Germany from the West - which could only be carried out once, and with an absolute margin of safety.
“Leave the past to history especially as I propose to write that history myself.”