Episode 16: Alanbrooke, Churchill’s Right-Hand General

The relationship between Winston Churchill and his leading military advisor, the abrasive General ‘Shrapnel’ Alan Brooke (1883–1963), was one of the most productive yet tensest in the history of civil-military relations. This episode delves into some of their strategic debates.

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Viscount Alanbrooke’s relationship with Churchill was famously rocky, yet the two leaders trusted one another. It was due to Brooke’s influence that the Americans were persuaded to drop their plan to liberate Italy by starting off with a campaign to take Sardinia and to go for Sicily instead, and he also talked Churchill into dropping plans for an operation in Indonesia.

The guest for this episode is Dr Andrew Sangster, an historian and Anglican priest and the author of 17 books, including an acclaimed biography of Alanbrooke. His next book, From Plato to Putin, discusses the causes and ethical dilemmas of war.

Sangster, Andrew: Alanbrooke, Churchill’s Right-hand Critic: A Reappraisal of Lord Alanbrooke (Casemate, 2021).

Bryant, Arthur: The Turn of the Tide 1939–1943: Based on the War Diaries of Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke (London: Collins, 1957).

Arthur Bryant: Triumph in the West 1943–1946: Based on the War Diaries of Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke (London: Collins, 1959).

Fraser, David: Alanbrooke (London: Collins, 1982).

See also The Alanbrooke Diaries, BBC Archive, broadcast 8 February 1957


Beatrice Heuser

Senior Associate Fellow

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Paul O’Neill

Senior Research Fellow

Military Sciences

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