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Total War

Posted: Thu 13 Nov, 2008 17:44:16
by Stevie P
September 1940 - Winston Churchill ordered the 'Joint Planning Staff' to produce for him a paper on the following problem, ‘When we have won the war, what steps ought we to take to prevent Germany launching a Third World War against us in twenty years’ time?’ This was a lengthy task and the ‘JPS’ gave it to Dennis Wheatley.

A few months later DW was having dinner with Brigadier Brooks of the Royal Marines. The Brigadier maintained that Britain was not waging ‘Total War’ because the people in authority did not understand what ‘Total War’ meant; and that if we were to emerge victorious we must know. He asked DW to write a paper on this subject; adding that if DW could get to the root of the matter, he would submit it to Mr Churchill and thought he could persuade the Prime Minister to act on it.

The end result was a paper that contained over 100,000 words. Although this vast document did not go to Mr Churchill; parts of it had; upon which action was taken; so his time and labour were by no means wasted.

In April 1941 the Joint Planning Staff felt that a ‘pruned’ version should be given to the public as it might boost morale and help increase the war effort. DW cut it ruthlessly. A great part of the original paper had consisted of stringent criticisms of certain Government departments that he felt were not pulling their weight, and all that had to be deleted. The paper was reduced to 30,000 words and was published as a shilling pamphlet.
Does the original 100,00 word pamphlet still exist, one asks?

The content of the shilling pamphlet starts by giving details of the nature of Total War. DW states, “There are two kinds of War.
(1) Tribal & (2) Civil. He then goes on to explain the differences; and informs us that in the last 1300 years humanity has been afflicted with three vast Civil Wars.

The first – from 622 AD until the 13th century when Mohammed set his fellow citizens of Mecca at each other’s throats by the proclamation of a new religion.

The second – was caused by the reformation in which the struggle lay between groups who wished to enforce either Protestantism or Roman Catholicism upon their contemporaries.

The third - Civil war began in England with the Great Rebellion. Its second phase was the French Revolution, its third, the American Civil War, and its fourth the Russian Revolution.

DW continues in a very scholarly manner to inform us of some of his idea’s.
‘A Ministry of Assets’ which would be responsible for a register of every individual in the country and to list their specialities. They would then be graded & paid according to their occupation . This would be necessary so that everybody can assist in the war effort, i.e. supplies, food, news, clothes, evacuation, insurance, Air raid precautions, etc.

He also writes about ‘The Spiritual Sphere’.

“Hitlerâ€￾, he says “Is a declared agnostic and has never permitted religion to play any part in the functions of the Nazi regime….. It seems abundantly clear, therefore that one of the most important steps which any power at war with the Nazi’s could take is the rousing of religious communities all over the world, irrespective of their faiths.

DW is critical that many leaders of major religions do not give more direct guidance and advice to the followers of these religions by educating them to the full menace which threatens their lives.

He covers lots of fascinating and controversial issues in this pamphlet such as,

Leaders who do not lead.
The Civil service and its many failings.
Effective use of Propaganda
Intelligence – Why did Britain not know what was going on in other countries at the beginning of the War. i.e. Czechoslovakia were turning out hundreds of super tanks during the winter of 1939/40?

We seem to be sitting back and let the Warmongers create the rules.

“If the morale of the people of the Empire is to be maintained at its highest level until victory is achieved, they must be told without any beating about the bush that definite measures have been decided upon, which will guarantee their future peace and security and prevent the least possibility of the German race ever again achieving sufficient strength to menace the happiness and well-being of the whole population of the world. The people are entitled to hope for that, as it is, in fact, the one and only thing that they are really fighting for.â€￾

This is an absorbing document that was written at the height of the Second World War, but unlike reading the Gregory Sallust war time fiction novels, this (82 page) pamphlet makes you feel as though you are actually part of it.
This is the Real thing.

Posted: Sat 29 Nov, 2008 09:11:35
by Charles
Wonderful review Steve !

I would just add for the bibliophiles out there that 'Total War' is becoming quite a scarce little book ... there isn't a copy on abebooks for example at the moment.

Never having been reprinted, the original is a wonderfully transient example of a wartime paperback ... it's quite flimsy and handling it realy gives you the feeling of being taken back to the 1940s.

A few examples of the original 100,000 word document it was culled from still exist. I know of three, of which two were in the Humphreys collection.

One of those was displayed in the 'Museum' section at the last Convention; I'll arrange to bring it along again to the next Convention if people are interested (and no, we haven't forgotten the next Convention - Nick and I are working on that one - it's just a matter of trying to negotiate something that is within sensible price limits !).

All best to everyone !

Posted: Sun 30 Nov, 2008 14:39:10
by Jim
How much of "Total War" actually made its way into the book STRANGER THAN FICTION?

Posted: Tue 2 Dec, 2008 12:38:24
by Stevie P

I'm sorry but I can't help you on that question.

I haven't read Stranger than Fiction yet.


The Cabinet War Rooms

Posted: Wed 9 Nov, 2016 03:28:56
by Jim
This seemed a good place to put this item...

I don't know if DW will be mentioned in this book at all, but there's a new volume on Churchill and the Cabinet War Rooms: ... -world-war

Posted: Sun 13 Nov, 2016 16:07:09
by Charles

Thanks for that. I've just ordered a copy on the back of your post. I'll let you know if DW is mentioned.

All best !

Posted: Sun 13 Nov, 2016 16:38:01
by Charles
And re 'Total War', the answer is 'very little'.

'Stranger than Fiction' only devotes three pages at the beginning of Chapter Ten to Total War, and the two War Papers on which it was based (14 & 20) are not reproduced. Possibly because Total War (or a version of it) had already been published, and possibly also because for modern readers it is - although a short book - quite a hard read.

While we're on the subject, if anyone wants to see a detailed collation of DW's War Papers, they should use page of this website.

There is a section in Craig Cabell's book 'Churchill's Storyteller' (page 14) which lists the War Papers, but the overall order and some of the numbers and dates are wrong. I suspect he wrote it without having access to all the originals.

The website is (of course :D ) right.

Kind regards,

Re: The Cabinet War Rooms

Posted: Thu 17 Nov, 2016 21:31:46
by Charles
Jim wrote:This seemed a good place to put this item...

I don't know if DW will be mentioned in this book at all, but there's a new volume on Churchill and the Cabinet War Rooms: ... -world-war
No need to buy the book. It is essentially a lavish 'coffee table' book about the areas of the War Rooms that are currently on display. While excellent for that purpose, there is no mention of either the London Controlling Section or DW.

Thanks for the alert though - the next one may strike the mother lode !