Allied Leaders of World War II: Winston Churchill (Part 1)

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11162

People aren't failures; they just sometimes fail. Churchill's failure cost thousands of lives, yet he became a great leader! Learn lessons from his life and become his Facebook and TV image manager!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Think of a time when you failed at something.

  • Did you recover from that failure or allow it to define you?

Learn about one of history's most outstanding political leaders who, remarkably, began his career with one epic failure!

  • Who were the Allied powers during World War II (WWII)?
  • What exactly does the phrase allied powers mean?

During WWII, the world at conflict was divided between the Allied powers and the Axis powers. The November 1942 map below shows the Allied powers in blue and red, the Axis powers in black, and the neutral territories in gray.

WWII allegiance map November 1942

  • Which countries make up the Allied powers?
  • Which countries make up the Axis powers?
  • What is a neutral territory?
  • Which side has more land?

Several countries made up both sides of the conflict.

Each side was led by the three countries that, due to their military power, offered the greatest threat to the opposing side.

The leading countries on the Allied side were Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union (present-day Russia).

The leading countries on the Axis side were Germany, Italy, and Japan.

The 1945 image below shows the Allied leaders: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin.

Yalta Summit in February 1945 with Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin

This series of Related Lessons, found in the right-hand sidebar, will explore the role of the British Allied leader, Winston Churchill, including the events that shaped his wartime ideology and leadership style.

Today, Winston Churchill is regarded as one of the best wartime leaders in history.

His leadership established a precedent of wartime leadership and is a model to whom leaders worldwide aspire. What is interesting about Churchill is that his greatness was partly due to his epic failure.

Born into a prominent family, Churchill climbed the political ladder quickly. At only 40 years old, he was made the political head of the Royal Navy during WWI.

In 1915, he confidently devised a Gallipoli attack to help the British gain important European and Asian waterways. Gallipoli turned out to be one of the most significant military disasters in British history, with hundreds of thousands of British troops killed in a single attack!

It seemed Churchill's political career was over. He was quickly demoted to an insignificant cabinet position and became a laughingstock throughout Great Britain.

Explore the resources below to learn more about the disaster at Gallipoli.

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  • After learning more about what happened at Gallipoli, does it shock you that Churchill became prime minister and led the British military during World War II?
  • How could he have recovered from this type of failure?

Despite his magnificent failure, Churchill felt he was born for greatness.

After Gallipoli, he left the cabinet position and joined the British army. Churchill proved a strong leader on the battlefield and slowly moved back up the ranks as a political and military leader. After WWI, he even served as Secretary of State.

Many in Churchill's position would have removed themselves from the public eye and sought a different career. However, Churchill's failure only fueled his desire to be a great leader, and that failure helped mold him into the leader he was during WWII.

  • How could Churchill's WWI failure have influenced his leadership style and tactics during WWII?
  • How could failure have made him a more decisive leader than if he had been successful throughout his career?

Continue to the Got It? section to analyze Churchill's failures.

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