Roger Hermiston

All Behind You, Winston
Churchill’s Great Coalition 1940-45

On 14 May 1940, the Evening Standard published a cartoon ‘All Behind You, Winston’. It showed Churchill, the freshly installed prime minister, rolling up his sleeves to confront the oncoming menace of Nazi Germany. In his wake, leading the endless ranks of the British people, marches the most prominent figures of his new coalition government. It was a potent expression of a moment when Britons of every class were truly all in it together.

But it also contained a truth that Churchill’s titanic historical reputation has since eclipsed: that neither he nor the country would have prevailed but for the joint effort of this remarkable ‘Ministry of All The Talents’. Indeed, without the vital support of the Labour Party, and its leader Clement Attlee, Churchill might never have become prime minister at all.

All Behind You, Winston tells the story of the men – and two women – who steered Britain through its darkest hour, showing how they won the Second World War, and how they laid the foundations of the New Jerusalem that followed. It explores the roles played by characters as diverse as the mercurial newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook, the pugnacious trade union baron Ernest Bevin, Lord Woolton, the department store boss who became Minister for Food, and Sir John Anderson, one of the first people to contemplate the awful power of the atomic bomb.

Five years after the cartoon in the Evening Standard, Churchill predicted that history would shine a light on ‘every helmet’ of his ‘great coalition. As it was, many were forgotten. This book seeks to recover their memory, and to celebrate a generation of politicians who rose above party to put their country first.

All Behind You Winston book cover Buy 'All Behind You Winston' on Amazon All Behind You Winston cartoon, Evening Standard May 1940
  • Anthony Eden
  • Ellen Wilkinson
    Ellen Wilkinson
  • Lord Woolton
    Lord Woolton
  • Sir Archibald Sinclair
    Sir Archibald Sinclair
  • Clement Attlee
  • Florence Horsbrugh
    Florence Horsbrugh
  • Ernest Bevin
    Ernest Bevin


  • ‘Roger Hermiston offers an elegant, thoughtful and thoroughly researched account of the collection of talent, ego and political diversity Churchill assembled to save his country - and much else besides... A bonus in this book is the author’s clear-eyed analysis of why Churchill was voted out of office in 1945—astonishing at the time, and second-guessed for generations.’

    Richard M.Langworth,
    The Churchill Project, Hillsdale College

  • ‘Hermiston has written a gripping account, full of drama, personality and humour... {he} is also good on analysis, arguing that, despite the rivalries and the rows, Britain has never had a coalition government that has ‘worked in such harmony... or affected the lives of its citizens so directly’

    Tim Bouverie,
    Daily Telegraph

  • ‘Not only did this (Churchill's 1940-45 administration) Conservative-Labour-Liberal coalition steer Britain through its most perilous years and win the war, it also initiated social reforms that were to shape post-war Britain. These staggering achievements are brilliantly described in Hermiston's All Behind You, Winston’

    Irish Independent

  • ‘{Hermiston} takes a firm grip, writes well and refreshes the familiar narrative with a substantial helping of original research. The result is an accessible political history, enlivened by shrewd, vivid portraits... Hermiston is excellent on the Labour contingent of Clement Attlee, Ernest Bevin, Herbert Morrison and Hugh Dalton, while showing how wrong it would be to claim that they dominated on the Home Front’

    History Today

  • ‘Roger Hermiston’s bright idea … for examining Britain’s war effort not as the achievement of one man – however indispensable his leadership - but rather as the product of the whole coalition government is so obviously right that it is surprising that no-one (as far as I know) has done it before. His book is skilfully constructed, with successive chapters focussing on the particular contribution of different players … the sometimes tense relationships within the coalition made a good new slant on a familiar story, and Roger Hermiston tells it well.’

    John Campbell
    Finest Hour Magazine

  • ‘In this highly readable account...the ideological differences and personality clashes between the large egos of Bevin and Morrison, Beaverbrook and Attlee are described in fascinating detail’

    Major Stephen Coulson,
    The Lady

  • ‘The war was won on the front line, in the air, at sea and on the factory floor. However, it might not have happened without the influence of the coalition is all here in this excellent book by Roger Hermiston. Highly recommended!’

    War History Online

  • ‘[Hermiston recalls] personalities now widely forgotten, and with evocative illustrations’

    Church Times

  • ‘A must for anyone interested in British wartime politics… So much is known about Churchill and the struggles he faced during Britain’s darkest hours that it is almost unimaginable that there could be still more information out there. But Roger Hermiston has proved otherwise, brilliantly examining the fraught relations...and the relentless internal difficulties facing Churchill for five horrendous years.’

    Soldier Magazine