Churchill Archive for Schools - Themes_Key questions_special relations

Just how special was the ‘special relationship’ in the Second World War? (Part 2, 1942–44)

(Original Caption) Marchal Stalin, President Truman, and Premier Attlee are among the delegates at the Potsdam conference. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The USA and the UK have often been said to have a special relationship based on a common language, religious and political beliefs and a close trading relationship.

Part 1 of this investigation examined this relationship from 1939-41. During that time Britain was at war with the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) and the role of the USA was one of support and supplying essential supplies.

This position changed in December 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the US entry into the war as a combatant. Would the entry of the USA into the war change the ‘special relationship’? Could it be an equal and friendly partnership? Would the larger, richer and more powerful USA become the dominant partner? The sources in this investigation will help you consider these and many other important questions.

Your challenge

We have a box of sources from the Churchill Archive for you to investigate.

  • Your challenge is to study the sources in the Source Box and use them to explain whether the relationship between Britain and America really was special and if so, in what ways.
  • Your teacher will be able to help you with a recording framework and suggestions on how to present your work.

 Background information

The sources

Notes for teachers

Yalta Conference, February 4-11 1945. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill discuss Europe’s post-war reorganization at Livadia Palace near Yalta, Crimea.

© National Museum of the U.S. Navy. LC-USZ62-56505. Office of War Information Photograph. (via Wikimedia Commons)