Churchill Fellow’s new book reveals Churchill’s critical role in stopping Nazi Germany’s development of a nuclear bomb
Published: 20 Oct 2016
A new book by 1989 Churchill Fellow Damien Lewis reveals the seminal role Sir Winston Churchill played in combating the most fearsome threat of the Second World War -that Hitler’s Germany might win the race to build the atom bomb.
‘Hunting Hitler’s Nukes: The Secret Race to Stop the Nazi Bomb’, published today by Quercus, tells the story of how Churchill ordered a series of dramatic raids by his ‘Volunteers for Special Duties’ – made up of Commandos, Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents and Special Forces – in order to sabotage Hitler’s nuclear efforts.
“Stopping Germany from building an atomic bomb was arguably Churchill’s greatest wartime concern, one shared with US President Roosevelt. “We both felt painfully the dangers of doing nothing,” Churchill would write. “What if the enemy should get the atomic bomb before we did! We could not run the mortal risk of being outstripped in this awful sphere.”
Those daring raids initiated by Churchill which targeted the ‘heavy water’ plant in German-occupied Norway, amongst other key facilities -a key element of the Germans’ nuclear programme and the only part deemed vulnerable to Allied sabotage - form the narrative of my new book.
But so too does Churchill’s launching of the top secret Operation Peppermint, a covert programme to prepare Britain for a Nazi ‘dirty bomb’ being exploded over London. Operation Peppermint - possibly the most secret project of the entire war - aimed to provide early warning and whatever protection was possible to the people of Britain, in the event of a nuclear strike by Nazi Germany.
Details of Operation Peppermint and the measures taken to prepare for a Nazi nuclear strike were revealed in papers that I unearthed from the National Archives. This came as a great surprise to me, for I was unaware that the Allied wartime leaders viewed Nazi Germany’s nuclear programme as such a real and present threat.
Churchill was truly the man of the moment, and without his trenchant and signal leadership the war may well have been lost to the Allies, and almost before the battles had begun. We owe the man an enormous debt of gratitude” –Damien Lewis
‘Hunting Hitler’s Nukes: The Secret Race to Stop the Nazi Bomb’ is available to order now.
Damien has spent twenty years reporting from war, disaster and conflict zones around the world. He has written a dozen non-fiction and fiction books, topping bestseller lists worldwide, and is published in some thirty languages. Two of his books are being made into feature films.
Damien’s Fellowship saw him travel from the UK overland to Central Africa, in order to film a documentary about the fight to conserve Africa’s rainforest. Read his story here.