13 NOVEMBER 1999, Page 46

Churchill's gamble

From Professor J.R. Vincent Sir: M.R.D. Foot salutes Churchill's deci- sion to fight on alone in May 1940 (Books, 6 November). There is an important ques- tion here. Was Churchill gambling on the USA entering the war of its own accord? If so, he was plain wrong (though probably right to hold out until after the presidential election of 1940).

Until Pearl Harbor and Hitler's declara- tion of war on America created a totally altered situation, we had given up all hope of the USA entering the war. Indomitable courage is one thing; backing a horse which refused to run is another.

John Vincent

Faculty of Arts Graduate Centre, University of Bristol, 7 Woodland Road, Bristol