The Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies

CRCE Briefing Paper

Hoodwinking Churchill

by Peter Batty

The Constitution of the CRCE requires that its Trustees and Advisers dissociate themselves from the analysis contained in its publications, but it is hoped that readers will find this study of value and interest.


First published in April 2013

© Peter Batty & Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies

All Rights Reserved


Peter Batty is a newspaper journalist who was also the editor of BBC TV’s Tonight programme.  He scripted and produced 6 episodes of the internationally praised TV series The World at War.  At the time of the break-up of Yugoslavia he made 2 films on Tito for the BBC which proved controversial and led to his book, Hoodwinking Churchill, Tito’s Great Confidence Trick, Shepheard–Walwyn, London, 2011.

Hoodwinking Churchill by Peter Batty

My talk is entitled “Hoodwinking Churchill” and it concerns the decision Winston Churchill made in December 1943 to drop Draza Mihailovic’s anti-communist resistance group and to back wholeheartedly Tito’s communist partisans – and in particular the roles Sir Fitzroy Maclean, Baronet, and Sir William Deakin played in that decision-making.

Deakin, a young Oxford don who had helped Churchill research some of his books, had been sent out to Tito in May 1943 on a fact-finding trip and Maclean in the September as head of a full-scale official mission to Tito who would prepare an in-depth study of Yugoslav resistance as a whole.

Maclean was a diplomat and a Conservative Member of Parliament who had had an adventurous war so far in Iraq and Libya with the Special Air Services (SAS). Maclean claimed he had been told to consider himself Churchill’s “own personal representative with the Partisan command”. It was certainly as a result of Maclean’s so-called Blockbuster Report of November 1943 that Churchill’s fateful decision was made.


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