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Never Despair: May 1945-1965

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1946



"An Iron Curtain has descended across the continent..."

AMERICAN politics was polarized between those who thought Stalin was an imperialist bent on expansion by force and those who saw him as a protector of Russian security. This division created uncertainty regarding the form American policy should take, but there was an inexorable move from accommodation to confrontation that would culminate a year later with the proclamation of the Truman Doctrine.

Into this vortex walked Winston Churchill to speak at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri. He would profoundly influence the outcome at the debate.

Churchill had accepted President Truman’s invitation to speak in the President’s home state for two reasons: he wanted to campaign for a loan for Britain and, more importantly, he wanted to forge an Anglo-American alliance against the Soviet threat which, he was convinced, the Labour Government was incapable or unwilling to confront. He told Lord Moran: "I think I can be of some use over there: they will take things from me. It may be that Congress will ask me to address them." The only invitation extended by Congress came from hostile Republicans who wanted to cross-examine him about Pearl Harbour.

Churchill and Truman had planned to meet in Florida but a rash of strikes forced the President to remain in Washington, so Churchill went to Cuba for a few days before meeting the President. Truman later said that he told Churchill, "It’s your own speech, you write it," but Admiral Leahy recorded in his diary that the President and Churchill spent many hours talking about the speech.



Churchill also asked Prime Minister Mackenzie King of Canada to come to Washington because he appreciated King’s knowledge of the Americans. King sent the Canadian Ambassador to the United States, future Prime Minister Lester Pearson, to Churchill’s assistance. Pearson found a half-clad Churchill working in bed with a breakfast tray beside him. Pearson read the speech and recommended that Churchill not refer to the recent conflict as "The Unnecessary War" for fear of providing justification for American isolationists to avoid foreign entanglements. Churchill agreed.

WSC also spent time with British Ambassador Lord Halifax, who noted Churchill’s intensity in preparing his remarks but did not inform the government in London. It was evident that Churchill and Truman were about to pronounce a change in direction from Roosevelt's policy of good relations with the Soviet Union while keeping a certain detachment from Britain.

There was increasing press awareness that something was up. The New York Post reported that "a stiffening American attitude towards Russia is in prospect ... the evidence will soon be forthcoming. In Mr. Truman’s conversation with Winston Churchill here and Churchill’s subsequent talks in Florida with Secretary Byrnes and Bernard Baruch the new program began to take shape."

On March 4th and 5th Truman and Churchill travelled by train from Washington to Jefferson City, Missouri and then drove to Fulton, twenty miles further. After lunch they joined the procession to the gymnasium of Westminster College, where Churchill gave one of his most famous orations, commonly referred to as the Iron Curtain speech. Truman had predicted that the speech would create quite astir and it did, throughout the entire world.

On March 8th, speaking in the presence of General Eisenhower to the General Assembly of Virginia in Richmond, then to the most senior officers of the American military, and finally at a dinner in New York City, Churchill repeated the themes of his Fulton speech. The philosophical underpinnings of those themes were expressed by Churchill in an impromptu speech to Canadian soldiers who were sailing home on the ship which brought him to North America, the Queen Elizabeth: "Yesterday I was on the bridge, watching the mountainous waves, and this ship — which is no pup — cutting through them and mocking their anger. I asked myself, why is it that the ship beats the waves, when they are so many and the ship is one? The reason is that the ship has a purpose, and the waves have none. They just flop around, innumerable, tireless, but ineffective. The ship with the purpose takes us where we want to go. Let us therefore have purpose, both in our national and Imperial policy, and in our private lives. Thus the future will be fruitful for each and for all, and the reward of the warriors will not be unworthy of the deeds they have done."


Honours and Reflections on a Long Life

Upon their return from America Winston and Clementine were greeted by their daughter, Mary, who was being demobilized. That spring mother and daughter decided to catch up on their education by visiting galleries, museums and exhibitions. Each weekend they went to Chartwell which was now being refurbished after wartime neglect.

Churchill was the recipient of many honours, and would often use those occasions to speak out on world and domestic affairs. On receiving the Freedom of Westminster he reflected on how "the human story does not always unfold like an arithmetical calculation on the principle that two and two make four... I The element of the unexpected and the unforeseeable is what gives some of its relish to life and saves us from falling into the mechanical thralldom of the logicians."

On a visit to Holland he spoke on a favourite subject, the unification of Europe. "I see no reason why, under the guardianship of the world organization, there should not ultimately arise the United States of Europe, both those of the East and those of the West, which will unify this Continent in a manner never known since the fail of the Roman Empire." The cornerstone of the new organization would be Anglo-French friendship and he wrote Prime Minister Attlee for approval to accept an invitation from the Mayor of Metz.

Mrs. Churchill also received honours in her own right including this letter from Clement Attlee: "I feel very sincerely that it would not be fitting if the Victory Honours lists did not include your name. I hope, therefore, that you will allow me to submit your name to His Majesty for appointment as a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in recognition, not only of your work for the Aid to Russia Fund, and for the promotion of Anglo-Russian understanding, but also of those other many services which made so marked and brave a contribution during the years of the war. I hope this will be agreeable to you, for I am sure it would be an houour which would be widely acclaimed"

Glasgow University conferred upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) for, amongst other contributions, her role as a wife: ‘There are times when the fate of the world seems to depend on the life of one man. Such a time we have known. And we can but remember with gratitude what it meant to Mr. Churchill that there stood beside him in the evil days one who added womanly grace and womanly wisdom, a power to achieve, a faith to persevere, and a full measure of the courage which, as we like to think, reflects the ancient valour of a Scottish ancestry."

Churchill often made some amusing remarks about how he maintained that relationship with his wife. When a visitor commented that he and his wife ate breakfast together, Churchill said: "My wife and I tried two or three times in the last forty years to have breakfast together, but it didn’t work. Breakfast should be had in bed, alone. Not downstairs, after one has dressed... I don’t think our married life would have been nearly so happy if we both had dressed and come down for breakfast all these years."

He used his mornings abed in part for reading, in addition to all the major dailies he was a steady reader of the Manchester Guardian ("the best newspaper in the world"), greatly respected the Christian Science Monitor, and every week he had a good look at The Economist. His reading took him the better part of an hour as he sat in bed, propped up with pillows, eating a good solid breakfast of fruit, eggs, meat or fish, toast and coffee.

In the breakfast conversation, observed by Walter Graebner, the London representative for Time-Life, Churchill related how he was able to maintain such a rigorous schedule. "You must sleep some time between lunch and dinner, and no half-way measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That’s what I always do. Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one-well, at least one and a half, I'm sure. When the war started, I had to sleep during the day because that was the only way I could cope with my responsibilities. Later, when I became Prime Minister my burdens were, of course, even greater. Often I was obliged to work far into the night I had to see reports, take decisions and issue instructions that could not wait until the next day. And at night I'd also dictate minutes requesting information which my staff could assemble for me in the morning—and place before me when I woke up."

Churchill continued: "But a man should sleep during the day for another reason. Sleep enables you to be at your best in the evening when you join your wife, family and friends for dinner. That is the time to be at your best—a good dinner, with good wines...champagne is very good...then some brandy—that is the great moment of the day. Man is ruler then—perhaps only for fifteen minutes, but for that time at least he is master—and the ladies must not leave the table too soon."

During this period his book writing focused on the preparation for publication of his speeches, including his secret wartime addresses to Parliament and, most particularly, his war memoirs. To that end he met with historian Bill Deakin, his tax adviser, his solicitor, representatives of the publishing house of Cassell and Lord Ismay, his military adviser. The great project resulting in the six volumes of The Second World War had begun.


"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster...

In June Lord Moran recorded in that his famous patient seemed to be ready to come back. "A short time ago," Churchill told him, "I was ready to retire and die gracefully. Now I’m going to stay and have them out....I’ll tear their bleeding entrails out of them. I’m in pretty good fettle [which I attribute to] the the Jerome blood." However, the next month Moran found Churchill "in poor heart — one of his black moods. ‘I’m fed-up,’ he said. ‘Victory has turned to sackcloth and ashes.'" This feeling would be later expressed in Churchill’s reference to Clemenceau’s post-World War I book Le Grandeur et la Miserede la Paix.

After this war," said Churchill, "it is all misere and no grandeur." An additional month later Moran recorded: "Winston is happy at Chartwell, as happy as he can be when the world has gone all wrong."

Churchill expressed concern about a book by Elliott Roosevelt (FDR’s son) which expressed the view of some Americans that Churchill had unnecessarily delayed the cross-Channel invasion of Europe for two years. Churchill said: "I asked Monty whether we could have invaded France before we did and Monty answered that it would have been madness. We could not have done it without the landing craft."

Churchill was more concerned about the future, especially the prospect of war between Russia and the Anglo-Americans. He was expressing more concern about Russia’s intentions, which had become very clear to him at Potsdam. He helped prepare for any coming clash by advocating European unity. In France he recalled his visit to Paris in 1883, when his father had explained the Franco-German fight over Alsace Lorraine; and his visit to the’ French Army in 1907, when he "felt that by those valiant bayonets the rights of man had been gained and that by them these rights and also the liberties of Europe would be faithfully guarded. The road has been long and terrible," he reflected. "I am astonished to find myself here at the end of it all." He called on the two nations to "preserve and fortify our united action. Never let us part."

His theme that "Europe must arise from her ruin and spare the world a third and possibly a fatal holocaust" was best expressed in a speech at Zurich University which was only slightly less influential than the Iron Curtain speech earlier in the year. He began with "I wish to speak to you today about the tragedy of Europe, [that] noble continent ... the fountain of Christian faith and Christian ethics ... and the origin of most of the culture, arts, philosophy and science both of ancient and modern times ... If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance, there would be no limit to the happiness, to the prosperity and glory which its three or four hundred million people would enjoy. Yet it is from Europe that has sprung that series of frightful nationalistic quarrels, originated by the Teutonic nations, which we have seen even in this twentieth century and in our own lifetime, wreck the peace and mar the prospects of all mankind." To prevent a recurrence of these quarrels he called for a "United States of Europe," beginning with a partnership between France and Germany. "There can be no revival of Europe without a spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany."

Churchill’s personal concern was for Chartwell, which he had owned since 1922. He had placed it on the market in 1938 but financial help from a friend had allowed him to keep it. He had over £100,000 in the bank and calculated that he needed £12,000 per year to live. Since he wanted the income from his war memoirs to go to his heirs, he determined to sell Chartwell in order to augment his income.

When asked by a friend if he would sell Chartwell for £50,000 to friends who would allow him to live in it for the rest of his life before turning it over to the National Trust, Churchill replied:

"Yes, and [I will] throw in the corpse as well." Nowhere is the memory kept so green as at Chartwell, and we all thank and honour the following people who purchased Chartwell and left it, not just to the British Nation, but to the world, as a memorial and tribute to the life of Sir Winston Churchill: Lord Bearsted, Lord Bicester, Sir James Laird, Sir Hugo Cunliffe-Owen, Lord Catto, Lord Glendyne, Lord Kenilworth, Lord Leathers, Sir James Lithgow, Sir Edward Mountain, Lord Nuffield, Sir Edward Peacock, Lord Portal, James deRothschild, J. Arthur Rank, Sir Frederick Stewart and, especially, Lord Camrose.


Beginning work on "The Second World War"

After his speech at Zurich  Churchill returned to London.Then, accompanied by his wife and daughter Mary, he went to Brussels and to Paris, where Mary met her future husband, Christopher Soames; the Assistant Military Attaché at the British Embassy.

At home again. Churchill resumed work on his war memoirs. Aware that he was dealing with topics and documents which remained sensitive, he outlined his plans to the Secretary of the Cabinet: "I should of course not wish to publish any paper which’ was not considered in the public interest by the Government of the day, and I should be quite ready to discuss the omission of any particular phrase, sentence or passage in any memorandum otherwise unobjectionable. Moreover I do not expect that any publication can take place for two or three years and I may not live so long." The proposal was submitted to the Cabinet, which approved Churchill’s proposal on condition that a final revision would be subject to approval "in the light of the situation existing at the time."

Churchill renewed his prewar relationship with Bill Deakin, who coordinated all the documentary evidence. Deakin later recalled the experience for Martin Gilbert:

"Winston and I would discuss together, alone, a sort of synopsis, which he would think out in his head and discuss with me. I would work into that frame. I would look up what happened. He then would dictate away what he remembered about people. He would also send me to talk to people, as a kind of interpreter. When I would produce a memorandum, this would provoke his personal memory. He would stop completely. No more documents. He would dictate his feelings (when he became First Lord, when he became Prime Minister). I would go to Chartwell for days at a time. Everything was devoted to his memoirs. He concentrated ruthlessly on this. He saw it as his monument."

Outside of this work Churchill continued to be active in political affairs. Brendan Bracken noted that Churchill "is determined to continue to lead the Tory Party until he becomes Prime Minister on earth or Minister of Defence in Heaven."

1947



"A year of recovery"

On his seventy-second birthday, Churchill declared, "we are the past, and that is done with. Mary is the future."

But he wasn't quite the past yet. From the Opposition benches he hammered the government on its policies toward both Palestine and India. In the former, he thought they were moving too slowly; in the latter, too quickly. He spent most of a bitterly cold winter at Hyde Park Gate and Chartwell, working on his Second World War memoirs with Bill Deakin and a battery of secretaries. Lord Ismay also provided considerable assistance. Lord Moran recorded that Churchill's "spirits have risen and his vigour has come back. He has put vain regrets away; once more there is a purpose in life. He is very happy at Chartwell, arming and painting and dictating his book. In short, it has been a year of recovery."

February was a peak and a valley emotionally for the Churchills. The peak was Mary's marriage, at St. Margaret's Church in Westminster, to Christopher Soames, assistant military attache at the British Embassy in Paris. He had been a Captain in the Coldstream Guards and served from Cairo through the Western Desert to Tunis, before joining an Intelligence unit in Italy and France. Churchill took to his new son instantly and "their friendship grew into a most warm and moving relationship." Clementine was slower in her acceptance, but she also began to appreciate her new son-in-law, whom they affectionately called "The Chimp." Years later Christopher joked with Clementine about her original lack of confidence and liking: "Yes, darling, but I've made up for it since," she responded, patting his hand.

The valley was the death of Churchill's brother Jack. "There couldn't have been a more perfect relation between two brothers than yours with him," wrote Eddie Marsh. Churchill said that "the only thing Jack worried about was England. I told him it wd be all right."

Observing the Nuremberg trials, Churchill commented to Lord Ismay, "It shows that if you get into a war it is supremely important to win it. You and I would be in a pretty pickle if we had lost."


The prewar years were very much on Churchill's mind as he worked on his Second World War memoirs. His thoughts were carried into the debates of the House of Commons. Speaking on the National Service Bill, he chided Labour for bringing in a conscription bill "after two years of peace, when all our enemies have surrendered unconditionally. Why, these were the very politicians who, four months before the outbreak of the war, led their followers into the Lobby against the principle of compulsory military service, and then had the face to accuse the Conservative Party of being guilty men." Nonetheless, the Churchill-led Conservatives supported the Bill.

This debate launched a verbal battle between Churchill and Clement Attlee. The Labour Prime Minister retaliated by calling Churchill the "most disastrous Chancellor of the century" for putting Britain back on the gold standard. "He sinned, no doubt in all ignorance, but much of our troubles today can be traced back to that error of ignorance and his simple trust of others in a field where he had little knowledge." Churchill responded that while he Chancellor "the real wages of our workpeople steadily and substantially increased." He accelerated his attacks by asking why Britain should be "the only debtor country in the world, while those she had rescued and those she had conquered went into the future without having to drag a terrible chain of debts behind them." This attack led to a reduction of the British war debt.

Churchill's Conservatives also supported Labour initiatives on the Indian subcontinent, provided they led to Dominion status for India and Pakistan. Attlee had appointed two Churchill supporters to bring India to independence: Lord Mountbatten and Lord Ismay. But Churchill disagreed with the name "Indian Independence Bill." Dominion status, he said, "is not the same as Independence, although it may freely be used to establish Independence. It is not true that a community is independent when its Ministers have in fact taken the Oath of Allegiance to the King." This would have been news to Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans. In this case, Churchill was not clearly understanding the evolution of the Empire into the Commonwealth. His attention was focused on Europe, its rebuilding, restructuring and defence. He continued to support the concept of a United Europe and acknowledged the importance of the support of the United States, particularly the recent passage of the Truman Doctrine.

With the assistance of his son-in-law, Christopher Soames, he continued the development of farming activities at Chartwell including the purchase of an adjacent one hundred plus acres. His publishing activities prospered. Most significant was the selling of serialization rights of his war memoirs to Life Magazine, The New York Times and the Daily Telegraph. The Times expected the work to be "one of the greatest and most brilliantly written historical documents of all time." It was.

In May Churchill prepared to go to Paris to receive the Medaille Militaire, a unique honour for a foreign citizen. Clementine gave her husband the following advice: "I would like to persuade you to wear civilian clothes during your Paris visit. To me, air force uniform except when worn by the Air Crews is rather bogus. And it is not as an Air-Commodore that you conquered in the War but in your capacity and power as a Statesman. All the political vicissitudes during the years of Exile qualified you for unlimited and supreme power when you took command of the Nation. You do not need to wear your medals to show your prowess. I feel the blue uniform is for you fancy-dress, and I am proud of my plain Civilian Pig."

This story is illustrative of the problems faced by historians. Official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert found a note from Churchill to his valet stating, "I shall wear civilian clothes and take no uniform at all." Another victory for spousal common sense! But in his outstanding account of his research, In Search of Churchill, Gilbert recounts how he discovered (In Finest Hour #35, Spring 1982) a photograph taken by William Beatty of Churchill in Paris wearing a military uniform! (That photograph can also be seen in In Search of Churchill facing page 179). While Churchill had honoured his wife's wishes not to wear an Air-Commodore's uniform, he had, in fact, worn the uniform of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars, his old regiment.


As Churchill went into surgery for a hernia operation he told the doctor: "Wake me up soon, I've got lots of work to do." In addition to his political duties, he was eager to get on with his six-volume war memoirs (and he still had to publish his four-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples and numerous books of speeches). Upon returning to Chartwell, the bed-ridden recuperating patient received enough visitors to tire a perfectly healthy middle-aged person. He was 72 years old! At the same time he was concerned with the health of Clementine. "Cast care aside," he wrote her. "What we may have to face cannot be worse than all we have crashed through together."

Before he could return to London, some backroom politicians plotted to create a Coalition Government led by Ernest Bevin, but the opposition of Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan killed the plan. Several Conservatives wanted Churchill to retire as party leader but none was willing to make the suggestion directly to him.

Churchill's summer was spent working on his memoirs with a team of researchers led by Bill Deakin. Denis Kelly's recollections of this phenomenal effort are told in Martin Gilbert's Never Despair: Despite this busy schedule he still had time for relaxation, according to one of his detectives, Ronald Golding. While rabbit hunting on his farm "Mr. Churchill clambered slowly out of the Jeep. Just as he got his feet on the ground there was a shout from the others and a rabbit darted from the centre of the field. In a flash Mr. Churchill raised his gun and fired one barrel. The rabbit keeled over dead. it was a wonderful shot, and the usual Churchill luck. The others had been waiting hours for the opportunity."


"My Dear Harry..."

"My dear Harry" was the salutation of Churchill's letter to U.S. President Harry Truman, thanking him for the Marshall Plan which was "saving the world from Famine and War." In his response, Truman made an interesting observation about the Soviet Union which "seem most ungrateful for the contribution which your great country and mine made to save them. I sometimes think perhaps we made a mistake‹and then I remember Hitler. He had no heart at all. I believe that Joe Stalin has one but the Polit Bureau [sic] won't let him use it." Churchill shared Truman's concerns. In an address broadcast to America he said the Soviets were directing an "unceasing stream of abuse upon the Western World and they have accompanied this virulent propaganda by every action which could prevent the world settling down into a durable peace." To meet the world's challenges he called for a "fraternal association" between the British Empire and Commonwealth, the European Union and the United States, with Britain serving as "the vital link between them all."

Looking towards India he reminded people of his warnings in the early 1930s: "We are of course only at the beginning of these horrors and butcheries, perpetrated upon one another, men, women and children, with the ferocity of cannibals, by races gifted with capacities for the highest culture and who had for generations dwelt side by side in general peace under the broad, tolerant and impartial rule of the British Crown and Parliament." In speaking to the Conservative Party Conference he forecast that "the consequences of Socialist spite, folly and blundering" would lead to a general election for which the Tories must prepare.

At Chartwell he worked on his war memoirs. His draft was challenged by Henry Luce, who had agreed to publish excerpts in Life magazine. Luce felt that there were too many documents which "mar the architectural sense" and too little "analytical insight." Churchill agreed to make changes.

In November the Churchills attended the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, R.N. at Westminster Abbey. Clementine made some interesting observations about other notables in attendance: "Smuts [Prime Minister of South Africa]...really cares for Winston and is a source of strength and encouragement for him. Mackenzie King [Prime Minister of Canada] is unchanging as a Chinese image, and General Marshall the hope of Mankind."

One evening in late November, Churchill was enjoying a quiet dinner with his family when his daughter Sarah pointed to an empty chair and asked: "If you had the power to put someone in that chair to join us now, whom would you choose?" Sarah later remembered that she expected her father to name one of his heroes - Caesar, Napoleon or Marlborough. He took only a moment to consider and then said simply, "Oh, my father of course." He had chosen his greatest hero of all.

Churchill went on to describe the outline of an article which was to become The Dream. "It was not clear whether he was recalling a dream or elaborating on some fanciful idea that had struck him earlier," his son Randolph wrote, "but this was the genesis of the story." (The Dream is available from the Churchill Store and Book Club).

1948



The War Memoirs

Lord Moran describes Churchill in a restless state of mind brought on by being out of office and the knowledge that some of his colleagues wanted him to step aside as Leader of the Opposition. Churchill told Moran that he didn't need a rest but "psychologically one needs change from time to time." He decided to take a vacation in a warmer climate, but currency restrictions prevented him from taking sufficient funds out of the country.

Churchill accepted an offer from Time-Life to stay at the Hotel Mamounia in Marrakech. Sarah Churchill, who accompanied him, described the visit in a letter to her mother: "So far he has not left the hotel, he paints from a high balcony of the new wing of the hotel ‹and as it has till now been cold, I am glad. But today a sortie is planned‹just a small one‹to the pink walls. He is inclined to work a little too late."

Churchill himself described his routine to Clementine: "Wake about 8 a.m., work at Book till 12:30, lunch at one, paint from 2:30 till 5, when it is cold and dusk, sleep from 6 p.m. till 7:30, dine at 8, Oklahoma with the Mule [cards with Sarah].ŠAt 10 or 11 p.m. again work on the Book. Here I have been rather naughty; the hours of going to bed have been one o'clock, two, three, three, two, but an immense amount has been done and Book II [of The Gathering Storm] is practically finished. I am not going to sit up so late in future. The painting has not gone badly but I only have these two and a half short hours of good light."

Literary aide Bill Deakin gave his version of the events to Martin Gilbert in 1975: "He liked excursions. They were working sessions. Sometimes he would write a piece of his own, without any documents. When I got to Marrakech I found an awful piece about the Spanish Civil War. I said: 'But these weren't your views at the time.' He shouted at me; 'you God-damn, damn you, you always think you're right.'
'
"His mind was fixed on the conduct of the war. Occasionally, late at night, we might talk about the Dardanelles.... He didn't do very much work. He wanted company. He painted most of the time."

Churchill had a different perception. He had written Clementine that "I came here to play, but in fact it has only been Work under physically agreeable conditions."

This holiday also gave him a break from the English political scene, and it appears he was in great need of this respite. He wrote Clementine that "England and politics seem very different here. I continue to be depressed about the future. I really do not see how our poor island is going to earn its living when there are so many difficulties around us and so much ill will and division at home."

In early January Deakin returned to England with twelve chapters of the book. At the same time Lord Moran and Clementine arrived to tend to Churchill, who was feeling ill. Moran found that Churchill did not have pneumonia and his patient was in fine form very quickly. Moran wrote a long entry in his journal about his visit to Marrakech. He dated it 7 December 1947, but Martin Gilbert points out that the correct dating is 3 January 1948.

Moran suggests that Churchill was intolerant of criticism. If that was true, this was a very difficult time for the author of The Second World War. Among the people who gave very detailed criticism of his drafts were Isaiah Berlin, Edward Marsh, Clementine and, especially, Emery Reves. The significance of Reves's comments was that the text would have to be largely rewritten. Reves had shown the manuscript to the judges of the Book-of-the-Month Club (Henry Seidel Canby, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Christopher Morley, John P. Marquand and Clifton Fadiman). They were impressed with the work but agreed with Reves's recommendations. Churchill made enough changes to please both Reves and himself.

Once again discussions ensured regarding the title of Volume I. Churchill first considered Downward Path; Reves suggested Gathering Clouds, or The Brooding Storm and the eventual winner, The Gathering Storm. It was the best possible choice.

In February Churchill returned to England to face a new gathering storm: aggressive Communist political and military activity. Most ominous was the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia and the mysterious death of Churchill's friend the non-Communist foreign minister, Jan Masaryk.


"Circulation sluggish"

During the spring the first volume of The Second World War, The Gathering Storm, was published (over 200,000 copies) and work began on the second, Their Finest Hour. Walter Graebner and Emery Reves helped Churchill with the former and William Deakin headed up the team of researchers for the latter. L~fr began publishing its excerpts in April. The book was also serialized in the Daily Telegraph, the Glasgow Herald and The New York Times.

John Colville visited Churchill, who took the opportunity to express his views about a couple of his wartime colleagues and allies. About Montgomery, Churchill spoke scathingly of Monty’s self-advertising stunts and said that "he presumed British soldiers would soon have to be called Monties instead of Tommies." With regard to the issue of the Americans and the second front, Churchill said: "No lover ever studied every whim of his mistress as I did those of President Roosevelt"

Lord Moran wrote: "When I examined Winston’s retinal arteries with my ophthalmoscope, I found definite hardening of the vessels, but not more than I one would expect after the stress of the war years. There is plenty of evidence that his circulation is sluggish"

Three of Churchill’s oils (Blenheim Tapestries, Goldfish pool, Chartwell and The Blue Sitting Room, Trent Park) were accepted by the Royal Academy and given prominent display. Churchill was also elected honorary Academician Extraordinary of the Royal Academy, the first Briton to receive this honour. He revealed that his magnificent moral for his war memoirs—"In War: Resolution; In Defeat: Defiance; In Victory: Magnanimity; In Peace: Good Will"— was written for a monument in France, but had been rejected.

He spoke at the Annual Conference of the Central Women’s Advisory Committee, at the Royal Albert Hall, London on "This Country Needs a New Parliament."At a Pilgrims’ Dinner at the Savoy Hotel he paid tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt.

In a speech to the Congress of Europe at the Hague he said "We shall only save ourselves from the perils which draw near by forgetting the hatreds of the past, by letting national rancours and revenges die, by progressively effacing frontiers and barriers which aggravate and congeal our divisions, and by rejoicing together in that glorious treasure of literature, of romance, of ethics, of thought and toleration belonging to all, which is the true inheritance of Europe, the expression of its genius and honour, but which by our quarrels, our follies by our fearful wars and the cruel and awful deeds that spring from war and tyrants, we have almost cast away." He later spoke in Amsterdam and Oslo.

Clementine was not well and was away from Chartwell recuperating when she received the following from her husband: "Darling: You did promise Sept 12, 1908 To Love, Honour and Obey. Nowherewith are Orders: 3:15 You come here to rest, 7:30 Dinner, 8:30 Journey to 28, 9:40 Bed and a read. given at Chartwell GHQ The Tyrant."


Many Poles objected to certain comments made by Churchill in the U.S. edition of his first volume of The Gathering Storm. He deleted the offending passages from the British edition, explaining to Eddie Marsh that "it was written in a feeling of anger against the behaviour of the present Polish Government and the temporary subservience of the Polish people to them."

Rebecca West reviewed the book in The Saturday Review of Literature: "Mr. Churchill's account of the events leading up to the Second World War is a puzzling book. It is clear as crystal about everything except the man who wrote it. He is without match in his generation for his exquisitely feline portraits of his enemies. But Churchill is the leader of the Tory Party, and he is not going to make it lose face altogether, so though he gives Baldwin away entirely, and frankly reveals Neville Chamberlain's incompetence at certain periods, he preserves certain reticences. This leads him at times into slight falsifications of history.

"This volume indicates that some of Mr. Churchill's difficulties with his colleagues may be due to his phenomenal egotism. England loves him; it distrusts him, it fears him. England has always kept Winston Churchill because behind him they see the towers and parks of the great houses which were the nerve centres of the old order; in him they fear the insolence which was the occupational disease of those who lived in the great houses.We sigh in astonishment at the fools who year in, year out, kept out of power the man to whom we British owe our lives."

They not only kept him out of power before the war, but they threw him out as soon as possible after. But they could not silence him. While continuing to call for the defeat of the Labour politicians "whose crazy theories and personal incompetence have brought us down," he supported the Government's firm stand against the Russians who had established a blockade of Berlin.

He desired a holiday in France but currency restrictions limited the amount of money he could take out of England. This problem was solved when Time-Life paid for serialization rights for The Second World War in French francs. He ended the summer with a holiday in Aix-en-Provence, but a holiday for Winston Churchill was unlike that of anyone else's, as we will see in the next installment.


Publishing Volume I

A holiday for Winston Churchill was a trying time for everyone around him. His daughter Sarah called him "Hard, hard working wonderful Papa."

Martin Gilbert records a telephone call between Churchill (in Aix-en-Province) and William Deakin (at Chartwell) which illustrates the demands placed on assistants.

"WSC: Bill, I am very hard pressed. I want you to come down right away. Take tomorrow’s plane. I’ll have a car meet you at the airport.

"Deakin: I’m so sorry, Sir, but I can’t get away that early. I have a lot of work to wind up at Oxford and can’t leave for a least four days.

"WSC: What’s that you say? I can’t hear you need you down here F ~rery much. Get on the plane as fast you can. We’ll arrange everything from this end.

"Deakin: But. Sir, I said I can’t possibly do it. There is work I must finish up here first.

"WSC: This connection is very bad. Can’t hear a word you say. We’ll see you tomorrow then. Good-bye."

Gilbert also records a poignant story that illustrates the complexity of Churchill’s genius at this time. Walter Graebner, author of My Dear Mister Churchill. dined with Churchill after WSC had spent "a long happy afternoon at Montagne Sainte-Victoire, so beloved of Cezanne. Deep in thought for several minutes, he suddenly broke into the conversation around him, and said rather gravely: ‘I have had a wonderful life, full of many achievements. Every ambition I’ve ever had has been fulfilled - save one.’ ‘Oh, dear me, what is that?’ said Mrs. Churchill. ‘1 am not a great painter,’ he said, looking slowly around the table."

On receiving an honorary degree from the University of London, he remarked on "how many more degrees I have received than I have passed examinations." On his 74th birthday he went riding to hounds with the Old Surrey Burstow Hunt He appeared in his bowler hat, smoking an enormous cigar. He was hale and hearty and tally-hoed after the fox for two hours.

1949



Out of Power, But Optimistic

Twenty-five years later saw Churchill as Leader of the Opposition making the same attacks on Socialists, speaking against a bill to nationalize the iron and steel industries: "I say this is not a Bill, it is a plot; not a plan to increase production, but an operation in restraint of trade. It is not a plan to help our patient struggling people, but a burglar's jemmy to crack the capitalist crib. [Laughter.] The Rt. Hon. Gentleman laughs, but he lives on the exertions of 80 percent of industries still free and all his hopes are founded on their activities. Those free industries constitute practically the whole of our export trade...but still they are carrying the whole burden of our life and represent our only solvent economic earning power."

While complimenting the Labour Government's stand against the Soviet Union and its blockade of Berlin, he was critical of its refusal to recognize the new state of Israel, for which he blamed the anti semitism of Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. "Whether the Rt. Hon. Gentleman likes it or not, and whether we like it or not, the coming into being of a Jewish State in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand or even three thousand years....I say that the Conservative Party has done a great task over twenty-five years, with Parliaments which had a Conservative majority, in trying to build a Jewish National Home in Palestine, and now that it has come into being, it is England that refuses to recognize it, and, by our actions, we find ourselves regarded as its most bitter enemies. All this is due, not only to mental inertia or lack of grip on the part of the Ministers concerned, but also, I am afraid, to the very strong and direct streak of bias and prejudice on the part of the Foreign Secretary. I do not feel any great confidence that he has not got a prejudice against the Jews in Palestine."

In the same address, responding to the criticisms that Palestine could not accommodate the explosive growth of the Arab and Jewish populations‹more than doubling in the previous 25 years‹Churchill conveyed his optimistic vision of people as a resource and an asset rather than a liability: "The idea that only a limited number of people can live in a country is a profound illusion; it all depends on their co-operative and inventive power. There are more people today living twenty storeys above the ground in New York than were living on the ground in New York 100 years ago. There is no limit to the ingenuity of man if it is properly and vigorously applied under conditions of peace and justice."


Unwilling to "accept any reproach...from any Conservative"

Churchill was in New York on 25 March 1949 where he spoke at a dinner given by Time publisher Henry Luce on the requirements for European freedom and why the Soviet Union had erected the Iron Curtain of which he had warned three years earlier in his Fulton, Missouri address:

"Gentlemen, some time ago, you may possibly remember, I made a speech in Missouri at Fulton‹I got into great trouble for that. But now not so much. Now it is thought better of....But what has brought this great change from the time when I was so scolded three years ago for what I said at Fulton?....No one could possibly have done it but Mr. Stalin. He is the one....And that brings me to a question which we must ask ourselves. What is the explanation of the Soviet policy? Why have they deliberately united the free world against them. I will hazard the answer....It is, I am sure, because they feared the friendship of the West more than they do its hostility. They can't afford to allow free and friendly intercourse between their country and those they control, and the rest of the world. They daren't see it develop‹the coming and going and all the easements and tolerances which come from the agreeable contacts of nations and of individuals. They can't afford it."

Upon his return to England, Churchill found himself under attack within the Conservative Party for accepting the Labour Government's position that India could remain in the Commonwealth as an independent republic. Churchill, whose wilderness years out of power in the 1930s were attributable in part to his unwillingness to accept the Conservatives' compromise over India, was unsympathetic. As he wrote to Lord Salisbury on 7 May 1949:

"I consider that the fatal step towards India was taken when Baldwin supported the Ramsay MacDonald plan in 1930 and enforced it upon the Conservative Party in 1931. I and seventy Conservatives and your Father resisted this for four long years, and were systematically voted down by the Baldwin-Ramsay MacDonald combination, supported for this purpose, I need hardly say, by the Socialist Party in opposition. Once the Conservative Party cast aside its duty to resist the weakening of the Imperial strength, the gap could not be filled, and from this point we slid and slithered to the position we have reached today. I could not therefore accept any reproach for the present situation from any Conservative who supported the Baldwin and Chamberlain policies."

Later in May, Churchill previewed the film "Crusade in Europe" at Chartwell. As one guest recorded: "It was the custom at Chartwell to invite everyone who lived or worked on the estate to view the movies. Among the group of twenty or thirty was an ex-German prisoner-of-war named Walter, who did odd jobs like wood-cutting and lawn-moving....The March of Time film was not under way more than a few minutes before it was clear that it would not evoke happy memories for a former member of the Reichswehr. Churchill rose from his seat at once, tapped Walter on the shoulder, and motioned him to leave the theater with him. Later we learned that Churchill's object in going out was to suggest to Walter that perhaps he would prefer not to see the film that evening. Walter, however, returned to the theater with Churchill and remained till the end."


"En garde, français!"

Churchill continued working on the third volume of his war memoirs, spending much time in Italy on holiday with Clementine and his entourage, described on this occasion by Walter Graebner. No matter how far he went, whether by rail or air, Churchill took with him all the equipment for an office, other than tables and chairs. Nothing was left to chance: he wanted an office functioning within an hour or two after his arrival. Crates and black dispatch boxes were filled with typewriters, paper clips, pencils, ink, paper, paste, scissors, pins, envelopes, sealing-wax, seals and string. The management of this vital part of the holiday operation was entrusted to two secretaries from the London staff, one of whom was available whenever Churchill called between 8AM and 2PM.

There were always about a dozen people in the Churchill entourage. Two were Scotland Yard detectives, who worked twelve-hour shifts each so that Churchill was never left unguarded. Since they were the same team assigned to him in England they felt quite at ease in the party, and on painting and picnic excursions they pitched in and helped like everyone else. Also present was a valet, who not only dressed Churchill and looked after his other needs in the bedroom, but squeezed the tube when his master wanted more paint, saw that a fresh cigar was never more than a few feet away, and did hundreds of other little things which added to his comfort.

Immediately prior to departing on holiday, Churchill addressed a Conservative rally in Wolverhampton in which he harkened back to his 1924 theme of excessive taxation:

"...our Socialist spendthrifts and muddlers have dissipated every oversea asset they could lay their hands on, and in addition have exacted and extracted from our people a higher rate of taxation than was required in the very height of the war, from which we victoriously emerged. It will be incredible to those who come afterwards that so much should have been cast away in so short a time, so many sacrifices demanded, so many restrictions and regulations imposed and obeyed, and that at the end we should be where we are now."

Churchill concluded this passage by borrowing and adapting to present circumstances one of his most famous lines: "Never before in the history of human government has such great havoc been wrought by such small men." He also repeated the attacks on Socialism he had made twenty-five years earlier, promising that the Conservatives would "...return to a system which provides incentives for effort, enterprise, self-denial, initiative, and good housekeeping. We cannot uphold the principle that the rewards of society must be equal for those who try and for those who shirk, for those who succeed and for those who fail....

"Within a year--perhaps much sooner--the British nation will have had to make one of the most momentous choices in its history. The choice is between two ways of life: between individual liberty and State domination; between concentration of ownership in the hands of the State and the extension of ownership over the widest number of individuals; between the dead hand of monopoly and the stimulus of competition; between a policy of increasing restraint and a policy of liberating energy and ingenuity; between a policy of levelling down and a policy of opportunity for all to rise upwards from a basic standard."

In August, Churchill attended the first meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, where he delivered a speech in French and, according to Harold Macmillan, "with a better accent than usual." Robert Rhodes Jones reports that Churchill's opening words, "Take heed! I am going to speak in French," were received by the crowd "with thunderous cheers and applause." In the speech, Churchill attempted to harmonize European nationalism with an overriding European unity:

"We are reunited here, in this new Assembly, not as representatives of our several countries or various political parties, but as Europeans forging ahead, hand in hand, and if necessary elbow to elbow, to restore the former glories of Europe and to permit this illustrious continent to take its place once more, in a world organization, as an independent member sufficient unto itself.

"That primary and sacred loyalty that one owes to one's own country is not difficult to reconcile with this larger feeling of European fellowship. On the contrary, we will establish that all legitimate interests are in harmony and that each one of us will best serve the real interests and security of his country if we enlarge at the same time both our sentiment of citizenship and of common sovereignty--if we include in this sentiment the entire continent of States and of nations who have the same way of life."

After Strasbourg, Churchill continued his holiday, staying with Lord Beaverbrook at his villa near Monte Carlo. While there, he suffered a slight stroke which was not reported publicly at the time. (See "Churchill's Dagger, FH 87.) By the end of August, Churchill had recovered sufficiently to return to England, where he attended the races at Epsom to see his new racehorse, Colonist II.


"Chickenham Palace"

Churchill was still recuperating in the Autumn of 1949 from the minor stroke he had suffered while on holiday in France. He continued to work on his memoirs of World War II, submitting draft chapters for comment to a wide variety of people including his wife, Clementine, who told him one night at dinner: "Winston, I have now finished volume III and I hope you will pay some attention to the little notes I have made in the margins. You must make a great many changes. I got so tired of the endless detail about unimportant battles and incidents. So much of the material is pedestrian."

Kept informed by Prime Minister Clement Attlee of significant defense and foreign policy developments, Churchill privately gave advice to Attlee on these issues. On defense policy, he wrote Attlee that Britain could not help defend Europe unless it could first defend itself:

"A defenceless Britain can play no part in the defence of Europe. Her power to help in the past has arisen from an integral, insular security. If this falls, all falls. If it endures, all may be defended or regained. Mere contributions, however generous, to European schemes of defence will be useful to Europe if Britain is herself no longer a living military entity. It is certainly not isolationism to set this first objective first, On the contrary it is the only foundation upon which effective help can be given to Europe and to other parts of the Empire."

By mid-December, Churchill had recovered from a severe cold and was well enough to go down to Chartwell where one of his guests, Sir Archibald Sinclair, who later wrote about his visit:

"Clemmie was younger, more active and agile in supervising everything, more exquisitely neat than ever and in excellent queenly looks. Winston was recovering from a very bad cold but he was in grand form‹as lively and incessant in his conversation as he was in Cabinet in the old days, eating, drinking and smoking as voraciously as ever. He took me round the farms, showed me short-horns and Jerseys, and then a huge brick hen house which he had built himself‹'Chickenham Palace.' Alongside was a noisome & messy little piece of bare ground‹'Chickenham Palace Gardens.'"

1950



"One More Heave Before The Year Is Out"

After spending Christmas at Chartwell, Churchill traveled to Madeira with his wife and daughter, Diana, intending to spend several weeks in the sun, painting and working on the fourth volume of his memoirs of World War II. Clement Attlee had different ideas. With Churchill safely out of the country, Attlee announced early in January that a General Election would be held on February 23rd. Churchill promptly flew back to London on January 12th and took command of the Conservatives' campaign. Churchill not only served as the Conservatives' chief spokesman but their chief copy editor as well. Revising the Tory election manifesto, Churchill blue pencilled "it is our intention to initiate consultations with the Unions" and substituted "we shall consult with the Unions."

The Gallup polls showed the Conservatives with a narrow three percentage-point lead, when Churchill gave his first speech of the campaign, a radio broadcast on January 21. He attacked the economic conditions engendered by five years of Socialist rule, accusing the Socialists of pursuing a policy of "equalizing misery and organizing scarcity" and contrasting that with his view of a society based on "the establishment and maintenance of a basic standard of life and labour below which a man or a woman, however old or weak, shall not be allowed to fall. . . . Above the basic standard there will be free opportunity to rise. Everyone will be allowed to make the best of himself, without jealously or spite, by all the means that honour and the long respected laws of our country allow."

In a speech on January 28th at the Woodford County School for Girls, Churchill appealed to consumers in his attack on the Socialist plans to nationalize industries: "Prosperous and well-managed industries, like cement and sugar and chemicals, are to be nationalized so that the consumer will have to pay more for their products, as he does for coal and electricity and transport, and so that a new horde of officials can be set up over them with new vistas of patronage opening out to Socialist politicians. Having made a failure of everything they have so far touched, our Socialist planners now feel it necessary to get hold of a few at present prospering industries so as to improve the general picture and the general results. There appears to be no plan or principle in the selection of these industries, except caprice and appetite. It does not matter how well they are now managed, how well they are serving the public, how much they sustain our export trade, how good are the relations between management and labour."

Churchill even cited his old Liberal colleague, Lloyd George, in support of his attacks on the Socialists. Speaking in Wales on February 8th, he quoted from a speech Lloyd George gave about 25 years earlier: "You cannot trust the battle of freedom to Socialism. Socialism has no interest in liberty. Socialism is the very negation of liberty. Socialism means the community in bonds. If you establish a Socialist community it means the most comprehensive universal and pervasive tyranny that this country has ever seen."

In this election Churchill's efforts came to naught as the Labour Party returned with a narrow majority of only six seats. But Labour had lost 78 seats while the Conservatives had gained 85 seats, thereby laying a foundation for another election in the near future, one Churchill privately predicted would come within the year. "One more heave before the year is out," he wrote to a friend. But the heave was not to come until October, 1951.


"Fertile milch cows are greatly valued"

Fifty years ago, Churchill's vision for Europe was that no enduring peace was possible without an understanding between France and Germany. As Churchill told the House on 28 March, such a combination including Great Britain, would constitute: "the core or nucleus upon which all the other civilized democracies of Europe, bound or free, can one day rally and combine...I do not wish to fall into vague generalities. Let me, therefore, express our policy as I see it in a single sentence. Britain and France united should stretch forth hands of friendship to Germany, and thus, if successful, enable Europe to live again."

Cutting oppressive income tax rates was still on his mind. On 28 April, Churchill spoke to the House on the Labour Party's budget, speaking of the confiscatory tax rates set by the budget, he remarked: "Hate is not a good guide in public or in private life. I am sure that class hatred and class warfare, like national revenge, are the most costly luxuries in which anyone can indulge. The present Chancellor has boasted of the number of persons who have net incomes of £5000 or over a year. He has boasted that it has been reduced from 11,000 before the war to 250 at the present time, and that the number of those over £6,000 has been reduced from 7,000 to 70. These are great achievements. However necessary this extreme taxation was in the war‹I was responsible, as Prime Minister, for its imposition‹it certainly is not a process which increases the long term revenue of the nation or its savings."

Churchill's view was that the government should follow policies which lowered taxes and increased the number of rich people so they could pay more in taxes, the same policies which resulted in unprecedented prosperity in the United States during the last twenty years of the twentieth century. Using his own experience as a dairy farmer, Churchill illustrated why the Labor Party's pride in reducing the ranks of the rich was a bad idea: "It is a great advantage in a dairy to have cows with large udders because one gets more milk out of them than the others. These exceptionally fertile milch cows are greatly valued in any well-conducted dairy, and anyone would be thought very foolish who boasted he had got rid of all the best milkers, just as he would be thought very foolish if he did not milk them to the utmost limit of capacity, compatible with the maintenance of their numbers.

"I am quite sure that the Minister of Agriculture would look in a very different way upon the reduction of all these thousands of his best milkers from that in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer looks upon the destruction of the most fertile and the most profitable resources of taxation.


"We have as great dangers to face as we had ten years ago."

Churchill supported the Attlee government's backing of the U.S. resolution in the United Nations Security Council when North Korea invaded the South on 25 June 1950. Nevertheless, he was openly critical of British defence policy in debate on 27 July 1950:

"...so far, I have only spoken of the Soviet forces with which we are confronted eight or nine to one against us in infantry and artillery, and probably much more than that in tank formations....If the facts that I have stated cannot be contradicted by His Majesty's Government, the preparations of the Western Union to defend itself certainly stand on a far lower level than those of the South Koreans....I warn the House that we have as great dangers to face in 1950 and 1951 as we had ten years ago. Here we are with deep and continuing differences between us in our whole domestic sphere, and faced with dangers and problems which all our united strength can scarcely overcome....It is with deep grief that I have to say these things to the House, and to reflect that it is only five years ago almost to a month when we were victorious, respected and safe."

In early August, Churchill spoke at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in favor of a European Army: "There must be created, and in the shortest possible time, a real defensive front in Europe. Great Britain and the United States must send large forces to the Continent. France must again revive her famous army. We welcome our Italian comrades. All‹Greece, Turkey, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Scandinavian States‹must bear their share and do their best.... Those who serve supreme causes must not consider what they can get but what they can give. Let that be our rivalry in these years that lie before us."

Later that month, he urged President Truman to guarantee West Germany's defense should it contribute troops to a European Army: "...I said at Strasbourg that if the Germans threw in their lot with us, we should hold their safety and freedom as sacred as our own. Of course I have no official right to speak for anyone, yet after the firm stand you have successfully made about Berlin, I think that the deterrent should be made to apply to all countries represented in the European Army. I do not see how this would risk or cost any more than what is now morally guaranteed by the United States. Perhaps you will consider whether you can give any indication of your views. A public indication would be of the utmost value and is, in my opinion, indispensable to the conception of a European front against communism." Truman's reply was noncommittal.

During this period, Churchill continued to work on Volume IV of his war memoirs at the expense of his leisure. He declined an offer from his son in-law, Christopher Soames, to accompany him pheasant hunting and momentarily gave up even his beloved painting, observing in a letter to a cousin that "I have had to give up all my holiday and cannot even squeeze a tube. Volume IV is a worse tyrant than Attlee."

Later in the summer on 12 September and based on confidential information from a source in private industry, Churchill strongly condemned the Attlee government for continuing to sell machine tools to the Soviet Union based on a trade agreement negotiated three years earlier by future Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. "It is intolerable to think that our troops today should be sent into action at one end of the world while we are supplying, or are about to supply, if not actual weapons of war, the means to make weapons of war to those who are trying to kill them or get them killed. I was astonished when I was told what was going one. I was astounded by the attitude that the Prime Minister has taken. I should think that the feeling of the great majority in this House would be that no more machine tools of a war-making character and no more machines or engines which could be used for war-making purposes should be sent from this country to Soviet Russia or the Soviet satellite nations while the present tension continues."


"My dearest Pamela...I cherish your signal across the years..."

In October Churchill celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his election to the House of Commons. That same month, in a felicitous coincidence, the House of Commons returned to its pre-war Chamber in Westminster, which had been destroyed ten years earlier by Nazi bombs and was now rebuilt, at Churchill's direction, to its identical, albeit cramped, configuration. Churchill remarked: "I am a child of the House of Commons and have been here, I believe, longer than anyone. I was much upset when I was violently thrown out of my collective cradle. I certainly wanted to get back to it as soon as possible....It excites world wonder in the parliamentary countries that we should build a Chamber, starting afresh, which can only seat two thirds of its Members. It is difficult to explain this to those who do not know our ways. They cannot easily be made to understand why we consider that the intensity, passion, intimacy, informality and spontaneity of our Debates constitute the personality of the House of Commons and endow it at once with its focus and its strength."

In October Pamela Plowden, his first love, now Lady Lytton, wrote to him reminding him that fifty years earlier he had, unsuccessfully, proposed marriage. His gracious reply is still affecting today: "My dearest Pamela...it is not till now that I can tell you how much I cherish yr signal across the years, from the days when I was [not only] a freak always that but much hated & ruled out, but there was one who saw some qualities, & it is to you that I am most deeply grateful. Do let us meet again soon. The Parl. will be sitting in November & perhaps you wd come & Lunch one day. Clemmie will telephone a plan. Fifty years! how stunning! but after all it is better than a hundred. Then there wd not be memory. With my deepest thoughts & love. From Winston."

For his birthday on 30 November, Churchill addressed the House of Commons on the differences between the aftermaths of the two world wars: "After the First War, when the victors had disarmed the Germans and their allies, no powerful organised army remained upon the scene except the French Army. After this war, the armed might of Russia emerged steadily year by year, almost month by month, as a rock shows more and more above an ebbing tide. The second difference, which arose out of the realization of the first, was that the United States, instead of retiring into isolation, instead of demanding full and prompt repayment of debts and disinteresting herself in Europe...has come forward step by step as the knowledge of the situation has dawned upon her and has made the great counterpoise upon which the freedom and the future of our civilization depends."

1958



Churchill would have loved his own villa on the Riviera. He usually spent winters at La Capponcina, owned by Lord Beaver-brook; or at La Pausa, a large house with a magnificent view of Monte Carlo, owned by Emry Reves, a literary agent who handled foreign language rights of the War Memoirs (Woods A123) and A HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES (A138). Before going south, WSC arranged with Beaverbrook to show some of his paintings in the United States, at the request of President Eisenhower; these were also shown in the Beaverbrook Gallery, University of New Brunswick, Canada.

In the middle of January Sir Winston went to stay at La Pausa. On 18 January the British press reported that Sarah had been arrested in California, and charged with being drunk. This was distressing to her parents but Lady Soames writes that Sir Winston was beginning to "acquire a degree of insulation from sad and unpleasant news about those he loved." Sarah visited WSC at La Pausa in February and Lady Churchill joined them a few days later.

On 17 February Sir Winston lunched with Aristotle Onassis on his yacht and expressed a desire to go to Monte Carlo to gamble, but a chest cold rapidly developed into pneumonia. Within a day, Lord Moran was summoned from England. Sir Winston responded to treatment but "with hindsight," writes Lady Soames, "one realizes that this illness marked a turning point from which his health and strength began a gentle but inexorable decline." Field Marshal Montgomery paid a "tonic" visit on 18 March. Despite a recurrence of the pneumonia and an attack of jaundice, WSC was well enough to return to Chartwell in time for Easter.


With his U. S. visit postponed, Sir Winston spent Easter at Chartwell, tended by a full time nurse, Roy Howells, who later wrote about his charge in SIMPLY CHURCHILL (1965). Beaver-brook described WSC as "clear in his head though not firm on his feet." Brendan Bracken, also ill, said that "his normal imperturbability seems rather dinted." He was well enough to attend The Other Club in April, and to accompany Lord Beaverbrook to the 1940 Club, an organization for those close to "The Beaver" in the Ministry of Aircraft Production in 1940. But his fever returned, causing Lord Moran much concern. One night the physician dined with Lady Churchill, who allegedly remarked, "You know, Charles. . . the Tories never really liked Winston. It was Labour that made him Prime Minister in 1940."

Jock Colville, actively engaged in the founding of Churchill College, Cambridge, visited a depressed WSC who told Colville he did not wish to live. "Winston hasn’t got much out of life since he resigned," Colville said.

Others also thought about Churchill’s approaching death. The question of how to handle his funeral originated with the Queen, and Lord Moran was summoned by the PM to discuss the matter. Meanwhile Bracken was terminally ill with cancer, and WSC overcame his intense dislike of hospitals to visit him. WSC still followed world politics, and commented that the return to power of de Gaulle "may purge French politics."


Health concerns troubled Sir Winston and Lady Churchill. CSC was afflicted with shingles, which affected her face, one eyelid and eye. This painful disease ruined Clemmie’s vacation visit to friends at the British Legation in Tangier. In July Lord Moran lunched with Halifax, who reflected on American views of Churchill. Halifax thought Americans perceived Winston as a relic of Britain’s imperial past. Moran also visited the mortally ill Brendan Bracken, who wanted to talk about the depression, fears, melancholy and shyness that Churchill -had fought to overcome all his life. Despite the calumny heaped on him, said Bracken, WSC was determined to never give in: "There is in Winston the old aristocratic contempt for consequences."

In August, Sir Winston visited Lord Beaverbrook in France. His host noted that he was usually in a very low state in the morning, which he spent in bed reading. Card games—cribbage and gin rummy—passed the afternoon and, after a glass of champagne and two brandies, the evenings were spent in talking. Usually the topic was geopolitics. Sir Winston believed that Britain and Russia might work together and that an alliance between Russia, Germany and Britain would give security and stability to Europe and Asia. The Churchills were still with Lord Beaverbrook when several members of their family arrived to help them celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary on 12 September.


Randolph and Arabella visited the Riviera to help celebrate their parents’ golden wedding anniversary. All of the children gave their parents a rose garden at Chartwell, and an illuminated book showing the design of the garden with individual pictures of roses by Britain’s leading flower painters. A blank page was left for Sir Winston to add his own picture, but he never did. His last painting, "Oranges and Lemons," had earlier been completed. Advancing age had ended his hobby.

France showed its appreciation for Sir Winston’s wartime efforts. Author Jean Cocteau presented him with the Medaille de la Courtoisie Francaise and Charles de Gaulle presented him with the Croix de la Liberation. On the latter occasion Churchill reminded his audience that contemporary problems were in some ways greater than wartime: "It is harder to summon, even among friends and allies, a vital unity of purpose amidst the perplexities of a world situation which is neither peace nor war." He reviewed the troops—very slowly—and reminisced about both wars during lunch. Although he spoke with some animation to his guests his French was improvised, his speech was slow and his thoughts wandered. De Gaulle commented to the organizer of the ceremony, "How sad!"

Sir Winston had met Greta Garbo that summer and had been enthralled. He had seen all her films and frequently invited her to dine. One evening he asked her not to hide from the world and to return to the screen. For a time they talked of a comeback in a French film but, like her host, her days on the world stage were over.

1959



Lady Churchill had again suffered from shingles, but as usual organized a splendid Christmas and New Year’s at Chartwell, and a family outing, including Sir Winston, to see Sarah perform in Peter Pan in London. They then wintered in Marrakech, to which many changes, unfavorable in their view, had occurred since their visits of the late 1940s. But the visits of family and friends seemed to raise Sir Winston’s spirits. Lady Churchill wrote Mary,".. .Papa is blooming in his health. His memory fails a little more day by day and he is getting deaf, But he is well. I have learnt to play poker and enjoy it very much"

Two years before at Beaverbrook’s villa, WSC had met Aristotle Onassis and his wife Tina. Onassis greatly admired WSC and invited him to cruise on his yacht, Christina, a converted British frigate. On 29 February they boarded the vessel for an Atlantic cruise which eventually took them to the Canary Islands,

Prior to leaving for the south, the senior Conservative leader had told the Executive of his Woodford Conservative Association that the party should do what it thought was right, "not what it fancies will be immediately popular." From his own experience he had learned that "the British people are reluctant to give any party a vote of gratitude for what has been done."


Lord Moran, Churchill’s doctor, entitles his diary entries for 1959: "The Dying Gladiator."

In early April, Sir Winston suffered an arterial blockage which temporarily cut off circulation to his speech center, but he recovered in time to make, although somewhat haltingly, a speech to his Woodford constituents. As he came off the platform, he said: "Now for America."

Despite expressed reservations of his doctor and his family, Churchill boarded a BOAC Comet jet for the United States in early May. To Eisenhower’s official welcome he responded: "I am most happy once again to set foot in the United States—my mother’s country I always think of it and feel it. I have come here on a quiet visit to see some of my old comrades of wartime days Although President Eisenhower had fully recovered from his heart attack, other wartime colleagues were less fortunate. John Foster Dulles was dying of cancer and General George Marshall was totally paralyzed by a stroke. But both were comforted by Churchill’s visit.

The visit was dominated by numerous stag dinners both formal and informal, at the White House and the British Embassy. An even more rewarding, but no less exhausting, experience may have been the visit to Eisenhower’s farm at Gettysburg. On the way home WSC stopped at New York, where he was cared for by his friend, Bernard Baruch, and where he visited Sunny’s ex-wife, Consuelo. At his departure, he told the farewell crowd at the airport that he was returning to "Britain, my other country."

Back home, exhaustion, a clot in the artery of his little finger, and depression created a dark mood and seemingly ceaseless sleep. But in late May, he celebrated Beaverbrook’s 80th birthday by offering his friend a choice of one of two of his paintings. At Beaverbrook’s annual dinner, the host succeeded in rousing Sir Winston from his black mood by offering to purchase all of his paintings because "when you’re gone they won’t be worth two shillings apiece."


Lady Churchill’s shingles had left her with a drooping eyelid but the condition was surgically cured in August. Impressed with the number of patients who required corneal transplants, she willed her eyes to Moorfields Eye Hospital for therapeutic purposes.

Despite her own medical problems, she shared the anxiety of Sir Winston’s doctor about his mental depression. Perhaps the "Black Dog" was brought on by his concern with his place in history. "Why," Churchill asked Lord Moran, "do I get stuck down in the past? Why do I keep going over and over those years when I know that I cannot change anything?"

Others also dwelt on the Churchill past, but usually to tell stories about his famous, if somewhat caustic, wit. Churchill had been suspicious of the BBC since it had not allowed him to participate in some political broadcasts in the 1930’s, despite the fact that it had been the decision of the Tory leaders to exclude him. When WSC made similar political decisions as PM in the 1950s, the head of the BBC commented that Churchill’s real concern was the influence of Communists in the BBC. The executive remembered being told that he was "an antediluvian liberal sitting on a nest of vipers, which will presently strike and destroy you.

Harold Macmillan reminisced that when Churchill was once told that Clement Attlee had performed well as PM, he replied that "if any grub is fed on Royal Jelly it turns into a Queen Bee."


Sir Winston was determined to fight the Socialists one final time in the 8 October election. He made two public speeches in his own constituency and one outside. Although he won with a majority of 14,000 there was some concern that his constituents were tiring of their octogenarian and ailing member.

In late October the doctor was summoned after Sir Winston had lost consciousness for a brief period. A consulting specialist thought the attack was due to "petit mal," a form of epilepsy which also purportedly affected Caesar and Napoleon.

Despite Churchill’s declining state he was lucid enough to read both classics and contemporary offerings. Lord Moran asked him to comment on Tolstoy’s view of Napoleon, but he was more interested in Arthur Bryant’s The Turn of the Tide, based on the diaries of Lord Alanbrooke. Surprisingly, Sir Winston was not offended by what he read: "I was told that the second volume was worse than the first, full of venom, but as far as I have read I don’t find it so."

He was obviously less pleased with a statue of himself in Woodford, Essex. As Field Marshall Lord Montgomery unveiled it, Sir Winston noted that it was difficult to comment on a work portraying oneself.

1960



Some of Sir Winston's favorite vacations were spent aboard Aristotle Onassis' yacht, Christina. On this occasion they cruised the Caribbean. The plan was to meet Onassis at Gibraltar, but as they approached the rock they encountered gale-force winds which caused the pilot to overshoot the runway twice. Roy Howells, Sir Winston's valet, describes the frightened state of the passengers, "but the calmest man on board was Sir Winston, who quietly puffed away at his seven-inch-long cigar, gazing out of the window as if nothing were wrong." Churchill's physician, Lord Moran, ascribes other causes to WSC's placid behavior: "The blanching of his brain has wiped out his fears." Moran's account relates the story of an octogenarian with only sporadic touches - and those were usually unhappy - of reality.

Yet according to Howells, Churchill was so active exploring even the most inaccessible parts of the yacht and the small ports in the Caribbean that it was a constant challenge for a well-trained crew to facilitate those wishes.

Onassis was determined to be a perfect host for his idol and guest and even learned Churchill's favorite card game, bezique, in order to play with him. Great crowds welcomed them at every port. Often the flotillas of private boats endangered the passage of Christina in the harbors.

Nelson had a dockyard and the Duke of Clarence had a house at Antigua. When a tour of these facilities had not left time for a visit to the dockyard, Sir Winston was very disappointed because, after Napoleon, Nelson was his idol. Another disappointment was the failure to sail up the coast of Florida; but General de Gaulle was paying a state visit to Britain and Churchill had to fly home from Puerto Rico.


In April Charles de Gaulle, now President of France, returned to Britain for the first time since the war. His first visit was to the home of Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill and de Gaulle had had a love-hate relationship since de Gaulle had landed on Britain's shores in 1940. Their mutual pugnacious temperaments and the national interests of their countries caused considerable acrimony. Churchill's famous statement about the Cross of Lorraine being the greatest cross he had to bear during the war was balanced by de Gaulle's reference to him as "le monstre de Downing Street."

Wartime rivalries and antipathies were now put aside Sir Winston greeted his guest in French, "Vous estes le bienvenue chez moi. Jusqu'a la fin de ma vie vous serez le bienvenu." (You are welcome. Until the end of my days you will be welcome in my home.)

De Gaulle was accorded the honor of addressing both Houses of Parliament. As the bandsmen broke into the "Marseillaise," the eyes of the General and Sir Winston met and both welled up with tears. But the tears changed to laughter when de Gaulle exclaimed: "If it came about in those days of June 1944 that I found myself by no means always in agreement with my illustrious friend, on particular points, it is perhaps because success, henceforth assured, led us into some degree of intransigence . . . But see how time undertakes to bring out in relief what matters and to wipe out what counts for little."


In late summer, Sir Winston and Lady Churchill flew to Venice to join Aristotle Onassis' yacht Christina, for their second cruise, this time around the Greek islands. Before. embarking on Christina, they toured Venice's Grand Canal, to the delight of large crowds.

A favorite fellow-guest on the tour was Dame Margot Fonteyn, the celebrated ballerina. A main occasion was a meeting with President Tito of Yugoslavia. Special events were an automobile tour of Crete, a dinner party given by the Crete laberal leader, and visits to the ruins of King Minos' palace at Knossos and the ruins at Corinth. The cruise ended at Athens, where the Churchills flew home to London.

After celebrating their 52nd Wedding Anniversary'at Chartwell they went to France to spend a month at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. Visitors to the Churchill suite included Charles de Gaulle, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco and Somerset Maugham. Sometimes Sir Winston went out to visit Lord Beaverbrook's villa, or the gaming tables at the Casino.

Following their return to London, Sir Winston suffered a fall at Hyde Park Gate that resulted in his admission to St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington. Despite the fact that he had broken a small bone high up in his neck he was up and walking again in three weeks, but he was unable to attend the wedding of Edwina Sandys, his granddaughter. 

1961



The holidays were spent at Chartwell as Sir Winston recovered from the effects of his fall.

By mid-January he insisted on returning to the House of Commons. Despite the protests of his staff and family, he set off in his Humber Pullman, flying the flag of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Later in the month he attended a meeting of the Other Club at the Savoy Hotel with his special quest, Aristotle Onassis. The menu included a roast piglet from the litter of a sow once owned by Sir Winston and purchased by the Mayor of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. With compliments of the Mayor, the frozen piglet and the apple for its mouth were flown to London and specially prepared by the Savoy chef for the Other Club.

Other events attended by the Churchills were the annual dinner of the Royal Academy, a performance by their daughter Sarah in As You Like It at the Pembroke Theatre in Croydon, and frequent dinners in West End restaurants. All of this activity exhausted Lady Churchill and in March she entered St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, for a complete rest and thorough check-up.

For his part, Sir Winston joked about his ageing, but when he told David Ben Gurion that he was getting on, the Israeli Prime Minister replied: "You're not old. Moses lived until he was one hundred and twenty."


In early Match Sir Winston joined Aristotle Onassis' yacht at Gibraltar for an unhurried tour of the Caribbean and the US coast. On the day the first Russian cosmonaut went into space, Churchill arrived in New York Harbor for the final time.

Among the luncheon guests on the Christina was UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, who later commented to reporters: "This is a very great man, who has been the conscience of freedom in his time, and who now is in the sunset of his life and entitled to the privacy that he has earned in those years of endeavor."

After lunch, Sir Winston observed the departure of the Queen Mary, the Cunard ship which had conveyed him to his wartime meetings with Franklin Roosevelt. At dinner he was joined by his longtime friend, 90-year-old Bernard Baruch, who told the press: "it will be good to be with him. He's a wonderful young man at 86." During dinner he received a telephone call from President Kennedy, who offered to send a special plane to bring him to the White House for a visit. But the old man was too infirm. Besides Lady Churchill was in hospital and he wanted to get back to her. Although pleasantly surprised, he declined the invitation but accepted "for some other time."

On 14 April on Pan American Flight 100, Sir Winston Churchill left his mother's homeland for the last time.


One of the visitors to Sir Winston's home at Hyde Park Gate was Sir Anthony Eden, who told him that he had been offered and would accept an earldom.

In 1895 young Winston had been gazetted to the 4th Hussars. This summer he attended a dinner which revived many memories of those days. The regiment. now known as the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars, hosted their famous colleague at a regimental dinner at Quaglino's. Because the ballroom was below street level, the Hussars had a service elevator converted into an elegant one with brown felt on its walls, red carpet on the floor, and two brass pedestal ashtrays in the corners.

Lord Beaverbrook visited him at Chartwell to congratulate him on a great win by his new horse. High Hat. He reciprocated the visit to Beaverbrook's villa when he and Lady Churchill went to France in August on their way to Monte Carlo.


Although the state of Sir Winston's health was quite acceptable, it was too demanding on him to travel to two special occasions. He was greatly disappointed that he was unable to lay the cornerstone of Churchill College, Cambridge, or to attend "Songs," the annual sing-song at Harrow School.

In early November he participated in a family celebration at Quaglino's Restaurant for the coming-out party of his granddaughter, Celia Sandys. Although he did not retire until 2 A.M., he was out at the Savoy the next night for a dinner of the Other Club.

His birthday on 30 November was a quiet family dinner in London. Shortly after the death of Sir Hugh Bateman Protheroe-Smith, aged 89, left Sir Winston the sole surviving officer of the charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman in 1898.

1962



Sir Winston's health and alertness continued to decline but he still played backgammon and bezique with family and friends. His animals provided him with much joy. He had a poodle and a cat, but his favourite was a green parakeet named Toby.

A few public outings, particularly meetings of The Other Club with his son-in-law, Christopher Soames, enlivened his existence somewhat, but most of his time was spent reading.

He read mostly historical novels but he also liked autobiographies. Among his favourite authors were Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Lady Churchill also read voraciously. She shared her husband's taste for autobiography but also enjoyed romantic novels, particularly those by Barbara Cartland. She was more inclined to read titles from the best-seller lists.

His books were selected for him by his secretaries at the public libraries at Kensington or Westerham. He usually read half the titles they brought him but they knew his tastes so well that he seldom disapproved of any selection.

It was a fitting way to culminate the life of a man who, although not particularly successful in formal education, had been uniquely and remarkably determined to be self-educated. Prolific as a writer, he had been an equally active reader since those torrid days in India when he had read his way through Gibbon's Decline and Fall, Macaulay's History of England and Essays, Plato's Republic and Lecky's European Morals.


A very large household looked after Sir Winston's needs. His private secretary and press officer was Anthony Montague Browne, who had also served him at 10 Downing Street. He commuted between Chartwell and London, 25 miles away.

Miss Grace Hamblin, who had begun secretarial work for Churchill in 1932, became secretary to Mrs. Churchill in 1939 and was placed in charge of the secretarial and accounts duties at Chartwell in 1945. She later became Administrator at Chartwell for the National Trust in 1965 and was secretary to the Churchill Centenary Exhibition in London in 1974. She lived in her cottage on the grounds at Chartwell.

Two junior secretaries attended to Sir Winston's personal mail. One worked during the day, the other throughout the evening. They also arranged all trips, handled the telephone, organized the film showings and selected Sir Winston's books at the library.

Private nurses were constantly in attendance to look after Sir Winston's health, but his personal attendant was a male nurse, Roy Howells, who later wrote Churchill's Last Years or Simply Churchill. A young Swiss boy, Walter, served as butler, later he was replaced by a Spaniard named Enrique. A chauffeur, Joe Bullock, maintained and drove the fleet of cars.


This summer brought physical pain and discomfort to Sir Winston, While Lady Churchill remained in London, Sir Winston holidayed on the Riviera. In the middle of a night, with a nurse on guard in an anteroom, Churchill climbed from his bed, fell and broke a leg.

A splint was prepared in the hotel room and the patient was taken to a medical clinic in Monte Carlo. After a temporary plaster was prepared, Churchill was taken by a special R.A.F. plane at Nice. The incident became a media event. An army of French photographers followed every move. The motorcade to the airport in-luded police motorcycles, a TV truck, an ambulance, a car full of detectives and two cars with Sir Winston's staff.

In London, people came up to the ambulance with encouraging get-well words for the patient. Following surgery to repair the broken limb, Sir Winston survived successive attacks of bronchitis, pneumonia, a thrombosis and jaundice.

While he was in the hospital, conversions were made to 28 Hyde Park Gate to provide a bedroom on the ground floor. As he recovered he insisted on carrying on his normal routines as much as possible. Several films were provided for his entertainment: Winchester 73, a western; Above Us the Waves, a naval documentary; The Vanishing Prairie, by Disney and The Wooden Horse.

Other accoutrements were also provided. He expected and received champagne with his meals, plus his regular allotment of cigars and brandy. He always insisted on pouring his own brandy, "and never dispenses it lightly."


A prolonged recovery period from his fall during the summer "marked another definite stage in his slow decline."

Because his mobility was impaired, alterations were made to the Hyde Park Gate residence. His office at No. 27 was converted into a bedroom, with bay windows looking out over the garden. An elevator was installed in No. 28 to permit access from the bedroom to the dining-room and the garden.

The events of the summer and autumn exerted considerable strain on Lady Churchill and friends rallied to her side. Violet Bonham Carter wrote: "It is though you alone could reach him with comfort and amusement. Your 'private line' with him has remained intact. Most people can be brave in short spasms - but the steadfast endurance of the 'long haul' is attained by few. You have had so many years of - sometimes intermittent, sometimes continuous anxiety and strain with never a let-up and now W. needs you and claims more from you than ever before . . ."

Lady Violet organized a group of friends to dine and play bezique with Sir Winston while Clementine had some time to herself or with her friends.

In October Sir Winston celebrated the completion of 60 years in politics, uninterrupted except for two years in the 1920s. Prime Minister Harold Macmdlan and Lord Mountbatten came to lunch.

Although Churchill's deafness and decline contributed to an increasing number of silent meals at home, he did rally himself to dine with the Other Club in November. He is reported to have given an excellent off-the-cuff speech and did not leave until midnight.

1963



During this winter season, Sir Winston recuperated quietly in his home at Hyde Park gate.


In April the American Congress and President John F. Kennedy awarded Sir Winston Churchill an honourary citizenship of the United States of America.

In May it was announced that Sir Winston would not contest the next election. And so would end one of the truly remarkable parliamentary careers in the history of the free world. In some ways that announcement could be viewed as Churchill's real retirement, because he was, as Lord Beaverbrook has written, "in every sense a professional politician, having trained himself for his vocation." Robert Rhodes James has noted that Churchill was born into politics, and it was his devotion to his father that shaped his early political interests, attitudes and ambitions and propelled his early political career.

He had entered the House of Commons as Conservative Member for Oldham at the end of 1900 when he was just 26. This early period was devoted to finishing his father's battles. In 1904 he had crossed the floor to the Liberals over the issue of Tariff Reform. 1906Two years later he was elected as a Liberal Member for North-West Manchester. In 1908 he had to stand for reelection to Parliament because of his appointment to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade. He was defeated by his Conservative opponent, but within a month he found a new constituency in Dundee, Scotland.

In 1922 Churchill was defeated at Dundee and out of the House of Commons. The Liberal Party was in disarray. Attempts to return in West Leicester as an Independent in 1923 and in the Abbey Division of Westminster as a Constitutionalist in 1924 were narrow failures. Late in 1924 he was elected in Epping, near London, and subsequently rejoined the Conservatives.

In 1945 Labour refused to continue the wartime coalition and a general election ensued while Churchill was at Potsdam. Churchill's constituency had changed from a country seat to a populous borough and its name was changed to Woodford. Despite the breakdown of the alliance, as a mark of respect Opposition parties declined to stand an official candidate against the Prime Minister in his own constituency.

But by the 1960s great diplomacy was required to convince Sir Winston that it was time to relinquish the seat. Even Lady Churchill, who so often took on impossible tasks in dealing with him, could not bring herself to meet this challenge alone. In the end, a coalition of Lady Churchill, son-in-law Christopher Soames, and a very tactful Constituency Chairman, Mrs. Doris Moss, achieved the inevitable, although Sir Winston would attend the House of Commons several more times until his final visit on 28 July 1964.


After Sir Winston announced that he would not stand for Parliament at the next general election, some suggested that he should be made an honorary member of the House of Commons. Others objected that it would be an affront to the principle of elected representation. There is no record of Churchill's views on the suggestion.

On his next visit to the Commons he was escorted to his seat below the gangway byhis son-in-law, Christopher Soames. Prime minister Macmillan welcomed him back as "our most distinguished member."

In July the Churchills grieved for their daughter Sarah whose husband, Lord Audley, died in Granada, Spain.


Sir Winston was suffering from circulatory problems which caused him to spend much time in bed. Lady Churchill was also in poor health and she was admitted to Westminster Hospital for rest and treatment.

While both were suffering physically they learned of the death of their daughter, Diana, from an overdose of sleeping pills. Unable to attend her funeral, they both went to the Memorial Service at St. Stephen's, Walbrook, in London.

Anthony Montague Browne, serving steadfastly as Sir Winston's assistant, arranged for a series of dinner guests to provide the old man with company. WSC also continued to view films.

On 28 November he was taken to the House of Commons in a wheelchair and dined that evening at the Other Club.

Montague Browne also served on a Government Committee (Operation Hope-Not) to plan for Sir Winston's State Funeral. As he later recalled for Martin Gilbert: "WSC knew I was attending meetings of the 'Hope-Not' Committee but only once commented. He said, 'Remember, I would like lots of military bands at my funeral.' He got nine! "