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Finest Hour 100

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Finest Hour’s 100th Issue. Three articles on the magazine. Churchill as Imperialist, Artist, Politician, Soldier, War Leader, Sexagenarian. Personality of the Century. Dean Acheson. Luigi Barzini Cover: Twenty-seven covers of past issues.

In This Issue:

Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 61

Beginning with Finest Hour 69 in 1990, "International Datelines" led with a "Quote of the Season," wherein we related something Churchill said to current events. His words on other matters, in other times, were often eerily relevant...


"When the ancient Athenians, on one occasion, overpowered a tribe in the Peloponnesus which had wrought them injury by base, treacherous means, and when they had the hostile army herded on a beach naked for slaughter, they forgave them and set them free, and they said: 'This was not because they were men; it was done because of the nature of Man.'"
-WSC, 1945 (FH 70,1991)


"Socialism has become intellectually discredited. It no longer presents itself as a solution of human difficulties or as an effective and practical philosophy....We have seen grisly examples of the ruin which it brought to States, industries and communities of all kinds, whether it was applied on the largest or on the smallest scale....It is intellectually bankrupt and discredited and has been proved on a gigantic scale and with perfect clearness to be fatal to the welfare of living nations."
-WSC, 1929 (FH 73,1991)

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 08

"By Command of His Royal Highness Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan General Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Minister of Defence, Negara Brunei Darussalam, I acknowledge the receipt of your letter and thank you for copies of the journal about Sir Winston Churchill."
-Peng Orang Kaya Laila Setia Datio' Seri Paduka Awang Mohd. bin Pehin Orang Nawawi Kaya Shahbandar Haji Awang Mohd. Taha, Personal & Confidential Secretary, Negara Brunei Darussalam, 10 September 1984

22 February 1968

Thank you for your letter concerning the formation of a Churchill Study Unit. I regret to record that I know nothing about stamps, but I would be glad to answer any questions you have in mind.
Randolph S. Churchill, East Bergholt, Suffolk

22 July 1968

How very kind of your Board of Directors to invite me to be an honour member of the Winston Churchill Study Unit of the American Topical Association. I should be very pleased to accept this honour.
Lady Churchill, London

24 July 1968

Thank you very much for your letter of 18th July and enclosures which The Queen was most interested to see. The Queen greatly appreciates your kind gesture, but I am afraid it would not be in accordance with Her Majesty's practice to accept Honorary Membership in the Winston S. Churchill Study Unit.
Private Secretary, Buckingham Palace

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 13

By Richard M. Langworth

In the beginning there was little more than a newsletter, and for six years during its early life there was nothing at all. Yet the enterprise we brought into the world had a strong kick to it, a purpose in life that somehow kept it going, even though that purpose was not apparent for many years. Like a child it grew into adolescence, then into adulthood. Starting with a narrow focus, it quickly expanded to inquire into Winston Churchill's life, thought, word, deed, books, politics, paintings and family. Through the Churchill prism it viewed a more formidable world than any we had known since 1945, considering the changing scene of history as he might have. Early on, his daughter warned us never to speculate on how he might react to this or that modern situation, and after being warned we never did. Yet it was impossible to avoid historical parallels: "Study history, study history," Churchill famously exclaimed: "In history lie all the secrets to statecraft."

Finest Hour's first publisher, the Winston S. Churchill Study Unit, became the International Churchill Society in 1970; the Societies subdivided into separate American, British and Canadian organizations in 1989, and ICS/USA became The Churchill Center in 1997. But despite vast changes in our goals and projects, Finest Hour remained as clear a representative as we could make it of what has become an international focus of interest in Churchill's life and times, the only publication devoted entirely to him. From the beginning we had only one rule: "It must be Churchill-related." On Churchill we were of course positive but not, one hopes, too uncritical. Indeed the whole enterprise from the outset was based on securing new information and bringing it to the light of day. On the following pages we recall some of the highlights of our journal, where it has been, where it is going, through its voyage of discovery over the years.

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 14

The Sixties proved a dramatic backdrop for the early Finest Hour which, though ostensibly dedicated to matters philatelic, observed from its special vantage point years of thunder, days of drums. The Prague Spring; the Vietnam War and mounting opposition to it; the assassinations and their perplexed aftermath: all found their way obliquely into our pages. Sir Winston was gone but a few years, his voice still vividly remembered, his record almost too fresh for historians to assess.

The first "article" in issue 1 was one paragraph long: "The name of this publication is temporary, unless you feel it should become permanent." Everyone did, Finest Hour it began, Finest Hour it still is, 100 issues and thirty years on. And, though its scope and contents have changed beyond recognition, the name stuck because it could never be bettered.

We began with a unique liaison: official biographer Randolph Churchill had agreed "to answer any questions you have in mind" about illustrations on stamps depicting his father. Alas on 6 June 1968 Randolph died in his sleep. Nine days later the Winston S. Churchill Study Unit of the American Topical Association was formally organized in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 16

Dalton Newfield, who lived in Sacramento and worked for the State of California, was a World War II veteran who had served in England, where he gained a powerful respect for Britain's greatest Prime Minister. From the day his first, closely-typed letter arrived in April 1970, we fell victim to his irrepressible enthusiasm. In his first FH contribution, Dal wrote the "postmaster" of Pabbay Isle (population two), which had issued bogus Churchill stamps: "If you are man and wife, one of you must be postmaster. Do you write to each other? There should be easier ways of communicating than by writing a letter...Could it be you have never been properly introduced?"

A true scholar, Dal couldn't have arrived at a riper time. I had founded the Unit and published a dozen issues, the best thing about which is that I chanced on a perfect title. By 1970 I was moving to a new career, and had no time left for Finest Hour. Happily and gaily, Dal took over. If you have not seen back issues 14-32 (which are still available from Churchill Stores) you are missing Newfield in his prime. In these pages five years ago, David Freeman wrote that "it is difficult to overstate the value of Dai's contributions. Under his stewardship, first as editor and later as President, the Winston S. Churchill Study Unit would transform itself into the International Churchill Society. Finest Hour would become a lively bulletin with the editor cramming in information up and down the margins."

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 18

Dal Newfield wasn't about to be a one man show again. "If you will produce Finest Hour," he told me, "I'll send subscription forms to my mailing list." Fair enough! Finally FH had an editor with the time, and at least a few more skills than in 1968—and we still had Dal. Randolph Churchill's son Winston, like his father in 1968, encouraged us to go ahead.

In late 1981 we sent off Finest Hour 33—the first in eighty months, its masthead decorated with an allegorical drawing of Churchill's life, granted to us by the Pobjoy Mint, still on our masthead today. One of the first subscriptions was from the United States Secretary of Defense. I returned Mr. Weinberger's check and asked him to be an honorary member. We have many reasons to be grateful to him for his participation and encouragement since then. (For all our Honorary Members since 1968, see inside back cover.)

Numbers 33-35 were printed with artsy brown ink on coated tan stock, which gave good reproduction but was light enough to mail cheaply. We started off "heavy on philately," with articles on stamps, album layouts, covers, philatelic Q&A, a mainly philatelic auction, ads from dealers. But we were soon hitting all those other Churchill buttons Dal had established: memorabilia, book reviews, historical articles, the occasional scholarly piece. A Board of Directors was

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 22

In the Spring of 1984 FH 43 introduced our first color cover, Edwina Sandys's "Chartwell") and established two long-running departments, "Churchill on Stamps" and "Woods Corner." Number 44, with its dramatic red maple leaf cover, was the first issue dedicated to a country: the "Canada Number." In 1985 the Second Churchill Tour added "Lullenden," the family's pre-Chartwell country home, to our previous destinations. FH 47 presented our second color cover, Bernard Hailstone's "Last Portrait from Life," 1955. Inside that issue, David Druckman traveled to South Africa, tracing Churchill's escape from the Boers almost 85 years to the day and processing special covers at post offices along the escape route; and the indefatigable John Plumpton introduced "Reviewing Churchill," original reviews beginning with the Malakand Field Force.

The most important feature of FH 48 was a proposal to launch the "Churchill Literary Foundation," a predecessor to the Churchill Center: "...of thirty-seven individual books of Sir Winston Churchill, twenty-nine are out of print and four are on the verge." We proposed raising $1,000,000 to turn this situation around.

How much has changed! In Finest Hour 99 thirteen years later, we announced that The Churchill Center Endowment had topped $1,053,000. By then, over a score of Churchill's books had been restored to print, many with our active support. That hadn't required $1,000,000—but by FH 99 the much more ambitious Churchill Center sought $7,000,000, a target which takes up so much of our effort today.

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 24

In 1989 the USA, UK and Canada societies became independent, but continued to sponsor such activities as Conferences, which soon grew to three- and four-day affairs: Boston '85, Vancouver '86, Dallas '87, Bretton Woods '88, London '89, San Francisco '90, Effingham Park '92, Washington '93. The exception was 1991, where the Fifth Churchill Tour went to Australia and held a two-night conference in Canberra and Melbourne. FH had 44 pages by 1993. The 1991 USA budget was $100,000, up from $180 in 1971.

In 1986 we had begun a critical campaign by raising money to sponsor the Companion Volumes of the Official Biography—a huge challenge, met by Wendy Reves, Churchill's old friend and hostess in the midFifties. Her visionary financing of these volumes will never be forgotten. Nine years later the project continues, slowly but inexorably. Two volumes are out, packed with unprecedented detail about 1939-1940; a third volume, The Ever Widening War, 1941, has been submitted. FH 63 celebrated Wendy, with her splendid recollection of "The Man Who Was Here," and tributes by ICS and the Churchill Memorial and Library.

The depth and richness of Finest Hour clearly owes much to Winston S. Churchill, writer of the century. Among his more arresting pieces: "Thoughts While On the Brink" (of both World Wars, FH 64); "Thus Perished Operation Sea Lion" (FH 68); "Old Battlefields of Virginia" (FH 72); "The Charge at Omdurman" (FH 77); and that ringing 1943 Harvard speech, "The Price of Greatness is Responsibility" (FH 80). FH 74 was the first dedicated entirely to one of WSC's books, Savrola.

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 26

Even though we have to sink to this level, we always have to keep pace with modern improvements," FH quoted WSC in 1994, inquiring if readers might like a "Churchill Information Service" on the "Information Superhighway" (Internet). Today the Churchill Home Page is a massive resource, managed by John Plumpton and Beverly Carr, for researchers from Australia to Zimbabwe, who visit it by the thousands, and our largest source of new members. Accompanied by the email forum "Listserv Winston," run by Jonah Triebwasser, it is our most significant new service in a decade. Look it up at www.winstonchurchill.org.

Anniversaries came thick and fast in these years: the Fiftieth Anniversary of VE-Day (FH 86) and the Fulton speech (FH 89); the Centenary of the Malakand Field Force (FH 97) and Battle of Omdurman (FH 99). FH 93 was devoted to Lord Randolph Churchill, refuting the old canard that he suffered from syphilis; FH 98was Lady Randolph's, with six historical articles and recollections of playing "Jennie" by Lee Remick.

Gemstone articles continued apace. Lady Diana Cooper's "Winston and Clementine" (FH 87) was unknown even to her son before we published it. Lady Moyne's scrapbook, with photos of the Churchills on their 1934 journey to the Levant, was equally unknown. The British nation acquired the Churchill archives, and Martin Gilbert reflected on their incalculable value (FH 87). In the same issue, Michael Wardell recounted Churchill's 1949 stroke and Andrew Roberts explained "Why Children Should Learn About Churchill." Celia Sandys wrote about taking her children to Chartwell (FH

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Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 47

By John G. Plumpton

One hundred years ago:

Autumn 1898 • Age 24

"In love, but not yet -prepared to commit himself..."

The Nile War over, Churchill returned to England where he immediately became embroiled in controversy over his military and political activities. The Prince of Wales wrote him that "I think an officer serving in a campaign should not write letters for the newspapers or express strong opinions of how the operations are carried out."

"A General Officer" wrote to the Editor of the Army and Navy Gazette: "Can it be for the good of the Service that young subalterns, however influentially connected and able they may be, should be allowed as Lieut. Churchill is to go careering over the world, elbowing out men frequently much abler and more experienced (in a worldly sense at any rate) than themselves?"

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