• Search

Finest Hour 104

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 28


One hundred years ago:

Autumn 1899-Age 25

"World Famous Overnight"

Autumn 1899 began with war correspondent Churchill traveling by ship to South Africa to report on the AngloBoer War. It ended with escaped prisoner Churchill traveling by train surreptitiously out of South Africa into Portuguese East Africa. In between these two journeys, Churchill became famous throughout the world.

Churchill had accompanied an armored train which was ambushed by the Boers on its way to Ladysmith. While technically a non-combatant, he had been armed with his Mauser pistol and had volunteered his services to the train's commander, Captain Aylmer Haldane, after the train came under fire. Several rail cars had been derailed by Boer artillery, preventing the engine from retreating to safety. Under constant machine gun and technically a non-combatant, he had been armed with his Mauser pistol and had volunteered his services to the train's commander, Captain Aylmer Haldane, after the train came under fire. Several rail cars had been derailed by Boer artillery, preventing the engine from retreating to safety. Under constant machine gun and artillery fire from the Boers, Churchill directed the clearing of the line, helped load wounded onto the engine's tender and then accompanied the engine to safety at Frere Station. After doing so, he returned on foot to the action to assist the remaining wounded and was captured. The driver of the train was quoted in contemporary accounts as saying of Churchill that "there is not a braver gentleman in the army." One wounded officer whom Churchill helped lead to safety called him "as brave a man as could be found."

Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 08

FH 89: Contrary to Henry Crooks's account on page 49, Gerald McCue writes, "what Cockroft and Walton did in 1933 was very important, but it was 'splitting the atom,' not 'fission.' They bombarded the relatively simple nuclei of lithium by injecting energy chipped off nuclei of hydrogen. Not until 1938 did German chemists Hahn and Meitner demonstrate that uranium nuclei could be blown apart into medium weight nuclei, with copious release of energy (fission) and a chain reaction, either controllable or explosive."

FH 95: In "Churchill and the Litigious Lord," we converted sterling to dollars throughout at $1.70 to £1 but one conversion ("over £125,000 or $800,000 in current value") should read "$200,000." Thanks for this to Robert Ledermann.

FH 102: In "Churchill and the Art of the Statesman-Writer," page 19, William Manchester says of Churchill's youth: "One percent of [Britain's] population— \some 33,000 people—owned two-thirds of its wealth." Albert Sheridan reminds us that 33,000 is one percent of 3.3 million. But Britain's population at Churchill's birth was closer to 33 million, in which case one-tenth of one percent of her population controlled two-thirds of Britain's wealth.

Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 47


Churchill spent the night of September 25th, 1941, "in a quiet siding, half a mile from a stone marking the centre of England and a few miles short of Coventry," his private secretary, Jock Colville, wrote in his diary, later published as Fringes of Power. "The PM dictated half of his speech for the House of Commons next Tuesday. It promises to be his best." (On the 30th Churchill would say: "Only the most strenuous exertions, a perfect unity of purpose, added to our traditional unrelenting tenacity, will enable us to act our part worthily in the prodigious world drama in which we are now plunged. Let us make sure these virtues are forthcoming.")

On the morning of the 26th, Churchill's train pulled into Coventry, where he was met by a reception headed by the Lord Mayor, J. A. Moseley. Colville continued: "the PM was not dressed. He always assumes he can get up, shave and have a bath in 1/4 hour whereas in reality it takes him 20 minutes. Consequently he is late for everything. Mrs C seethed with anger.... We went to the centre of the town....The PM will give the V sign with two fingers in spite of the representations repeatedly made to him that this gesture has quite another significance!

"We toured very thoroughly the Armstong Siddeley factory, where aircraft parts and torpedoes are made, and the PM had a rousing reception. As we entered each workshop all the men clanged their hammers in a deafening welcome. I drove with Jack Churchill whom some of the crowd took for [Soviet Ambassador Ivan] Maisky! The Whitley bomber factory is a hotbed of communism and there was some doubt of the reception the PM would get. But his appearance with cigar and semi-top hat quite captivated the workers who gave him vociferous [sic] applause.

Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 08

The Observer (London) of October 31st carried a front page article arguing that Heathrow Airport should be renamed for Churchill. Auberon Waugh replied in the Daily Telegraph that "the collapsing leftwing former intelligentsia" are hoping "to discredit Churchill, our last great Englishman, by equating him with the ugliest, dirtiest and most inefficient corner of modern Britain. The least we can do is to organize a campaign against this shoddy proposal. Between campaigning and counter-campaigning, we will all have found something to do"....On November 2nd the Paris Churchill Statue (FH 101, p. 5) had its hands daubed with red paint and the words "Mers el Kebir, 1300 killed" scrawled on it, referring to the British fleet bombardment of French vessels in the Algerian port during WW2. The French government had already surrendered when the incident took place in July 1940 and there were fears their fleet could fall into German hands. The statue was vandalised with Franco-British relations at a new low because of the row over the French ban on British beef. Responding to this matter on the Churchill Center e-mail discussion group, Dr. Robert Caputi wrote: "The silver lining, of course, is that some French are reading their own history. I'd skip the chapters on 1940 if I were a Parisian"....Elsewhere in the City of Light, Churchill is still riding high. Robert Hardy, the "All Creatures Great and Small" actor who cornered the market on Winston Churchill roles (and won an ICSICC Honorary

Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 34

By Richard M. Langwortn

The Great Republic: A History of America, by Sir Winston Churchill, edited and arranged by Winston S. Churchill, 460 pp., illus. Published at $25.95, member price $19 + shipping from Churchill Center Book Club, PO Box 385, Contoocook NH 03229.

Recently I received in the post a new book, The Great Republic, by Sir Winston Churchill. Attached was a card: "With the compliments of the author." This certainly demonstrates Sir Winston's long reach—all the more impressive when we think that, 99 years ago, Winston Churchill was first introduced to a Boston audience.

Churchill was on a lecture tour in which he gamely engaged American audiences on the Boer War from the British point of view—a view not shared by his listeners. Whenever he displayed a magic lantern slide of a Boer cavalryman, they would break out into applause—but Churchill would disarm them, saying, "You are quite right to applaud him; he is the most formidable fighting man in the world."

In New York he was introduced by Mark Twain, patriarchal with his flowing white hair, seen by Churchill as "very old"—Twain was in fact 65—and combining "with a noble air a most delightful style of conversation. Of course we argued about the war...I think however that I did not displease him, for he was good enough to sign at my request every one of the twenty-five volumes of his works for my benefit, and in the first volume he inscribed, I daresay, a gentle admonition: 'To do good is noble; to teach others how to be good is nobler, & no trouble.'"

Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 33

By Kirk Emmert

A Scottish Life: Sir John Martin, Churchill and Empire, by Michael Jackson, ed. by Janet Jackson. New York and London: Radcliffe Press 1999, 280 pages, illus. Reg. price $40, member price $32 + shipping, Churchill Center Book Club, PO Box 385, Contoocook NH 03229.

Michael Jackson has written a political biography of his wife's uncle, Sir John Martin, who twice served in the Colonial Office (1927-40 and 1945-64), ending up as Deputy Undersecretary of State and, in his last two years, high commissioner to Malta.

During the war years, 1941-45, Martin was "a key figure in Churchill's 'secret circle'" in his position of principal private secretary (PPS) to the Prime Minister. Jackson's account is based on Sir John's private correspondence, "papers and documents from his Colonial Office days," public interviews and writing after he retired, and the author's own interviews with those who worked with Martin as well as his own long acquaintance with his distinguished family relation.

Three major themes inform his account of Martin's life of public service: Martin's work with, and later defense of, Winston Churchill; his approach to public affairs—a form of prudential Christianity; and, much the greater part of his biography, Sir John's part in the ruling and decolonization of the British Empire, an institution which he viewed as Britain's "good gift to the world."

Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 35

An avalanche of new books by and about Churchill has been thundering off the presses over the past six months. Our New Book Service offers member discounts (substantially below Amazon.com in most cases) on the following, but Finest Hour's reviews are not all in. This is a recap to let you know what's available. There are a lot more than this, but here's a start...

• All books may be ordered from CC Book Club, PO Box 385, Contoocook NH 03229. Mastercard and Visa accepted. Shipping anywhere in the world (surface bookpost outside North America) costs $6 for the first book, $1 for each additional. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone (603) 746-4433.

REVIEWED ON PAGES 33-34: 1008. The Great Republic, by Sir Winston Churchill, 460pp., illus. Published at $26. Member price $19.

1025. A Scottish Life: Sir John Martin, Churchill and the Empire, by Michael Jackson, 280pp. illus. Published at $40. Member price $32.


Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 40


Catalogue numbers are from Gerald Rosen, A Catalogue of British Local Stamps, published 1975. A slash mark (/) indicates a set with a common design from which any value is usable. Carus and Minkus catalogue numbers, when mentioned, are identified by name.

ANYBODY who wants to stump U.S. presidential candidates with the names of holes-in-the-wall and out-of-the-way places has only to turn to the issuers of "locals," those "stamps" purportedly produced to cover the cost of transporting mail to the nearest regular post office. Four of the six represented here are British islands, but except for Herm, the use of these labels for genuine postal purposes is doubtful. A lot of these "governments" also seemed to share the same stamp artists, which will become apparent as we sift through the list.

289. Calf of Man is a 1 1/2x1 mile islet off the southwest coast of the Isle of Man, and the Manx government did authorize the issuance of carriage labels. But the Calf people took advantage and produced hundreds of different varieties and overprints, and also used an odd currency. The "Murrey" (24 to an English shilling) was named for John Murrey, who issued the first Manx coinage in 1668. Shown are rosen CA36-39.

Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 37

From Brandon R. Sanders - (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

I have been in a debate with friends at a dinner party who believed unbiased Churchill admirers might agree that Churchill's success was owed to a lucky roll of the dice more than any superior leadership qualities he possessed over others. Churchill was a very young man when he ran the Admiralty during World War I, while men of similar age were being slaughtered in France. They believe that the pool of men who offered greatness after WW1 was of such a diluted state that men like Churchill had a free rein to mark their spots.

The shadows of the "Lost Generation" lay across the postwar Europe. A settled, secure way of life had been destroyed. The way was clear for great changes, since the German guns made so many vacancies in the seats of power. Someone of Churchill's age and calibre was now rare, and a long, empty void followed that Churchill filled by default.

I think I defended against this hypothesis well enough, but I ask: do they have any argument? Was Churchill lucky enough to have no one of similar talent looking over his shoulder because of the horrors of WW1?

From: Scott Palmer - (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Read more

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 15


Why the Vote Will Not Be Unanimous

EIGHT of Finest Hour's nine articles nominating Churchill for Time magazine's designation as "Person of the Century," which concluded in our last number, were written by Americans, Canadians and an Australian. But Churchill was British—why the discrepancy? For one thing, non-Britons tend to see the Churchill of the world's stage—statesman, sage, even saviour. In Britain he may be seen as all those things, and more—but invariably with some modification, arising from his record as a party politician. And, it must be said, that is where the water begins to get muddy.

In most true democracies politicians are, in the nature of things, often at odds with up to roughly half the electorate at any one time. Over his long career Churchill certainly pushed his luck in that respect. By transferring his allegiance from the Conservatives to the Liberals and back again he was successively at odds with all of the people for at least some of the time. The Labour Party was formed in 1900, the very year that Churchill was first elected to Parliament, and it was always his sworn enemy. It might be said that the Labour Party and Churchill grew up together, in the political sense of course. If Churchill had his finest hour in 1940, the result of the 1945 general election clearly illustrates who had taken over the lion's roar. There is a popular theory that the growth of the Labour Party in Britain had much to do with the perceived need of working people and trade unionists to unite in force in order to provide a sufficient counterweight to Winston Churchill. If that is so he has a lot to answer for.

Read more

JOIN TODAY to receive the print edition of Finest Hour.

Finest Hour Archive
The Most Recent Issues of Finest Hour are Available Online to Members
Members Login for Access|Non-Members Join Today for a Print and Online Subscription